House quickly approves $1.7T spending bill, flees DC for Christmas break
The U.S. House of Representatives quickly approved a $1.7 trillion spending bill on Friday, funding the government until the end of next September in a win for President Biden and congressional Democrats.
The House passed the more than 4,000-page spending measure mostly along party lines, in a 225-201 vote that saw nine Republicans vote for the bill along with every Democrat except Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Another Democrat, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, voted present.
The nine GOP votes against the bill included Never-Trump Republicans Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Also voting in favor were retiring Reps. John Katko and Chris Jacobs of New York, Rodney Davis of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan, and Jamie Hererra Butler of Washington. GOP Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Steve Womack of Arkansas were the only two lawmakers to vote in favor that were re-elected this year.
Still, most Republicans blasted it as a bloated, expensive bill that will add to the $31 trillion national debt at a time of high inflation, while Democrats defended it as critical to millions of Americans.
'We have a big bill here because we had big needs for our country,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
House lawmakers rushed the bill out the door as harsh winter weather threatened to delay their flights back home. After discussing the rule that set the terms of debate on the bill for a full hour, House members gave just a cursory, shortened debate on the bill itself before voting began.
The bill provides $858 billion for defense, $787 billion for non-defense domestic programs and nearly $45 billion for military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. It also includes more than 7,200 earmarks totaling more than $15 billion, ando assures the government will be funded until the end of September 2023.
The bill drew vocal attacks from Republicans like Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, who railed against the process that didn't allow any amendments and proposes to spend money the government will have to borrow. Roy also complained that too many Senate Republicans allowed the bill to make it to the House for the rushed vote.
'We had 18 Republicans, who joined with Democrats in the Senate, get on their fancy planes and go home, and we’re sitting here trying to do the work of the people, not spend money we don’t have, not drive up more inflation, not have 7,500 earmarks for $16 billion for pet leftist projects across this country,' Roy said.
Even House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., admitted the process was 'unacceptable,' and blamed Senate Democrats for failing to do their work on time this year.
'In reality… this bill should have been passed in September of this year,' Hoyer said. 'Why? Because the fiscal year ends on September 30th, and fiscal year ’23 begins on October 1st of this year.'
In the lead up to the vote, House Republican leadership actively whipped against the bill.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., argued that Congress should pass a short-term funding bill that keeps the government open until mid-January. That timeline would have given Republicans more leverage to extract concessions from Biden on policy when they take control of the House in January.
'We're two weeks away, 14 days away from having a stronger hand in negotiations,' said McCarthy during an appearance on Fox News' Ingraham Angle this week.
Despite the opposition from GOP leaders, nine House Republicans voted for the funding bill anyway. Most of the support came from GOP lawmakers who are set to retire at the end of this Congress.
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