Rep. John Lewis Votes "No" on Ill-Conceived CRomnibus
Last night the U.S. House of Representatives passed an unprecedented, last minute bill to fund the government called the 'CRomnibus'. The bill averted a government shutdown because it contained a short-term continued resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security until February 2015, bills to fund the rest of the federal government through September 2015, but it also included a number of damaging policy changes.
The House and Senate Appropriators worked tirelessly to negotiate a strong compromise to fund the federal government; however, the House majority used the prospect of a government shutdown as leverage to add riders that attacked school lunch nutrition standards, environmental safeguards, and truck safety standards. Also, they added language that could undermine the retirement savings of millions of hard-working Americans and undercut funding for the implementation of President Obama's executive order to jumpstart the process of immigration reform in America.
Two specific provisions caused outrage in the Democratic caucus. The first would repeal important taxpayer protections against reckless bank activity enacted as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. The second strikes at the core of our democracy and the election process; it dramatically increases the amount one individual can contribute to a political campaign from $32,400 to $324,000. This nearly codifies into law the capability of a handful of individuals to buy elections in this country. The bill needed Democratic House members to pass. Rep. Lewis stood firmly against these cynical additions and voted "no" on the CRomnibus bill. Rep. John Lewis made this statement:
During the caucus debate last night, I told my colleagues what we used to say in the movement, "People who don't stand for something will fall for anything." When I walk through some neighborhoods in Atlanta, there are still blocks of boarded up houses in once thriving communities. I could not, in good conscience, face the people of my district knowing I had played any role in opening the door to the same excesses that gave rise to that blight.
Millions of seniors who had already retired had to go back to work, and they may have to work until the day they die because of games played on Wall Street. African Americans lost 50 percent of their wealth. Millions of Americans dropped from the middle class into the ranks of poverty. Whole families now live in homeless shelters. The numbers of food stamp applications skyrocketed, and people who work everyday don't make enough money to even rent an apartment stung by the excesses of the last financial crisis.
These cynical riders are an offensive, blatant attack on our democracy and the security of the average citizen. No one wanted the government to shutdown, but since a bi-partisan effort was required to get any bill passed, I believe we could have used the nights and this weekend to come up with a deal that did not sacrifice so much. As leaders, we must be headlights and not taillights. We have to take a stand and use our political power to stand up for what is right and what is just. I voted "no" on this legislation.