Madison Project Scores 11 Spending Amendments in Transportation-HUD Bill

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Issues

Amidst the political turmoil in the House last week, members of Congress voted on a number of spending amendments to the annual Transportation-HUD appropriations bill.  This is not exactly the most exciting topic in light of the political gamesmanship involved in running for leadership posts, but it is quite revealing when attempting to ascertain the commitment of some members to reducing the size of government.

The bill, HR 4745, appropriates roughly $52 billion for FY 2015.  Put simply, this bill encompasses more wasteful government that almost any other appropriations bill.  It spends almost $8 billion more than last year’s draft bill from the House and it contains a number of programs that should not be administered at a federal level, such as subsidies for mass transit and rural air service.   The bill also contains a number of programs that were instituted under the Obama stimulus bill in 2009.

Several members of the conference offered amendments to cut back wasteful spending, particularly among programs that subsidize housing, yet most of them were rebuffed by a coalition of Democrats and liberal Republicans.  We’ve created a scorecard of 11 amendments detailing how each member of the GOP conference voted.

Click here to view the scorecard

Please find the descriptions of these amendments from the Republican Study Committee pasted below:

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Abolish the Economic Development Administration

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy

As the season of appropriations begins in earnest, Congress will take up the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill.  This bill (HR 4660), which funds the Departments of Commerce and Justice, as well as NASA and other related agencies, provides $51.202 billion in discretionary budget authority.

Obviously, from a conservative perspective, the entire Department of Commerce is a waste of money and should not exist.  But at the very least, we should cut back on failed programs.  Instead, this bill actually provides $3.8 billion in extra spending relative to last year’s House bill.  The Heritage Foundation has already detailed $2.6 billion in additional spending cuts that should be included in the bill.

A number of conservative members will be offering amendments to cut spending.  One of the most important amendments that has been proposed so far is Rep. Mike Pompeo’s (R-KS) amendment to abolish the Economic Development Administration (EDA).  The EDA is a failed Great Society program that serves as a stimulus/pork slush fund for special interest communities under the guise of assistance to economically distressed areas of the country.  It’s nothing more than a fund for corporate welfare and a way of picking winners and losers in the market.  It has been as successful in creating jobs as Obama’s stimulus.  Senator DeMint wrote a great piece on the EDA two years ago analyzing its history of failed promises.

Anyone who claims to oppose earmarks and stimulus must oppose the EDA.  This bill appropriates $248 million for the EDA, a slight increase from last year’s enacted level.  Call your members and ask them to support the Pompeo amendment to end the EDA.  If we can’t close down this failed agency, we will certainly never eliminate any major agency or full department.

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Democrats and their Budget Hypocrisy Leading to #DemocratShutdown

Monday, October 7th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, News

Throughout the past week, Democrats leaders have justified their refusal to negotiate with Republicans as a natural response to hostage taking.  They claim that the fight over Obamacare is extraneous to the budget, and as such, they should not have to talk to Republicans until they agree to pass a “clean” CR.  There are two points they are obfuscating in the context of the budget battle.

1)      Obamacare was passed through budget reconciliation.  So when they felt it was convenient for them to inject Obamacare into the budget process; namely, for the purpose of avoiding the 60-vote threshold, they were more than happy to do so.  Well, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  Now that we have approached the implementation date, which coincides with the budget deadline, it’s time to use that same process to uproot a law that is unworkable and unpopular.

2)      Democrats say they are refusing to pass individual funding bills for vital services because Republicans are manipulating the process to cherry pick what they want to fund.  Instead they are demanding that Republicans just pass a catch-all CR.  In reality, they are the ones who have the process backwards.  Regular order means passing individual appropriations bills one at a time.  This business of funding the government with endless continuing resolutions is nonsense.  Granted that we are past the deadline, but whose fault is that?  Senate Democrats have refused to go through regular order and send the 12 individual bills to conference.

Now that Democrats have refused to follow regular order, it’s time we focus on each funding bill one at a time.  Republicans have already passed bills to fund the DC government, NIH, national parks, military, and veterans.  Today they will pass many more funding bills, including some aspects that conservatives would like to reform or eliminate:

  • H.R. 3223 – Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act (Rep. Moran, D-VA)
  • H.J. Res. 75 – Nutrition Assistance for Low-Income Women and Children Act (Rep. Aderholt, R-AL)
  • H.J. Res. 76 – Nuclear Weapon Security & Non-Proliferation Act (Rep. Frelinghuysen, R-NJ)
  • H.J. Res. 77 – Food and Drug Safety Act (Rep. Aderholt, R-AL)
  • H.J. Res. 78 – Preserving Our Intelligence Capabilities Act (Rep. Young, R-FL)
  • H.J. Res. 79 – Border Safety & Security Act (Rep. Carter, R-TX)
  • H.J. Res. 80 – American Indian and Alaska Native, Health, Education, and Safety (Rep. Simpson, R-ID)
  • H.J. Res. 82 – National Weather Monitoring Act (Rep. Rogers, R-KY)
  • H.J. Res. 83 – Impact Aid for Local Schools Act (Rep. Rogers, R-KY)
  • H.J. Res. 84 – Head Start for Low-Income Children Act (Rep. Rogers, R-KY)
  • H.J. Res. 85 – National Emergency and Disaster Recovery Act (Rep. Carter, R-TX)

Why are the Democrats so scared to fund these vital services, national security interests, and some of their own pet projects – all for the purpose of protecting Obamacare?  Let’s pass each bill one by one and restore the full function of government until we reach the funding for HHS, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the IRS.  If Democrats are so confident that Obamacare is working and resonating with the public, why not have a focused debate directly on funding for Obamacare without holding the rest of government hostage?

Why do they suddenly fear the budget process they so eagerly embraced in 2010?

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A Recap of Important Amendments to the DHS Appropriations Bill

Friday, June 7th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Issues

Earlier this week, the House voted on the first appropriations bills of the FY 2014 budget process.  So far, leadership has kept their promise to allow an open amendment process on the bills.  As such, members have been able to offer some good and some not so good amendments.  Unfortunately, none of this will make a difference because they will cave on the final budget process at the end of the summer.

Among the amendments, were three votes that I highlighted in a spreadsheet: a bad amendment by Bill Cassidy to delay modest flood insurance reforms, a good amendment by Scott Garrett to block TSA-style searches outside of airport setting, and a King amendment to defund Obama’s illegal administrative amnesty.  Click here to see the voting presentation.

Here is a description of the amendments from the Republican Study Committee:

Cassidy (R-LA)/Grimm (R-NY)/Palazzo (R-MS).  This amendment delays implementation of Section 207 of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Report Act of 2012 for one year.  Section 207 of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012 ends the grandfathered National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) rates and allows the premium rates to rise up to 20 percent per year over a five year period. According to the sponsor, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not fully understand the implications of implementing Section 207 and has not accounted for all factors when creating their flood zone maps.  The one year delay is designed to give FEMA time to properly implement the risk premium formulas and create accurate flood zone maps.

The amendment passed 281-144 with 94 GOP votes.

Garrett (R-NJ).  This amendment prohibits any funds in the Act from being used by a Visible Intermodal Protection and Response (VIPR) team or by the Transportation Security Administration to conduct security screening outside of an airport.  According to the TSA, the VIPR program was developed by TSA after the Madrid train bombing in 2005.  VIPR teams are fully mobile and can be deployed at “random locations and times” and are applicable to “all modes of transportation”.  This amendment directs that screening will only be conducted following the provisions of Section 44901 of title 49.  Section 44901 of title 49 applies to screening at airports only.

The amendment failed 180-247 with 68 Republicans voting no:

King (R-IA).  This amendment prohibits funds from being used to follow specific memorandums authored by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano that allow prosecutorial discretion, deferred action, and determines priorities regarding the removal and amnesty of illegal immigrants. Specifically, a June 15, 2012 memorandum instructs Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to grant deferred action to certain illegal aliens, directs officers to refrain from placing these individuals in removal proceedings, and permits personnel to grant employment to certain beneficiaries of this directive. A similar June 17, 2011 memo permits the use of discretion when granting amnesty to illegal immigrants based on a set of vague criteria. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor has ruled  “that DHS does not have discretion to refuse to initiate removal proceedings [when the law requires it].” This ruling was a result of ten ICE officers who filed a lawsuit on August 23, 2012, against Janet Napolitano and John Morton claiming that these directives placed them in a position to violate federal law in multiple ways. Heritage Action supports this amendment, and will be including it as a vote on their scorecard.

The amendment passed224-201.  Only 6 Republicans voted against it.  We hope the rest of the conference remain strong on the issue when it really counts.  The 6 no votes were Bachus, S. (AL-06),Denham (CA-10), Grimm (NY-11),Nunes (CA-22), Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27),Valadao (CA-21).  Yes, Bachus, who hails from one of the most conservative districts in the country, stands out like a sore thumb.

36 Republicans Side With Big Labor on Davis-Bacon

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Elections, News

Earlier today, the House commenced the annual appropriators process when members began voting on amendments to the FY 2014 Military Construction/Veterans Affairs appropriators bill.  Rep. Steve King offered an amendment which would have barred the use of funds in the bill to enforce Davis Bacon Act prevailing wage requirements.  Davis-Bacon mandates that federal government contractors pay prevailing union-level wages for work on federally funded projects.  This law discriminates against non-union firms and costs taxpayers 22% for each project.  The amendment was defeated as 36 Republicans joined with every Democrat to side with Big Labor against the taxpayers.

One would think that all Republicans would realize that not only do labor unions want to destroy the economy; they want to destroy the Republican Party. It’s incomprehensible why Republicans would want to offer handouts to those who bankroll the Democrat Party.

Here is a list of the members who voted against defunding Davis-Bacon.  The so-called conservative, Paul Ryan, was among the Big Labor Republicans.  Bonus fact: Bill Shuster (PA-9) represents the most conservative district of those who sided with the labor unions.  We’re proud to be the first organization to endorse Art Halvorson against him in next year’s primary:

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Will Republicans Reassert the Rule of Law?

Monday, June 3rd, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Immigration, News

In June 2011, Obama announced that he would suspend our immigration laws and grant administrative amnesty to those who qualify for the DREAM Act – a bill that never passed Congress.  This was just one of the many egregious steps taken by the administration to subvert the rule of law and threaten our sovereignty.  Yet, unlike with the IRS scandal, Republicans were largely silent.  Obama punched us in the stomach and challenged us to hit back, yet all we did was scamper away like a bunch of cowards.

The GOP insouciance towards Obama’s “deferred action” program is particularly jarring in the context of the debate over the Schumer/Rubio/Obama amnesty bill.  The entire premise of the bill is predicated on overlooking how Obama has already dealt with his illegal amnesty.  From ‘legalization before enforcement’ and major restrictions on future deportations to wide discretion granted to DHS, we don’t need a crystal ball to ascertain the results of the bill.  Obama’s DACA program has served as a test run for the mass amnesty.

An astounding 99.5% of all those who applied for the amnesty were approved by the administration.  Yup, obviously none of them said they planned to start a conservative organization when they filled out the application.  Moreover, as ICE agent Chris Crane has repeatedly noted, it is virtually impossible for ICE to detain and deport anyone because almost any detainee could potentially be eligible for this illegal amnesty.  So now we have millions of young impoverished illegals who are on a fast track to receiving benefits on behalf of their families.  We have now raised the specter of anchor babies to include ‘anchor young adults.’  As long as you come here with at least one child under age, you are here to stay.

The idea that we will ever be able to deport anyone after this bill passes is simply absurd, in light of what we’re seeing from DACA.  Almost anyone could potentially be eligible for the multiple eligibility status loopholes, and the bill forces all law enforcement to provide them with a reasonable opportunity to come forward.  Even an administration that is committed to the rule of law would find it nearly impossible to resume deportations after the amnesty, much less an administration that has already promised never to enforce the law.

Meanwhile, in a bid to inveigle other GOP senators into supporting the bill, Rubio said that he plans to announce his own border security plan.  But as we’ve seen from DACA, you can come up with any plan you’d like; it’s only Obama’s plan that counts.  This has been, and always will be, an executive branch problem, not a legislative problem.  It’s real simple: the only way any amnesty would ever work is if Obama begins to demonstrate enforcement of existing laws first.  Everything else is just window dressing used to entice other Republicans into kicking Charlie Brown’s football.

The uncanny irony is that a federal district judge is prepared to vitiate Obama’s deferred action, yet Republicans won’t take yes for an answer.  Aside for the few border hawks, none of them will even issue a press release making notice of this expected victory for the rule of law.

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Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Issues

Here’s a not-so-bold prediction: Congress will vote to spend more money today than it will cut over 10 years from any grand deal.

Later today, the House will consider the additional $50 billion in Sandy aid in two parts (they already passed another $9.7 billion two weeks ago). The House will first try to pass a bill (H.R. 152) to provide about $17 billion to address the ‘more immediate’ recovery needs, including money for FEMA’s disaster relief fund. Sandy has caused the fund’s balance to drop to $3.94 billion as of Dec. 31, from more than $7 billion on Oct. 1.  There are no significant reforms in this bill to ensure that we don’t continue throwing money down a rat hole. Moreover, in addition to the FEMA money, this bill contains more funding for the failed Head Start program, as if that is critical for Sandy relief.

So how much of this package – the more immediate needs – will be expended beyond FY 2015? 51%

Then the House will consider an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), which will include a $33.7 billion long-term package, containing much of the extraneous spending that passed the Senate. $12.2 billion is for the Community Development Block Grant, which is nothing more than a multi-purpose account for states to use on any project.  Why not use a disaster to promote HUD special interest activities?

80% of the spending in this bill will occur after FY 2015.

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GOP Rep. Jack Kingston Wants to Make Peace With Obamacare

Monday, January 7th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Obamacare

If we really believe that Obamacare is the motherload of all entitlements;  that it will create permanent dependency for tens of millions of Americans; that it will induce unsustainable inflationary pressure on the cost of healthcare and health insurance; that it will saddle the next generation with crippling debt, why would we ever stop fighting it?

Unfortunately, it appears that many within the GOP have surrendered the field to this new leviathan.  Republicans failed to even make the Obamacare tax hikes – the most unpopular part of the law – an issue during the tax negotiations.  So what is in store for the next Congress?

Well, here is what Jack Kingston (R-GA), the incoming chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on healthcare, had to say about the law:

“I don’t want to go in there saying, ‘By golly, there’s a new sheriff in town,’” the Savannah resident told POLITICO. “Obamacare has been the law of the land, and it is getting implemented. We have to work in that context.”

The Politico article goes on to say that Kingston is basically committed to passing a bipartisan appropriations bill to fund the HHS and Obamacare.

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Appropriators Planning Massive Omnibus Spending Bill

Monday, November 19th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt

We are being bombarded with unsolicited advice and admonishment from the media regarding which issues are helpful or hurtful to the conservative cause.  However, I would wager that the budget issue is a big winner with the public, even as Republicans are prepared to cave on all budgetary matters.

Democrats in the Senate have failed to pass a budget in almost 1300 days.  Yet, instead of holding firm on the House budget, Republicans have decided to negotiate with people who have none of their own.  Only a communications-challenged party could fail to take their case to the voters.  Every family knows that they need to formulate a budget.  If Republicans would drive home this point more, the public would support their effort to stand their ground until Democrats come up with their own budget.

Earlier in the year, House Republicans agreed once again to play ball with the budget-less Senate.  They jettisoned their month’s worth of budget work in favor of a 6 month CR that will last until March 31 – the first 6 months of FY 2013.  Now that Congress has had an extra 6 months to do their jobs and pass a budget in regular order (pass each of the 12 appropriations bills individually), one would expect them to finish the appropriations process.  Instead, as Politico reported this morning, they are preparing an omnibus bill to fill out the remainder of the fiscal year.

There is never any excuse for a conservative to vote for an omnibus bill.  There is no way that any senator or congressman has the ability to read a 1200-page bill that contains all of the expenditures of government.  Republicans must refuse to pass any omnibus bill until Democrats agree to pass the budget in regular order.  At this rate, that might take centuries.

Senate Democrats to Bypass Appropriations Process

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt

It is funny how those who believe Congress has unlimited power to regulate the private sector are abdicating their primary constitutional responsibility.  Senate Democrats have not passed a budget in 1,169 days.  Last year, despite their failure to comply with the Budget Act of 1974 and to pass a budget resolution, they made an effort to pass a couple of individual appropriations bills.  Now Roll Call is reporting that they are planning to ignore the entire appropriations process, opting for a continuing resolution showdown from the get-go. This, despite Reid’s promise earlier this year to complete work on the spending bills for Fiscal Year 2013.

And they’re not embarrassed to say so.

In fact, Harry Reid is actually claiming that the reason they will not pass a budget or a single appropriations bill is because the House did pass a budget:

Amid lingering differences with the House over government spending, Senate Democrats may not pass any appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today said the major hurdle to completing the appropriations process is the House GOP, which has been pushing for spending cuts greater than what was agreed to under last year’s Budget Control Act. The House is moving its spending bills in accordance with the House Republican budget resolution, which sets spending at $19 billion less than the $1.047 trillion spending level agreed to in that measure.

“We passed last August legislation that is now law that set forth the spending for this country during the next fiscal year,” said Reid. “They refuse to adhere to that. So that makes it hard to do these appropriation bills.”

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