The $1.7 trillion omnibus budget-and-policy bill
passed the Senate Thursday, with 18 of the 50 Republicans supporting it. The House is expected to pass it Friday to keep the government open.
|Leahy and Shelby (Photo by Bill Clark, CQ Roll Call)
The bill’s prime architects were Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama, chair and ranking member, respectively, on the Senate Appropriations Committee, who are retiring after nearly 100 years of combined service in the Senate. Shelby, who became a Republican in 1994, said of the bill: “We know it’s not perfect, but it’s got a lot of good stuff in it.” The Senate rejected an attempt by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, to remove specific projects, or earmarks, from the bill, but it approved one allowing pandemic relief funds to be used for infrastructure projects.
Leahy and Shelby “steered millions of dollars to their home states through earmarks, now known as community project funding,” Emily Cochrane of The New York Times reports. “Mr. Shelby secured more than $762 million for Alabama, while Mr. Leahy sent home over $212 million.”
“The spending package
drew objections from some Republicans in the Senate and House who said it was bloated and full of unnecessary spending. Critics said that leadership should have released the bill sooner rather than forcing lawmakers to vote after just days to review it,” The Wall Street Journal reports
. “House GOP leaders had also argued that Republicans should refuse to begin talks on the bill until the next Congress, when the GOP will control the House
. But those calls were ignored by Senate negotiators in both parties, in part because they worried that a GOP-led House wouldn’t be able to pass spending bills next year.”
The 18 Republicans who voted yes on the 68-29 roll call
were Roy Blunt, Missouri; John Boozman, Arkansas; Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia; Susan Collins, Maine; John Cornyn, Texas; Tom Cotton, Arkansas; Lindsey Graham, South Carolina; Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma; Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky; Jerry Moran, Kansas; Lisa Murkowski, Alaska; Rob Portman, Ohio; Mitt Romney, Utah; Mike Rounds, South Dakota; Richard Shelby, Alabama; John Thune, South Dakota; Roger Wicker, Mississippi; and Todd Young, Indiana.
Three Republicans did not vote: John Barrasso, Wyoming; Richard Burr, North Carolina; and Kevin Cramer, North Dakota. Four Republicans who had previously voted to advance the bill switched their votes to oppose it: Chuck Grassley, Iowa; Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi; Marco Rubio, Florida; and Tommy Tuberville, Alabama.
UPDATE, Dec. 23:
The House passed the bill 225-201. Retiring Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth, D-Ky., noted that the bill makes permanent “a requirement that the Office of Management and Budget
maintain a public apportionment website
.” Last year’s omnibus required the apportionment website
to be operational for the last fiscal year, but this one makes it permanent. Yarmuth said that would improve ” congressional and public oversight of executive spending.”