WASHINGTON — The U.S. House passed a major appropriations bill along party lines on Thursday, without amendments proposed by members of the Oklahoma delegation.
The bill passed by a vote of 219-208, with only Democrats voting for the bill and only Republicans voting against. The bill includes funds for several government departments and agencies for fiscal year 2022.
Both Reps. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, and Kevin Hern, R-Oklahoma, submitted amendments for inclusion on the bill, all of which were turned down by the Democratic majority.
Cole’s amendment, which would have provided more than $150 million in funding to help with tribal judicial systems in the wake of the McGirt Supreme Court decision which ruled Congress had never disestablished the Muscogee Nation, was voted down by Democrats en masse along with other Republican-proposed amendments.
Cole traced his opposition to the bill to its partisanship, in his floor remarks.
“But the problems with this bill aren’t just with the money spent,” he said. “In drafting this package, the majority has also chosen to strip out longstanding bipartisan policy provisions, and instead has filled this package with partisan, far-left policy that simply cannot pass both chambers and become law.”
Hern’s six amendments to the bill, which were voted against in a group by themselves, aimed to cut 20 percent of spending from each bill combined in the appropriations package.
“Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi doesn’t want fiscal accountability, which is why she piled all of my amendments into an en bloc to ensure none of them pass,” Hern said in his remarks on the House floor. “Congress has spent recklessly in the last year, and the American people are sick of it.”
None of the other members of the Oklahoma delegation submitted amendments that saw debate on the House floor.
Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Oklahoma, released a statement explaining his views about the passage of H.R. 4502.
“The American people deserve a Congress who is willing to put partisanship aside in order to keep the lights of the federal government on,” he said.
Democrats praised the passage of the bill, and said the increases in funding will help people devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Together, our transformative and historic funding increases will create good-paying jobs, grow opportunity for the middle class and small businesses and provide a lifeline for working families and the vulnerable,” said House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut. “I am particularly proud that the funding increases in the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Bill will help create a society that provides people with the help they so desperately need.”
The bill has the strong support of President Biden’s administration, which praised the increases in spending in the wake of the pandemic.
“Over the past decade, due to the large measure to overly restrictive budget caps, the nation significantly underinvested in core priorities such as education, research and public health that are vital to our prosperity and strength,” according to a statement. “The administration looks forward to working with Congress as the FY 2022 appropriations process moves forward.”
Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.