Breaking: Omnibus passes House 316-113; Update: Senate approves, 65-33

It’s terrible for a number of reasons, but it’s on the way to the Senate anyway. A bipartisan vote closes out the House effort on the FY2016 budget, with the same kind of bloated and opaque legislation that Republicans were supposed to stop supporting:


The House has passed a $1.14 trillion spending bill to fund the government through next September.

It’s a peaceful end in the House to a yearlong struggle over the budget, taxes, and Republican demands of President Barack Obama. …

Senators are expected vote on the budget measure in combination with a year-end tax plan that gives breaks to working families and a wide variety of business interests.


CNN hailed this as a breakthrough under Paul Ryan’s leadership before the vote took place:

The bipartisan deal marks the first major fiscal package negotiated by the new House Speaker Paul Ryan, and the debate is a marked departure from previous spending fights that were full of drama right before the deadline and internal back-biting inside the House Republican conference. Most of the heavy lifting on this bill was done by Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner, R-Ohio, who cut a budget deal with Democrats right before he stepped down that set the overall spending levels.

But just like Boehner did, Ryan will need major help from Democrats to pass the funding measure because of opposition from conservatives to spending levels and what some see as a surrender to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on key policy riders. Pelosi, however, doesn’t have a unified caucus either: Many Democrats are criticizing the legislation because it removes a decades-old ban on crude oil exports and omits financial protections for Puerto Rico, which is struggling with a debt crisis.


Ahem. It doesn’t take much leadership to push through a bill that the opposition supports and that Obama wants to sign. John Boehner could have done that. The huge expansion of H-2B visas alone should have killed this bill, especially with millions of American workers still sidelined from the Great Recession. Did anyone in Congress bother to look at the workforce participation rate lately, which is still at a 38-year low? For that matter, did any of our elected representatives think that maybe it’s a bad time to massively expand visa programs for other reasons — say, what happened in San Bernardino?

If anyone wonders why a demagogue like Donald Trump can dominate the Republican presidential primary race, this is Exhibit 492B.

Roll Call’s beat reporter was impressed by how smoothly this proceeded, though:

Yeah, well, down the hatch. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have both pledged to block it in the Senate, but don’t hold your breath. There will be plenty of people in the Senate who want to get home for the holidays and want to see the budget fight in the rear-view mirror. Predicted vote: 74-26, assuming everyone shows up.


Note: The final paragraph was edited shortly after publication.

Update: I wasn’t off by much in my prediction:

The $1.1 trillion dollar spending deal easily passed both chambers of Congress on Friday morning after weeks of negotiations to fund the government through September.

The bill, commonly referred to as the omnibus, passed the House 316 to 113 in one of the last votes that chamber’s members took this year.The Senate followed suit and easily passed the measure 65-33.

The legislation, which also includes a package of extended tax breaks called ‘tax extenders,’ now goes to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

The House majority whip, Steve Scalise, tried to argue that the H-2B visa expansion addresses a “current and projected H2B worker shortage.” Mark Krikorian scoffs at NRO:

Most of the e-mail is the usual lobbyist-written baloney, but it takes an especially clumsy (or shameless) lobbyist to try to justify this captive-worker program by citing “the current and projected H2B worker shortage”. Worker shortage? To get a sense of how ridiculous that is, just one number: In the second quarter of this year there were 6.5 million people working part-time who said they wanted full-time work but couldn’t find it. (For more, including the growing number and percentage of working-age people dropping out of the labor market, see here.) In such an environment, what possible justification can there be for importing construction workers and hotel maids?

And the party’s brain trust can’t understand why people are attracted to Trump.


Trump is a self-inflicted wound.

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