Friday, December 18, 2015

For Various Reasons, Arizona Congressional Delegation Overwhelmingly Votes Against Omnibus Spending Bill; From "Monstrosity" To "Refreshing"

(Article corrected to reflect that Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva also voted against today's spending bill.)

Arizona's Senators both voted "nay" on the omnibus $1.1 trillion spending bill today, as did six of Arizona's nine Representatives.  It passed easily, and the President is expected to sign it today.

The House yesterday passed the $680 billion tax package portion, 318-109. Only three Republicans voted against that - none of them from Arizona. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1-running-for-Senate) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) were among the 77 Democratic Reps to join the Republicans in supporting it (vs. 106 Democrats opposing).

Today, the $1.1T bill that will keep government from shutting down for at least the next 9 months, passed the House 316-113.  Four of Arizona's 5 GOP Representatives bucked the party majority and voted "nay" on the spending portion; Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) voted "aye".  Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) and  Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) were two of only 18 Democrats to oppose the measure.

The Senate passed the companion measures together, 65-33.  Both John McCain and Jeff Flake were among the 27 Republicans casting no votes.

McCain's reason for opposing the package was made known earlier this week in a blistering 26-minute rant against fellow Republican Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.) and others for "lining Putin's pockets" with an end-around provision to allow Russian-made rocket engines into the U.S. (See separate video posted here.) He tweeted that it "represents everything the American people hate about Washington."

Flake's reason for opposing focused on the amount of spending: "I voted against the omnibus because it adds to our growing debt, fails to address wasteful spending, and is full of the same tired giveaways we’ve seen over the years.”

Selected tweets from Arizona's House Republicans:

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-CD5) called it "a win for big government and backroom deals", and neither Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) nor McSally issued statements today.

Democratic Rep. Gallego outlined a bevy of reasons for his "nay" vote, including Puerto Rico, election transparency and climate change. He said that "in reality was packed with Republican policy provisions that only compromise our values. The omnibus should be about funding the government – not about pushing through policies that could not pass on their own."

On the other hand, Kirkpatrick called the omnibus "refreshing": “It was refreshing to vote for an omnibus bill that includes smart investments in jobs, education, transportation and infrastructure. And this bill is especially good for Arizona, with increases for wildfire grants programs, national parks, Pell Grants, Head Start, Impact Aid and much more. Instead of the usual shutdown threats and brinksmanship, Congress worked together on this compromise bill, and while it isn’t perfect, it deserved to pass with overwhelming support. As I’ve often said, bipartisanship is the way to get things done. In 2016, I hope Congress will chart a similar path -- one that is paved with more results than rancor.”

Rep. Grijalva did not appear to release a statement, and here is Sinema's tweet with a link to her full statement:

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