Tillis votes ‘no’ on $1.7 trillion spending bill | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is CJ Staff.

    While the U.S. Senate passed a massive omnibus spending measure, N.C. Sen. Thom Tillis voted against the bill, saying it was bloated with "left-wing priorities." Sen. Richard Burr was recorded as "not voting."

    The bill increases spending on government programs and the military through late 2023, and its passage heads off a government shutdown, scheduled to happen on Friday. It passed the Senate, 68-29, and now goes to the House for final approval.

    "I voted against the $1.7 trillion spending bill because it contains too much wasteful spending and misguided, left-wing priorities," said Tillis. "North Carolina families have struggled with inflation and have been forced to cut back on spending and make some tough decisions. Congress needs to start doing the same."

    Among the spending items in the bill are a 4.6% pay raise for service members as part of the 10% increase in military spending. It comes to $858 billion in defense spending, $44.5 billion in aid for Ukraine, $27 billion in hurricane disaster relief, and money to replenish stockpiles of supplies that went toward the coronavirus response, and fund improvement of disease data collection technology.

    Burr also proposed adding a measure in the bill that funded an independent task force investigation into the origin of coronavirus and the government response to the pandemic. However, his proposal was stripped out of the final bill.

    The bill also increases spending on the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park, and an increase of $1.7 billion for the Department of Energy.

    In a departure from the spending list in the measure, the bill also contains language to make it harder for elected members of Congress to object to a state's electors in the electoral college. The Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act was written by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia. Among other rules, it states that the vice president cannot determine electors. It also raises the bar for objecting to requiring one-fifth of the House membership to agree to object to an elector.

    The bill also bans any government computers or phones from having TikTok downloaded on them.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday that she believes the U.S. House will vote to pass the spending bill soon, as much of the country faces a winter storm and lawmakers look to leave Washington, D.C. When the session reconvenes on Jan. 3, Republicans will hold a slim majority in the House.

    "It takes about five hours once we get the bill," Pelosi said. "It goes to Rules, and then we could pass it tonight. That's the hope."

    However, some Republicans are pushing to add a measure to the bill that would preserve Title 42, a public health rule used during the Trump administration that enabled the U.S. government to reject asylum seekers if it is to prevent a public health crisis. The measure was set to expire this week but remains in place temporarily by an order of the U.S. Supreme Court.
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