$1.7 trillion package includes disaster aid, despite ‘no’ votes from SWFL rep
by David Silverberg
In an characteristically Grinchian gesture just before the Christmas holiday, Southwest Florida’s representatives voted against a $1.7 trillion spending bill that includes $27 billion for relief of communities like those in Southwest Florida afflicted by hurricanes and other natural disasters.
The 4,155-page bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (House Resolution 2617), passed today along a largely party line vote of 225 to 201. Nine Republicans voted for the bill. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-13-Mich.) voted “present” and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-14-NY) cast the sole Democratic vote against it.
The bill funded all the agencies of government and avoided a shutdown, which would have occurred had it been defeated.
Southwest Florida Reps. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-26-Fla.) all voted against the bill.
On Thursday, Dec. 22, the Senate approved the bill on a bipartisan vote of 68 to 29, with Florida Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) opposing it.
“As communities across the country work to rebuild after unprecedented natural disasters, this bill provides the urgently needed support to help families, small businesses, and entire towns and cities get back on their feet and repair damaged infrastructure,” stated Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3-conn.) chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
In what she said was probably her last speech in the role she has played since 2018, House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.), urged passage of the bill, noting that “We have a big bill here, because we have big needs for our country.”
She pointed out: “We have the largest defense appropriation ever and, again, to help us honor our oath of office to protect and defend and what the Constitution says: ‘provide for the common defense.’” Beyond its $858 billion for US defense, the bill also provided $45 billion for Ukraine.
Pelosi noted, “…This bill is about our heroes, honoring our heroes, our heroic veterans with a major increase in veterans’ health care,” and benefits for firefighters and first responders. It also helps working families with “critical investments for their health, housing, education, [and] economic well-being… .”
Republicans fought the bill through its drafting, first passage through the House and passage through the Senate.
Echoing the Republican line against the bill, Donalds long inveighed against it in media appearances and on social media.
“Every Republican should be a NO on the omnibus spending bill,” he tweeted on Dec. 19. He criticized it for not focusing more narrowly on border security issues.
“I voted NO on the nearly 2 trillion dollar omnibus spending bill because I’m a CONSERVATIVE that doesn’t make bad deals with a party hellbent on bankrupting our nation while refusing to secure the border,” he tweeted after the bill passed. “I work for WE THE PEOPLE, not political gamesmanship.”
Steube also criticized what he said was insufficient border attention: “This steaming pile of omnibus prohibits DHS [Department of Homeland Security] from using funding to secure our border” he tweeted. “Meanwhile, Democrats (enabled by several Senate Republicans) are sending millions to Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Oman for their own ‘enhanced border security.’”
“Despite having months to work on the [Fiscal Year] 23 funding bill in good faith with House Republicans, this 4,000+ page spending package was drafted behind closed doors and released less than a week before government funding expires,” complained Diaz-Balart. “As the American people continue to suffer the consequences of this Administration’s reckless spending and wasteful economic policies, increasing non-defense discretionary spending on these radical left-wing policies will only further fuel and lengthen inflation.”
President Joe Biden is expected to swiftly sign the bill into law.
Special to Big Mouth Media from The Paradise Progressive. Originally published on December 23, 2022.