Senate passes $1.1T funding bill



The Senate voted 56-40 late Saturday evening to pass a $1.1 trillion spending package that funds most of the government through next September.

The vote culminates a week of acrimonious sniping and sends the spending bill to President Obama’s desk for a signature.

The debate exposed divisions within the Democratic and Republican caucuses on both sides of the Capitol and sets the stage for what could be a year of internecine squabbling in 2015. 

Twenty-one Senate Democrats voted against the bill while 24 Republicans voted for it, including every member of the Senate GOP leadership.

Democratic opponents included several senators rumored to have presidential ambitions such as Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCurt Schilling joining Breitbart: report Schilling lashes out: 'I'm apparently an anti-Semite' for asking questions Curt Schilling to Jake Tapper: How can Jews be Democrats? MORE (Mass.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharGreat Lakes senators seek boost for maritime system Podesta floated Bill Gates, Bloomberg as possible Clinton VPs EpiPen maker to pay 5M to settle overcharging case MORE (Minn.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMusic streamer Spotify joins Gillibrand’s push for paid family leave Gillibrand proposes sexual assault reforms for Merchant Marine Academy Podesta floated Bill Gates, Bloomberg as possible Clinton VPs MORE (N.Y.)

The package includes 11 appropriations bills that fund most of the government through Sept. 30 and a continuing resolution (CR) funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Feb. 27. 

It nearly died in the House this week after Warren, a rising star among her party’s liberal base, urged House Democrats to oppose it because of language repealing a key provision of the 2010 Wall Street Reform Act.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerDems brace for immigration battle if Clinton wins 56 memorable moments from a wild presidential race Trump may pose problem for Ryan in Speaker vote MORE (R-Ohio) needed dozens of Democratic votes after conservative Republicans revolted en masse because it does not block President Obama’s executive order on immigration and for other reasons.

Conservative freshman firebrand Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzJuan Williams: When WikiLeaks leaked my cell number 56 memorable moments from a wild presidential race Is Georgia turning blue? MORE (R-Texas) made a last-ditch attempt to bring down the bill Saturday night by raising a point-of-order objection. He argued it violated the Constitution by funding Obama's immigration order. 

But his effort gained little traction with Republican colleagues. Twenty of them voted against him, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellDems brace for immigration battle if Clinton wins Rubio: GOP Congress could go in different direction than Trump Pelosi blasts GOP leaders for silence on Trump MORE (Ky.) and Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynReport: Investor visa program mainly funds wealthy areas GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Conservatives backing Trump keep focus on Supreme Court MORE, his fellow Texan.

While the Senate roundly rejected Cruz’s objection by a vote of 22-74, it sets up a fight over immigration early next year. 

House Republicans leaders chose the short-term bill for DHS to give conservatives another chance to defund the executive order at the end of February. 

Cruz said he expects GOP leaders to wage a tougher fight once they gain control of the upper chamber. 

"If we agree it is indeed unconstitutional, we have no business funding it when the GOP controls Congress next year," he said in a statement before the vote on final passage. “The Constitution matters, and we must defend it."  

The package of appropriations bills, dubbed the “cromnibus,” narrowly passed the House on Thursday night in a 219-206 vote after Obama hit the phones to quell a Democratic uprising against it.

Most Democrats followed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) lead and voted against the package because of two riders she described as “egregious.” 

One of the policy riders repeals part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law to allow banks to directly engage in derivatives trading. The other loosens limits on the amount of money people can contribute to national political parties.

Just after 9 p.m. Thursday, the House wound up passing the bill with the help of 57 Democrats.

Besides the two most contentious riders, GOP leaders tucked other provisions in the package, including one that bans Washington, D.C., from implementing a new referendum that legalizes recreational use of marijuana.

One rider bars the federal government from listing sage grouse as an endangered species in an effort to protect oil-drilling projects. Another relaxes school nutrition standards championed by first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle ObamaClinton, Michelle Obama to hold first joint rally Thursday Obama congratulates Cubs for making it to World Series 56 memorable moments from a wild presidential race MORE.

The House also wrapped in an amendment submitted by the leaders of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.) and George Miller (D-Calif.), that would permit trustees of underfunded pension plans to adjust benefits, saving troubled plans without a federal bailout. 

The $1.013 trillion deal abides by budget caps set by last December’s budget deal, which relieved sequestration for two years. Additional emergency spending that falls outside the caps brings the total to just under $1.1 trillion.

The emergency spending includes $64 billion for overseas contingency operations that have been used to fight the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It allocates $5 billion from that fund for the administration to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — slightly less than what the White House had requested.

Appropriators included $5.4 billion in emergency funding to fight the Ebola epidemic.

The bill has no funding for body cameras for police, which Obama requested after the outcry over police killings of two black men and grand jury decisions not to indict the officers involved.

The spending package, however, does provide funding for other related community policing programs. 

The legislation does not include funding for high-speed rail, for the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” education program and for the International Monetary Fund, among other things. 

No new funding for ObamaCare is included, but the bill also does not reduce any funding for the healthcare law. The bill includes the Hyde Amendment, which bans all federal funding for abortions.  

The Senate still needs to confirm 12 executive branch and 12 judicial branch nominees and pass a package extending a variety of expired tax cuts before wrapping up the 113th Congress next week. 

This post was updated at 10:57 p.m.