Earlier this evening, following in the footsteps of the House of Representatives, the United States Senate passed the massive appropriations bill that has become known as the CRomnibus, sending the legislation to President Barack Obama, who is prepared to sign it without delay.
The cromnibus (officially, H.R. 83, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015) met with fierce opposition from the Republican Party’s Tea Party faction (who want to shut down the government again) as well as movement Democrats whose priority is the well-being of the American people, not playing Santa Claus to lobbyists for the likes of Citigroup.
Opposition to H.R. 83 among Democrats was led by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who decried the many giveaways to Wall Street and K Street that were stuffed into the bill in a series of rousing, powerful floor speeches.
The final vote on H.R. 83 did not break down along party lines, but instead reflected the unusual divisions created as a result of the bill’s secret assembly in a backroom (with assistance from corporate lobbyists).
VOTING AYE: Democrats Patty Murray (WA), Mark Begich (AK), and John Walsh (MT); Republicans Lisa Murkowski (AK)
VOTING NAY: Democrats Maria Cantwell (WA), Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden (OR), Jon Tester (MT); Republicans Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID)
None of us at NPI can recall a roll call quite like this one before.
Crapo and Risch’s no votes were predictable; Idaho’s two Republican senators have a reputation of reflexively voting NO on pretty much everything.
Readers may recall that Crapo and Risch refused to vote to reopen the federal government last year. They wanted to keep everything shut down.
Maria Cantwell, Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden and Jon Tester voted no on principle.
Following the vote, Senator Cantwell’s office released a statement explaining her vote against the cromnibus, which was emailed to NPI.
“I strongly oppose the derivatives provision of this bill, which would overturn a critical component of our work on the 2010 Wall Street Reform legislation,” Cantwell said. “I am also opposed to the changes that would weaken protections for current retirees who depend on multi-employer pension plans.”
Since her reelection to the United States Senate in 2006, Senator Maria Cantwell has been a tireless fighter for sensible financial regulation and has established a very progressive voting record. We are proud to be represented by her.
We have never forgotten that Senator Cantwell refused to vote for the Bush/Paulson/Bernanke bank bailout six years ago. She took a bold, courageous stand, saying that giving Wall Street banks a blank check was wrong.
Several months later, when Barack Obama unwisely nominated Ben Bernanke for another term as Fed Chair, she voted against his confirmation.
In 2010, when the Senate was working on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act of 2010, Cantwell withheld her vote until stronger rules regulating derivatives were included. Only then did she offer her support.
Naturally, the Citigroup-authored provision tucked into the cromnibus was a dealbreaker for her… as it should have been to every Democratic senator.
Other Democrats who voted against the cromnibus were:
- Richard Blumenthal (D‑CT)
- Cory Booker (D‑NJ)
- Barbara Boxer (D‑CA)
- Sherrod Brown (D‑OH)
- Al Franken (D‑MN)
- Kirsten Gillibrand (D‑NY)
- Tom Harkin (D‑IA)
- Mazie Hirono (D‑HI)
- Amy Klobuchar (D‑MN)
- Carl Levin (D‑MI)
- Ed Markey (D‑MA)
- Claire McCaskill (D‑MO)
- Bob Menendez (D‑NJ)
- Jack Reed (D‑RI)
- Bernie Sanders (I‑VT)
- Elizabeth Warren (D‑MA)
- Sheldon Whitehouse (D‑RI)
Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul — who have all been mentioned as possible contenders for the Republican nomination for President — led several of their colleagues in opposition to the bill from the other side.
Four senators did not vote: Dianne Feinstein of California, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and James Inhofe, also of Oklahoma.
H.R. 83 now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it rather quickly, ensuring that top executives and lobbyists on the payroll of the several of the country’s most powerful corporations will have something even better than bonuses to be giddy about this Christmas.