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Not All Lawmakers Are A Fan Of Congress' $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill


All right, while lawmakers wait to see if Mark Zuckerberg will come to Capitol Hill to testify, they've got a whole lot of reading to do. The House plans to vote today on a $1.3 trillion spending package. The whole thing's about 2,000 pages long. And there is again a sense of urgency. If they don't pass it by Friday at midnight, the government shuts down again. No one really wants that to happen, which is why the bill is a bipartisan compromise. It does include money for border security - $1.5 billion. But that is way less than what President Trump had wanted. There is a huge bump in spending for the military, which Republicans also wanted. Democrats got $3 billion for programs to fight opioid addiction. They also got a change that will allow the Centers for Disease Control to study gun violence. In a tweet, President Trump indicated his support for this bill. But some lawmakers do not like the price tag - among them, Ohio congressman Warren Davidson. He's a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and he joins me in our studios.

Congressman, thanks for being back on the show.

WARREN DAVIDSON: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: This morning, you tweeted the following out. Quote, "the old Army saying, the beatings will continue until morale improves, seems like a flawed political strategy. I will vote no." Explain.

DAVIDSON: Well, the status quo is, we spend more money than we have. And this really goes in the wrong direction. Republicans would be united if this were a Democrat bill or Hillary Clinton were president and supporting it. Republicans would be united in opposition to a plan that would say we would spend 20 percent more than we've been spending. The cause of funding our military is urgent. Frankly, the cause of funding opioid - the opioid crisis is bipartisan, not a Democrat objective, and it is urgent. There are lots of good wins in this bill. The price tag's too big. And frankly, we campaigned on, you should read the bills before you pass the bills. And this falls short of that promise.

MARTIN: So you're calling out your own party for being hypocritical here.

DAVIDSON: It's inconsistent with what we said we were going to do on a lot of fronts.

MARTIN: Although you voted for the Republican tax cut, which was a very large tax cut - a hundred - $1.5 trillion that's going to raise the deficit. How is that different?

DAVIDSON: According to the CBO, it raises the deficit. And the reality is is if you believe that it grows the economy at 2.6 percent or better, it is not a deficit bill. It is a revenue-producing bill. This spending plan spends all of the money that we would hope to obtain from a pro-growth tax reform. And so you look at the economy today. The reality is is it's far exceeding - CBO projects that the economy's going to grow at 1.9 percent. The economy's clearly growing at faster than 1.9 percent. CBO had the old expectations of the old Obama economy, that 1.5 percent was the new normal. It's just, you know, wrong to expect that we're going to be able to keep growing at 3 percent. The economy is doing that, and we're performing well. We could be going in the right direction, paying our debt down, and instead, we're spending all the money and more.

MARTIN: Democrats were reportedly willing to put more money toward border security, which is something that the Republicans had wanted, if there was an agreement on DACA. That wasn't included in this final measure. Was that something you would've been willing to negotiate on?

DAVIDSON: The House is still willing to negotiate on DACA. We have a bill commonly known as the Goodlatte bill. It spans our conference pretty well, and it offers, you know, the four pillars that the president said that he needed. He focuses on the wall. Broadly, it focuses on border security. I think the Democrats really want to make it about a wall, but the reality is the $30 billion in that plan is largely spent for changing the terms and conditions under which ICE operates, a lot of other structural changes to actually secure the border, chain migration, merit-based migration and more in terms of, how do you deal with this population of DACA folks? So people want to have a solution, but they want the solution to start with securing the border.

MARTIN: So in the seconds we have remaining, are there things that you like in this bill?

DAVIDSON: Absolutely. There's some wins, starting with funding our military at the appropriate levels. We have some real readiness challenges. And there are a lot of other ones. There's a tax reform bill that's important for our district with co-ops that was created out of the tax bill. So this corrects some problems in the tax bill. There are good wins. There - it could've been worse. And that's one of the common sayings here - we got to vote for this, or we'll get stuck with something worse.

MARTIN: And you say that it could've been worse, but you're still going to vote no.

DAVIDSON: I will vote no.

MARTIN: Congressman Warren Davidson of Ohio. Thanks for your time this morning.


NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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