Majority of Minnesota delegation votes “yes” on $1.1 trillion spending bill

In a 316-113 House vote, Republican Congressmen Erik Paulsen and John Kline joined Democrats Tim Walz, Rick Nolan, Collin Peterson, and Betty McCollum in support of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016.  Republican Tom Emmer voted with Democrat Keith Ellison against the 2,009 page, $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill.  The bill had 166 Democrat “yes” votes, including that of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and 150 Republican “yes” votes.

Nolan released a statement praising passage of the bill, calling it a “good compromise for the 8th district and our entire nation.” He specifically highlighted a provision to spend more money to crack down on illegal dumping of “low-grade, foreign government-subsidized steel.”

Walz also stated support of the bill calling it a “bipartisan compromise” while recognizing spending measures including; a 5-year extension of solar and wind energy tax credits, an 8% spending increase for solar and wind research and development, restoration of a $2.5 billion cut in education spending, an additional $1.4 billion above 2015 levels for “at-risk” students, $600 million above 2015 levels for Head Start PreK programs, a $2 billion increase in research spending at the National Institutes for Health, and restoration of $500 million in spending for Department of Transportation “TIGER” grants which primarily fund mass transit, light rail, bicycle and pedestrian projects.

McCollum took a victory lap after passage of the bill, stating on her Facebook page: 

The appropriations bill that was passed today is a significant political victory for Democrats in Congress. Republicans hold their largest Congressional majority in 66 years, but Democrats forced the most harmful conservative policy riders out of this bill. Attacks on women’s health, Syrian refugees, and our environment were stripped from this bill because Democrats stood united. This bill demonstrates that Democrats will stand to defend our priorities and that Republicans are still unable to effectively govern.

In addition to pulling the worst of the worst policy riders from the bill, Democrats delivered increased investments for clean air, clean water, and our nation’s parks. This legislation also includes increased funding for anti-poverty efforts, medical research, and education. The new investments in this bill are at their highest possible level given our current budget situation. 150 Republicans followed the leadership of the Democratic minority and supported this new spending.

In spite of an overwhelming majority, Republicans were forced to abandon nearly all of their right-wing budget and policy priorities because Democrats kept the focus on governing responsibly and meeting the needs of the American people.

There were no statements released by Peterson, Paulsen, or Kline regarding their “yes” votes as of this morning.

Emmer released a statement regarding his “no”  vote, which stated that the growing $18 trillion in debt was his concern, but praising some of the “pro-growth” policies in the omnibus bill.

Ellison made a floor speech against the bill, faulting it for not spending enough and also for extending $20 billion in tax credits to the oil and gas industry.

The bill again lifted the so-called sequester spending caps put in place in 2011, this increased overall spending by $80 billion over 2-years.

Other items in the bill:

  • Refugee Resettlement is fully funded, 185,000 more refugees will be brought to the United States via the United Nations program over the next 2-years, despite security concerns about the 10,000 that will come from Syria during the next year.
  • Foreign workers- the bill temporarily expands the H-2B visa program, the number of visas issued to foreign workers for nonagricultural or temporary service jobs in 2016  will increase 400%
  • $286 million in Title X family planning funding, much of which goes to Planned Parenthood, despite efforts to stop taxpayer-funding of the organization after videos released by the Center for Medical Progress showed that federal laws were likely being violated in the sale of baby organs to research labs

The Senate adopted the bill on a 65-33 vote, both Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken voted “yes.”

President Obama signed the bill into law on Saturday along with a $700 billion tax bill which extends many of the credits he created under his 2009 stimulus package and makes permanent the Earned Income Tax Credit for low income filers, the American Opportunity college tax credit, and the Enhanced Child Tax Credit. Also included are a $250/mo tax credit for mass transit commuters and a new temporary provision to deduct state and local sales taxes for people who live in one of seven states who don’t impose a state income tax.  Many tax credits for business were also included.

Fiscal conservatism lost the day, CNN reports, “The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates it will cost $622 billion over a decade. But once interest costs are added, the cost approaches $760 billion, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

And that cost will not be offset, which means it will be tacked onto the national debt.

What’s more, it effectively “squanders most of the hard-earned savings from either the ‘fiscal cliff’ deal ($800 billion in revenue) or the sequester (more than $900 billion in spending cuts),” said CRFB’s president Maya MacGuineas.”