Update Sun. 8:30 am: The Omnibus 2015 federal spending bill passed the Senate Saturday night 56 to 40 averting a government shutdown. Both Senators Menendez and Booker joined progressives and others and voted against the bill. Sen. Booker said the bill would roll back regulations in the Dodd-Frank Act, compromise truck safety, and interfere with the rights of Washington, D.C. residents to change their marijuana laws. Sen. Menendez said, “The rollback of critical Wall Street reform provisions puts taxpayers on the hook to bail Wall Street out again. Moreover, this last-minute add-on – a poison pill written by large financial institutions – sets the table for more attacks on the protections I fought to put in place following the financial collapse.”
Not so long ago the NJ legislature used to have an annual Christmas tree bill which was sprung upon the membership and laden with all sorts of holiday goodies inserted by individual legislators. This week in the House of Representatives with little more than two days to review the bill, leadership sprung their $1.1 trillion Christmas tree bill to fund the government next year and avert a federal shutdown.
The bill narrowly passed 219 votes to 206. Many Republicans did not like the bill for the generic reason that it calls for “too much government spending,” and because the act does not explicitly block President Barack Obama from implementing his Executive Order on immigration. Republicans voted 162 in favor and 67 against. Many Democrats did not like the bill because it weakens Dodd-Frank consumer legislation and because it increases substantially the amount donors can contribute to political parties. Democrats voted 57 in favor and 139 against.
The House Speaker Republican John Boehner never had enough Republican votes to pass the bill, so he relied on support from Democrats. The White House vigorously lobbied Democrats for passage as did Steny Hoyer, Democratic Whip. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke out and voted against it. Five of our NJ Democrats refused to “hold their nose” and vote for it and instead voted against it.
Roll call among the NJ delegation reveals one Democrat voted in favor and five against. Four Republicans voted in favor and two against. Without a scorecard it can be hard to tell the Republicans from the Democrats.
Here’s the breakdown:
Democrats CD 1 Donald Norcross: Yes; CD 6 Frank Pallone: No; CD 8 Albio Sires: No; CD 9 Bill Pascrell: No; CD10 Donald Payne: No; CD 12 Rush Holt: No.
Republicans CD 2 Frank LoBiondo: Yes; CD 3 Jon Runyan: Yes; CD 4 Chris Smith: No; CD 5 Scott Garrett: No; CD 7 Leonard Lance: Yes; CD 11 Rodney Frelinghuysen: Yes.
In this omnibus bill there was something for everyone to both hate and love. Expect more of these messy bills as the Republicans take over the Senate in a few weeks. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., called the situation a “hold your nose vote.”
The bill now goes to the Senate where in a few days a sufficient number of Democrats will likely hold their nose while they vote for it. U. S. Senator Bob Menendez (D) on MSNBC today expressed concerns over the bill but would not say how he would vote. I don’t know how U. S. Senator Cory Booker (D) will vote, but one might suspect that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren will vote against it.