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It's a Deal, but Not for Christians: What's Missing from DC's Newly Approved Spending Bill

03-23-2018
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WASHINGTON – Less than 24 hours ahead of the deadline to avoid yet another government shutdown, the Senate approved a controversial deal on a $1.3 trillion budget.

The legislative body passed the measure in a 65-32 vote early Friday morning. The move comes one day after it easily cleared the House, with lawmakers passing the measure by a vote of 256-167 Thursday. Now the bill heads to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.

The sweeping 2,232-page bill substantially boosts both defense and domestic spending.

On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) praised the $80 billion bump for the military, but said no spending bill this large is perfect.

"Years of cuts and years of uncertainty have hollowed out our armed forces," he said. "Aging equipment, personnel shortages, training lapses, maintenance lapses. All of this has cost us, it has hurt us. Last year alone, we lost four times as many service members in accidents, in training exercises as we did in combat."

While the spending plan keeps the government operating, a top Senate aide tells CBN News it drops protections for young immigrant Dreamers, and it only partially funds President Donald Trump's US-Mexico border wall.

After initially expressing support, the president is now threatening to veto the measure.

A Blow for Christians?

The House Freedom Caucus, however, is less than thrilled with the deal, with all 32 members saying they'll vote against the legislation.

Pro-life lawmakers were told there was hope the Conscience Protection Act would be included in the bill, but there was no mention of it in the text released Wednesday. That provision would have ensured healthcare professionals and others would not be forced to participate in actions, such as abortion, that would violate their sincere religious beliefs.

Surprised by the omission, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CBN News, "We should just stick things in and make them vote against it."

There is also no repeal of the Johnson Amendment in the spending plan, even though President Trump has voiced strong support for doing away with the law that keeps pastors and religious leaders from speaking about politics from the pulpit.

Although the administration is backing the legislation, it admits the bill falls short when it comes to addressing Planned Parenthood.

“The administration remains disappointed that this bill does not defund Planned Parenthood, which was included in the president’s budget proposal submitted to Congress earlier this year,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley.

“From reinstating the Mexico City Policy and confirming Justice Neil Gorsuch to supporting the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, President Trump is the most pro-life President in American history. The omnibus legislation keeps the Hyde and Helms amendments firmly in place, which prohibit tax dollars from being spent on abortions,” he said.

Meanwhile. the Heritage Foundation is blasting the measure, calling it an embarrassment.

 

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