President Joe Biden’s administration has said that he will veto two Republican-drafted appropriations bills that must be passed to avoid a limited government shutdown, citing GOP efforts to defund left-wing priorities.
H.R. 4366, an appropriations bill for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and H.R. 4368, an appropriations bill for agriculture, rural development and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), were advanced to the House Rules Committee, the powerful body that determines how the bills will be debated and voted upon on the House floor. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which oversees all Executive Branch spending, issued two policy statements saying that Biden would veto the bills in their current form because they strip or ban funding for certain left-wing administrative actions.
“These bills include billions in additional rescissions from the [Inflation Reduction Act] and other vital legislation that would result in unacceptable harm to clean energy and to energy efficiency initiatives that lower energy costs and critical investments in rural America,” both statements read. The OMB added that the bills have “numerous new, partisan policy provisions with devastating consequences including harming access to reproductive healthcare, threatening the health and safety of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Americans.”
Among the concerns the OMB outlined with H.R. 4366 was a provision that banned using taxpayer funds to transfer detainees imprisoned at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. “This provision would interfere with the President’s ability to determine the appropriate disposition of GTMO detainees,” the OMB wrote.
The OMB also took exception to H.R. 4366’s provision that would preclude the Department of Veterans Affairs from using taxpayer funds to aid veterans seeking abortions, with few exceptions. “This change would prevent VA from providing needed care to veterans when the health of the woman is endangered,” it said.
In H.R. 4368, the OMB wrote that it opposed restrictions on accessibility to mifepristone, a capsule pharmaceutical that induces a chemical abortion of a pregnancy. The drug is currently at the center of a legal battle where a conservative group is suing the FDA for permitting the drug, which the Supreme Court has ordered to remain available while the case is pending.
The OMB also criticized the bills for reducing funding for a number of programs as well as generally limiting regulatory ability. “[T]he Committee bill also threatens FDA’s ability to protect the Nation’s youth from tobacco products,” it wrote, referring to provisions that would hinder the FDA from banning flavors in electronic tobacco products.
After Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached an agreement in May to avert a debt default, McCarthy said that he would not object to House Appropriators drafting spending bills below caps established in the agreement with Biden, which would effectively be a spending cut. “[W]ith just over two months before the end of the fiscal year, [House Republicans] are wasting time with partisan bills that cut domestic spending to levels well below the FRA agreement and endanger critical services.”
Vetoing the bills, if the House does not amend them and obtain Biden’s signature by September 30, will lead to a government shutdown of the agencies and departments in question.
The House Appropriations Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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