Toomey, Casey sound off on federal gov’t spending bill

The U.S. Senate approved a $1.1 trillion spending plan that will keep most of the federal government open through September. The 56-to-40 vote Saturday night followed bipartisan passage of the bill in the U.S. House two nights prior.

Both Pennsylvania senators supported the bill.

Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, said the bill was not perfect, but included a number of provisions he had fought to support. They included investments in the Delaware River deepening project, National Institutes of Health, Head Start and community development block grants, among others.

“While I don’t like the way it came together, strongly disagree with parts of it, and believe we have to do better — I also have an obligation to look at the package as a whole,” Casey said in a statement. “Taken in totality, this bill will help create and protect jobs in Pennsylvania and will prevent another government shutdown.”

Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, praised the bill for “essentially freezing government spending.” He listed several provisions as important, including exemptions to the Affordable Care Act, increased investment for Alzheimer’s research, decreased IRS spending and the establishment of funding levels for the Veterans Employment and Training Service.

“In addition to stopping a number of job-killing regulations and taxes, this funding measure will help our veterans and troops, victims of child abuse and domestic violence, and researchers who are leading the fight against Alzheimer’s,” Toomey said in a statement. “I also am pleased that this bill exempts about 400,000 people from Obamacare. This is a significant step toward dismantling this terrible law altogether.”

During the approval process, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, raised a point of order questioning the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s authority to defer deportations for undocumented immigrants. Toomey was among 20 Republicans who joined Democrats in rejecting that.

“As for the point of order regarding the bill’s constitutionality, I voted to waive it because this legislation does not violate the Constitution,” Toomey said. “Like many Americans, I believe that President Obama’s executive amnesty represents a dangerous executive overreach. But there is a difference between a bill to fund the government, and a president violating the law. Funding the government is constitutional.”

Both U.S. Congressman representing Delaware County — Reps. Bob Brady, D-1, of Philadelphia, and Pat Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, voted in favor of the bill when it passed the House on Thursday.

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