Clarke criticizes Republicans’ stopgap funding plan

Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke addressing Silver Jubilee celebrations of Brooklyn’s Progressive Democrats Political Association, founded by her Jamaican-born mother, former New York City Councilwoman Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, the first Caribbean woman to be ever elected to New York City Council.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke on Thursday criticized the Republican short-term continuing resolution to fund the federal government until Jan. 19, 2018. Clarke voted against the resolution in the House of Representatives.

“Despite controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, Republicans still could not agree on a way to fund the government for more than a month at a time,” said Clarke, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn. “In fact, earlier this year, President Trump said ‘our government needs a good shutdown.’

“Congressional Republicans spent an entire year fighting for special interest giveaways and against ordinary Americans,” she added. “The GOP [Grand Old Party] prioritized tax cuts for lobbyists, corporations that ship jobs overseas and political donors over dealing with the urgent, overdue priorities for the American people.

“Republicans failed to prioritize children’s healthcare, emergency disaster funding for all hurricane-and-wildfire-impacted communities, saving Americans’ pensions, and the passage of a bipartisan DREAM Act,” she continued. “Republicans have no real plan for our country and today’s vote demonstrates just how vacuous their promises are.

“I hope that voters will remember this in the coming months,” Clarke said.

In giving final approval to legislation to keep the government funded, Congress averted a government shutdown this weekend, but it kicked fights over issues like immigration, surveillance and health care into the new year.

The stopgap spending bill also provides a short-term funding fix for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, whose financing lapsed at the end of September.

After the House of Representatives and the Senate succeeded in passing a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul this week, the stopgap bill includes language to prevent automatic spending cuts that would be required to offset the tax bill’s effect on the deficit, according to the New York Times.

It said the House passed the bill 231 to 188, with most Republicans voting for it and most Democrats opposing it. The Senate later gave its approval, as well, in a 66-to-32 vote.

The extension of government funding saves Republicans from what would have been a colossal embarrassment just after they celebrated passage of the biggest tax rewrite in decades, the Times story said. It also said the lack of a resolution to several pressing issues leaves lawmakers facing a tough task when they return after the holidays, with the possibility of a high-stakes showdown when the next government funding deadline approaches.

“I guess we better recharge our batteries,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican. “It seems like Groundhog Day. We get up and do the same thing over and over and over again. It’s maddening.”

Separately, the House voted Thursday to approve $81 billion in additional disaster aid in response to this year’s hurricanes and wildfires, the Times reported.

But it added that the Senate does not plan to take action on the aid package until the new year.

The failure to resolve so many issues left bruised feelings in both parties, said the Times, stating that promised bills to shield young Caribbean and other immigrants from deportation, extend a surveillance program, bolster the military and stabilize health insurance markets were all left for another day.

Representative Nita M. Lowey of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, declared the stopgap bill to be an “epic failure of governing.”

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