St George News

Spending bill passes Senate with Hatch support; Lee opposes as PILT Amendment fails

WASHINGTON D.C. – The Senate passed the $1.012 trillion omnibus spending bill Thursday by a vote of 72 to 26, funding the federal government through September 2014. The bill came before the Senate after passing in the House of Representatives Wednesday by a 359-67 vote.  Between the two chambers of Congress, Utah’s congressional delegation all voted for the bill except Sen. Mike Lee, who voted against it.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, today issued the following statement after voting in favor of the bill:

The significant margins by which this bill passed both the House and Senate is a testament to a true compromise and agreement by both Republicans and Democrats that Americans deserve greater stability from Washington, and that they want Washington to get things done. Is this bill perfect? Absolutely not. But it funds the government at the responsible spending levels agreed to in last year’s budget vote, prevents another government shutdown, meets the needs of the state of Utah and our communities, and supports our active military and veterans. The bill also eliminates wasteful spending on things like the Obamacare slush fund, special light bulbs, and liberal other pet projects that are adding to our national debt.

The bottom line is that while there is much more work to do to get our fiscal house in order – starting with reforming our entitlements that are bankrupting our country – this funding bill is a responsible and appropriate step forward to jumpstart the future discussions we all know must be had.

Sen. Mike Lee announced in a telephonic town hall meeting Wednesday that he would not vote for the omnibus spending bill, which largely funds discretionary programs, because it does not include funding of PILT, or payments in lieu of taxes, which is vital to Utah.  If funded, local governments would receive federal payments under the PILT program to help compensate for the loss of property tax revenue due to nontaxable federal lands within their boundaries.

Hatch, Lee and others supported an amendment to the proposed omnibus spending bill, Thursday, that would include funding for PILT in the appropriations act. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not allow the PILT amendment to go to vote, Lee’s Media Director Ben Burr said, upon which Lee’s opposition to the omnibus appropriations bill held firm and he voted against it.

Lee’s address to constituents Wednesday explaining his intentions on the spending bill vote is included in the following video.

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Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

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