Vermont delegation slams ill-fated House budget package

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives advanced a spending package Thursday, totaling $1.2 trillion in funding for the next fiscal year. But the package faces certain rejection in the Senate.

At a press conference, House Speaker Paul Ryan boasted that it is the first time in nearly a decade that the lower chamber advanced the 12 spending bills through the “regular order” — referring to passing the bills through subcommittees, committees and then taking them to the floor.

“We set out to see if we could get all 12 bills through the House, taking a conservative approach, and we succeeded,” he said.

The package makes major funding cuts to areas including diplomatic programs in the State Department, while increasing payments to defense, according to Politico. It includes several key promises to the right, such as $1.6 billion to build barriers along the southwestern border and defunding Planned Parenthood.

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., voted against the package. On Friday, he slammed the suite of spending bills as “deplorable.”

“The only saving grace is, it’s widely expected in Washington that the House-passed Ryan budgets are dead on arrival in the Senate,” Welch said.

In the upper chamber, Democrats can block the budgets on procedural votes even though they do not have a majority.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, blasted the House package in a statement Thursday.

“It wastes billions of taxpayer dollars on a useless border wall, Which the President promised that Mexico would pay for, and contains poison-pill riders that have no place in the appropriations process,” Leahy said.

He charged that the increase to defense spending in the House bills is “a lie to the American people” because it exceeds the limits in place under the budget control act. That would trigger a 13 percent sequester on national security programs, according to Leahy.

Leahy reiterated his call to have a bipartisan budget deal to raise budget limits for defense and non-defense spending.

“It is time we get serious,” he said.

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