December 18, 2015
As Washington, D.C. vacates for the holidays, Congress today passed final funding legislation–known as an omnibus appropriations package–to fund the government through September 30, 2016. Read our previous post for a detailed analysis of what the omnibus means for sustainable agriculture and food systems.
Early on Friday, December 18, the House passed the omnibus package 316-113, with five members not voting. In an impressive show of strength by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the package was carried largely by Democrats — 166 Democrats and 150 Republicans voted Yes, while 18 Democrats and 95 Republicans voted No. Late Thursday it was not clear the Democratic votes to carry the package would materialize, but the Minority Leader pressed her case that the alternative was far worse, anti-environmental and other riders largely stripped from the bill, and the measure to allow the export of U.S. crude oil necessary to get any Republican support, even if she and most Democrats strongly oppose it.
Many of the Democrats who voted against the omnibus are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and objected to the removal of a ban on oil exports. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) lost Republican votes because the bill fails to include riders to defund Planned Parenthood, ban Syrian refugees from the United States, and repeal environmental regulations. Moreover, some Republicans were still rankled by an increase in spending levels following October’s two-year budget deal.
The Senate passed the funding package, in combination with the separately passed House bill to provide $680 billion worth of tax subsidies, primarily to businesses and with no offsets, by a vote of 65-33 shortly after the House. Again, as with the House vote, Democrats carried to package, supplying 37 of the 65 Yes votes.
The omnibus has implications for everything from food safety, beginning farmers, and conservation, to research, rural development, and subsidy reform. Read more here.
The President is expected to sign the bill before leaving for his annual Christmas trip to Hawaii.
Categories: Budget and Appropriations