How Did Your Congressman Vote On Keeping the Government Running?
Crain's Chicago Business
With a perhaps surprising amount of passion, the state's congressional delegation was deeply split on last night's House vote to avoid a federal government shutdown by approving an omnibus $1.1 trillion appropriation bill for fiscal 2015.
The measure, enacted by a narrow 219-206 vote, drew fire from the extremes of both parties, with conservative Republicans complaining that it funded President Barack Obama's immigration plan until February and liberal Democrats protesting that it raised campaign contribution limits and watered down provisions of the Dodd-Frank banking reform law.
Despite that, all six Republicans from Illinois voted yes. Rep. Randy Hultgren of Wheaton, who has sided with the right wing on some occasions in the past, said the bill "lays the groundwork for the new Congress next year to use its full weight to hold the administration accountable and pursue our priorities on tax reform, energy, government transparency and many other areas."
The Democrats were bitterly split, with Cheri Bustos, Bill Foster, Dan Lipinski, Mike Quigley and Brad Schneider in favor. Six voted against: Danny Davis, Bill Enyart, Luis Gutierrez, Robin Kelly, Bobby Rush and Jan Schakowsky.
'BEST DEAL WE COULD'
"The White House had it right: We didn't win the election," Quigley said in a phone call. "We had to get the best deal we could."
The Chicago Democrat noted that the measure, now headed to the Senate, includes funding for key local initiatives, such as up to $120 million to rebuild the Chicago Transit Authority's Red Line north and Purple Lines, money that might not have been there had the bill been kicked over until next year. The changes in Dodd-Frank are "innocuous," he said.
In a statement, Lipinski said, "This government funding bill is not perfect, but it represents something all too rare in Washington these days, bipartisan compromise.
But Gutierrez, also of Chicago, termed the decision to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which enforces immigration law, only until February "an absurd and dangerous stunt." The measure also reduces funding for college student Pell Grants, and the Dodd-Frank changes amount to "caving to Wall Street banks," he said in a statement.
Another Chicagoan, Rush, agreed. He noted the Dodd-Frank changes but also pointed out a $332.4 million cut in food-stamp spending—about 3 percent—and potential reduction of benefits in multi-employer pension plans.
But Foster, in a statement, said that though the bill was flawed, "we cannot continue to govern from crisis to crisis. I am pleased that this bill preserves most essential funding"—including a provision that will save Argonne National Laboratories $3.8 million a year by allowing it to remove nuclear waste it has been storing on site.
One other note: Peoria Republican Aaron Schock announced that he has been named to the House Budget Committee. He already serves on the equally powerful Ways and Means Committee.
It's quite a coup and strongly suggests that Schock will be staying in the House in coming years and not eyeing, say, a race for the Senate.
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