On ‘Cromnibus,’ Lamborn, Polis at polar ends of opposition, but in general money talked

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he so-called Cromnibus government-funding bill passed in the House last night. It was a tight vote that saw hardline conservatives and progressives oppose an enormous bill that, on the one hand, did nothing to undercut President Obama’s executive order suspending deportations for undocumented immigrants and, on the other, included giveaways to the finance industry, the oil-and-gas industry and to big election campaign donors.

The bill was brought to the House floor by Republican leaders under closed rule, which meant lawmakers could not pose amendments before the vote.

Among the Colorado delegation, Democrat Ed Perlmutter voted to pass the bill, as did Republicans Mike Coffman, Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton.

Denver Democrat Diana Degette voted against the bill, as did Boulder Democrat Jared Polis and Colorado Springs Republican Doug Lamborn.

Polis and Lamborn sent out releases explaining their votes that tell the tale of their ying-and-yang liberal-conservative Colorado districts and of the divided House of Representatives more generally.

Lamborn: [blockquote]“I cast my vote against the so-called Cromnibus package because it funded lawless executive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, and that is something I cannot support. I also introduced an amendment to the legislation that would have prohibited federal funds from being used to carry out amnesty. Unfortunately, the leadership rejected this common sense approach.
 
As with any large, omnibus legislation, there are good aspects to this bill. However, I must hold fast to my Constitutional oath and do everything in my power to stop and defund President Obama’s executive amnesty. This is a consistent vote as I have been on record supporting any practical legal steps to prevent this unlawful use of executive power.”[/blockquote]

Polis: [blockquote]“This spending bill is a perfect example of why Congress has such a low approval rating,” said Rep. Polis. “Members were shown this 1600 page bill for the first time less than 48 hours before voting on it. Those of us who took the time to read the legislation found that it was swollen with pork, back-room policy riders, and misplaced spending priorities. “
 
“I voted against the ‘CROmnibus’ because it does nothing to address our out of control deficit spending, funds wasteful defense projects at levels millions of dollars higher than the Defense Department or Administration requested, and includes policy riders that shred our campaign finance laws, trample on the will of DC voters, and increases subsidies for multi-national oil and gas companies.”
 
Rep. Polis sponsored or cosponsored a number of amendments at a Rules Committee hearing on Wednesday evening to try and rein in spending or eliminate harmful policy riders. These include:
 
– Sponsored an amendment to reduce federal spending on research and development for fossil fuels to the President’s requested amount.
 
– Sponsored an amendment to cut $120 million in unrequested and wasteful funding dedicated to upgrading the M1 Abrams Tank.

– Sponsored an amendment to defund the mid-life nuclear refueling overhaul of the aircraft carrier, the George Washington – potentially saving as much as $7 billion in taxpayer funds.

– Sponsored an amendment to bring H.R. 15 – a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill – to the House floor for a vote.

– Cosponsored an amendment with Representatives Ted Deutch, Jim McGovern, Alcee Hastings, Donna Edwards, and John Sarbanes striking a rider buried on page 1,599 of the bill that would eviscerate limits on political contributions to political parties.

-Cosponsored Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton’s amendment to strike a backroom deal that added a provision to the bill in an attempt to override the will of D.C. voters by canceling the district’s new marijuana law.[/blockquote]

The Lamborn position pinned the ability of the government to continue operations entirely on successful opposition to “amnesty” for law-abiding immigrants that would also get the best of President Obama. The Lamborn approach was shared by his far-right colleagues, but it’s uniquely Lamborn to characterize the approach as a matter of “common sense.” No Democrat in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate would have supported the bill that Lamborn would have sent to them and the Democratic president his bill would have targeted for humiliation would have certainly vetoed it. Lamborn’s “nay” vote, in effect, was a vote for government-shutdown brinksmanship. The opposite of a common sense proposal, you might say, given that he was bringing it just a year after Republicans tried and failed the same approach, which ended in a weeks-long shutdown that cost the economy billions.

Polis’s position was shared widely among Democrats on the left and in the middle, who were steamed that Republican leaders were using the must-pass government funding bill to push clearly controversial policy into law. His doomed amendments were meant to pushback against the Republican riders to the bill and spotlight generally liberal policy positions that are also supported by the majority of Americans, who would like to see Defense spending reined in, tax breaks for the enormously profitable oil and gas industry phased out, campaign finance laws tightened, and comprehensive immigration reform passed.

The bill is called the “Cromnibus” because it’s a long-term omnibus spending bill combined with a short-term continuing resolution. The omnibus portion of the bill would fund government agencies until next September and the continuing resolution would fund the Department of Homeland Security until roughly March.

There was much in the bill for progressives to dislike, but debate, led on the left by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, centered on the Republican proposal to repeal restrictions on big banks that was imposed after the global financial crisis and recession.

As The Washington Post reported, “House aides said the language in the bill appeared to come directly from the pens of lobbyists at the nation’s biggest banks… The provision was so important to the profits at those companies that J.P.Morgan’s chief executive Jamie Dimon himself telephoned individual lawmakers to urge them to vote for it, according to a person familiar with the effort.”

In reporting the vote count, The Post cross-referenced House votes with campaign contribution data from the Center for Responsive Politics and found a telling if unsurprising pattern. On average, members of Congress who voted in support of the Cromnibus received twice the money for their election campaigns from the intertwined finance-insurance-real estate industries than did those who voted against the bill.

That analysis holds roughly true for the Colorado delegation. Here’s the breakdown in cash received by the lawmakers this year from the three industries:

Gardner: $1.49 Million
Perlmutter: $692,530
Coffman: $624,418
Tipton: $177,150

Polis: $156,330
Lamborn: $63,250
DeGette: $45,150

[Top photo: Doug Lamborn.]

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