Minnesota congressional delegation divides on spending bill

February 9, 2018 GMT

WASHINGTON — Minnesota’s federal lawmakers split in their votes for the massive, two-year spending bill that funds the military, children’s health insurance and disaster relief.

But the splits were not along party lines on the measure, which is estimated to hike the national debt by $20 trillion. It did not include protections for young undocumented immigrants, the group commonly referred to as Dreamers, which Democrats had sought.

Minnesota Republican Reps. Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis joined Democratic Reps. Tim Walz, Keith Ellison and Collin Peterson in voting against the measure. In a statement, Lewis criticized the deal for increasing spending and the debt ceiling.

“As I’ve said so many times, the way to get our fiscal house in order is real ‘shared sacrifice,’ where everyone has skin in the game when it comes to budget restraint,” said Lewis. “Instead we get more of the same D.C. spending profligacy — ‘I’ll increase your budget if you increase mine.’ ”

Democratic Reps. Betty McCollum and Rick Nolan voted yes, along with Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen.

Ellison, meanwhile, said in a statement that the time had come to put into law protections for Dreamers — set to run out in March — under the Deferred Action Childhood Arrival program (DACA). House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi tried to galvanize others in the party to oppose the measure over its lack of a solution for undocumented youth.

“Consider me a no on all future funding votes until that happens,” said Ellison.

Walz, a DFL candidate for govenror, also cited the lack of a solution for the immigration dilemma.

“I cannot vote for a deal that leaves too many Americans behind and spends billions of additional dollars unpaid for with little debate,” Walz said in a statement.

Paulsen, however, praised the deal for reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), funding community health centers and repealing a cap on Medicare outpatient physical therapy services.

“ ‘Compromise’ is not a dirty word and we should realize what can be achieved by finding areas of common ground,” he said in a statement.

In the Senate, Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith voted for the bill.

Maya Rao • 202-662-7433