Speaker of the House Paul Ryan made sure that there would not be a government shutdown and despite strong opposition from the House Freedom Caucus, he has the votes, thanks to the Democrats in Congress to pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill. The new budget bill will keep the United States government funded for one year and will pass through the House and the Senate. The bill will become law after the vote in the House then the Senate gives it the green light on Friday just in time for Congress to adjourn on Friday.
In the end the Freedom Caucus who had attempted to add amendments to the bill ranging from national security and abortion to less strict environmental regulations. But the entire package of proposals were cut out of the bill by the very powerful House Rules Committee, which decides how exactly a bill will be structured on the floor.
The conservative Republicans were unable to defund Planned Parenthood, block the Iran nuclear deal, prevent debt increases and generally advance their agenda. Speaker Ryan went for a more bi-partisan, bill that appealed to a more centrist part of Congress.
While the nearly 40-member Freedom Caucus wasn’t expected to take a formal position on the legislation, the rejection of the group’s amendments will give its members yet another reason to vote against the massive, year-end omnibus bill that funds the government for much of 2016.
“There’s good stuff in there,” said Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), pointing to a GOP-favored provision lifting the 40-year ban on crude oil exports, “but I just can’t get myself to do it.”
The House will also pass a bi-partisan package later today that had been negotiated alongside the spending bill. Both bills are expected to clear the Senate and be signed into law by President Obama.
The new bill will have some taxes in it In addition to the budget that would make sure there are significant long-term cuts for small businesses, labor unions and manufacturers. The plan would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the national deficit over the next 10 years, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. For Democrats, the tax deal would permanently enshrine Obama-era credits for low-income families and those Americans paying college tuition.
The oil companies get a nice bump in the bill with a provision that would lift a multi-decade ban on oil exports. That means the U.S. more competitive with other major oil-producing countries such as Russia and Saudi Arabia. But it is also a big negative to carbon emission cuts the Obama administration negotiated at the Paris climate talks.
After months of pressure from Jon Stewart, Congress is finally ready to re-up the World Trade Center Health Program, extending health benefits to 9/11 first responders more or less indefinitely.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is happy because the new bill increases the amount of military spending. That includes billions of dollars in operations funds and hundreds of millions in personnel funds, with hundreds of millions more thrown in for aircraft and missile procurement.
In the end neither the Democrats nor the Republicans got what they wanted out of this bill which is by Washington standards the definition of a good bill.