font size:   

 

Senate Vote: 44     Vote Date: Mar 20th, 2013

Issue:  H.R. 933 As Amended; “An Act making consolidated appropriations and further continuing appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013.”

Result:  Passed 73 to 26, 1 not voting. Became Public Law 113-6 (signed by the President 3-26-13).   GOP and Democrat selected vote. 

Bill Summary: H. R. 933, as initially passed by the House, included the full-year FY 2013 appropriations bills for the Department of Defense, military construction, and Department of Veterans Affairs. It also contained a continuing resolution for the remainder of the federal government. In this amended version, which became public law, the Senate has added full-year appropriations bills for Agriculture; Commerce, Justice, Science; and Homeland Security.

Remaining government operations would continue to be funded at FY 2012 levels as provided by H.J. Res. 117 (enacted 9-28-12) and amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.  H.R. 933 was written to conform to the discretionary spending caps in the Budget Control Act of 2011. It also contains a general provision enforcing the sequester, as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The automatic across the board cuts imposed by the sequester went into effect on March 1, 2013.

Analysis: Prior to the enactment of H.R. 933, FY 2013 operations had been funded under a continuing resolution that passed the House on September 13, 2012. The House passed H.R. 933 on March 6, (Roll Call 62) and sent the measure to the Senate. The Senate subsequently amended H.R. 933 and passed the amended version (this vote) and returned the measure to the House. The House approved the Senate changes without amendment (House Roll Call 89) and sent the bill to the president for his signature.

We object to H.R. 933, as passed by the Senate and accepted by the House, on constitutional grounds.

H.R. 933 continues to appropriate taxpayer moneys for massive unconstitutional government. It offers no serious effort to roll back unconstitutional programs responsibly.

Although the spending caps in the Budget Control Act do crimp the liberal style, they are far short of what’s needed to allow Americans to build a prosperous future. Instead, the partisan wrestling match over trifles (a sop to public frustration over our horrible economy) misleads voters into thinking that Congress is engaged in a serious battle to limit government. Massive cuts, according to the Constitution, are desperately needed. Minor fiscal restraint, conveniently mandated for future years, that preserves socialist inroads just won’t cut it.

Moreover, consolidated appropriations are no way for a responsible Congress to spend the public’s money. And passing an appropriation bill in the middle of its fiscal year is also irresponsible government. In 1976, the federal fiscal year was shifted 3 months from July 1 to October to give appropriators more time to develop the increasingly complex federal appropriations bills. Responsible representatives and senators should insist on voting on individual committee bills in a timely manner and not allow them to be consolidated for a stampeded compromise.

Relief from time pressure will come when the massive explosion in unconstitutional federal programs is rolled back. For example, one of the few Public Laws Congress enacted in 2013 was the Community Fire Safety Act, passed essentially unanimously by both Houses.   Of course, the federal government should have no involvement in Community Fire Safety. However, the first paragraph of the bill’s summary, prepared by the Congressional Research Service, somewhat explains the title and the incredible necessity for such a measure in the first place:

  • “Community Fire Safety Act of 2013 — Amends the Safe Drinking Water Act to exempt fire hydrants from certain prohibitions against the use of lead pipes, solder, and flux.”

We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)