House narrowly passes spending package ahead of deadline
DENVER — The least productive Congress in history neared the end of its term on Thursday night with the House narrowly passing a $1.1 trillion compromise spending package that would fund the government through next September after a rancorous debate that underlined divisions within both Republican and Democratic caucuses.
The bill’s passage on a vote of 219-205 was a victory for both Speaker John Boehner and President Obama, both of whom lobbied intensely for their respective allies to pass the larger spending package even after it was larded up with partisan riders instead of just a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government for just three months.
Both parties saw no political benefit in another government shutdown, although partisans on both sides viewed this compromise funding package as too bitter a pill to swallow.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Elizabeth Warren both railed against the so-called “CRomnibus” bill, angry that it included a provision that will roll back regulation of the Dodd-Frank Act, which both Democratic women said was a giveaway to big banks whose practices helped trigger the recession in 2008.
On the Republican side, many conservatives wanted to send a stronger message following President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.
The spending deal funds the Department of Homeland Security — the agency assigned to carry out the president’s immigration policy — but only through February; Republicans will control both the House and Senate by then and will look at other ways to block Obama’s order.
Some conservatives wanted to immediately defund the Homeland Security agency, despite the risk of a partial government shutdown.
Democrats also bristled at the inclusion of Republican language to allow for larger financial contributions to political parties.
Colorado’s House delegation split, with Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Golden one of 57 Democrats who ultimately voted yes.
“I voted to support the Omnibus bill because it funds good jobs for my constituents in the aerospace industry, education, research and development, the National Renewable Energy Lab, and the new Denver Patent Office,” Perlmutter said in a statement.
“The government funding bill provides certainty for our country while making investments in economic growth and opportunity domestically. It also makes a significant investment in our fight against terrorists abroad, including ISIS.
“This is not a perfect deal. There are provisions I find objectionable that have no business being included in a government funding bill, including a provision allowing individuals to influence elections. But, in the end, I decided voting for this measure is in the best interests of my constituents, Colorado, and the country.”
Fellow Democrats, Reps. Diana DeGette of Denver and Jared Polis, both voted against the legislation.
“The American public is sick of back-room deals made in order to perform Congress’s most fundamental job: keeping the government open and operating,” DeGette said in a statement. “I cannot support an omnibus appropriations bill that includes policy riders rolling back reforms to the banking system and allowing a ten-fold increase in campaign donations to political parties.
“Special treatment for the wealthy and influential should not be the price of avoiding a shutdown. The American people deserve better, and time is quickly running out for this Congress to deliver.”
Republican Senator-elect Cory Gardner of Yuma, who defeated Sen. Mark Udall last month after campaigning as a moderate, voted in favor of the spending proposal, as did Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, who won reelection by a large margin in a competitive 6th Congressional District also by campaigning as a moderate conservative.
Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Grand Junction, also voted yes, while Rep. Doug Lamborn, the most conservative member of the delegation, voted no.
“Today’s budget legislation, while not perfect, reduces spending at a level below the Ryan-Murray budget caps, cuts funding to the IRS and EPA, rescinds numerous harmful administrative actions and addresses several issues of critical importance for Colorado’s 3rd District,” said Tipton in a statement.
“I will work with my colleagues in the 114th Congress to advance solutions that further reduce federal spending and shrink the size of government, address immigration reform and healthcare, encourage economic growth in the private sector, and rein in excessive executive action by the President. We look forward to working with a Senate that will actually take up legislation that is passed through the House.”