[Marxism] House Narrowly Passes Bill to Avoid Shutdown; $1.1 Trillion in Spending
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Dec 12 04:21:48 MST 2014
(White House and Republicans unite to overcome liberal opposition to
budget that attacks pensions and weakens Dodd-Frank.)
NY Times, Dec. 12 2014
House Narrowly Passes Bill to Avoid Shutdown; $1.1 Trillion in Spending
By ASHLEY PARKER and ROBERT PEAR
WASHINGTON — The House narrowly passed a $1.1 trillion spending package
on Thursday that would fund most government operations for the fiscal
year after a rancorous debate that reflected the new power held by
Republicans and the disarray among Democrats in the aftermath of the
The accord was reached just hours before the midnight deadline, in a
219-206 vote, amid the last-minute brinkmanship and bickering that has
come to mark one of Congress’s most polarized — and least productive —
eras. The legislation now heads to the Senate, which is expected to pass
it in the coming days.
The split in the Democratic Party dramatically burst into view when
Representative Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader and one of President
Obama’s most loyal supporters, broke with the administration over a
provision in the bill that would roll back regulation of the Dodd-Frank
Act, which Ms. Pelosi said was a giveaway to big banks whose practices
helped fuel the Great Recession. She spoke on the House floor in the
early afternoon, expressing her strong opposition to the bill.
Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. were pressed to make a
furious round of phone calls to try to persuade wavering Democrats,
while House Speaker John A. Boehner worked to get more Republican votes.
The public support of the sweeping spending bill by the White House —
which came just as Ms. Pelosi was making her speech on the House floor
opposing it — was a rare public break with the minority leader and
infuriated many of her loyalists.
In a more than three-hour, closed-door meeting of House Democrats on
Thursday night, many of the party’s more liberal members tried to rally
support against the bill. The moment, they said, was one of conscience,
and a chance for Democrats to demonstrate their allegiance with the
“We’ve got to stand up for principle at some point, or they’re going to
kick us even more next year when they have a bigger majority,” said
Representative Peter A. DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon. “They know we will
stand our ground on principle in the future and not roll us so easily
In an emergency gathering, Democrats also expressed anger at Denis R.
McDonough, the White House chief of staff, at what they saw as the
president’s undercutting of Ms. Pelosi and other progressives by coming
out in support of the deal so early in the day. But Ms. Pelosi
ultimately gave her members the freedom to vote how they wanted. “I’m
giving you the leverage to do what you have to do,” she said. “We have
enough votes to show them never to do this again.”
The final vote was a blow to Ms. Pelosi, the liberal wing of the party
and Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, who led the
charge against the Dodd-Frank rollback. Mr. Boehner built a coalition of
162 Republicans and 57 Democrats, a rare achievement for a Congress that
has often operated along strict party lines. Congress also passed a
two-day funding measure to give the Senate time to pass the legislation.
With an opportunity to return to a more conventional legislative process
— funding the government for a fiscal year rather than for months at a
time — Republican leaders had thought they had sufficient bipartisan
support to pass the bill. The adopted measure funds the government
through Sept. 30, 2015.
But an early sign of the headwinds facing the legislation came around
noon, when the deal barely cleared a procedural hurdle to allow a vote.
In several tense minutes on the House floor, support to move forward on
the package seesawed, with Democrats shouting “Call the vote” and
Republicans holding it open until they were able to persuade two
lawmakers to switch their votes.
House Democrats — who were already trying to strike a delicate balance —
found their calculation complicated by the White House, which released a
pre-emptive signal that Mr. Obama would sign the bipartisan legislation
if it made it out of Congress.
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said the administration
agreed with congressional Democrats who were angry about several
provisions that affect financial regulations and others that would allow
larger political contributions to parties during federal campaigns. But
he called the funding bill “a compromise” and said passage of the
legislation would be good for the economy and would bolster some of the
president’s priorities, including consumer protection, early childhood
education and the fight against climate change.
Postponing action on the spending bill until next year would not have
been good for either party. Republicans were eager to get the package
behind them so they could start 2015 with a fresh agenda. And although
Democrats found some provisions of the spending bill objectionable —
including a measure that would significantly increase the limits on
individual contributions to political parties — the package was
negotiated on a bipartisan basis and they probably would have been
forced into greater concessions next year.
Not everyone on the right was happy with the deal, either. Some House
Republicans thought that Mr. Boehner did not go far enough in fighting
Mr. Obama over his executive action last month to defer the deportation
of as many as five million unauthorized immigrants. The spending deal
funds the Department of Homeland Security — the agency primarily
assigned to carry out the president’s immigration policy — only through
February, at which point Republicans will control both chambers of
Congress and have the leverage to try to curtail Mr. Obama’s action.
But some conservatives wanted to immediately defund the Homeland
Security agency, despite the risk of a partial government shutdown.
After the bill was passed, Representative Steve Scalise, Republican of
Louisiana and majority whip, said that the vote “set the stage for a
battle with the president” over his immigration action.
The liberal base of the Democratic Party, led by Ms. Warren, also found
itself in an unlikely alliance with the Tea Party wing of the Republican
Party. Both opposed the Wall Street bailout of 2008 and feared that the
spending measure would not only provide a bounty for big banks but would
also help cause another economic crisis. But last year, 70 House
Democrats voted for a bill that included the very change to the
Dodd-Frank regulations that their leadership opposed this week.
For Mr. Boehner and Ms. Pelosi, the lead-up to Thursday’s vote also
demonstrated the strengths and limitations of their conferences.
Mr. Boehner displayed a willingness to buck his party’s more
conservative members — as well as vocal outside groups — by passing the
bill with the help of Democratic votes.
And Ms. Pelosi and her leadership team again reminded voters that House
Republicans have often found themselves forced to rely on Democratic
votes to pass crucial legislation, from the deal to reopen the
government last year after a 16-day shutdown to relief for Hurricane Sandy.
“This bill is a one-two punch at middle-class voters,” said
Representative Steve Israel of New York, a member of the Democratic
leadership. “It weakens financial regulation on big banks and rewards
Congress for doing so by increasing donation limits of big donors. This
is exactly why middle-class voters have a contempt of Congress.”
Representative Nita M. Lowey of New York, the senior Democrat on the
House Appropriations Committee, supported much of the bill but
criticized the increase in limits on contributions to political parties.
She linked that provision to efforts by the Senate majority leader,
Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, and Mr. Boehner.
“The Reid-Boehner provision to increase by tenfold the limits on
contributions to political parties is excessive and also does not belong
on this bill,” Ms. Lowey said on the House floor.
But Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, said the campaign
finance change had been negotiated with Senate Democrats.
“Democrats in the Senate consented to it and, I suspect, participated in
it,” Mr. Cole said.
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