GOP senators slam colleagues for voting to approve $1.7 billion spending bill

Two Republican senators have criticized fellow party members for voting in favor of the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill last week to avoid a government shutdown.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) criticized the Senate GOP leadership for not waiting until the new year, when Republicans take control of the House of Representatives and have more leverage to negotiate.

“The arrogance of our [Senate GOP] leadership who said, “We know better than the members of the House. We’ll skip that. We will have religion next year when it comes to mental health,” he told John Catsimatidis in an interview broadcast Sunday on his radio show WABC 770 AM.

“I’m not buying it. Unfortunately, our supporters won’t buy it either.

Johnson – who voted against the massive spending package last Thursday – was among Senate Republicans who had urged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to delay a vote on the bill.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who like Johnson was among 29 Republicans who voted against, also blamed McConnell on other GOP leaders in the chamber for caving in.

The senses. Ron Johnson and Rick Scott speak at a press conference on Capitol Hill on December 14.
Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/S

“Our party leadership has turned against Republican voters, against the Republican base, against most Republican senators,” Lee told Catsimatidis. “It’s happened before, but it’s once too many. For me, it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA

“As Republicans scratch their heads over their disappointing midterms, they should consider that voters don’t see much of a defining difference with Democrats,” he added.

While Republicans won a slim majority in the House in the Nov. 8 midterm elections, Democrats retained control of the Senate.​​

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is in the running to become Speaker, had been pushing for interim funding to continue until Jan. 3, when Republican lawmakers take control of the chamber.

The House and Senate last week approved a $1.7 trillion spending package.
The House and Senate last week approved a $1.7 trillion spending package.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

After clearing the House in a largely partisan 225-201 vote last Friday, McCarthy attacked Democrats for pushing through the more than 4,000-page bill, calling it one of “the most disgraceful acts that I have seen in this body”.

Johnson also criticized Senate Republicans who voted for the omnibus bill because it contained $858 billion in defense spending, a 9.7% increase from the previous year.

“What was so disconcerting was the hissing nature of the debate,” he told Catsimatidis. “We have over $31 trillion in debt. There is no end in sight. The only reason Republicans are voting for this…is that we got what we wanted in defense spending… [However] because of high inflation for 40 years, the $858 billion they got in that omnibus is really only worth $750 billion in pre-Biden dollars.

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