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Broken Government

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House Approves $1.1 Trillion Budget and Avoids Government Shutdown

December 12th 2014

The House on Thursday approved a $1.1 trillion bill funding most of the government through September despite an outcry from Democrats and significant defections in both parties.

By a vote of 219-206, the House sent the bill to the Senate, where a similar debate may break out between liberal Democrats and the White House.

The vote split Democratic leaders, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) opposing the bill and criticizing the White House, but Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) backing it. Fifty-seven Democrats voted for the bill, while 139 opposed it.

The House also voted by unanimous consent on a two-day continuing resolution that would expire on Saturday. This is meant to keep the government funded and give the Senate cushion to consider the "cromnibus" package. Hoyer said it was “better to pass it than to defeat it.”

Democrats objected to changes to the Wall Street reform bill that were included in the 1,600-page bill, and many were unswayed by a last-ditch White House lobbying push that included a visit to the conference by White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.

After McDonough left the meeting, several lawmakers said he hadn't appeared to change many minds.

"It was respectful but skeptical," one source in the room said. "Before he arrived there was considerable annoyance at the White House. Pelosi quieted that agitation to ensure he was treated politely. At the end he thanked the caucus for giving him a fair hearing." 
 
Conservative Republicans, meanwhile, opposed the bill for not doing more to curtail President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. While 162 Republicans voted for the bill, 67 rejected it.
For much of the afternoon and evening, the bill looked to be at death's door as a government shutdown loomed at midnight.

The bill’s passage, as a result, was a remarkable victory for both Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama, who were able to cobble together the votes for passage.

The so-called “cromnibus” included an omnibus of 11 appropriations bills funding most of the government through September, and a continuing resolution funding the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 27.

“This plan was put together after consultation with our members,” Boehner told reporters Thursday morning. “And we worked through this process in a bipartisan, bicameral way.”

He implored his members to back it: “Listen, if we don't get finished today, we're going to be here until Christmas.”

GOP leaders suspended debate on the floor for hours as the White House made a push to win over Democrats.

House Democrats have long-been agitated with the White House and its outreach efforts, but they've largely kept the grumbling behind closed doors and off the record.

With the arrival of the “cromnibus” debate — and Obama's backing of the package — the frustrations spilled over.

Pelosi, rarely a public critic of the president, minced no words in denouncing the "cromnibus" — and Obama's support for it.

In a floor speech announcing her opposition to the measure, Pelosi said she is "enormously disappointed" with the administration's endorsement.

Hours later, giving closing remarks at the Democrats' Caucus meeting, she was not subtle in reminding her members that they have power in the fight.

"I'm giving you the leverage to do whatever you have to do," Pelosi told her troops, according to a source in the room. "We have enough votes to show them never to do this again."

The White House argued there was much to cheer about the legislation, despite the liberal complaints.

The Democratic opposition delayed the vote on the bill for hours, with Republican leaders waiting to see whether they would have the support needed to push it through. Shortly before 9 p.m., GOP leaders announced they were moving ahead, gambling that the bill would survive on the floor.

"It's always messy to see it made, to see legislation come to life. It's not a pretty sight, and the closer you are to it the uglier it's seems," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said after the vote.

"Our voters don't like anything about this process, but it's how hard work gets done," she added. "And at the end of the day — boom! — we got enough votes to pass the bill."

The legislation abides by the budgetary caps set by last December’s budget deal, which offered two years of relief from automatic spending cuts known as sequestration that were implemented as part of a 2011 deal to lift the debt ceiling.

The base bill is just more than $1 trillion, but the legislation also includes emergency funding that brings the total spending to $1.1 trillion.

The emergency spending includes $64 billion for overseas contingency operations that have been used to fight the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It allocates $5 billion from that fund for the administration to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, slightly less than what the White House had requested.

Another $5.4 billion in emergency funding was included to fight the Ebola epidemic.

The bill includes no funding for body cameras for police, which Obama had requested after the outcry over police killings of two African-Americans, and grand jury decisions not to indict officers involved in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City.

The spending package, however, does provide funding for other related community policing programs.

The legislation does not include funding for high-speed rail, for the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” education program and for the International Monetary Fund, among other things.

No new funding for ObamaCare is included, but the bill also does not reduce any funding for the healthcare law. The bill includes the Hyde Amendment, which bans all federal funding for abortions.

Rebecca Shabad, Cristina Marcos and Mike Lillis write for The Hill, from where this article is adapted.

 


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