Washington, DC — Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, an omnibus spending bill to fund the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018. This Omnibus appropriates $1.21 trillion in base discretionary budget authority and $78 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. The Defense Appropriations bill sees a 14% increase over Fiscal Year 2017, while the remaining eleven appropriations bills see an aggregate 12% increase. It includes $1.6 billion for border security; $3.2 billion for programs to respond to the opioid crisis; $2.525 billion in new funding for highway grants; $800 million in new funding for transit grants; $1 billion increase for transportation TIGER grants, $232 million increase for Capital Investment Grants, and $446.6 million increase for Amtrak. However, the package lacked any solution for Dreamers at risk of losing protection through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) voted against the omnibus and released the following statement.
“After President Trump first announced his decision to rescind DACA protections, Republicans and Democrats both promised to do something to protect the 800,000 Dreamers who are impacted by the decision. Leading up to the vote on the Omnibus, my colleagues and I requested Speaker Ryan allow for a Queen of the Hill process in which several immigration bills would be brought up for a vote on the House Floor. We are not demanding a specific bill. All we ask is that Speaker Ryan stop standing in the way of legislators who want to legislate. He should allow the House to consider a range of options, including bipartisan bills like the DREAM Act and the Hurd-Aguilar compromise, and allow the winning bill to carry the day. We asked Speaker Ryan to provide a fair process to bring DACA legislation to the floor. However, without that assurance, I could not support this package.
“Still, there are some positive gains and hard fought wins in this package that I welcome. For instance, Americans struggling with opioid addiction will gain an additional $3.2 billion for programs that include prevention, treatment, surveillance, training, and research. For vulnerable students looking to achieve the American Dream, this bill offers hope by raising the maximum Pell Grant award by $175 and creating a $350 million discretionary relief fund for borrowers to receive public service loan forgiveness. It also includes a significant $610 million increase of Head Start and a $2.37 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which put even more kids on that path to a higher education. Our infrastructure needs are being addressed as well, thanks to $1 billion for TIGER Grants, which are essential for projects in my district, and $800 million in new transit grants. However, despite these gains, this bill still leaves major promises, like relief for Dreamers, unmet. Further, this process was rushed and once again ignored regular order, giving us just a matter of hours to look over a $1.2 trillion spending deal. I cannot support this package, this process, or Speaker Ryan’s continued dismissal of promises to allow a vote to protect our Dreamers.”