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Everything you need to know about the Alabama delegation’s ‘cromnibus’ votes

United Stats Capitol
United Stats Capitol

WASHINGTON — House Republican leadership, with the help of a chunk of Democrats, pushed through a $1.1 trillion spending bill on Thursday that will fund the government through next September. The final vote was 219 – 206, as 57 Democrats joined with 162 Republicans to push the bill over the finish line.

According to The Hill, “The so-called ‘cromnibus’ included an omnibus of 11 appropriations bills funding most of the government through September, and a continuing resolution funding the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 27.”

House Speaker John Boehner said passage of the cromnibus avoided a government shutdown, and also gives Republicans an opportunity to readdress DHS funding in February — a move he says will help them push back against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

“(B)y the House’s action, we are setting up a direct challenge to the president’s unilateral actions on immigration next month, when there will be new Republican majorities in both chambers,” he said. “The Senate should act on this bipartisan legislation in short order.”

Alabama’s House delegation, which often splits down Party lines (6 Republicans and 1 Democrat), was split 5-2 on the Cromnibus, with Democrat Terri Sewell joining Republicans Bradley Byrne, Martha Roby, Robert Aderholt and Spencer Bachus in voting in favor of the bill. Republicans Mike Rogers and Mo Brooks voted no.

Byrne said he supported the bill because it contained a number of provisions of particular importance to Southwest Alabama, including fully funding three new Littoral Combat Ships and one additional Joint High Speed Vessel, which are built in Mobile.

“From fully funding three Littoral Combat Ships to easing a burdensome regulation on our local farmers, there are many positive reforms included in this bill,” he said. “Additionally, the bill includes no new funding for ObamaCare, slashes the budgets of the EPA and IRS and includes strong 2nd Amendment and pro-life policies.”

Roby said she supported the bill because it funds critical government operations, including appropriating funding for Lakota Helicopters to enhance the aviation training mission at Fort Rucker in the Wiregrass area of Roby’s district. She also said that, in her view, the legislation gives Congress the best opportunity to reverse President Obama’s unilateral immigration actions when Republicans have dual House and Senate majorities in January.

“I support the Appropriations plan for many reasons, including this important one: this plan puts us in the best position possible to address President Obama’s plans for executive amnesty. There is no question about who is for amnesty and who is against it. The question is what is the best strategy for actually reversing the president’s action? This plan wisely allows us to focus on defunding executive amnesty in four weeks when Republicans have a Senate majority and even more votes in the House.”

Brooks, however, vehemently opposed the cromnibus, saying that it “undermines the proper functioning of a Republic.”

Brooks listed several reasons he opposed the bill, including its $1 trillion price tag; the fact that it was 1,600 pages long and did not give members time to fully review it; and that he believes it represents “tacit surrender to the President’s unilateral action (on immigration) and a missed opportunity to stop it.”

But it was Sen. Jeff Sessions who was the most vocal in the aftermath of the cromnibus’ passage. Sessions leads a bloc of Senate and House conservatives who believe that failing to block the President’s immigration executive order now will give the Administration the opportunity to begin implementing its plan, making it difficult — or even impossible — for Republicans to roll it back next year.

“For the sake of the Constitution and our constituents, Congress should fund the government but not fund the President’s unlawful amnesty,” Sessions said after the vote. “Unfortunately, not only has Congress so far not attempted any effective action to block the President’s amnesty, but the legislation that passed tonight funds through September of next year many policies that the House itself rejected only a few months ago. In effect, the omnibus provides the Administration with billions of dollars to carry out President Obama’s resettlement plan for illegal immigrants in U.S. communities. The legislation also continues to allow the recipients of the President’s amnesty to receive billions of dollars in government checks in the form of tax credits and to participate in programs through myriad government agencies such as Social Security and Medicare.”

According to Politico, in an effort to secure passage of the cromnibus, lawmakers involved in the negotiations searched for votes by including some of their colleagues’ priorities in the bill.

“The result is a behemoth measure that touches everything from union pensions to defense procurement, resulting in one of the most consequential bills to come before Congress this year,” wrote Politico’s Brian Faler.

He also described Alabama’s senior senator, Richard Shelby, as one of the architects of the plan. Shelby defended the size and scope of the legislation, saying it was not abnormal for an appropriations bill to include funding for a wide variety of programs and departments.

“I don’t think it’s a Christmas tree,” he said. “Appropriations bills always have a lot of things in them because there’s a trillion dollars — how to spend it, how not to spend it.”

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