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Senate sends spending bill to White House
Question of the Day
While Republicans were unable to muster a 218-vote majority for the spending cuts on their own, the huge freshman class broke heavily in favor, 60-27.
Normally vocal, GOP critics of the legislation did not speak during debate. “This is done. I’m prepared to move on to bigger issues,” said one of them, Rep. Bill Huizinga of Michigan.
While reaching across party lines, the legislation produced few if any enthusiastic supporters.
Referring to a late lawmaker known for his sense of humor, Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., told the House, “As Mo Udall once said, if you can find something everyone agrees on, you can count on it being wrong.”
Moran, a veteran Virginia Democrat, said the bill “does contain more good than bad.” That put him in the same category as Rep. Jeff Landry, a first-term Louisiana Republican who won office last fall with the support of tea party activists.
The bill does not cut enough, he said, but he added, “I came to Washington to cut spending.” He also cited a provision banning the District of Columbia from using its own money to pay for most abortions for lower-income women.
Liberals were unsparing in their criticism. “This bill is nothing more than a tea party checklist targeting programs that help the most vulnerable,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. She pointed to cuts in food programs for the poor, grants to local police departments and help for children of inmates. “It’s shameful, a moral disgrace.”
As expected, the Republican leadership swung behind the bill.
Democrats, consigned to the minority in last year’s elections, splintered. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the party’s leader, voted against the bill without speaking on the floor. The second in command, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, supported it, and in doing so, cited a need to compromise for the government to function. Rep. Norm Dicks of Washington, the senior Democrat on the committee with jurisdiction over programs that were cut, also voted in favor.
The impetus for the cuts came from Republicans who took power in January, symbolized by the 87 first-termers.
Unhappy with the leadership’s first attempt at a bill, they rejected it. They then propelled a revised measure through the House in February, including $61 billion in reductions that would have cut deeply into education programs and other accounts that Obama vowed to protect.
By contrast, neither Obama nor most Democrats advocated any cuts through the remainder of the current fiscal year.
The earlier House bill included numerous other provisions unrelated to spending. Many were aimed at the Environmental Protection Agency, and would have blocked proposed rules to limit greenhouse gas, pollution into the Chesapeake Bay, mercury emissions from cement factories and more.
That bill also included a ban on federal funding for Planned Parenthood. That was a priority of lawmakers who object to the organization as the country’s largest abortion provider, although federal law already bans the use of federal funds to perform most abortions.
In the compromise negotiations, Democrats won the deletion of all of the EPA-related provisions as well as the proposed restriction on Planned Parenthood.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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