The House passed the first comprehensive Appropriations bill in over two years Thursday with broad bipartisan support, despite the overwhelming disapproval of outside conservative groups.
The $1.1 trillion bill, which the Senate is expected to pass later this week, funds every corner of the government through September 30. But while it has something for everyone to hate, only three Democrats and 64 Republicans opposed, much to the chagrin of Club for Growth, Heritage Action, and FreedomWorks.
“We stand with Speaker Boehner and the other leadership,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). “We stand for conservative principles, [but] we realize that within the family we’re not going to get everything we want.”
“I think there’s a clear sense that this is a new day,” said Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.). “It puts a clear slate before us legislatively; we can address other things. We have the time to address legislation on immigration and on mandatory spending and many other issues.”
“This is a real win for this institution,” he added.
Conservatives are upset that the bill, which is set by the budget passed at the end of last year, is a $45 billion increase over the 2014 discretionary spending level set by sequestration in 2011. In public statements, they have bemoaned everything from increases to the Head Start education programs to maintaining current funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. But there are also signs that these outside groups are angry about their loss of influence.
“The appropriators who crafted this bill did so in absolute secrecy, preventing any meddlesome outsiders from nagging them about the spending tweaks and program changes they tucked into a 1,500 page bill,” FreedomWorks director Matt Kibbe wrote in an open letter.
House Republicans have largely rallied behind House Speaker John Boehner since he proclaimed in mid-December that outside conservative groups have “lost all credibility” for “misleading their followers” through the government shutdown. Still, there are points of contention that could arise, most notably the upcoming debt ceiling debate, which House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) called “out of my bailiwick.”
Instead Rogers preferred to bask in the glow of bipartisan achievement today, complimenting his staffers for six weeks of hard work and late night negotiations through Christmas and the New Year.
“I was just reflecting in there, a few minutes ago in the chamber—that hallowed place where we’ve survived depression and world war and all sorts of difficulties over the years,” he said. “But we always came through this because we were able to work common problems out across the aisle.”