Congressional Reps Divided On Federal Budget Deal
Members of Congress from the Carolinas were divided, mostly along party lines, when they voted early Friday on a 2-year federal budget agreement. The bill was signed into law by President Trump.
Most Republicans supported the plan, which boosts military spending and includes another $125 million in aid for areas of North Carolina still recovering from Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Most Democrats opposed it, in part because it does not resolve the fate of young immigrants known as "Dreamers."
Senate leaders have promised a vote on immigration reforms next week, as Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina noted during debate on the bill carried by C-SPAN: "The one thing I can tell you, today, in the next 24 hours, we're going to end the nightmare for the military. Next week, we'll take up solutions to help the DREAM Act population and secure our borders."
But there's no guarantee the House will take up the issue. That was a sticking point for Democratic House members such as Alma Adams of Charlotte and David Price of Chapel Hill. Both support parts of the bill, such as money for hurricane relief and other domestic programs. But they were reluctant to vote for the bill without an assurance of a House vote on immigration reforms.
“The lack of transparency, lack of a way to pay for this, and lack of a plan for the thousands of young people in the 12th District who are left to hide in the shadows simply because of the color of their skin is too much to bear," Adams said in a statement.
Said Price: "Without assurances in the House similar to those given in the Senate, I cannot vote to support this budget package and let Republican leadership once again kowtow to a president who believes his power cannot be checked."
Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger applauded the military spending increase. And he said the plan addressed other priorities, including $6 billion to fight the opioid crisis, and extending the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.
Another supporter was Republican Patrick McHenry, who is the party's chief deputy whip. He said it boosts defense spending that hasn't kept pace as the world has become a more dangerous place.
On the Senate side, Republican Thom Tillis noted that neither side got everything it wanted. He said the deal includes about $100 million in disaster recovery funds and $25 million in highway funding for areas hit by Hurricane Matthew and flooding.
"The additional $125 million will go a long way in helping our local communities recover from the destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew," Tillis said in a statement. "We are grateful for Senate leaders and appropriators for recognizing that recovery efforts do not end when first responders leave and that a multi-year recovery process requires continued federal assistance.”
Tillis used his own speech during debate over the bill to talk about what he sees as next steps - fixing DACA, including a path to citizenship for dreamers, and improving border security.
Fellow Republican Richard Burr joined Tillis in celebrating the hurricane relief. But he actually voted against the budget. A spokeswoman said Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, opposed a provision that he says limits the powers of Congress to oversee intelligence spending.