Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) was the only House Democrat to vote against a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package on Friday, voting “no” on the measure because of increased funding for defense and federal agencies that oversee immigration.
In a statement Friday afternoon, Ocasio-Cortez said she was concerned about funding in the bill for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in addition to the $858 billion in defense spending.
“I campaigned on a promise to my constituents: to oppose additional expansion and funding for ICE and DHS — particularly in the absence of long-overdue immigration reform. For that reason, as well as the dramatic increase in defense spending which exceeds even President Biden’s request, I voted no on today’s omnibus bill,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The appropriations bill passed by Congress includes $8.42 billion for ICE, which is $161.1 million more than what was enacted in 2022 and $319.4 million more than what the president requested.
DHS received $86.5 billion in discretionary resources.
Ocasio-Cortez said the “dramatic increase” in spending for those two agencies “cut[s] against the promises our party has made to immigrant communities across the country,” adding that it is the case “especially in light of the lack of progress on DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals], TPS [Temporary Protected Status], and expanding paths to citizenship.”
The New York Democrat was not the only member of the caucus to not vote for the omnibus package: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) voted present. The Hill reached out to the congresswoman for comment on her vote.
Ocasio-Cortez also took issue with the process by which Congress funded the government for the rest of the fiscal year. Typically, the chambers will vote on appropriations bills for each agency. This year, however, appropriators opted for a single omnibus package to fund all corners of the government.
“From the beginning of this negotiation, we made clear to Democratic leadership that we must keep the practice of voting on funding bills by agency — particularly controversial agencies like DHS — so that Members would not be forced to betray one part of their district in service of expediency,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We were successful in this approach last year, and looked forward to supporting such a package this year.”
The congresswoman touted provisions included in the omnibus that she helped craft — including an increase in the National Labor Relations Board and funding for community projects in her district — but said she could not vote for them because of her overarching concerns with the bill.
“These victories and many more – such as the inclusion of PUMP [Providing Urgent Maternal Protections] and PWFA [Pregnant Workers Fairness] Acts – are hard-fought wins that we proudly support and would proudly vote for. But tying these provisions to dramatic increases in surveillance, border patrol forces, and militarized spending after years of deeply disturbing misconduct and lack of any meaningful accountability is decision we find deeply objectionable,” she said.
“Our constituents have made clear that they would like to see objections to these measures represented in Congress, and that is what I will do,” she added.