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Only 2 Missouri lawmakers voted against spending plan that averted federal shutdown

Sen. Eric Schmit, R-Mo., speaks with members the press on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023, at the Missouri State Fair Ham Breakfast in Sedalia, Mo.
Tristen Rouse
St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Eric Schmit, R-Mo., speaks with members the press on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023, at the Missouri State Fair Ham Breakfast in Sedalia, Mo.

Congress passed a plan passed over the weekend that would keep the federal government open for another 45 days. It did not include additional funding to assist Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Most of Missouri’s federal lawmakers voted in favor of a spending plan that averted a government shutdown.

For several weeks, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives had struggled to pass legislation that would have kept the government funded. Some lawmakers in the GOP-controlled chamber were pushing for more extensive cuts in government spending — which was a difficult goal to achieve with a narrow majority and a Democratic Senate.

Ultimately, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy offered a spending plan that received the support of most of the House’s Democratic caucus.

All of Missouri’s House members voted for the plan, except for GOP Rep. Eric Burlison of Springfield. Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley voted for the bill, while his colleague, Sen. Eric Schmitt, was one of eight senators to oppose the measure.

In a statement, Rep. Cori Bush, D-St. Louis County, said while “this temporary stop-gap measure is not perfect, I voted for it because the provisions it contains are workable in the near term, and doesn’t contain disastrous cuts to our social safety net.”

She alluded to how Congress will have to pass another spending plan soon, because the continuing resolution only lasts for 45 days.

“Since the MAGA Republican Caucus took control of the House majority, they have held our communities hostage,” Bush said. “We have many fights ahead of us in the coming weeks and months to stave off their partisan attacks on basic services for our most vulnerable community members.”

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, whose district includes parts of the St. Louis region, said in a statement that a shutdown would have cost taxpayers money — and ceased House investigations into President Joe Biden’s business dealings.

“Any true conservative would never agree to such irresponsible waste,” said Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth. “Though it’s only a temporary solution, I’m glad to see progress through this continuing resolution so that we may work out a more permanent budget based on conservative policies that combat the waste and overreach of the Biden administration.”

Republican Rep. Ann Wagner of Ballwin said in a statement that she voted “to keep our government open, prevent taxpayer dollars from being wasted, and ensure our troops will continue to be paid while they are fighting for our freedoms.”

“Now we can get back to work and continue passing fiscally responsible appropriations bills and rein in President Biden’s reckless spending while fighting to secure our broken Southern border,” Wagner said.

Hawley spokeswoman Abigail Jackson said that the GOP senator "was glad to vote to keep the government open for the American people and to cut Ukraine funding."

Indeed, the bill passed on Saturday did not include any additional funding to Ukraine to assist in its fight against the Russian invasion, though that money may end up getting passed in separate legislation. But Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City said he was “frustrated that a handful of extremists have prevented the overwhelming majority of lawmakers in upholding our commitment to supporting Ukraine in their fight for freedom.”

“Although existing funding for Ukraine will continue, I am committed to working across the aisle to pass additional security assistance to those bravely resisting Putin’s evil invasion,” Cleaver said.

GOP U.S. Rep. Jason Smith of Salem said it was unacceptable that congressional Democrats "nearly shut down the government over funding for Ukraine." While Ukraine funding has bipartisan support in both chambers, some Republicans in the House have become increasingly critical of Biden's efforts to help the country.

"While the continuing resolution isn’t perfect, it will allow House Republicans to continue our fight to cut spending and combat President Biden’s border crisis," Smith said.

 U.S. Sen. Eric Schmitt records an episode of Politically Speaking at St. Louis Public Radio studios on May 18, 2023. Schmitt was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2022.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
U.S. Sen. Eric Schmitt records an episode of Politically Speaking at St. Louis Public Radio studios on May 18, 2023. Schmitt was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2022.

Schmitt and Burlison decry process

Schmitt said in a statement that he voted against the spending plan because he wants Congress to vote on individual appropriations bills — and not one continuing resolution funding the entire government.

“When I was elected to the Senate, I promised Missourians that I wouldn’t go along with the status quo, and I intend to keep that promise. I voted yesterday for reforming a broken system and against a bloated budget,” said Schmitt, R-Missouri. “The deadline brinksmanship must end. In the coming weeks, I intend to push for structural reforms to ensure the deadline dealmaking ends and we have an open and transparent process that stops reckless spending and improves the lives of Americans.”

Burlison provided a similar rationale for his ‘no’ vote.

“Instead of staying in D.C. and fighting to pass the rest of the appropriations bills, Congress is kicking the can down the road by passing a 45 day continuing resolution, extending the Woke Biden Policies for an additional month and a half,” Burlison said on the social media platform X. “During this extension, we are supposed to pass the remaining appropriations bills — that will remain to be seen. I voted against this and will continue to fight to end this cycle of depravity.”

Republican Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois said he voted against the spending plan because it did not include “any spending reforms or border security measures.”

"The people of Southern Illinois sent me to Washington to restore fiscal sanity and secure our southern border. We had a golden opportunity to do both as we worked this week to avoid a government shutdown,” Bost said. “However, it became clear the Washington Democrats weren’t interested in solving either crisis."
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Jason Rosenbaum