Mar 23, 2018 | In the News

U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins on Friday slammed the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package that Congress passed and President Trump signed earlier in the day, along with the process by which Congress produced it.

The bill passed both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate with strong majorities, but Higgins, R-Port Barre, was among the 167 votes in the House against it. The bill contained too much wasteful spending to earn his vote, Higgins told reporters while visiting Lafayette General Medical Center Friday.

“It was just beyond the pale of something I could conscientiously support,” Higgins said, repeatedly singling out the Gateway rail project that would connect New York and New Jersey.

In fact, $900 million in direct funding for the project was stripped at the Trump administration’s request before the president signed it, according to Bloomberg. Advocates such as Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, instead settled for an increase in Amtrak’s capital budget and other funding sources that could yield about $540 million for the project.

Higgins also said criticized Congress’ for its “ridiculous” method of passing short-term spending bills, calling himself “a loud voice against it.” To fix the process, Higgins said, “We have to agree to change it. It’s just that simple.”

Higgins said he will closely watch the proceedings of the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Reform, a bipartisan group of 16 lawmakers broadly tasked with making recommendations to improve how Congress passes budgets and appropriations. The committee met for the first time March 8, and recommendations are due by Nov. 30.

“The status quo regarding the budgeting process in Washington is broken. I for one just do not accept it,” Higgins said.

Ben Myers, The Advocate

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