Congress Passes Massive Spending Bills to Avoid Shutdown
Members of Congress are putting politics before principle once again as they pass massive spending bills. With mere weeks before the midterm elections, they deemed it too risky to shut down the government again like Rand Paul had done previously by insisting on an amendment vote on cutting spending.
They aren't waiting until the eleventh hour as they have repeatedly in the past in order to pass these appropriations bills either. The central funding package was passed in the Senate nearly two weeks ahead of the Sept. 30th deadline for a shutdown thanks to an agreement between GOP leadership and President Trump.
The package funds the Defense Department for the fiscal year 2019 at $607 billion. It also provides the Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education Departments with a total of $178 billion for the year.
The measure includes a continuing resolution for the remaining unfinished spending legislation, which encompasses seven spending bills and amounts to about 25 percent of federal spending. The continuing resolution (CR) funds those seven budgets until Dec. 7th, which would give Congress time in the post-election lame duck session to come with year-long bills.
The leadership strategically bundled funding for the labor bill, a major Democratic priority, with funding for the Pentagon, a major Republican priority. For Conservatives, voting against the package would mean voting against an increase in defense spending and a raise for the troops, something that could hurt them in their midterm races. For Democrats, they have never voted to spend less in their lives.
“It’s a little bit frustrating right now,” said Rep. Mark Walker, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the largest GOP caucus in the House. Walker issued a warning that some RSC members may vote against a package of spending bills the House is due to consider when it returns to session. The package includes defense and labor appropriations and a continuing resolution to keep the parts of the government not yet funded by spending bills running past Oct. 1st.
The package passed in the Senate on Tuesday in an overwhelming 93-7 vote. In the House, an earlier package of spending bills passed in a 377-20 just the week before, with both Democrats and Republicans backing it.
House lawmakers are scheduled to be in session until mid-October but have been angling to leave two weeks early in order to campaign ahead of the election. House Republicans are particularly eager to get home to voters. Dozens of GOP lawmakers are in toss-up positions or are losing to Democrats in polls.
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