Freedom First Society

Issue: H.R 2471, Omnibus Appropriations Act, Division 2 — Nondefense (vehicle: Haiti Development, Accountability, and Institutional Transparency Initiative Act.)  Question: On Concurring in Senate Amdt with Amdt (Remaining Divisions).

Result: Passed 260 to171, 1 present, 1 not voting. Subsequently agreed to by Senate (Vote #78, 3-10-22). Became Public Law 117-103 (signed by the President, 3-15-22). GOP and Democrats scored.

Freedom First Society: The House divided the massive $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill temporarily into two parts — defense and non-defense — for separate votes, before recombining both passed parts to send to the Senate.  We score here the second, non-defense part as the most egregious.

We give blue check marks to the 171 GOP representatives who voted against this measure, which was almost unanimously supported by the Democrats.

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.)

CRS Summary:
Not immediately available.  The 2,741 page package was released early morning, ahead of the House vote.  Most reps were unaware of all that was in the recently negotiated package. For the bill’s Division 1 (Defense, etc.), which we are not scoring, much of the discussion regarded bipartisan support for $13.6 billion in emergency aid to the Ukraine.

Freedom First Society Analysis:  Good government demands the accountability of regular order —  separate votes on the 12 individual appropriations bills.  Instead, combining the bills encourages support for greater and unconstitutional spending.

The House certainly has time for 12 separate votes, despite deadline pressure driving compromise.  Responsible congressmen should insist on separate votes and vote no on omnibus or minibus appropriations. In July of last year, House Democrats, over GOP objection, passed nine of the bills by regular order, but their bloated appropriations bills went nowhere in the Senate.

The House, this time, took up a FY2022 omnibus in two pieces, using a procedure known as dividing the question. This allowed representatives to vote on a portion consisting of the Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Homeland Security spending bills plus the defense portions of the Ukraine supplemental, intelligence authorization and the Israel relations measure, separately from the rest of the package.  The two parts were then combined before sending the omnibus to the senate.

What a way to run a government!  The federal government’s fiscal year doesn’t start until October 1 of the preceding calendar year, giving Congress nine months, ostensibly enough time, to do the appropriations work.  But apparently the federal government has grown so large, or Congress has otherwise become so slow, that nine months no longer suffice.  Congress needed in excess of 14 months this time to get its act together, almost half of the 2022 fiscal year.  (Further evidence that the federal monster needs to be put on a diet to reduce its size.)

Worse yet, all the work is stuffed into a last-minute omnibus, eliminating effective accountability. Many congressmen are apparently pleased that constituents let them get way with passing legislation that can get little voter scrutiny. The omnibus measure also makes it easy for lawmakers to attach unrelated measures known in appropriations parlance as “ash and trash.”

Congressmen in both parties also found it advantageous to reintroduce “earmarks,” after an 11-year absence, to reward their constituents with over 4,000 special projects (more than $4.2 billion for representatives). According to The Hill (3-10-22): “Some of the earmarks provide millions of dollars more than what the Biden administration requested. [For example,] [t]he omnibus includes $5.9 million for Dunkirk Harbor on Lake Erie, $5 million more than the $680,000 requested by the administration.”

No Respect for Constitutional Limits
But the worst feature of the appropriations omnibus is the lack of any emphasis by congressmen in either party on returning to constitutional limits. Instead, the argument between the two parties is over parity between increases in defense (GOP) and non-defense (Democrats) spending.

Of course, there is huge unconstitutional spending in the non-defense area that needs to be rolled back. This package included a 6.7% increase in non-defense spending compared to FY2021.  According to The Hill (3-9-22): “Democrats are touting the package for having the biggest increase to nondefense discretionary spending in four years, with historic funding boosts for education, science, research and development, and climate change.’

Clearly, voters must be much better informed and organized if they are to obtain a Congress that will reign in the federal monster and preserve freedom. (3-9-22) reported, “White House Acting Budget Director Shalanda Young urged Congress to send the legislation to Mr. Biden for his signature ‘without delay.’ ‘The bipartisan funding bill is proof that both parties can come together to deliver for the American people and advance critical national priorities,’ she said in a statement.”

No, the bipartisan bill is proof that Congress is not controlled by the American people to their benefit. Congress is marching under cover of collectivist propaganda — the ruse that government leadership is necessary for any significant progress in society.

Rather than progress, we are witnessing the destructive impact of government. We need congressmen who will work to get government off our backs and out of our pockets rather than giving us another government program.

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