The United States House of Representatives will head into its summer break, having this week passed nine of the twelve appropriations bills that traditionally make up the federal budget. The spending measures contain significant increases for several agencies, reflecting the wishes of the Biden administration, but were almost universally opposed by Republicans who say there is, essentially, zero chance they will become law.
"It’s just this huge wish list," said Rep. Markwayne Mullin, (R) OK-2, "that has no way to get across the Senate."
Democratic leaders say the proposed increases are needed after years of disinvestment and with the devastation from the pandemic. Education, Labor, Health & Human Services, and Veterans Affairs are among the Departments that would see real boosts in funding if the bills were to become law.
Oklahoma’s congressional delegation — all Republicans — have come out against the spending plan with varying degrees of criticism, one even suggesting it could lead to a government shutdown.
Congressman Markwayne Mullin said the bills are a liberal wish list and that debating them is a waste of time because they will never get through the Senate, where they would need at least some Republican support. He said the proposed increases are more than what even President Biden requested.
“Like, a 17% increase across the board for all non-defense spending,” said Mullin. “That’s crazy.”
Just as crazy, other members say, is that, under the Democrats' plan, defense spending would only increase one percent.
“My colleagues across the aisle are throwing money at every federal department and every agency,” said Rep. Kevin Hern, (R) OK-1, during floor debate, “except for the defense of our people, of course.”
Another GOP objection is the removal, for the first time in four decades, of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents tax dollars from being used to fund abortion and has had strong bipartisan support until now.
“Removing this language sends us on a collision course for a year-long continuing resolution, or worse, a government shutdown,” stated Rep. Tom Cole, (R) OK-4, during floor debate on the rule allowing for the funding measure’s consideration.
The massive package, which included seven of the twelve appropriations bills, contained $617 billion in discretionary spending and passed 219-208.
Many Republicans are increasingly concerned, they said, with the amount of debt Congress has rung up in the past 18 months, predominantly in an effort to help those struggling under the weight of COVID-19 and to keep the economy from crashing. They say Taft mission has been accomplished.
“If the economy really grew at 6.5% in this quarter, the second robust growth quarter,” said Rep. Frank Lucas, (R) OK-3, "then maybe we’ve got to take our foot off the throttle just a little bit on government spending.”