Senate Democrats blast House GOP government funding measure

Senate Democrats blast House GOP government funding measure
© Greg Nash

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinChicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Senate approves resolution warning Trump not to hand over US officials Deal to fix family separations hits snag in the Senate MORE (Ill.) and Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Dems protest vote on controversial court pick Budget chairs press appropriators on veterans spending Kavanaugh paper chase heats up MORE (Vt.), the most senior Senate Democrat, blasted the newly unveiled House Republican funding bill Wednesday and said they would oppose it.

House GOP leaders hope this week to pass a four-week emergency spending measure that would delay key ObamaCare taxes and extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years.

Durbin, who is part of a bipartisan immigration working group, said he will not vote for a spending bill that does not protect "Dreamers," immigrants who came to the country illegally at a young age, from deportation. 

“It fails to address some critical issues we believe should be included in it, particularly when it comes to nondefense spending. It doesn’t solve the problem of sequestration. It doesn’t address the opioid crisis nor funding for the veterans, nor the health-care clinics across America. So it’s a very poor effort,” he said.

“We’ve waited this long and ended up with a piecemeal approach,” he said.

Durbin is also upset about the House bill’s failure to protect Dreamers from deportation in the wake of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Surveillance warrant docs show that Nunes memo 'misrepresented and distorted these applications' Chicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Ex-Trump aide: Surveillance warrants are 'complete ignorance' and 'insanity' MORE’s decision to rescind the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“I want DACA included and I’m not going to be voting for spending bills that don’t include it,” he said.

Leahy, the senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said the House Republican stop-gap spending measure falls far short.

He said “it doesn’t do anything for defense, it doesn’t have a guaranteed floor on social things [and] has some major cuts in CHIP.”

“I don’t think anyone should vote for it,” he said. 

Setting aside the debate over whether it should fix DACA, Leahy said its core spending elements are problematic.

“It’s inadequate. I don’t even know if it’s going to pass the House,” he added. “What’s frustrating is we Democrats have been ready since last summer to work out good budget agreements and so many senators, Republican senators, privately want to do a real agreement.

“The only person who has talked about a shutdown is Donald Trump,” he said.

House GOP leaders tried to lure Democrats to support the bill by adding language to delay ObamaCare’s medical device and "Cadillac" taxes for two years and a health insurance tax for one year.

A senior Senate Democratic aide said the Cadillac tax on high-cost insurance plans isn’t due to go into effect until 2020 anyway and argued its delay does not provide any incentive for Democrats to vote for the spending stopgap.