WASHINGTON — A $1.1 trillion bill to fund the government through next September flew through the House (316-113) and Senate (65-33) on Friday, but only garnered support from two individuals in Alabama’s nine-member federal delegation. Alabama’s lone Democratic representative Terri Sewell (D-AL7) was joined in supporting the bill by Republican Robert Aderholt (R-AL4), while the other seven Alabama Republicans voted no.
“This bill is more known for what it is not than for what it is,” Aderholt told Yellowhammer in a statement. “While I was able to get some important language included for the pro-life movement, the bill does not contain other riders I had hoped for such as tying the President’s hands in the Syrian refugees and peeling back the EPA water regulation. That is a big disappointment.”
The pro-life language Aderholt had inserted into the 2,009-page bill blocks the genetic manipulation of human embryos. Aderholt said he was opposed to other portions of the bill, which included funding for Planned Parenthood, and according to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), President Obama’s “entire immigration agenda,” including the Syrian refugee resettlement program and expansion of foreign worker visas.
“There is a reason that GOP voters are in open rebellion,” Sessions said in a statement announcing his opposition to the bill. “They have come to believe that their party’s elites are not only uninterested in defending their interests but – as with this legislation, and fast-tracking the President’s international trade pact – openly hostile to them.”
Sessions was joined in the senate by his Alabama colleague Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who also voted against the measure while calling its final passage a “victory” for President Obama.
“Today I once again said ‘no’ to handing over a blank check to President Obama with this 2,000 page, trillion-dollar spending bill filled with liberal victories,” said Shelby. “Not only does this fiscally irresponsible bill allow the President to continue his dangerous Syrian refugee resettlement plan, it does nothing to stop funding for lawless sanctuary cities that protect criminal illegal immigrants. It also does nothing to end taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. Simply put, this bill represents a victory for President Obama and his liberal allies – not for the American people.”
In the House, Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL7) said she voted for the bill “after a thoughtful and thorough review,” citing its funding for “Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and other minority serving institutions.”
“This is not a perfect bill,” she said, “but I am proud that both sides of the aisle were able to work out a compromise that benefits our nation, and helps us continue to grow.”
Conservative criticisms of the bill included familiar frustrations with the process used to craft it, in addition to the policy provisions. In spite of the bill being over 2,000 pages long, members were only given a couple of days to review it.
“The good news is that this bill is the last vestiges of Speaker Boehner’s style of leadership,” Aderholt said. “And in two weeks we will start putting together a bill with conservative principles that will pass with conservative votes.”
Aderholt is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and could play a significant role in crafting the next funding legislation.