On April 30, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives approved their first appropriations bill for the 2016 fiscal year despite a public and embarrassing setback just one day earlier.
The $77 billion bill, which includes funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs and additional money for military bases around the nation to continue construction on new homes, was approved in a near partisan vote, by 255-163, The Hill reported.
However, the bill wasn’t passed without controversy. On the night of April 29, the Republican leadership in the House stopped a vote on the legislation over an amendment that would have eliminated $530 million earmarked for the construction projects. The amendment was supported in a bipartisan manner, by Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, Politico noted.
President Barack Obama threatened to veto the legislation due to a provision that would block any funds that would create special housing for Guantanamo Bay detainees to reside in the United States instead of Cuba.
The White House was also disappointed in the amount of funding the VA received under the Republican plan. While the GOP increased the troubled department’s budget by nearly six percent, the budget fell $1 billion short of what the President had previously requested.
“I can say with absolute certainty the VA’s problems stem from poor management, not too little money,” Republican Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said, referring to the wildly known scandals – changing administrators, long waits for veterans’ health care and unexplained deaths of many veterans.
The House continued to pass 2016 funding legislation on May 1, including a $35 billion measure funding the Energy Department, which Democrats opposed. The dissenters believed that the appropriation would halt research and development of green energy programs, such as solar energy sources, the Associated Press reported.