Congress wraps up appropriations, goes home for the holidays

Remember just a few short weeks ago when Tea-Publicans were apoplectic over highly edited videos from an anti-abortion group attempting to smear Planned Parenthood, and the GOP House Freedom Caucus vowed that they would shut down the government if Planned Parenthood was not immediately defunded?

monstersAnd remember these same Teabaggers threatening to shut down the federal government over Syrian war refugees being allowed to enter the country after the terrorist attack in Paris, because they were all pissing their pants in fear,  terrified of monsters under their bed?

Yeah, that never happened.  to Paraphrase from the Bard’s MacBeth:

A Teabagger is but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Always remember that everything Teabaggers do is about providing grist for the Mighty Wurlitzer of the right-wing noise machine of the conservative media entertainment complex, and to pick the pockets of the rubes foolish enough to believe what these grifters tell them. They only vote against a bill when they are assured that there are enough votes for passage, so they can safely proclaim how they voted against the bill (without any consequences). It is all just a con game.

The House approved the tax bill on Thursday. House approves $622B tax plan:

The House on Thursday passed a sweeping $622 billion tax package, the first of two massive end-of-year measures Congress is rushing to conclude this week.

The “tax extenders” bill was approved in a 318-109 vote, with 241 Republicans joining 77 Democrats in backing the measure.

[Democric Reps Kirkpatrick and Sinema voted yes; Democratic Reps. Gallego and Grijalva voted no.]

Only 3 Republicans (Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Chris Collins (N.Y.) and Walter Jones (N.C.)) voted against the bill, which permanently renews a range of tax provisions following years of short-term extensions while extending other tax breaks through 2016 or 2019.

* * *

Of the two year-end bills, the tax measure is more controversial with Democrats, with many fearing it will increase pressure to reduce spending by raising the deficit. The measure makes permanent several business tax breaks such as the research and development tax credit and enhanced small business expensing under section 179 of the tax code.

Still, while Democratic leaders opposed the tax package, they did not whip their members against it and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) acknowledged that it included tax measures supported by members of his conference.

Tax breaks that would be cemented include the expansions of the earned income tax credit, the child tax credit and the American opportunity tax credit, which were all created under President Obama’s stimulus law.

The measures also makes some GOP-backed reforms to the Internal Revenue Service in the wake of the controversy surrounding the IRS’s targeting of political groups, and includes a two-year freeze of ObamaCare’s medical-device tax.

A separate ObamaCare changing freezing the “Cadillac” tax on high-cost insurance plans is included in the omnibus package.

* * *

House Democrats argued that by raising the deficit, the bill would make it difficult for the federal government to make necessary investments in defense and domestic spending.

They noted that the tax cuts are not offset, and they criticized Republicans for not indexing for inflation the child tax credit, which helps working families.

“For those who propose to have the increase in the deficit continue to drive down defense and domestic spending, this bill will almost certainly accomplish this,” said Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

As Dick Cheney said, “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter” — when it caused by tax cuts expenditures for your rich friends. IOKIYAR.

The House also approved the omnibus appropriations bill on Friday. House easily approves $1.1T funding bill, 316-113:

The House on Friday overwhelmingly approved a $1.1 trillion spending package that includes the first major change approved by Congress to ObamaCare and keeps the government open through September 2016.

Lawmakers backed the package following a furious effort by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and their leadership teams to corral votes in both parties.

In the end, there was no drama in the 316-113 vote.

[Reps. Kirkpatrick, McSally and Sinema voted yes; Reps. Franks, Gallego, Gosar, Grijalva, Salmon and Schweikert voted no.]

Ryan won 150 GOP votes, a majority of his conference that represents a big victory for the new Speaker. Ninety-five Republicans voted against the measure. [OK, that surprised me.]

Only 18 Democrats voted against the spending bill, while 166 supported it.

Ahead of the vote, conservatives were expressing disappointment with the package, which was largely put in place by former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who agreed to the top-line number in a deal with Democrats and the White House before ending his Speakership.

Only 79 House Republicans voted for that budget in October, which severely limited the GOP’s leverage in the omnibus negotiations.

Republicans weren’t able to secure tighter restrictions on Syrian refugees entering the country, or language to block funds for Planned Parenthood. Amendments offered by conservatives in a House Rules Committee hearing this week were rejected.

To win over GOP votes, Ryan added language to the bill lifting the decades-old ban on U.S. oil exports.

The vote was closed shortly after the 150th Republican “yes” vote was cast.

That did not seem coincidental, given a letter sent to the GOP whip team after the Thanksgiving holiday by Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-S.C.).

The whip set a marker of 150 GOP votes for the spending bill in the letter, which criticized Republican lawmakers who vote against a bill but secretly hope it passes.

“The vote that hurts our Conference is the no vote from a Member who hopes the bill passes, but relies on others to carry that load,” Scalise wrote. “That vote isn’t fair to the Members who shoulder the responsibility of voting yes, and it isn’t fair to the Republican Conference as a whole.

* * *

Liberal Democrats were upset by the oil provision, though Pelosi and her leadership team noted that their party won the extension of several renewable energy tax credits in exchange for ending the ban on oil exports.

In an early Friday morning memo to House Democrats, Pelosi ticked off a variety of GOP riders Democrats prevented, including attempts to defund Planned Parenthood and overturn environmental regulations.

“Republicans’ desperate thirst for lifting the oil export ban empowered Democrats to win significant concessions throughout the Omnibus, including ridding the bill of scores of deeply destructive poison pill riders,” Pelosi wrote in a Thursday night letter to House Democrats urging them to support the bill.

Another provision that might have won Democratic votes dealt with ObamaCare.

The legislation calls for suspending for two years ObamaCare’s “Cadillac” tax on high-cost insurance plans. Many Democrats wanted that provision, because unions would like the tax to be repealed. Ahead of an election year in which labor’s ground support will be crucial to Democratic races around the country, it is a significant win for the party.

The change came despite the Obama administration’s support for the tax, which is intended to keep healthcare costs down. The White House indicated Obama would not veto the overall package over the tax issue.

The omnibus package also includes a renewal of 9/11 first responder health benefits, known as the James Zadroga Act, a measure the former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart lobbied for in Congress.

One key disappointment for Democrats was the absence of help for Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

Also on Friday, the Senate sends $1.8 trillion deal to Obama:

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Friday in favor a $1.8 trillion package of spending bills and tax breaks, sending the legislation to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

The 65-33 vote effectively wraps up the congressional session for the year, with the House and Senate adjourning for the holiday recess.

[Arizona Sens. McCain and Flake voted no.]

The Senate’s presidential candidates split on the legislation.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voted no, while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) voted yes. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was the only presidential candidate to miss the vote.

* * *

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump slammed GOP congressional leaders for busting the 2011 spending caps with the omnibus and pairing it with a massive unpaid-for package of tax breaks.

* * *

The vote caps weeks of intense negotiations that took place between the leaders of both chambers and the appropriations and tax-writing committees.

Democrats beat back waves of Republican riders that would have rolled back parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, limited the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon emissions, and removed the limit on coordination between political parties and candidates.

The legislation, however, does include two riders blocking the administration from moving ahead with two key campaign finance regulations. It stops the Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring corporations to disclose their political giving and the IRS from issuing new rules governing the activity of 501(c)4 social welfare advocacy groups.

You will note that Congress, once again, has ended yet another year without acting on President Obama’s request for an AUMF to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Speaker Ryan expresses support for ISIS war authorization; Mitch McConnell: New War Authorization Not Happening. This is an abject failure of their constitutional duty.

7 responses to “Congress wraps up appropriations, goes home for the holidays

  1. Politics is a full contact sport. It’s all about political struggle. I give credit where it’s due here. AZBlueMeanie has a point of view and a platform and uses it well.

    • There are a lot of ways to engage in political discourse. And it can get rough. It is AZbm’s blog and he does a distinct point of view. His postings are often informative and present a perspective that I would not have considered had I not read his message. I have often complimented him when he posted these messages. However, his messages are also often childish, snarky and petty. He is not above being called on them when he takes such a tone.

      He’s a big boy and doesn’t need others to jump to his defense. If he was truly offended he would respond with a message that would start something like “Listen Troll…”. :o)

      • But you are above being called on your snarky tone? Be a big boy and take it when someone disagrees with you. 😉

        • Of course people can call me into accounting when I get snarky, and they have, as you are doing. I would say that, out of my 700+ posts on this blog, people have disagreed with about 90% of them. If it was worth responding, I did. If it wasn’t, I didn’t. “Taking it” is not a problem on this blog. It is part of the fun of posting here…

  2. You whine when you don’t think you are going to get what you want, and then you gloat when you get what you want. A poor loser and a poor winner. Those are VERY undesirable traits in a human being.

    • A response that ignores the issues and resorts to personal attacks is a VERY undesirable trait in a blogger.

      • You are correct, Doug, flaming posts are unattractive in blogging. I rarely feel the need to leave them. But when I read AZbm’s post with the distinctly snarky “Nanny! Nanny! Boo! Hoo!” attitude it just struck me as exceptionally childish, even for him.A simple statement that the GOP had backed off it’s threats threats and done the right thing would have been the way an adult would approach it. Give credit where credit where credit is due.