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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Omnibus Bill Released $1.149 Trillion - 2,009 page Omnibus Spending Bill

Today in Washington, D.C. - Dec 16, 2015:

The House reconvened today at 9 AM.
Bills which may be under consideration:
H.R. 4246 — "To exempt for an additional 4-year period, from the application of the means-test presumption of abuse under chapter 7, qualifying members of reserve components of the Armed Forces and members of the National Guard who, after September 11, 2001, are called to active duty or to perform a homeland defense activity for not less than 90 days."
S. 1090 — "To amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to provide eligibility for broadcasting facilities to receive certain disaster assistance, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3654 — "To require a report on United States strategy to combat terrorist use of social media, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3750 — "To waive the passport fees for first responders proceeding abroad to aid a foreign country suffering from a natural disaster."
H.R. 2241 — "To direct the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to submit to Congress a report on the development and use of global health innovations in the programs, projects, and activities of the Agency."
H.R. 4239 — "To require intelligence community reporting on foreign fighter flows to and from terrorist safe havens abroad, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3878 — "To enhance cybersecurity information sharing and coordination at ports in the United States, and for other purposes."

No bills were passed yesterday.

The Senate reconvened today at 11 AM. There were no recorded votes yesterday.

Republican senators met this morning to discuss the agreements reached on appropriations for Fiscal Year 2016 and on a package of tax relief provisions.

They will vote this afternoon on H.R. 3594, which extends the federal Perkins Loan program for two years.

The House is expected to vote on the tax relief measure on Thursday and the appropriations package on Friday. If both are passed, the Senate could consider them on Friday.

Ongoing omnibus bill negotiations:
It seems members of Congress are keeping their heads down with regard to the ongoing omnibus bill negotiations.

At 2 AM this morning Congress released a $1.149 trillion, 2,009-page omnibus spending bill, a combination of thousands of spending commitments, new programs and big-government priorities.

Heritage Action for America noted:

Lawmakers failed to listen to the wishes of the American people and instead chose to cater to special interest groups. Rather than honor their campaign promises or the requests of their constituents, they caved to the Left and the Establishment.

This spending bill was a huge opportunity for conservative reform. A chance to start over and make bold spending choices to cut funding from Planned Parenthood, keep spending below budget caps, to vet the vetting process on Syrian refugees and put a stop to Obama’s executive amnesty.The bill fails to achieve any victories on key national security issues including a more stringent vetting system of Syrian refugees.The bill fails to block President Obama’s unlawful executive amnesty.

The bill fails to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

The bill fails to spend within our means, disregarding 2011 budget caps put in place to protect our economy.
Lawmakers will be voting as earlier as Thursday on this spending bill. Heritage Action opposes the omnibus spending bill and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

The omnibus spending bill should have been an opportunity for lawmakers to assert the power of the purse. Instead the bill falls far short of achieving substantive policy victories on the issues Americans care about. [Read More]

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement in response to the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill and $550 billion tax extenders bill:

"The $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill effectively funds 9 of the last 12 months of the Obama agenda at higher spending levels in exchange for very little. The bill includes by virtue of not defunding it, funds for the implementation of Obamacare, executive amnesty for illegal immigrants with U.S.-born children, Planned Parenthood, the resettlement of refugees from the war in Syria and Iraq, the EPA's war on coal and so forth. They even managed to inexcusably reinstate the wind turbine tax credit through 2020 that had previously expired this year.

"Failure to defund some of these big ticket items could have been somewhat offset by achieving smaller policy victories to limit the size and scope of government, but frankly these are very few and far between, and do not advise a yes vote for those representatives committed to reducing government's role in the lives of the American people. Sadly, there simply is very little in here for conservative members of Congress to hang their hats on, and Americans for Limited Government strongly urges a no vote.

"Notably, this was Speaker Paul Ryan's first and likely his only real chance to demonstrate that he was going to use the power of the purse to rein in President Obama's rogue initiatives. Rather than roaring like a lion by leveraging Democrats to accept provisions that tied Obama's regulatory hands, Ryan meekly rolled over on his back and waved a white flag, making any pronouncements in the coming year about his vision for restoring Congress' Article One constitutional authority meaningless."

While the bill fails to achieve significant conservative policy victories (more on that below), it appears to deliver substantial liberal priorities, including a two-year delay of Obamacare’s Cadillac tax. The Hill described the provision as Harry Reid’s “parting gift for unions.”

Heritage also noted that Many of the conservative policy riders touted by the Appropriations Committee are pre-existing riders — the Hyde amendment, a ban on funding Obamacare’s risk corridor bailouts, and the ban on transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay to military bases in America, just to name a few — that have endured throughout Republican and Democrat control. Meanwhile, many important riders were left out of the package, including:
  • WOTUS. Despite the EPA’s apparent violation of federal law in its promotion of WOTUS, the bill fails to block funding for the rule’s implementation;
  • Green Climate Fund. The bill does not explicitly prohibit the administration from funding the Green Climate Fund, which was seen as a major priority for the left on the heels of the recent Paris agreement. The White House believes the agreement allows them to make a $500 million payment to the fund;
  • Net Neutrality. This bill does not include a funding prohibition to prevent the FCC from implementing net neutrality;
  • Fiduciary Rule. This bill does not include a funding prohibition to prevent the DOL from implementing new standards for investment advice for retirement accounts;
  • NLRB Joint Employer. This bill does not include a funding prohibition to prevent new NLRB joint-employer standards;
  • EPA Power Plant rule. The bill does not include any provisions prohibiting the President from moving forward with his federal takeover of the electricity system; and
  • Pro Life Riders. Planned Parenthood funding will continue even though 151 House Republicans opposed the previous funding bill, many because it sent money to that organization. The bills also fails to include important riders sought by the pro-life movement, including the Abortion Conscience Clause and the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act.

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