After a day of drama and partisan wrangling, the Senate recently voted 56-40 to send a government funding bill to President Barack Obama for his signature and Obama signed the bill into law. The $1.1 trillion legislation funds most of the government through September 2015, but sets up a February showdown over funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Twenty-one Senate Democrats voted against the bill, while 24 Republicans voted for it, including every member of the Senate GOP leadership. Democratic opponents included several senators rumored to have presidential ambitions such as Elizabeth Warren (MA), Cory Booker (NJ), Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY).
Part of the bill involves some multi-employer pension plans. Under certain conditions, the measure would allow the benefits of current retirees, who are not 80 or disabled, to be reduced in an effort to financially strengthen distressed multi-employer pension plans. Some unions supported the provision because it would strengthen distressed plans, while others did not due to the possible benefit reductions.
In the House, most Democrats had followed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) lead and voted against the package because of two riders she described as “egregious.” One of the policy riders repeals part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law to allow banks to directly engage in derivatives trading. The other loosens limits on the amount of money people can contribute to national political parties.
Read about the budget in more detail at the National Priorities Project website.
In 2014, NPP was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their pioneering work to track federal spending on the military and promote a U.S. federal budget that represents Americans’ priorities, including funding for people’s issues such as inequality, unemployment, education, health and the need to build a green economy.