NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

U.S. House passes massive appropriations bill laden with gifts for Wall Street and K Street

A short time ago, the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives nar­row­ly vot­ed to pass a mam­moth-sized, Repub­li­can-engi­neered appro­pri­a­tions bill loaded with good­ies and gifts for Wall Street and K Street. Nick­named the CRomin­bus (con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion + omnibus appro­pri­a­tions bill), it would keep most of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment open till Sep­tem­ber, but at an unac­cept­ably high cost.

H.R. 83 passed with the votes of a major­i­ty of Repub­li­cans and a minor­i­ty of Democ­rats after hav­ing sat in lim­bo for much of the day as John Boehn­er and top Repub­li­cans (lack­ing the votes to pass the so-called CRomin­bus them­selves due to their break­away Tea Par­ty wing) wait­ed expec­tant­ly for the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus to capit­u­late and pony up the nec­es­sary votes for its pas­sage.

That hap­pened at around 6 PM Pacif­ic Time, after the White House and Demo­c­ra­t­ic Whip Ste­ny Hoy­er (their man on the inside) were con­fi­dent they had the votes to guar­an­tee Boehn­er suc­cess. The House returned from recess to begin vot­ing. In the end, fifty-sev­en Democ­rats — includ­ing Hoy­er and James Clyburn — joined with one hun­dred and six­ty-two Repub­li­cans to back the CRom­nibus. The final vote was two hun­dred and nine­teen to two hun­dred and six, with ten not vot­ing.

The CRom­nibus now goes to the U.S. Sen­ate.

The rest of the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus stuck with Leader Nan­cy Pelosi, who adamant­ly with­held her sup­port and cir­cu­lat­ed a short let­ter thank­ing sup­port­ive mem­bers of her cau­cus for stand­ing with her.

Pelosi might have suc­ceed­ed in forc­ing House Repub­li­cans to make changes to the CRomin­bus if Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma if he had let her, but instead he inter­vened on John Boehn­er’s behalf, all but destroy­ing the good­will he has built up in the wake of the 2014 midterms with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s pro­gres­sive base. His White House cer­tain­ly has a pen­chant for snatch­ing defeat from the jaws of vic­to­ry.

It is absolute­ly absurd that Democ­rats are allow­ing Repub­li­cans to exact a heavy price just for keep­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment open for a few more months. H.R. 83, a prod­uct of estab­lish­ment sausage-mak­ing, includes a high num­ber of awful rid­ers, includ­ing one that rolls back some of the most impor­tant pro­vi­sions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act of 2010.

Anoth­er allows polit­i­cal par­ties to accept much larg­er sums of mon­ey from indi­vid­ual con­trib­u­tors. Still anoth­er would pre­vent the Export-Import Bank from oppos­ing coal fired pow­er plants built abroad.

Giv­en that John Boehn­er did not have the votes from his own cau­cus to pass a con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion of any sort, Democ­rats should have been able to demand a clean CR free of gifts to K Street and Wall Street. But instead of using their lever­age, they capit­u­lat­ed, like they have so many times before. And the result will be that need­ed appro­pri­a­tions will be accom­pa­nied by very bad pub­lic pol­i­cy.

At least the Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon Demo­c­ra­t­ic del­e­ga­tions held togeth­er and fol­lowed Nan­cy Pelosi’s lead. The roll call from the Pacif­ic North­west was as fol­lows:

VOTING AYE: Repub­li­cans Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler, Doc Hast­ings, Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers, Dave Reichert (WA), Greg Walden (OR), Mike Simp­son (ID), Don Young (AK), Steve Daines (MT)

VOTING NAY: Democ­rats Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Jim McDer­mott, Den­ny Heck (WA); Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrad­er (OR); Repub­li­can Raúl Labrador (ID)

NOT VOTING: Demo­c­rat Adam Smith (WA)

With the excep­tion of Ida­ho’s Raúl Labrador, the Pacif­ic North­west­’s con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion vot­ed along par­ty lines.

Labrador belongs to the Tea Par­ty wing of the House Repub­li­can cau­cus, which has been almost cease­less­ly agi­tat­ing for anoth­er gov­ern­ment shut­down.

U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Del­Bene, who rep­re­sents NPI’s home dis­trict, released a force­ful response con­demn­ing the vote with­in min­utes of its con­clu­sion.

“I am extreme­ly dis­ap­point­ed that Con­gress has opt­ed to push through a divi­sive spend­ing bill that was inject­ed with irrel­e­vant, con­tro­ver­sial and harm­ful pro­vi­sions,” she said in an emailed state­ment. “It con­tained mea­sures that will re-open the door for tax­pay­er-fund­ed bailouts of Wall Street and weak­en cam­paign finance law to give even more influ­ence in our elec­tions to spe­cial inter­ests.”

“Instead of offer­ing a respon­si­ble approach to keep the gov­ern­ment fund­ed, this leg­is­la­tion rep­re­sents a cyn­i­cal effort to jam unre­lat­ed poli­cies that threat­en the sta­bil­i­ty of our econ­o­my and democ­ra­cy into the appro­pri­a­tions process.”

“Mov­ing for­ward, I urge House lead­ers to work in a more col­lab­o­ra­tive and trans­par­ent process to pass a clean appro­pri­a­tions bill that funds the gov­ern­ment and sep­a­rate­ly allows for a rea­soned, vig­or­ous debate on bipar­ti­san poli­cies to grow our econ­o­my and cre­ate jobs.”

Derek Kilmer piled on a few min­utes lat­er.

“Part of the rea­son Con­gress is held in such low esteem is that it does things like this,” said Kilmer. “While I’m all for fund­ing gov­ern­ment, adding a pro­vi­sion at the last minute to a must pass bill that ben­e­fits the wealth­i­est donors and floods our elec­tions with even more mon­ey under­mines our democ­ra­cy.”

We can be thank­ful that none of our region’s Democ­rats were among the fifty-sev­en who gave John Boehn­er a vic­to­ry tonight. Those Democ­rats, by the way, were:

Ron Bar­ber (AZ)
John Bar­row (GA)
Ami Bera (CA)
San­ford Bish­op (GA)
Tim­o­thy Bish­op (NY)
Julia Brown­ley (CA)
Cheri Bus­tos (IL)
John Car­ney (DE)
William Lacy Clay (MO)
James Clyburn (SC)
Ger­ry Con­nol­ly (VA)
Jim Cos­ta (CA)
Joseph Crow­ley (NY)
Hen­ry Cuel­lar (TX)
Susan Davis (CA)
John Delaney (MD)
John Din­gell (MI)
Sam Farr (CA)
Cha­ka Fat­tah (PA)
Bill Fos­ter (IL)
Pete Gal­lego (TX)
John Gara­men­di (CA)
Jim Himes (CT)
Steven Hors­ford (NV)
Ste­ny Hoy­er (MD)
Mar­cy Kap­tur (OH)
Ron Kind (WI)
Ann M. Kuster (NH)
Dan Lip­in­s­ki (IL)
Nita Mel­nikoff Lowey (NY)
Dan Maf­fei (NY)
Sean Mal­oney (NY)
Jim Math­e­son (UT)
Car­olyn McCarthy (NY)
Gre­go­ry Meeks (NY)
George Miller (CA)
Jim Moran (VA)
Patrick Mur­phy (FL)
Don­ald Nor­cross (NJ)
Bill Owens (NY)
Steven Palaz­zo (MS)
Ed Pas­tor (AZ)
Ed Perl­mut­ter (CO)
Scott Peters (CA)
Gary Peters (MI)
David Price (NC)
Mike Quigley (IL)
Cedric Rich­mond (LA)
Raul Ruiz (CA)
Dutch Rup­pers­berg­er (MD)
Brad Schnei­der (IL)
Allyson Schwartz (PA)
David Scott (GA)
Ter­ri Sewell (AL)
Brad Sher­man (CA)
Krys­ten Sine­ma (AZ)
D. Wasser­man Schultz (FL)

Names high­light­ed in bold are mem­bers of the Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus, who should have been adamant­ly against this awful leg­is­la­tion.

Hoy­er and Clyburn are high­light­ed in yel­low, along with Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz, the inef­fec­tive chair­woman of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee, who does­n’t seem to under­stand what real lead­er­ship is all about.

Shame on these fifty-sev­en Democ­rats for enabling tonight’s dis­grace­ful vote on H.R. 83. Instead of putting the CRomin­bus on ice and forc­ing House Repub­li­cans back to the draw­ing board, they made John Boehn­er’s night. They might as well all be hon­orary mem­bers of Boehn­er’s cau­cus; they cer­tain­ly filled in nice­ly for the six­ty-sev­en Repub­li­cans Boehn­er could­n’t con­vince to vote yes.

Adjacent posts

  • Enjoyed what you just read? Make a donation


    Thank you for read­ing The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s jour­nal of world, nation­al, and local pol­i­tics.

    Found­ed in March of 2004, The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate has been help­ing peo­ple through­out the Pacif­ic North­west and beyond make sense of cur­rent events with rig­or­ous analy­sis and thought-pro­vok­ing com­men­tary for more than fif­teen years. The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate is fund­ed by read­ers like you and trust­ed spon­sors. We don’t run ads or pub­lish con­tent in exchange for mon­ey.

    Help us keep The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate edi­to­ri­al­ly inde­pen­dent and freely avail­able to all by becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute today. Or make a dona­tion to sus­tain our essen­tial research and advo­ca­cy jour­nal­ism.

    Your con­tri­bu­tion will allow us to con­tin­ue bring­ing you fea­tures like Last Week In Con­gress, live cov­er­age of events like Net­roots Nation or the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, and reviews of books and doc­u­men­tary films.

    Become an NPI mem­ber Make a one-time dona­tion