Freedom First Society

Issue: H.R. 1625, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (Vehicle: TARGET ACT). Question: On the Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 1625.

Result: Passed in Senate, 65 to 32, 3 not voting. Passed previous day in House (House Roll Call 127). Became Public Law 115-141 (signed by the President, 3-23-18). GOP only scored.

Freedom First Society: The support for this massive $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill shows clearly the big-spending colors of the leadership of both parties in Congress as well as of the White House — unconstitutional, unlimited government run amok. A frustrated Senator Robert Corker (R-TN) summarized the leadership and the bill:

“I could not be more discouraged about where we are today with our adult leadership here in Congress and at the White House. This is one of the most grotesque pieces of legislation I can remember.” — The Hill (3-23-18)

Although the overwhelming majority of Democrats supported the omnibus, several voted against it for the wrong reason — complaining about what else they didn’t get (e.g., legislation to resolve DACA). So we only score the Republicans on this one. 23 of the more conservative Republican senators refused to go along.

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.)

Bill Summary: The “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018” appropriated a total of $1.3 trillion to the 12 regular appropriations areas. The Bipartisan Budget Act passed in February had raised the spending caps (imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011) for defense spending in FY 2018 by $80 billion and for non-Defense spending by $63 billion.   This act appropriated to those levels.

In addition, a number of independent “legislative” measures were tacked on to the omnibus. For example, Division S — Other Matters — included the following subjects:

Title I–Child Protection Improvements Act

Title II–Save America’s Pastime Act

Title III–Keep Young Athletes Safe Act

Title IV–Consent of Congress to Amendments to the Constitution of the State of Arizona

Title V–Stop School Violence Act

Title VI–Fix NICS Act

Title VII–State Sexual Risk Avoidance Education Program

Title VIII–Small Business Credit Availability Act

Title IX–Small Business Access to Capital After a Natural Disaster Act

Title X–Taylor Force Act

Title XI–FARM Act Title

XII–Tipped Employees

Title XIII–Revisions to Pass-Through Period and Payment Rules

The above Title VI — Fix NICS Act — pressures states to expand their reporting of criminal records and other information to Washington in support of the National Instant Background Check System (NICS).

Analysis: The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the “Power of the Purse.” As James Madison pointed out in the Federalist No. 58, a simple majority in the House alone, regardless of the Senate make-up, can use that power to bring government under control. But no such House majority currently has any intention of using its power strategically to roll back unconstitutional government.

Instead, Republican leaders, with the support of the Establishment media, insist they must compromise with big-spending Democrats to pass a giant omnibus.   Not so. After voting against an omnibus in the previous session, Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) explained what could be done, if informed voters supplied Congress with the needed backbone:

“House Leadership and the media have led the public to believe that passing one giant omnibus every year, at the last minute, is a legitimate way to fund the government and that anything else will result in a total government shutdown. Both are false. We should write, debate, amend, and pass 12 separate appropriations bills as the law prescribes, so that if any one bill fails to pass, only 1/12th of the Federal government shuts down.”

And while appropriations bills originate in the House, a determined Senate could amend an omnibus bill to eliminate a couple of appropriations bills, send it back to the House and insist on voting on separate measures.

After the March 22nd House vote on this latest $1.3 trillion omnibus, Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) explained why so many of his House colleagues voted no:

“This omnibus doesn’t just forget the promises we made to voters — it flatly rejects them…. This is wrong. This is not the limited government conservatism our voters demand.” — Reuters, 3-22-18

When the bill came to the Senate, Senator Rand Paul (R-TX) tweeted:

“Shame, shame. A pox on both Houses — and parties. Here’s the 2,232 page, $1.3 trillion, budget-busting Omnibus spending bill.”

As reported by The Hill (3-23-18), “Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held a joint press conference on Thursday to tout provisions their party secured in the legislation.   ‘It was weeks of pain-staking negotiations,’ Schumer said. ‘We Democrats are really happy with what we were able to accomplish on a number of priorities.’ He added that ‘this spending agreement brings the era of austerity to an unceremonious end.'”

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