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.

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

U.S. Senate passes $1.1 trillion, giveaway-stuffed “cromnibus” bill in late night vote

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 final vote was fifty-six to forty; four sen­a­tors did not vote.

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).

The roll call from the Pacif­ic North­west was as fol­lows:

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.

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