By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., voted in favor of the long-term budget agreement and Continuing Resolution to fund the government through March 23, 2018.
The bill, which Senator Shelby supported, was passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 71-28 in the U.S. Senate.
“The Senate has approved a two-year budget agreement, which ensures that the men and women of our armed forces will have the resources needed to keep our country safe,” Shelby said. “Additionally the package provides critical funding to help our nation’s veterans receive the care they deserve while increasing resources for infrastructure improvements and disaster relief.”
“Through this measure, we are also working to support ongoing efforts to continue the fight against opioid abuse,” Shelby added. “I am glad we have agreed on the blueprint for a more long-term appropriations measure and allowed the federal government to continue operating for the American people. I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to support this important bipartisan agreement.”
Shelby added that the Bipartisan Budget Act includes structural reforms to Medicare, extends CHIP funding for an additional four years, reauthorizes several tax policies, and rescinds Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, among other provisions.
Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, also voted in favor of the bill. Byrne said that he voted for it because it ended dangerous budget cuts to our military.
“Prior to the vote, I received calls from both White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis asking me to support the budget bill,” Byrne said. “They both strongly expressed that this is the best deal possible to end the harmful cuts to our military and, on behalf of President Trump, asked for my support. Given my commitment to our national defense, I cast my vote in favor of the bill.”
The bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 240-186.
President Donald Trump also supported the bipartisan budget agreement.
“The Budget Agreement today is so important for our great Military,” the president said to his many Twitter followers. “It ends the dangerous sequester and gives Secretary Mattis what he needs to keep America Great. Republicans and Democrats must support our troops and support this Bill!”
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, commended Byrne for his support of the budget agreement.
“This budget legislation is critically important to our nation’s military, and I appreciate Congressman Byrne’s support,” Thornberry said. “He is a valued member of the Armed Services Committee, especially on issues important to the U.S. Navy. I look forward to continuing to work together to ensure our servicemen and women have all the tools they need to do their job and defend our country.”
Secretary of Defense Mattis said, “Let me be clear: as hard as the last 16 years of war have been, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of the U.S. military than the combined impact of the Budget Control Act’s defense spending caps, worsened by operating in 10 of the last 11 years under continuing resolutions of varied and unpredictable duration… To carry out the strategy you rightly directed we develop, we need you to pass a budget now.”
“No more kicking the can down the road,” Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Selma, wrote on social media. “I voted to pass this two-year bipartisan deal because it offers long-term solutions to some of our biggest challenges. For our rural hospitals, for Alabama families, and for every community impacted by the opioid epidemic, this bill brings needed relief and support.”
Not everyone loved the budget deal. Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, voted against the deal.
“Washington’s special interest groups and debt junkies won a huge victory with passage of the most financially irresponsible bill I have faced in Congress,” Brooks said. “Over the long haul, this bill is a disaster for America. This debt junkie’s dream adds hundreds of billions of dollars in spending that America does not have, has to borrow to get, and cannot afford to pay back. Notably, out of roughly $300 billion in new spending, zero was spent on a border security wall. The absence of border wall funding says a lot about the misplaced priorities of this wayward Congress.
“While I very much support the military spending increases in this bill that are similar to those I voted for just a short three days ago, over the long haul, this legislation severely destabilizes America’s finances and will force stiff cuts to defense spending,” Brooks said. “Long term, this legislation damages national security and jeopardizes the Tennessee Valley’s economy. This debt junkie’s spending bill is a short term ‘binge’ that will be followed by a long term hangover. From both a substantive and symbolic standpoint, this financially irresponsible spending bill is a disaster for America.”
Notably, the bill did not include any provisions related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was a top priority of many Democrats. For the second time in a month, Democrats folded on their demands that the DACA program be extended before there would be any continuing resolution to fund the government passed.
“Tonight, Republicans are celebrating the passage of their fifth stop-gap, short term Continuing Resolution on the heels of their second shutdown in a month — continuing government by dysfunction,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. “Democrats worked hard to achieve a bipartisan agreement and gave our assurances to the Speaker that we were not interested in shutting down government. In return, the Speaker refused to make a real commitment to schedule a vote to protect the Dreamers who have the overwhelming support of the American people and a bipartisan majority in the House. In contrast, Senator McConnell not only gave his commitment to the Senators, he has already begun the process to bring a bill to the Senate floor.”
“The fight in the House to protect Dreamers is not over,” Pelosi added. “I’m greatly disappointed that the Speaker does not have the courage to lift the shadow of fear from the lives of these inspiring young people. When we protect the Dreamers, we honor the highest ideals of America. Their patriotism, their perseverance, their optimism are an inspiration that stirs the conscience of our entire nation.”