All but four of the Senate’s 48 Democrats on Tuesday warned congressional GOP leaders against pursuing a government funding plan that would boost defense spending for the rest of the fiscal year while leaving domestic priorities at current levels.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), 44 Democratic senators urged the Republican leaders to “keep your commitment to the bipartisan budget negotiations and forego any plans to consider partisan legislation” that would lift budget caps for the Pentagon while leaving domestic programs static.
Some Senate Democrats began pushing back last week as House conservatives pitched Republican leaders on a full-year hike for the Pentagon paired with a continuing resolution for domestic programs. But Tuesday’s letter makes clear that any attempt to move such legislation through the House would fail to get the eight Democratic votes necessary to clear a filibuster and pass the Senate.
“There is a better path — let the bipartisan negotiation continue in good faith so that Democrats and Republicans can produce a budget agreement that fully funds our homeland security, health care, and Veterans’ needs,” the 44 members of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s caucus wrote to McConnell and Ryan in their letter, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO.
“If presented with partisan legislation that leaves these key priorities behind, we will oppose it.”
Some House Republicans have argued that Democrats would be hard-pressed to oppose a spending bill that lifts budget caps for defense and keeps domestic programs funded at current levels, particularly if the minority party also got critical wins on children’s health insurance and natural disaster assistance.
But the 44 Democrats rejected that notion in their letter, arguing that a budget boost for only defense “would result in devastating cuts to homeland security agencies like the FBI, cancer research programs at the NIH, and opioid treatment funding at HHS.”
The four Democrats who did not sign Tuesday’s letter were Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.