Merry Christmas: House Passes $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill–Thanks To Democrats

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Dec 18, 2015 10:35 AM
Merry Christmas: House Passes $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill–Thanks To Democrats

It’s pretty much a done deal. The House passed a $1.1 trillion dollar omnibus spending bill, and have skipped town for the holidays. The Senate is poised to pass the bill later today. House Democrats were key in getting this piece of legislation over the finish line (via Roll Call):

Earlier in the day, the House passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill, leaving the Senate to clear the omnibus for the president’s signature.

The legislation to fund government operations through the remainder of fiscal 2016 passed the House, 316-113, with 166 Democrats shoring up the majority of support. But 150 Republicans also voted for it, a significantly larger number than the party has had on previous bills of similar consequence.

And there were reasons for both sides to claim victories.

On the Republican side of the aisle, 95 House members voted against the omnibus. Dissenters largely hailed from the House Freedom Caucus and other conservative contingents of the conference, but also included committee chairmen such as Judiciary’s Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia and Transportation and Infrastructure’s Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania. A member of Republican leadership, Conference Vice Chairwoman Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, also voted no.

But by and large Republicans gave Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., a major victory, with the majority of GOP lawmakers voting in favor of the bill — something unheard of in recent institutional history. They rewarded him for facilitating an open process that empowered rank-and-file members more than in the past..

[…]

Pelosi also did not miss an opportunity to restate Democrats’ leverage.

“I don’t think they would have passed it” without Democratic support, Pelosi said of Republicans Friday morning, before the omnibus vote. “If I thought they did, it would have been a different story.”

As the bill heads into the Senate, the publication reported yesterday that there would be no weekend session, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stating that all business relating to the omnibus bill will be finished Friday. No weekend session is happening. Presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) doesn’t seem to be a fan of the legislation, calling for ways to delay it:

“I think if we can add some days to it, the way Sen. Sessions is talking about and maybe some others, that process of slowing it down allows more Americans to wake up to the reality of what’s in the bill, and perhaps as a result demand that their elected representatives do something to make those changes on things like the Syrian refugees,” Rubio said.

[…]

The Senate generally clears requests for unanimous consent like the one McConnell made Thursday to set up Friday’s expedited vote sequence through a hotline process. That allows any Senate office to contact their respective party cloakroom and notice their intent to object, even if the senators involved are away from the floor.

A senior GOP aide confirmed that the deal for the omnibus votes went through the customary process, meaning all senators decided against taking the procedural steps Rubio was alluding to on Fox News.

Under the agreement, procedural votes will still happen, but they will be lined up to take place ahead of passage on Friday, meaning the smell of jet fumes, and the interest of a weekend on the campaign trail, will win again.

Speaker Ryan was pleased with today’s vote:

Today, the House came together to ensure our government is open and working for the American people. This bipartisan compromise secures meaningful wins for Republicans and the American people, such as the repeal of the outdated, anti-growth ban on oil exports. The legislation strengthens our military and protects Americans from terrorist threats, while limiting the overreach of intrusive government bureaucracies like the IRS and the EPA. I appreciate Chairman Rogers’s leadership and the entire Appropriations Committee for their work in shaping this bill. Congress can now move into 2016 with a fresh start and a plan to return to regular order in order to better protect taxpayer dollars."

The speaker’s weekly press briefing, he reiterated his commitment to a return to “regular order” regarding the legislative process, especially concering appropriations bills.

“It’s how Congress ought to operate so that we can better protect the taxpayer dollars and make our place the true representative body that it is,” he said. “I feel good about where we are on both the spending and tax bills that are being considered today and tomorrow as well.”

He went on to say how the spending bill has “some big wins” for the country, including, as previously mentioned, the lift on the oil export ban, more military spending, a tax bill, and better health care for 9/11 first responders. He also added that the spending bill “reins in the IRS and it stops the EPA overreach.” He also promised an Obamacare repeal vote when they return to session in January that would also defund Planned Parenthood. He added that the 2016 session would see the House Republicans become a “proposition party”:

In 2016, we are going to be a proposition party. As I told our members this week, I didn’t become speaker to sit in a room and make big decisions on big bills. I became speaker to give us a horizon to shoot for—to lift our gaze so that we can show the American people, who we are, and what we believe, and what we’re going to do to solve their problems. That’s why our top goal in 2016 is going to be to put together a bold, pro-growth agenda for the country.

Concerning the tax bill, it was passed yesterday by a 318-109 vote. Since it was being merged with today’s spending bill, it was largely seen as a test vote as to whether this omnibus bill could be passed at all. Democrats split on the measure, with 109 voting against the $680 billion tax cut legislation, while 77 joined the Republican conference.