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Dems hail

Issued: 2018-03-23

The massive spending bill approved by Congress this week comes as a relief to Democratic senators facing difficult reelection prospects this year.

Democrats running for reelection in pro-Trump states are touting bipartisan accomplishments in the $1.3 trillion package after having few legislative victories to claim under President TrumpDonald John TrumpPoll: Both parties need to do more on drug prices Senate approves .3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump White House: Trump will delay steel tariffs for EU, six countries MORE amid a congressional calendar dominated by GOP pushes on health care and taxes.

The Senate passed the legislation early Friday morning ahead of a two-week recess scheduled to begin Saturday. The bill is the last major legislative vehicle for Congress before lawmakers take a break over the summer and return home to campaign ahead of the fall midterms.

West Virginia Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinCoal miners' union to endorse Manchin Washington VIPs gather to celebrate Mark Penn's new book Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps MORE (D), who is running in a state Trump won by 42 points, is highlighting his work to add a provision to the bill known as Jessie’s Law to give doctors more information about patients’ previous opioid addictions before they prescribe medicine.

In Montana, Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) Tester2020 Dems compete for top campaign operatives Senate GOP: We will grow our majority in midterms Senate passes bipartisan bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (D) is hailing his effort to include $249 million in the bill for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s pre-disaster mitigation program.

Montana, which Trump carried by 20 points, was hit hard by wildfires last year and spent its two-year, $60 million emergency wildfire fund in one year.

Tester’s first campaign television ad focuses on his ability to get laws passed despite Washington’s dysfunction.

“Washington’s a mess but that’s not stopping me from getting bills to help Montana signed into law by President Trump,” the Democratic senator tells viewers in the spot.

Tester is telling constituents about the $85 million — a 55 percent increase — he secured in the spending bill for grants to help local, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies fight drug smuggling and human trafficking across the northern and southern borders.

Montana shares a 545-mile border with Canada.

Meanwhile, Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyLawmakers introduce bipartisan bill to speed up infrastructure permitting 2020 Dems compete for top campaign operatives Koch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp MORE (D-Ind.) is talking about the $4 billion in the bill to fund prevention, treatment and recovery programs in Indiana and other states hit hard by the opioid epidemic.

“I’m proud that these necessary funds were included, and I will continue fighting for the resources needed to combat this public health crisis,” he said.

And Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampKoch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps Senate sides with Trump on providing Saudi military support MORE (D-N.D.) sent a press release to North Dakota reporters Thursday pointing out a provision she wrote to keep a flood wall in Valley City as well as language extending a regulatory waiver for livestock haulers.

“This delay is the action I asked for,” she said.

Trump won Indiana and North Dakota by 20 and 36 points respectively.

Democratic strategists say the omnibus spending bill will beef up these incumbents’ résumés for November.

“It’s been a good month for red state Dems,” said a senior Democratic aide, who pointed to funding for wildfire relief, opioid treatment and veterans in the omnibus spending package as well as the banking reform bill that centrist Democrats helped pass earlier this month.

Sixteen Democrats, including Manchin, Tester, Donnelly and Heitkamp, voted for the banking reform measure.

“One, it shows we can work with the other side and, two, it shows the truth is we’re not driven by ideological compasses, we are driven by legislative principles that we think are in the best interests of our states,” said Steve Jarding, a former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee aide who now teaches at Harvard University.

“It gives them a kind of middle-of-the-road position,” he said.

Vulnerable Democrats are eager to have some accomplishments to tout after they decried being essentially boxed out of the health-care and tax reform debates.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate approves .3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump GOP senator threatened to hold up bill over provision to honor late political rival: report Paul: Shutting down government not my goal MORE (R-Ky.) made it clear from the outset of the health-care and tax debates that he planned to pass major initiatives entirely with GOP votes by using a special process known as reconciliation, which allows legislation to pass the Senate with 51 votes instead of 60.

Centrist Democrats said they wanted to reform ObamaCare but refused to negotiate with Republicans after they opted for the reconciliation fast track.

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