Although one of President Donald Trump’s favorite ways to insult Congressional Democrats is to call them “do nothing Democrats,” this Friday, the Democrat-led House passed a set of four spending bills covering various parts of the government for the next fiscal year. The bills represent an “opening pitch” from House Democrats in spending negotiations, which Senate Republicans haven’t even begun — although there are a total of 12 pieces of spending legislation to work through, the Republican-led Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to introduce a single non-defense spending bill. Meanwhile, the House-passed spending legislation includes a slew of provisions that go directly against the president’s wishes.
For example, the four-bill package passed on Friday — which includes spending for state and foreign operations, agriculture, interior, and military construction/ veterans affairs — includes funding for the World Health Organization, which Trump has tried to withdraw the United States from. He and his allies have complained that the organization is supposedly China-centric in its work, but in reality, the president’s team simply seems desperate for some kind of scapegoat on which to pin blame for their own failed Coronavirus response.
The legislation passed with 224 in favor and 189 against. Among other points, the newly approved spending legislation would also overturn the so-called “Mexico City policy,” which blocks foreign aid groups from receiving U.S. money if they’re in any way involved with abortion, and — in a move sure to spark the ire of the president and his political goon squad — the legislation also blocks the usage of military construction funds for the president’s long-sought southern border wall. Trump has signed an emergency declaration covering the situation at the southern border in an attempt to use the subsequent emergency powers to force the transfer of money to wall construction projects.
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said:
‘This appropriations package addresses urgent national priorities. I am proud that the package also includes strong emergency appropriations to confront coronavirus and support economic recovery, with investments in critical infrastructure and coronavirus preparedness, response, and relief domestically and globally.’
Besides the high stakes political issues, the House’s latest spending bills also exclude the funding cuts that the White House had sought at the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Trump administration has routinely proposed major cuts in the funding to crucial parts of the government like those, and Congress has routinely rejected the proposals.
Congress has just about a couple of months to work on spending legislation before the government would shut down for lack of funds if nothing is passed. As has been used in the past, there’s the option for a continuing resolution that would authorize the continuation of spending at current levels while legislators continue to hammer out their differences.
In the meantime, there’s already been controversy over the spending plans. Specifically, Trump has threatened to veto a defense spending bill if it includes a provision for the removal of Confederate names from army bases. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who’s no liberal! — has said that he hopes that the president does not follow through on that veto threat.