Senate approves $1.1 trillion Cromnibus spending bill 56-40
In a surprise vote, the Senate approved the $1.1 trillion spending bill that funds most of the government through next September.
But perhaps equally important was that the Democrats in the Senate rammed through sevearl dozen Obama administration nominees for the courts and the agencies that Republicans had successfully blocked for months. The Democrats were given the opportunity when Senator Ted Cruz blew up a plan on Friday to adjourn the Senate for the weekend, giving Majority Leader Harry Reid the opening to bring the nominations to the floor.
After the Democrats cleaned up on nominations, they proceeded to hand Cruz a crushing defeat on his constitutional point of order regarding the president's immigration executive orders.
A vast majority of the Senate disagreed with Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) assertion that President Obama’s executive order on immigration is unconstitutional.
Cruz raised a constitutional point of order against the $1.1 trillion “cromnibus” — which funds most of the government through September, preventing a government shutdown.
“If you believe President Obama’s executive order was unconstitutional vote yes,” Cruz said ahead of the vote on Saturday. “If you think the president’s executive order is constitutional vote no.”
Only 22 senators voted with Cruz and 74 voted against his point of order.
“The junior senator from Texas is wrong, wrong, wrong,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said. Reid said the vote had everything to do with the funding bill and nothing to do with immigration.
Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) agreed to allow a vote on the cromnibus late Saturday night after objecting the day before. Both have taken issue with President Obama’s executive order on immigration. They’ve called it an “illegal amnesty” program.
GOP House members refused to fund the Department of Homeland Security beyond February as protest to Obama’s executive order, but Lee and Cruz said it didn’t go far enough.
Forcing the Senate to stay in session Saturday didn’t make Cruz and Lee any friends.
Many Republicans blasted Cruz and Lee’s “strategy” as being ill conceived and a waste of time.
The vote on Cromnibus was anti-climactic. Democrats were never going to shut down the government over the Wall Street regs on derivatives, just as most Republicans weren't going to shutter the government because of the immigration executive orders:
A revolt by Warren and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, a longtime Obama ally, over a provision to ease Wall Street banking regulations fed tensions on Capitol Hill all week.
The House vote was delayed for seven hours on Thursday after Democrats balked at the provision to kill new restrictions on derivatives trading by large banks, weakening Dodd-Frank, one of Obama's early legislative achievements passed in response to the 2008 financial crisis, triggered partly by complex mortgage derivatives.
Banks argue the regulations would have been ineffective and costly.
The provision was partly responsible for 21 "no" votes from Senate Democrats, which outnumbered 18 Republicans and one independent opposing it.
The spending bill provides for a slight increase in Pentagon war funding, which would total $64 billion for this fiscal year. Some of the money is for combating Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Other high-priority items include nearly $5.5 billion to help contain the Ebola virus, including Defense Department efforts in West Africa.
Internal Revenue Service spending would be cut and Republicans also inserted initiatives ranging from prohibiting funding for the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate lead content in ammunition and fishing tackle, to stopping the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees into the United States.
The fight over Obama's immigration executive orders will resume early in January as Republicans try to find an effective means of defunding the orders. The GOP will try to make the defunding measure as palatable as they can for Democrats, hoping to lure enough of them into supporting the measure after an expected veto by President Obama.