House Passes First Spending Bill in Partisan Vote

Nearly all Democrats voted against a measure to fund military construction and veteran affairs, a spending bill that is typically passed on a bipartisan basis.

The House on June 5 passed its first appropriations bill for the 2025 fiscal year.

The final tally on the 92-page bill to fund military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and related agencies was 209-197.

Four Democrats joined 205 Republicans in voting for it, while two Republicans joined 195 Democrats in voting against it.

The measure, commonly known as MilCon-VA, has a top line of more than $129.56 billion, about $5.69 billion less than what was allocated this year. The funding would take effect between Oct. 1 and Sept. 30, 2025.

The bill funds veterans’ health care programs and benefits, in addition to VA programs. It also includes $2 billion for military family housing and $1 billion towards initiatives in the Pacific, including funding for Guam and dedicated funding for the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the U.S. military focus in the region amid the threat from China.

It also prohibits the implementation, administration, or enforcement of the Biden administration’s executive orders on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

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Additionally, it forbids taxpayer dollars from being used for abortions and bans the VA from “processing medical care claims for illegal aliens,” according to a committee press release.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said the bill “is a testament to our dedication to caring for those who selflessly served our nation, supporting our military families, and strengthening America’s defense.”

“We are keeping our promises to those who’ve sworn the sacred oath to protect the nation,” he added.

The bill is likely dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Abortion, DEI, Guantanamo Cited

The White House has come out against the bill and said President Joe Biden would veto it if it were to come to his desk.

In a June 3 statement, the White House said the bill “includes numerous, partisan policy provisions with devastating consequences including harming access to reproductive healthcare, threatening the health and safety of [LGBTQ] Americans, endangering marriage equality, hindering critical climate change initiatives, and preventing the Administration from promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Provisions the White House cited that it takes issue with include the prohibition to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, where terrorists are being held by the U.S. military.

The White House also took issue with the prohibition for the VA to use taxpayer dollars toward abortions and transgender surgeries.

The administration also said it opposes a section of the bill that prohibits requiring VA personnel from getting vaccinated against Covid-19, saying that this part of the legislation “jeopardizes the health and safety of veterans enrolled in VA healthcare and VA healthcare providers.”

Additionally, the part of the bill that would, as the White House put it, “prohibit VA from reporting a person determined to be mentally incompetent during the VA benefits evaluation process without the order or finding of a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority.”

The White House opposes the provision that would not allow federal facilities to fly flags that are not on an approved list. This includes the Pride flag symbolizing the LGBTQ movement.

Finally, according to the White House, the measure has specific parts that “raise separation of powers concerns, including by conditioning the Executive authority to take certain actions on receiving the approval of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations.”

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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