The House on Thursday approved the first appropriations bill of the year, a measure that spends $51 billion on the Departments of Commerce and Justice, NASA and other related agencies.
The spending bill, H.R. 5326, was approved in a 247-163 vote in which eight Republicans voted against it, reflecting opposition to the amount spent in the bill. But it also picked up the support of 23 Democrats.
Republicans voting against the bill were Reps. Justin AmashJustin AmashBipartisan push grows for new war authorization The Hill's Whip List: 21 GOP no votes on new ObamaCare replacement bill Oversight Dems want vote on Trump tax return bill MORE (Mich.), Paul BrounPaul BrounCalifornia lawmaker's chief of staff resigns after indictment Republican candidates run against ghost of John Boehner The Trail 2016: Let’s have another debate! MORE (Ga.), John Campbell (Calif.), John Duncan (Tenn.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeTrudeau, Trump speak for second night about US-Canada trade Trump says he may break up 9th Circuit Court after rulings go against him Trump administration weighing order to withdraw from NAFTA MORE (Ariz.), Trent FranksTrent FranksTrump’s hands are tied on 9th Circuit The Hill's Whip List: 21 GOP no votes on new ObamaCare replacement bill How Devin Nunes suddenly fell from power MORE (Ariz.), Cynthia LummisCynthia LummisDems on offense in gubernatorial races Trump's Interior candidates would play Russian roulette with West Trump eyes House members for Cabinet jobs MORE (Wyo.), and Tom McClintock (Calif.).
The legislation cuts spending by about 3 percent compared to current levels, which Republicans said shows their ongoing commitment to trim spending. The GOP said spending by agencies covered by the bill has been cut by 20 percent over the last three budget cycles.
But similar to last year, Republicans were often split over proposals to cut further. During amendment debate, younger Republicans — including some associated with the Tea Party movement — offered amendments that would have chopped at least $3.5 billion more, but nearly all of them were defeated with the help of senior Republicans.
Among these were proposals to cut $1.2 billion from the National Science Foundation, and several amendments to cut all salaries and administrative expenses by an additional amount.
While Republicans split on these ideas, they came together in support of several funding limitations, particularly those that limited the authority of the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderDNC chairman: Trump’s tax cuts and budget plans are 'morally bankrupt' Holder: Trump's election fraud claims are laying foundation for voter suppression Dem rep: Jim Crow's 'nieces and nephews' are in the White House MORE.
One of the more controversial amendments added to the bill would prevent Justice from using taxpayer funds to lie to Congress. That language, from Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzWhen political opportunity knocked, Jason Chaffetz never failed to cash in Chaffetz resting after 'successful' foot surgery Lawmakers reintroduce online sales tax bills MORE (R-Utah), was a reaction to GOP arguments that Justice lied to Congress about its involvement in a gun-walking program that allowed weapons to leave the United States, one of which was later used to kill a U.S. border patrol agent.
Chaffetz said during debate that Justice's purposeful decision not to tell Congress the truth about the "Fast and Furious" program was "wholly unacceptable," and his amendment was passed easily 381-41 with the support of 142 Democrats.
The House also voted to cut $1 million from the Justice Department in retaliation for the department's failure to come clean about Fast and Furious.
Additionally, members approved amendments preventing Justice from defending the 2010 healthcare law, suing states with voter ID laws and taking action against state immigration laws.
Erik Wasson contributed to this report.
Updated at 3:49 p.m.