WASHINGTON – A $1.1 trillion spending bill that will keep the federal government running through September passed the Senate on Thursday, a day after clearing the House.
Sens. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and John Boozman, R-Ark., voted in favor of the omnibus legislation that combines a dozen annual spending bills into one 1,524-page agreement. The vote was 72-26. It cleared the House on Wednesday, 359-67.
Pryor spoke in favor of the legislation earlier Thursday on the Senate floor, pointing to specific agriculture programs that it benefits as well as highlighting it as a bipartisan effort.
“I could stand here for an hour or so explaining all the benefits of the bill, and I could talk about all the provisions and lots of different things that are contained in this bill, but I think overall the most important thing to note here … is this was an agreement reached by bipartisanship,” he said.
Pryor chairs the Appropriations agriculture subcommittee. He is also facing an election challenge this year from Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle. Cotton voted against the bill Wednesday in the House.
Boozman issued a statement after the vote saying passage of the bill was an “important first step” to returning control of the federal purse strings to Congress.
“For too long, we have ceded our power of the purse, allowing President Obama to set spending priorities. As we have realized all too well, his priorities are often at odds with ours in Arkansas,” Boozman said.
Among the provisions in the bill that would benefit Arkansas, Boozman said, are language preserving fish hatcheries at Greers Ferry and Norfork; funding for agriculture research at Arkansas universities; and economic development grants that help low-income Arkansans find jobs.
Pryor also noted that the bill provides funding for the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center in Little Rock and the National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson.
President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.
Cotton said he opposed the bill because it would add $45 billion to the deficit and potentially cost Arkansas counties payments they receive — in lieu of tax revenue — on property owned by the federal government. He also opposed any reduction to military pensions.
Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, also opposed the bill in the House while Reps. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, and Steve Womack, R-Rogers, voted for it.