The stopgap omnibus funding bill passed the House of Representatives on Thursday, despite heavy criticism from the US bishops and conservative members over the continued federal funding of Planned Parenthood, among other things.
The bill passed March 22 by a vote of 256-167.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) released a scathing letter after the vote.
“This omnibus is nowhere close to what Republicans promised to fight for,” said Meadows.
“When the American people sent us to Congress, their message was loud and their mandate clear: Secure the border, [...] Defund Planned Parenthood; Cut wasteful spending; ‘Drain the swamp and change the unsustainable way Washington, D.C. does business. This budget embraces the polar opposite of these principles.”
Last year, Planned Parenthood received over half a billion dollars in federal funding.
The inclusion of federal funding for Planned Parenthood was not the only controversial thing about the bill. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement saying they were “deeply disappoint[ed]” that the Conscience Protection Act (CPA) was not included in the appropriations bill, and said that members of Congress who did not support the CPA were extremists.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chair of the conference’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, chair of the Committee for Religious Liberty, said that "The CPA is an extraordinarily modest bill that proposes almost no change to existing conscience protection laws on abortion—laws that receive wide public and bi-partisan support.”
“The CPA simply proposes to provide victims of discrimination with the ability to defend their rights in court to help ensure that no one is forced to participate in abortion. Those inside and outside of Congress who worked to defeat the CPA have placed themselves squarely into the category of extremists who insist that all Americans must be forced to participate in the violent act of abortion. We call on Congress not to give up until this critical legislation is enacted."
Prior to the vote, many congressmen took to Twitter to complain about the bill’s large size (over 2,000 pages), the limited amount of time they had to read the bill before they were to vote on it, and specific programs that were still going to be receiving federal funding.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), joked that “It’s a good thing we have Republican control of Congress or the Democrats might bust the budget caps, fund planned parenthood and Obamacare, and sneak gun control without due process into an Omni...wait, what?”
Later he tweeted a list of the things the bill funded that he found objectionable, including $51 million appropriated for “international family planning and reproductive health.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), speaking on Fox News, said this may be the “worst bill I’ve seen in my time in Congress.”
“I don’t think we told the voters when we were running for the job [...] that we were going to continue to fund Planned Parenthood, we were going to restrict Second Amendment liberties, let some bureaucrats take away your Second Amendment rights, not a court of law.”
The omnibus bill now moves to the Senate, where it must be approved before the end of Friday to avoid a government shutdown.