More Democrats and fewer Republicans voted for the fiscal 2018 omnibus Thursday than voted for the budget deal that set the spending levels for it.
The House passed the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, 256-167, with 145 Republicans and 111 Democrats voting “yes.” The “no” votes came from 90 Republicans and 77 Democrats.
Compare that to the budget deal vote last month that the House passed 240-186 with the backing of 167 Republicans and 73 Democrats. On that measure 67 Republicans and 119 Democrats voted “no.”
More than half of the Democratic Caucus voted against the budget deal in February because Speaker Paul D. Ryan would not specifically commit to a vote on legislation to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that shelters from deportation young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team adopted that stance and conducted a soft whip effort that corralled many of the rank and file to their side.
The main difference on the omnibus is that Pelosi, who helped negotiate both deals, decided to vote “yes.” That, coupled with nondefense funding boosts being directed to Democratic priorities, likely led to others feeling comfortable to follow the leader.
The omnibus vote produced an additional 38 Democratic “yes” votes compared to the budget deal. One reason a majority of the caucus supported it is because of an earlier vote on the rule for the legislation —Pelosi led her members in taking a stand against that vote to protest inaction on DACA. So members already had an outlet to express their frustration over the issue without having to tie it directly to their vote on the omnibus.
“I leave it up to members as to [how] they want to vote, weigh the equities in this bill and take the vote and I respect whatever decision they make,” Pelosi said in a floor speech. “But I’m so glad that we had such an overwhelming vote on our side against a rule, a rule that undermines the regular order of the House, undermines the speaker’s own statements about that regular order.”
Notably, the House Democratic leadership team was split on the omnibus. Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat, joined Pelosi in supporting the bill, while House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer and Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley, the respective No. 2 and No. 4, voted against it.
Hoyer and Crowley both cited DACA as their primary reason for voting against the omnibus, as did the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
“The CHC cannot support this spending bill as it would fund Trump’s border wall and mass deportation force. It is indefensible for Congress to pass a spending bill that not only leaves Dreamers without permanent protections but also funds their deportations and those of immigrants with deep ties to their communities,” the group said in a statement.
GOP opposition grows
The GOP’s evolution from the budget caps deal to the omnibus was different. The Republican opposition, initially based on the increased spending the budget deal authorized, grew as members realized the omnibus didn’t spend that money on their sought-after priorities nor did it withhold money from things they oppose.
“It provides much needed funding that our military deserves, but it doesn’t do enough to secure our borders or crack down on dangerous sanctuary city policies,” Rep. Doug LaMalfa said.
The California Republican, who supported the budget deal, said there are provisions in the omnibus he fought to include and wants to support “but at the end of the day, the level of spending is too high to justify.”
LaMalfa was one of roughly two dozen Republicans who voted for the budget deal but against the omnibus.
It is somewhat puzzling that Republicans would cite increased spending as a concern in voting against the omnibus when they voted for the budget deal that authorized those spending levels.
“We need to look at this through the framework of the $21 trillion debt that has been racked up by irresponsible federal spending. That’s why I voted no: the bill continued to spend us into more debt without any serious reform,” Rep. Brian Mast said in Facebook post about his omnibus vote. The Florida Republican supported the budget deal.
DACA ‘no’ votes
In an ironic twist, some of the swell in the GOP opposition was actually related to inaction on DACA.
“While there are many things in here that we support, we are united in our belief that it is an incomplete deal without a DACA solution,” the two lawmakers said.
Denham is working with Democrats to build support for a “queen of the hill” move that would facilitate a floor process for votes on multiple DACA bills, with the one receiving the most votes above the required simple majority threshold prevailing.
Florida GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo also voted against the omnibus over DACA.
While Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman agreed that some of his more conservative GOP colleagues are obstructing Congress from reaching a solution on DACA, he did not vote against the omnibus over that issue.
“I could not in good conscience vote on a 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion bill, without adequate time to review it,” he said in a statement. The omnibus was released just 17 hours before the House voted on it.
Some Republicans flipped in the opposition direction, voting for the omnibus after opposing the budget deal that set its spending levels.
That group included three committee heads — Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot of Ohio, Education and the Workforce Chairwoman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina and Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling. Members with committee posts or other prime positions in the conference are typically expected to align with leadership, and those three did on the omnibus.
A more surprising reversal from “no” on budget deal to “yes” on the omnibus came from Rep. Richard Hudson.
The North Carolina Republican was the lead sponsor of a bill to allow people with concealed carry permits to carry their guns across state lines. The House had merged that legislation with a bill to strengthen reporting requirements to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The latter measure was included in the omnibus without Hudson’s concealed carry reciprocity bill, despite GOP leaders promising not to separate the two.
Correction 7:45 a.m. | An earlier version of this story mischaracterized Rep. Diane Black’s vote on the budget deal. She was not present for that vote.