Citing the increased immigration enforcement and military funding it contains, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Friday cast the sole Democratic House vote against a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package.
In the final vote of the 117th Congress, House lawmakers passed the sweeping spending bill 225-201-1, with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) voting “present” and nine Republican lawmakers crossing party lines to support the measure. The bill now goes to President Joe Biden’s desk for signing.
Ocasio-Cortez explained in a statement that she voted against the bill because she campaigned on a promise “to oppose additional expansion and funding” for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), “particularly in the absence of long-overdue immigration reform.”
“The dramatic increase in DHS and ICE spending… cuts against the promises our party has made to immigrant communities across the country,” she added.
Numerous progressive and immigrant groups applauded Ocasio-Cortez’s “no” vote.
The Communities United for Status and Protection (CUSP) coalition said in a statement that Democratic control of both houses of Congress and the White House “should have meant that Democrats lead with dignity [and] respect and uphold the inherent value of all immigrants. Unfortunately to date, that has seldom been the case.”
The 117th Congress is being asked to support a funding bill that gives billions of dollars of funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol to hire more agents and surveil our communities, maintain the status quo of the anti-Black immigration detention system, target people with visa overstays, failure to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act, and a deliberate omission of lifesaving immigration provisions.
CUSP firmly supports and thanks Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for boldly standing with immigrant communities with a no vote against the omnibus. Despite any good that may be in this bill, we reject the selfish choice that the Democrats have presented us because we know that even in the difficult world of politics—compromise is possible.
Civil Rights Corps founder and executive director Alec Karakatsanis tweeted that “what Democrats did today is shameful.”
“They negotiated a massive federal spending bill in secret and did not give anyone time to read the 4,000 pages,” he continued. “A small group of them inserted, behind closed doors and without public debate, big increases in cops, prisons, and surveillance.”
“At a time of rising authoritarianism, ecological collapse, criminalization of abortion, etc., Democratic leadership continues to strengthen the very institutions that will bring about overt fascism,” Karakatsanis added. “Only one Democrat (AOC) in either the House or the Senate voted against it.”