Congress is on the verge of passing a 1,582-page, $1 trillion budget bill, a complex compromise that grew out of a desire on the part of both Republicans and Democrats to avoid budget brinksmanship and government shutdowns.
Approving the legislation “is showing the American people we actually are capable of working in a bipartisan manner,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. He praised the bill for holding down spending and said passage would be “the responsible thing to do. It’s the thoughtful thing to do.”
Not everybody is capable of working in a partisan manner. There’s always outlier U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, who marches to a decidedly different drummer, though you can figure out the cadence if you follow his major financial benefactor, the Club for Growth. (Club for Greed, Mike Huckabee always called the billionaires who hate taxes and government help for poor people.)
The Club for Growth urged a vote against the measure. So, too, did Heritage Action, another extremist conservative group.
Cotton said the bill didn’t cut enough. But at the same time he said it didn’t spend enough — such as in federal payments in lieu of taxes with large amounts of untaxed federal land, such as national forests, and didn’t restore enough money for military pensions. BTW: Those payments to rural counties were supposed to be taken care of in the farm bill — WHICH COTTON OPPOSES.
He fails to note the dozens, maybe hundreds, of specific line items of vital value to Arkansas that he is prepared to vote against. It’s a cheap political stunt, he can get away with voting against the interest of Arkansas because he knows other will carry the freight, while he can demagogue some base issues. The list is staggering: universities, Children’s Hospital and on and on.
Said the Democratic Party of Arkansas:
“Once again Congressman Cotton has sided with the shadowy special interests funding his campaign for Senate instead of standing with Arkansans who depend on programs this bill funds. In the cold political calculus of Congressman Cotton’s campaign, the millions of dollars being funneled into his campaign’s coffers will win out over Arkansas every time. Congressman Cotton must think Arkansans aren’t paying attention or that he can put one over on them by recklessly voting against their interests one day and asking for their votes the next. He’s wrong on both accounts.”
The Pryor campaign piled on:
“With today’s vote, Congressman Cotton proved yet again that he’d rather add to the partisan gridlock in Washington and please his special interest backers than do right by Arkansans. It shouldn’t surprise anyone — Congressman Cotton pushed for the government shutdown and opposed the recent bipartisan budget agreement. Arkansans are sick of Cotton’s my-way-or-the-highway politics, especially when his irresponsible record comes at a cost for Arkansas seniors, students, farmers and working families.”
Cotton’s full statement:
Congressman Tom Cotton (R-Dardanelle) released the following statement announcing his opposition to the omnibus spending bill because of its cuts to military pensions and wasteful spending:
“I cannot support this budget-busting $1.1 trillion spending bill, which piles another $45 billion onto our $17 trillion national debt in violation of the spending caps that took effect just months ago. Also, the bill shortchanges rural counties by funding many wasteful, superfluous programs instead of Payments in Lieu of Taxes. This program supports counties like Montgomery, Newton, Johnson, Franklin, Garland, Yell, Polk, Crawford, and Scott, which contain large amounts of federal land. These counties will lose revenue needed to pay for schools, roads, and jails and will potentially be forced to raise local taxes on hard-working Arkansas families.
“Worse yet, this legislation does little to fix the unprecedented cuts to military pensions contained in last month’s budget agreement. Our troops risk their lives and endure great hardship for our country, but this bill singles them out for discriminatory, retroactive pension cuts.
“Our military should not be the first and only group to see such cuts. And Arkansans should not settle for the short end of the stick, more deficit spending, and potentially higher local taxes. I oppose this legislation, and I will keep fighting for spending discipline and for Arkansas’s best interests.”