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Alabama delegation votes on $1.1 trillion Omnibus bill

December 18, 2015
In The News

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill by an overwhelming 316-113 vote Friday morning, wrapping up a frenzied month of legislating just in time for the lawmakers to head home for the holidays.

The so-called Omnibus bill — a massive year-end spending bill that incorporates legislation from the 12 appropriations subcommittees as well as reforms to the Visa Waiver program and lifting a ban on U.S. oil exports — funds the federal government through September 2016. The bill now heads over to the U.S. Senate where it is expected to clear the chamber later Friday without the support of Alabama Sens. Richard Shelby or Jeff Sessions.

Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04) was the sole Alabama Republican to vote for the bill. He joined 149 of his GOP peers in supporting the measure, along with 95 Democrats including Alabama’s lone Democrat, Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07). The remainder of the seven-member delegation voted against the legislation.

Here’s what delegation members are saying about their votes:

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01):

Our nation is at war, and I could not support a government funding bill that fails to address the reality of the serious security challenges our nation is facing. I was disappointed the bill did not include provisions to block any funding from going to the Syrian refugee resettlement program. For months now, I have been warning about the legitimate problems posed by this program, and this bill fails to prevent the President from bringing Syrian refugees into the United States.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-03):

I am outraged that the bill that passed today did not prohibit funding for President Obama to bring refugees from the Syrian conflict to America. What happened in California demonstrates that Islamic terrorists are ready and willing to use our lax immigration system to enter our country to do us harm. Now, President Obama will be able to carry out his plan to let thousands of refugees from the Syrian conflict into the U.S. I have no confidence that these refugees can be properly vetted by this Administration. President Obama’s plan is dangerous and I will continue to fight against it.

U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (AL-06):

A spending bill should reflect the priorities of our nation. This $1.1 trillion bill does not. It continues to pile debt on our children without sufficient reforms.

Furthermore, it fails to include numerous policy priorities that should have been included. Recently, a veto-proof majority of the House passed legislation to strengthen the vetting of Syrian refugees. This reform should have been included in this bill, but was not. This bill also allows funds to continue to flow to Planned Parenthood and does nothing to defund Obama’s unlawful administrative amnesty.

The bill does have a few good provisions, like lifting the ban on crude oil exports, which I have long supported. Unfortunately even this significant victory is overcome by the numerous deficiencies.

The process to get to this point was no better than the underlying legislation it produced. I hope that going forward, the process will be different.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07):

My vote was cast in favor of keeping the government operating and to continue to make critical investments agency programs that benefit all Americans. I also firmly believe that we cannot afford another shutdown and this bill provides the Federal Government with funding through September 30, 2016.

The omnibus provides much needed increases for a broad range of education programs including Head Start, Title I grants, aid to HBCUs, the TRIO and GEAR UP programs, and rural education. Providing the resources low-income families need to increase their academic success is one of my highest priorities, and this legislation is a first step in the right direction.

This is not a perfect bill, but I am proud that both sides of the aisle were able to work out a compromise that benefits our nation, and helps us continue to grow.