Trump Signs Spending Law That Funds Planned Parenthood and Sanctuary Cities But Not Border Wall

Terence P. Jeffrey | May 6, 2017 | 11:28am EDT
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( - Inside his home in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump signed a law to keep the government funded through the end of September that permits funding of Planned Parenthood and sanctuary cities, but does not include the $1.4 billion he requested to begin construction of the wall he vowed in his campaign to build along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The bill won more Democratic votes than Republican votes in both the House and Senate.

In the House, it prevailed 309 to 118—with Republicans voting for it 131 to 103 and Democrats voting for it 178 to 15. Four House members did not vote.

In the Senate, it passed 79 to 18 with 3 members not voting. All 18 Senate votes against it were cast by Republicans and 2 of the 3 members not voting were Republicans. Thus, 20 of the Senate’s 52 Republicans did not vote for the bill.

In a signing statement released yesterday by the White House, Trump contended that some elements of the bill he was signing into law were unconstitutional.

Trump, for example, claimed as unconstitutional sections of the law he signed that would limit his ability to unilaterally use the U.S. military in some circumstances and transfer terrorists detained at Guantanamo.

“Certain provisions of this bill (e.g., Division C, sections 8049, 8058, 8077, 8081, and 8116; Division J, under the heading ‘Contribution for International Peacekeeping Activities’) would, in certain circumstances, unconstitutionally limit my ability to modify the command and control of military personnel and materiel or unconstitutionally vest final decision-making authority in my military advisers,” Trump said in his statement. 

“Further,” he said, “Division B, section 527; Division C, section 8101; and Division F, section 517 each restrict the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the United States; Division C, section 8103 restricts the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to foreign countries and does not include an exception for when a court might order the release of a detainee to certain countries. I will treat these, and similar provisions, consistently with my constitutional authority as Commander in Chief.”

On the Trey Ware radio show in Texas on Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R.-Texas) explained why he opposed the bill.

“On the spending side, it’s just unfortunate, they have cut a deal that largely gave the Democrats everything they wanted,” Cruz said. “There is a reason Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are celebrating, because the spending measure funds everything they want and funds virtually none of the priorities we were elected to fund. This bill funds sanctuary cities, funds Planned Parenthood, it funds Obamacare and I think that was unfortunate and it’s a real missed opportunity.”

Sen. Jim Risch (R.-Idaho), explaining his opposition to the spending bill, pointed to the fact that it increases spending in a country that already has a massive debt.

“Since coming to Washington, I have consistently pressed Congress to change its out-of-control spending habits,” said Risch. “The federal government borrows nearly $1.25 billion a day; this is not sustainable and threatens our children’s and grandchildren’s futures. While there were many individual provisions I opposed, and many I supported and was glad to see included, I could not in good conscience vote for an overall increase in spending.”

The Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee put out a summary of the spending law that included a list of things it did “not include” that made it more acceptable to House Democrats.

“The Omnibus does not include,” the Democrat summary said, “President Trump’s request to cut FY2017 non-defense budget authority by $18 billion; President Trump’s request for funding to construct a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border; supplemental funding to hire additional ICE agents or to expedite hiring; poison pill riders restricting so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ from receiving federal grants, defunding Planned Parenthood, or undermining the Affordable Care Act.”

The American Health Care Act—the Obamacare “repeal-and-replace” bill—that the House passed this week and sent to the Senate, includes language that would deny Medicaid funding, but not Title X funding, to Planned Parenthood for one calendar year.

If the AHCA becomes law, Title X funding of Planned Parenthood will continue under the spending bill Trump signed Friday while Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood would be suspended. 

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