Updated Monday, December 15, 2014 at 9:39 a.m.
By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — After much wrangling between the White House and Congress late Saturday, the Senate passed a $1.1 trillion spending package expected to be signed by President Barack Obama by this week.
The Senate approved the measure in a 56-40 vote. Because the bill only funds the Department of Homeland Security until February, Several liberal Congressional leaders called the omnibus spending bill a compromised budget. That’s because conservative lawmakers scaled back Obama’s health and immigration policies.
Also, the Senate nixed all spending on Obama’s signature education initiative, Race to the Top. And there is no funding for Common Core State Standards. Moreover, Republicans weakened the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which installed policies to protect homeowners and other financial consumers. And Democrats compromised, saying they secured more money for enforcement budgets.
The rollback on key provisions of the Dodd-Frank law would allow big banks to sell off risky financial instruments, while having access to federal aid if banks falter. Some noted that similar measures have helped created the 2008 recession and forced government to bail out banks that were “too big to fail.”
The massive omnibus spending bill will fund the federal government operations through September 2015.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) voted against the measure, saying it’s clear this is not an acceptable budget to many Democrats.
“I was really so heartbroken to see the taint that was placed on this valuable appropriation bill from on high,” she said on the House floor.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) disagreed with that characterization of the spending bill, calling it a “responsible” bill put forth by a bipartisan vote to “keep the government running and address the American people’s priorities.”
Before the measure passed in the House with a 219-206 vote, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough urged House Democrats to vote for the bill. And the White House administration issues a statement, saying the administration was opposed changes to the Dodd-Frank Act, aimed at reducing taxpayer risk.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), speaking about the Dodd-Frank regulations, said that the move on financial reform reflects a conservative agenda rather than a progressive one.
“The alternative to passing this bill would be worse–another short-term continuing resolution or a government shutdown,” Murphy said in a statement released to the press. “Either would inflict real pain on millions of people in Connecticut and across the country.”
The bill also appropriated billions to fight Ebola in the U.S. and overseas, supports Connecticut economy by funding defense programs, which is a life blood of the state’s economy.
“The bill will surge manufacturing with more Blackhawk helicopters, F135 Engines for the Joint Strike Fighter, development for new submarines and combat rescue helicopters, he said.
Other Congressional leaders opted to avert another shutdown as the one in 2013.
Rep. Jim Himes, (D-Conn.) said he voted for the measure because the “doesn’t want a government shutdown and because everyone” demand that the U.S. government be functional–not dysfunctional.
Other key measures include increased limits on individual contributions to national political parties and a reduced budget for the Internal Revenue Service.
In addition, the spending bill funded core domestic government operations and provided money for military operations abroad.