Idaho’s all-GOP congressional delegation split down the middle yesterday as the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a continuing resolution to fund the government – avoiding a government shutdown by just two days. Sen. Mike Crapo and Rep. Mike Simpson voted in favor of the measure; Rep. Raul Labrador and Sen. Jim Risch voted against.
The House vote was 342-85; the Senate vote was 72-26. The 10-week stopgap spending bill includes long-delayed funding to fight the Zika virus, $1.1 billion; $500 million in flood relief for Louisiana and other flood-stricken states; the full fiscal 2017 appropriation for military construction and veterans; and continuing fiscal 2016 levels for remaining government programs through Dec. 9.
During the debate in the House, according to Roll Call, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, said, “It’s not perfect, but it ensures we meet our nation’s critical needs. At this point, it is what we must do to fulfill our congressional responsibility, to keep the lights on in our government.”
Labrador issued a blistering statement defending his “no” vote, while Simpson noted the bill includes the full-year military and veterans appropriations bill, and lauded its passage. Here comments from the Idaho delegation members:
“Establishment Republicans have once again partnered with Democrats to ignore our fiscal crisis, rather than join conservatives determined to restore fiscal sanity. Both parties have proven they have no intention of balancing our budget or slowing the growth of our crushing debt. A year ago, our new Republican leadership vowed to complete the regular appropriations process, passing the 12 bills that fulfill the duty of Congress to take good care in spending taxpayer dollars. Today, they punted, refusing to tackle the hard choices that must be made to preserve American prosperity.
“The broken promise leaves me both saddened and angry. I’m saddened because we had made progress in the last five years, trimming annual deficits by nearly 70 percent, from $1.4 trillion to $439 billion. The positive trajectory was reversed this year, with the deficit projected to reach $590 billion. According to the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office, we’re in for a decade of anemic economic growth and the return of trillion-dollar annual deficits.
“I’m angry because we weren’t permitted to do our work. Rather than complete our most basic job – passing spending bills – leadership sent us out on a seven-week summer recess. Congress should have stayed to meet its responsibilities, but now we’re taking another extended break.
“We appear headed for more of the same when we return in December for a lame duck session, where the unholy alliance will continue to blow through the limits in the 2011 Budget Control Act in order to increase both military and domestic spending. If we don’t mend our ways, our legacy to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be economic ruin.”
“Funding provided by this legislation is necessary to keep the government operating and provides critical resources and certainty for our service members and veterans,” he said. “This bill is needed to increase the speed, efficiency and effectiveness of VA services to veterans. It is the responsibility of Congress to ensure the VA receives the resources it needs to provide our veterans with the quality care they deserve.”
“The funding in H.R. 5325 will continue to house, train, and equip military personnel, provide housing and services to military families, and maintain base infrastructure. The CR also includes funding to address management problems and health care shortages in the national VA system.”
“Our country’s fiscal picture remains unchanged and the congressional budget process is still broken. Although I completely understand a vote in opposition to this Continuing Resolution, I supported it because it contained needed support for our veterans, including support for improvements in claims processing, electronic records systems and advanced funding for veterans benefits such as disability compensation. This short-term measure, while providing a 4.1 percent increase in resources for veterans programs for the next fiscal year, does not grow the size of government. The bill also allows important government programs to continue, such as supporting efforts to combat wildfires in Idaho and funding the INL. When Congress returns to the unfinished appropriations bills, it must do the hard work to address our nation’s fiscal problems.”
RISCH: Risch didn't issue a statement, but discussed his vote in comments this morning to KID Radio in eastern Idaho. Here are some excerpts:
“Sen. Crapo and I rarely, rarely split our votes, but we did yesterday. Not that we’re in disagreement, we’re both in agreement with each other’s position. He had fought really hard to get some stuff in there that he wanted on veterans funding. … This is a bill that funds the entire government. There’s stuff in there that is just awful, and yet there’s also stuff in there that is absolutely critical and necessary to run the government, and if you’re going to pass it you certainly have to hold your nose to vote for it, because there are some things in there that are pretty bad. Mike fought really, really hard to get some good stuff in there, and one of the things you can’t do is deal with the people that are constructing the legislation, fight hard to get what you want in there, then say, ‘Oh, thank you for putting it in, now I’m going to vote no on it.’ You just can’t do that. I mean, you can do it once. But you’ll never get away with it again. And so as a result of that, Mike felt really compelled to vote for it, and he was right on that.”
He added, “My vote reflected what I’ve voted on every time we have one of these. This funds the entire government. What it funds is the spending of $11 billion a day, spending at the rate of about $3.8 trillion a year. You know, I actually could vote for that if, A, they pare it back to a degree, but more importantly if somebody somewhere would say, ‘Look this can’t go on, we’ve got to do something to start reeling this back. … They’re borrowing $1.25 billion dollars every single day.”
He added that he doesn’t favor shutting down the government. “In fact, I’m a cosponsor of a bill that would stop the government from ever being shut down. What it would do is if you can’t reach an agreement, the funding would continue just like the CR, except after 120 days it would ratchet spending back 1 percent, and then just continuing on with that, and continuing to ratchet it back. Nobody wants to see the government shut down. I want to see the government run, I want to see it run at a much, much smaller level than what it’s run and spending a whole lot less money. But shutting the whole government down, that’s not a good idea, obviously.”