The Weiner Component Vol.2 #17 Republicans & Affordable Health Care

Official photographic portrait of US President...

English: Nations with Universal health care sy...

English: Nations with Universal health care systems. Nations with some type of universal health care system. Nations attempting to obtain universal health care. Health care coverage provided by the United States war funding. Nations with no universal health care. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The existence of Universal Health Care exists in most of the industrial nations as a right for every citizen.   In the United States this concept came into being in 2010, the second year of the Obama administration.  Traditionally, in the U.S. up until that time health care was provided by many employers or it was for people who could afford to pay the required premiums.  The idea of Universal Health Care as a right of all citizens began in the United States in 1945 with President Harry S Truman.  It remained an idea because no legislation was passed by Congress.  Under President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 Medicare was passed for senior citizens and the disabled.  Former President Harry S Truman received the first card, numbered 1.

 

For younger people, those under 65 years of age, medical coverage had to be purchased.  Millions didn’t have any coverage.  Either their jobs didn’t provide it or they couldn’t afford the required premiums.  In medical emergencies these people had to go to E.R. in hospitals or attempt to ignore their illness.  The hospitals had to provide services even if they could not collect fees for them.

 

It should be noted that even with Medicare medical services are not completely paid for.  Even today many seniors have limited financial resources.  They may have to choose between medicine, food, and/or rent.  Medications also tend to be very expensive.

 

President Bill Clinton had a committee headed by his wife, Hillary, attempt to develop a Universal Health Care Bill during his presidency.  It was finally totally defeated with the slogan, “There has to be a better way.”  The “better way” was no Health Care Bill.  The concept was defeated during his first four years in office.

 

Under President George W. Bush a prescription payment was added to Medicare.  This did not do away with payments for medication but it reduced them considerably with the Federal Government picking up the balance.

 

It should be noted that one of the main groups of contributors to Congressional Elections, particularly Republican elections, is the pharmaceutical industry.  In turn Congress has protected their rights to charge outlandish prices for medications.  Most medications produced by these companies cost far less outside the boundaries of the U.S.  Ironically it is the taxpayers who now pick up most of the cost for medication so that politicians can more easily get contributions.

 

During the second year of the Obama administration, 2010, with the Democrats having control of both houses of Congress, the Affordable Health Care Bill was passed.  As a put-down the Republicans dubbed the bill Obamacare.  President Obama stated that he liked the title and it has been largely called that since.

 

Ironically, in order to make the bill palatable to the Republicans the Democrats built Affordable Health Care from a Republican plan, utilizing private enterprise, the insurance companies, to build a universal health plan.  Obamacare was modeled after a plan that had been developed and used by the state of Massachusetts under the Republican governor, Mitt Romney.

 

Not one Republican voted for Affordable Health Care.  They had all in caucus agreed to not support anything President Obama favored.  They were determined to make him a one term President.  The Bill was passed by the Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress.  Not one Republican voted for the Bill in either House of Congress.  In fact from 2011 on, when the Republicans achieved a majority in the House of Representatives, they voted over sixty times over the next six years to repeal the Bill.  Up until 2014 the Democrats had a majority in the Senate.  In 2015 the Senate barely achieved a Republican majority.  At that time President Obama vetoed the anti-Obamacare Bill.

 

With the election of the Republican Donald J. Trump as President of the United States and with Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress their goal seemed within reach.  But poles ascertained that repeal of that Bill had only 17% approval among the general public.  The majority of Americans want to keep it in existence.  Affordable Health Care had become even more popular than it had been during the time when Barack Obama had been President of the United States. The number of people signing up for it in 2017 increased considerably.

 

Suddenly the Congressional Republicans had a tiger by the tail.  When the Republican legislators went home on their numerous breaks to their districts they faced unhappy constituents who were vociferous in their protest against doing away with Obamacare.  This was particularly true when the Non Partisan Congressional Office that reported upon this bill stated that 14 million people would lose their health insurance coverage if the initial Republican “repeal and replace” health bill became law.

 

After failing to get their “repeal and replace” bill through the House of Representatives the Republicans members were careful to take their two week Easter break.  When they returned there was presumably a new “repeal and replace” bill which was rushed through the House and passed before it had been evaluated by the Non Partisan Budget Office that vets all bills as to their effects.  Since the bill would be massive in size the probability was that most of the Republicans who voted for it had not read it.

 

The new bill is called The American Health Care Act.  From what I understand it makes Health Insurance available to everyone if they can afford the premiums.  Whereas Affordable Health Care attempted to make Health Insurance a right for every citizen the American Health Care Act makes it a privilege for those who can afford it.  The Federal Government will give each state a fixed amount of money which the states can use in helping their citizens pay healthcare premiums.

 

The overall amount which the Federal Government will save is estimated to be around eight billion dollars.  This will allow the Congress to pass what it calls, tax reform.  Congress and President Donald Trump intend to reduce income taxes for the upper 1% and for corporations around eight billion dollars.  The principle here strikes me as reverse Robin Hood, that is, take from the poor and give to the rich.  If this goes through Donald Trump will reduce his taxes considerably.

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Fortunately the House of Representatives passing a bill is just that, passing a bill.  The bill then goes to the Senate and the Senate has to pass the bill.  First the bill actually goes to a Senatorial Committee where hearings on it will be held and it will be marked-up, changed or rewritten into a Senate version.  A number of Republican Senators have already stated that they have their own ideas about a Senate version of a Health Care Bill.

 

Once the Senate Committee has come out with their version of the bill it then goes to the full Senate where Senators can still amend the bill before voting upon it.  After amendments are added, and each one must be voted upon separately, the bill is again voted upon by the full Senate.  At best it will have three more Republican votes than Democratic votes.  The count in the Senate is now 52 Republicans to 46 Democrats and 2 Independents who caucus and vote with the Democrats.

 

It is very possible that the Republicans will not be able to get a majority vote and the bill will die in the Senate.  But even if it passes it will be different from the House bill.  Consequently the two bills will go to a Conference Committee made up of members of both Houses of Congress.  They, in turn, will have to come up with a Compromise Bill that is acceptable to both Houses of Congress.  If that were to occur then the new Compromise Bill would have to go to both Houses and be voted upon and passed in both Houses without any changes or it would have to go back to a new Conference Committee.

 

The chances of much of this happening is very small.  The probability is that the bill will not even reach the Conference Committee.  And even if it does it could easily die there.

 

What this bill will achieve is to upset the 14 million people who would lose their current medical coverage if the bill were to pass.  There is a Midterm Election coming up on the first Tuesday in November of 2018.  I am sure the Democrats in each District and State will be happy to remind their constituents of how their Republican representatives voted in 2017 on health care.  It would probably also be worth notifying them that the Republicans refused to raise the minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.  The probability is that the Senate will once again gain a Democratic majority and the House of Representatives could also achieve one.

 

President Donald Trump will likely be tweeting half the night if one or both Houses of Congress had a Democratic majority.  He has essentially been able to get nothing done with Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress.  He will probably get less than nothing done with one or both Houses of Congress in Democratic hands.

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As a point of interest, Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is or was a follower of Ann Rand, at least until he found out she was an atheist, is largely responsible for the original new health bill and after the Easter Congressional break for the so-called new version of that bill that the House of Representatives passed.  He says that it is “a bogus attack from the left” to claim that the health care bill was rushed.  I suppose the “left” is the Democratic Party, as the bill was passed strictly along party lines.  No Democrat voted for it.

 

Ryan did not wait for the Non Partisan Congressional Office to study and give the over-all effects of the bill.  Rushing the bill through the House meant, not giving the constituents a chance to complain.

 

It is also interesting to note that Ann Rand basic philosophy, which she applied to her novels dealt with the Hegelian method, thesis vs. antithesis which she turned into individuals acting against each other in her two major novels: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.  Her form, in both novels dealt with the super individual functioning or struggling against the uncaring group.  In essence it would be the super human vs. the uncaring masses.  I suppose to Ryan it means him against the masses.

 

This philosophy was developed in the late 19th and first half of the 20th Century.  Its prime example would be Germany’s concept of the Master Race.  I would guess that the current Speaker of the House of Representatives mentally includes himself among that group.  This is the man that pushed through the current House Health Bill which will, if passed, take medical insurance away from 14 million people and also increase the wealth of the well to do by decreasing their taxes.

The Weiner Component #168 – As You Sow, So Shall You Reap: The Recent History of the Republican Party

With the Friday, October 7th release of the lewd and sexual harassing conversation, that Trump did in 2005 on a bus into an open microphone to Billy Bush, one of the hosts of the TV show “Access America,” while on the way to do another show, being made public, many of the Republican leaders, in and out of Congress, are calling upon Trump to drop out of the 2016 Presidential race as the Republican candidate.  When he refused, saying that the conversation was only “locker room talk,” many Republicans, in and out of Congress, still want to drop the Party’s support for him, arguing that he’s already lost the election.  They want to concentrate all the Party’s resources and efforts on the Congressional and state elections.  Paul Ryan, while still endorsing Trump, has stated that he will no longer campaign with him and that Republicans should concentrate on Congressional and state election.

 

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell were in shock.  Ryan was booed on Saturday, October 8, for disinviting Trump from the Wisconsin Unity Rally.  But both Ryan, the Speaker of the House, and McConnell, the Majority Leader in the Senate, are equally guilty of creating the milieu within the United States that allowed Trump to become a presidential candidate.  Both are equally guilty of bringing about the gridlock in Congress that caused very little to be done there, in keeping the government barely functioning, and even shutting it down for a while.  Even now, with Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress, there is a short term funding bill for a small part of the next fiscal year’s budget.  This includes, after four months hassling, Zika funding.

 

Every effect has a cause; and the cause of Donald Trump being the Republican presidential candidate can easily be traced back to Republican inaction in passing the necessary laws needed to run this country.  Every Republican in Congress worked to make Barack Obama a one term President and then still refused to cooperate with him during his second term in office.  They are all equally responsible for Donald Trump being their presidential candidate today.  They, by their inactions, created the situation that exists today.  They are all the cause of their own present-day ever-growing discomfort, Donald Trump.

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I suspect that by the end of his second term, President George W. Bush couldn’t even have won an election to become dogcatcher.  He has gotten absolutely no mention in the current election by Trump or other Republicans.  But he was the President of the United States who declared war on Iraq, supposedly because of their weapons of mass destruction, but actually to punish Saddam Hussein for attempting to have his “Daddy” assassinated.  He was the one who destabilized the Middle East and was the President responsible for much that was blamed on President Barack Obama.

 

George W. Bush has somehow gotten lost in history; but he was President of the United States only eight years ago; and much of what Donald Trump has blamed on President Obama was not only initiated by Bush but also carried out by him.  It was Bush who set up the U.S. exit from Iraq which President Obama then carried out.  And it was then the Iraqi and Afghanistan new governments that wanted the U.S. to withdraw.  Neither government was able to run their own state against the Taliban, the forces of the Middle East that opposed them.

 

And the U.S. National Debt was mostly created by Republican Presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan with his “Star Wars” operation which brought the Debt up to over one trillion dollars, to President George H.W. Bush who sent an army to remove the Iraqi military from Kuwait.  The war was known as Desert Storm and never would have been necessary if Bush had dealt properly with Saddam Hussein and not given him the impression that he could invade oil rich Kuwait.

 

The National Debt was actually decreased under President Bill Clinton.  But President George W. Bush initiated and fought two wars in the Middle East that, with slight interruptions, are still going on today. Through the efforts of these Republican Presidents the National Debt has soared from one trillion to over nineteen trillion dollars today.

 

The Great Recession of 2008 or to state it more clearly, the great bank caused housing bubble burst under President George W. Bush who initially bailed out the banks.  President Obama inherited it and in order to prevent it from becoming a greater depression than that of 1929 had to spend a lot of money.  He brought about a large degree of recovery in spite of the fact that a Republican led House of Representatives continually worked against it and his efforts to end it.  He also inherited two wars from George W. Bush. 

 

Donald Trump loudly and vociferously blames our NAFTA Agreement of 1993 on President Bill Clinton.  That agreement was initially negotiated by President George H.W. Bush in 1993.  Congress was unhappy with parts of it and these were renegotiated by President Bill Clinton and approved by both political parties in the Senate.  The initial international trade agreement was brought about by both a Republican and Democratic President.  Somehow Donald is either confused or he’s editing history to fit his pattern of what, he feels, the past should be.  Instead of calling President Obama a failed president he should call himself a failed candidate for the presidency.  This is especially true now that about a dozen or women have accused him of one or another form of sexual assault.

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Barry Goldwater (R) ran against Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 Presidential Election.  He was the first ardent conservative to run for the presidency.  Goldwater, according to his autobiography, did not expect to win the election.  He achieved 22% of the popular vote.  That percentage marked the extreme conservatives in the American electorate at that time. 

 

Interestingly Hillary Rodham (Clinton), as a high school student worked as a volunteer on his campaign.  Her parents were conservative and she initially followed in their footsteps.

 

From that time on the extreme right of the Republican Party worked avidly to improve their status with the electorate in the United States.  The next president, four years later was the Republican, Richard Nixon.  He was not as conservative as many in the party were.  Nixon resigned half-way through his second term over the Watergate Scandal.  He left the day before the House of Representatives was going to vote for a Bill of Impeachment.  Gerald Ford (R), the Vice President Nixon had appointed, replaced Nixon after his initial Vice President, Spiro Agnew, resigned over a corruption scandal.

 

President Ford appointed Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President.  Rockefeller represented what was then left or liberal end of the Republican Party; he was a moderate Republican.  The next President, the Democrat, Jimmy Carter, would be more conservative than Nelson Rockefeller.  This group of Republicans would be a dying breed. 

 

Ford was president for two years and then was replaced by the Democrat, Jimmy Carter, who would, four year later, be replaced by the Teflon conservative Republican President, Ronald Reagan.  With Reagan the ultra-conservatives felt that they had one of their own in office.  Reagan, however was capable of compromise.  The comment during his period as president was that he would take half-a-loaf, that is, compromise if he got some of what he wanted.

 

Reagan was followed by George H.W. Bush.  He had to contend with a Democratic Congress.  Then came William Jefferson Clinton for the next eight years.  Clinton spent most of his time contending with a Republican Congress.  He was frustrated over a number of laws he couldn’t get passed.  During his last year in office he actually reduced the deficit.

 

Clinton was followed by George W. Bush who was initially elected with less than the majority vote.  A foul-up on the ballots in Florida and the fact that his younger brother was the governor of that state and had inappropriately purged the voter lists got him elected.

 

Barack Obama was the first Black elected to the Presidency of the United States.  I suspect that that had something to do with the way he’s been treated by Congress.  All the Congressional Republicans at an early caucus meeting swore to make him a one term President.  They decided that they would support nothing that he tried to do.  

 

It was largely because of this overall inaction that the general public was alienated from Congress.  This brought about a condition in the country whereby the Blue-collar Republicans were looking for a hero to free them from the Washington Republicans.  That hero, to them, was Donald Trump.  It is amazing that the Republicans in Congress still do not understand what they have done.  And that is because they are still acting in that fashion with their short-term funding bill which they will revisit in December before the next Congress meets in January.

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For most of his two terms in office President Obama bent backwards to accommodate the Republicans.  The Affordable Health Care Bill (Obamacare) was based upon a Republican plan developed by Citizen’s United, a far right think tank, for Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts.  It passed Congress on a partisan basis; in both Houses all Republicans voted against it and all Democrats voted for it.  From 2011 on the Republicans had a majority in the House of Representatives.  And outside of absolutely necessary bills nothing was passed.

 

A single bill can deal with an endless number of subjects and Paul Ryan came up with the idea of adding parts of their far right agenda to necessary bills that, for example, funded the United States.  That is why currently the bill to fund the U. S. for the next fiscal year was passed at the last minute and functions only until the middle of December 2016 when the Congress will meet again for a very short session presumably to fund the balance of the year.

 

The Republican dominated House of Representatives pattern is to pass their necessary bills at the last moment, shortly before they adjourn for some sort of extended break.  This means that the Senate gets very little time to consider the bill because they are also ready to leave for a period of time.  Consequently it’s pass the bill or let the nation suffer.

 

Ordinarily, every bill goes to a standing committee of members of that House where it is gone over, testimony on the bill can be taken and possibly the bill is modified, then it is sent to the specific house and can be debated before being voted upon. 

 

All money bills originate in the House of Representatives which directly represents the people, the Constitution gives them the “power of the purse.”  The Senate originally represented the states; they were elected by the legislative bodies in each state.  This was changed by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1913 to where the people directly elected two Senators from each state.

 

After a bill is passed in one House it then goes to the other House and the same process is repeated.  Ordinarily there is some difference between the two bills and a Conference Committee, comprised of members of both Houses of Congress meet.  They work out a new version of the bill which then goes back to both House and is voted upon again.  If it passes in both Houses it is then sent to the President for his signature.  After he signs it the bill becomes law.  This process cannot be completed in two days.

 

The new process, presumably under Paul Ryan’s tutelage, was developed in the Republican dominated House after 2011 when the Republicans received a majority of members in the House of Representatives.  It was a means of forcing or blackmailing the Democratic dominated Senate and the President into accepting parts of the Republican agenda.  They either passed it quickly in the Senate and the President signed it or the country suffered.  An example of this was to take over four months to financially deal with the Zika epidemic and then to still not fully fund the bill to the amount requested by the President.

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Currently the Congress has the lowest approval rating in the history of its existence.  The Gallop Pole does a monthly survey which from 2011 to the present goes up and down continually from 9% to 20%.  A number of other polls average 13.8 % approval.  

 

Sooner or later there has to be a reaction to Congress’ high level of non-functionality.  That reaction in the 2016 Primaries was Donald Trump for those citizens who could not stand the Democratic agenda but were frustrated by that of the Republicans.  And Bernie Sanders was the candidate for those who were basically Democrats but were fed-up with Congressional gridlock.  Sanders has coalesced into the Clinton campaign and now supports her.

 

The Congressional Republicans created the field upon which Donald Trump, despite all the negative information that emerges about him, has flourished as the Republican Candidate.  They and they themselves by their strategies and actions have created him and now they refuse to take responsibility for what they have done.

 

Paul Ryan, who was totally disgusted by recent information that emerged about Trump, and cancelled his invitation to a rally with himself in Wisconsin, will no longer campaign with him.  He will concentrate upon Congressional elections only.  And it was Paul Ryan, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, who, at the last minute before adjourning the House, got the bill passed that temporarily funded the United States Budget through the middle of December so that the Republicans could once again make demands upon President Obama before he leaves office at the end of the year.

 

They are still playing the games that have lowered their approval rating with the American Public well under 20%.  Apparently winning political points is still far more important than carrying out their oaths to serve the American people.

 

The Republicans want political power and seemingly will do anything to achieve it.  And they will take no responsibility for the acts they perform.  It would be a nice irony for them if their actions caused them to lose control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  And, of course they would not understand how it came about.  Donald Trump, as a candidate, is their creation!

 

With the partial funding of the 2016 – 2017 budget the Federal Government may still face a major crisis.  If the House of Representatives attempts to force its agenda through at the last minute with the December Funding Bill then the last major act of President Obama may be to veto the Bill.  If this occurs then the current administration will end with a nonfunctioning government.  The new President will have to begin her administration by declaring a state of emergency until the government is legally funded in mid to late January of 2017 by the new Congress.  

 

Could this happen?  Very easily, if the Republican dominated House of Representatives attempts to force its will upon the country.  This would be shortly after the November 8th Election.  It would seem that a state of war exists between the Democratic President and the Republicans, and Donald J. Trump is just a byproduct of all this.

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“As you sow, so shall you reap.”  It shouldn’t take too much intelligence to understand this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 1.1Trillion Dollar Spending Bill

On Thursday, 12/11/14 the House of Representatives passed, what was essentially but not completely a 1,603 page bipartisan 1.1 trillion dollar spending bill that will allows the Federal Government to continue to function until September 30, 2015, the end of the fiscal year. The bill adheres to strict caps negotiated earlier between the White House and the deficit-conscious Republicans. It is also salted through with GOP proposals which are actually Christmas giveaways to individuals and companies and have nothing to do with the spending budget. The bill should have been passed months earlier but it was convenient for the GOP to keep it hanging as a potential form of blackmail against President Barak Obama until the last possible moment when it had to be passed or its absence would cause a government shutdown.

When Ronald Reagan was governor of California he had a line-item veto over all bills passed by the State Legislature. He could veto any section or group of sections that he thought was or were inappropriate and sign the document for the rest of the bill to become law.  But as President of the United States he could either sign a bill, veto it, or do nothing for ten days and allow it to become law. Reagan was not too happy with this limitation but he had to accept it. It would require an amendment to the Constitution to change this practice.

Not only does every bill have to be passed by both the House and Senate but both versions have to be identical. If a word or punctuation is different, then the two versions are not the same. Actually what happens is that the bill goes to a Committee of Congressmen dealing with that particular subject, they discuss the bill, usually modify it, and then send it to the legislative to which they belong with their recommendations. If it is passed then that version goes to the other legislative body, where it follows the same procedure. In practically all cases the two versions are at least slightly different. At that point the bill goes to a Conference Committee made up of members of the two Houses where a final version is then hammered out. This goes back to both Houses of Congress and it then has to be voted upon and repasses by the two Houses. If the bill passes it then goes to the President. After he signs it the bill becomes law. This process generally takes a number of days.

The 1.1 Trillion Dollar Spending Bill was passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday, December 11. The Congress was slated to end its session on Friday, December 12th. This meant that the bill had to be accepted exactly as it was if the government was not to shut down the following week when it ran out of money. In fact a short a short extension was also passed in case a few more days were needed to pass the bill.

Keep in mind that according to the Constitution only the House of Representatives can initiate a money bill since initially they were the only group directly elected by the People. The Founders felt that taxes should be authorized by the direct representatives of the People so that the People are, in a sense, taxing themselves.

Also note that there are no rules about what a bill is supposed to contain. It can deal with one subject or any number of subjects. This finance bill dealt with innumerable subjects, many of which had nothing to do with financing the government.

Because of the catastrophe caused by a government shutdown President Obama urged the Senate to pass the bill even though it had numerous amendments that were harmful to individuals or groups within the country.

One of these amendments cancelled a section of the Dodd Frank Act that had been passed in 2010 as a reform measure after the 2008 Bank-Real Estate Collapse to avoid such occurrences in the future and to keep banks from exploiting their depositors and the taxpayers. Presumably the lobbyists for Citibank wrote the measure and it was secretly inserted the night before the bill came up for a vote in the House of Representatives. The insertion rolls back regulations that limit banks from using federal deposit insurance to cover high-risk financial investments. There had been no notice given or debate on this Amendment. Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House, strongly opposed this insertion as did Senator Elizabeth Warren who called upon the Democratic majority in the Senate to oppose the entire bill if this Amendment was left in.

Another interesting Amendment was trading land with an Indian tribe. A sacred mountain containing a burial ground was to be traded for another piece of land. The sacred mountain was wanted by a company for a copper mine.

Another last minute Amendment dealt with campaign finance, it was extended for individuals. It went from $32,400 to $324,000. Republicans got a 60 million dollar cut at the EPA (Environment Protection Agency) reducing their workforce to the level they had been at in 1989.

Not all Republicans in the House supported the bill. Many of the Tea Party wanted to defund President Obama’s immigration executive order. This issue was left out of the House bill.

In both the House and Senate the bill required the votes of both Democrats and Republicans to pass. In the House 162 Republicans and 57 Democrats voted for the bill. 139 Democrats and 67 Republicans were against the spending bill. In the Senate there were 31 Democrats, 24 Republicans, and 1 Independent who voted for the bill and 21 Democrats, 18 Republicans, and 1 Independent who were against it. In both Houses of Congress it required the votes of both major political parties in order to pass.

Interestingly the far right and the far left both opposed this bill, both for different reasons. On the far right, Ted Cruz wanted a section added that would limit or eradicate President Obama’s executive order dealing with illegal immigrants whose children had been born in the United States. And on the far left, the Congressmen wanted to remove many of the giveaways that had nothing to do with the spending bill. Cruz, in a procedural vote extended the Senatorial Session into the weekend. He did not get his Amendment to the bill passed. Harry Reed, the majority leader in the Senate, used the additional time to get a large number of Obama appointees approved beginning with the Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, who had been opposed by the NRA because he had suggested earlier that guns were a disease since they killed a large number of people. By the end of the session, Tuesday, December 15th, the Senate had approved a total of 69 controversial presidential appointments.

The Senate passed the Spending Bill on Saturday and President Obama quietly signed it on Tuesday. Congress adjourned around midnight of Tuesday, December 16th and the new Congress, which will have Republican majorities in both Houses, will meet in January of next year, after the holidays.

It is interesting to note that all that is required for the government to keep functioning is a one sentence bill that states that the Federal Government shall be properly funded for the fiscal year. The 1,603 page bill detailing all the expenditures over the fiscal year is ridiculous. In this bill every item that is to be funded has to be mentioned in detail. For example: Vice President, Joe Biden’s and other top officials in the government’s salaries are frozen. There is no automatic raise for them that was put into law several years earlier but the members of Congress will get their cost of living raise, raising the pay to over $140,000 each.

What happened originally was that several years ago Congress voted itself a raise. The press got hold of the news and published it. People were indignant over Congress giving itself an increase in salary when everyone else was hurting financially. There was a protest and the increase was rescinded. Thereafter Congress passed a law making pay increases for Congress and government officials automatic. From then on there was no protest or even public knowledge that this was occurring. In 2014 Congress has voted through its 1603 page bill not to freeze its own salary but to do so to the Vice President and other high government officials in the Administration. How petty can they get?

Further the bill once again bans funding for abortions. It doesn’t provide any new funding for the health-care law and maintains the current levels for Medicare. The Department of Homeland Security is cut by 336 million dollars in funding. There is an additional 85.2 billion dollars for military operations in Afghanistan, a 2 billion dollar cut from 2013 due to ongoing troop reductions. The bill includes 10.8 billion dollars for Customs and Border Protection. 6.55 billion dollars are set aside for disaster funding. There is 224 million less for embassy security, maintenance and construction than was spent in 2013. The Democrats successfully blocked attempts to limit the EPA, but its budget was somewhat cut. The bill bans the Obama Administration from transferring detainees from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to facilities within the United States. There are several issues regarding weapon control. The bill prohibits any funding that requires that federal contractors disclose campaign contributions. There is a boost for Head start and preschool programs. The bill contains 2.8 billion dollars for detention programs operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The bill bars funding to enforce new light bulb standards for lower wattage usage. Military and civilian government employees pay is increased by one percent. They agreed to restore a cut in the cost-of-living adjustments to the pensions of disabled working-aged veterans. The bill bars postal officials from ending Saturday mail deliveries. It provides 157 million dollars for the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention programs. There is 5.3 billion dollars for weather reporting. 5.6 billion dollars is provided for school lunches for about 32.1 million eligible schoolchildren.

This is just the flavor of what the bill contains; there is, of course, much more in 1,603 pages.

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is s...

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States by Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009. More than 5,000 men and women in uniform are providing military ceremonial support to the presidential inauguration, a tradition dating back to George Washington’s 1789 inauguration. VIRIN: 090120-F-3961R-919 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)