Freedom First Society

Issue: H.R. 1892, The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.   Question: On Motion to Concur in the Senate Amdt to the House Amdt to the Senate Amdt.

Result: Passed in House, 240 to 186, 5 not voting. (Passed/Agreed to earlier in Senate, 2-9-18, Senate Vote #31.) Became Public Law 115-123 (signed by the President, 2-9-2018). GOP only scored.

Freedom First Society: This “bipartisan” agreement carved out by the Senate leadership, with input from House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, increases federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars we don’t have. As such, it is equivalent to legalized counterfeiting through the Federal Reserve System.

After the details of the Senate leadership deal were released, Representative Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) blasted the amended measure as a “debt junkie’s dream,” adding, “All I know is that unfortunately those who vote for this bill are betraying our country’s future and they are selling out our kids and our grandkids.”

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) tweeted: “This spending proposal is disgusting and reckless — the biggest spending increase since 2009.” Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) complained: “What you’re seeing is recklessness trying to be passed off as bipartisanship.”  But it’s not recklessness, it’s duplicity.

We do not score the House Democrats on this one, as many voted against it simply because they hadn’t received assurances from Rep. Paul Ryan that there would be a DACA vote.

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

Bill Summary: The massive Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 addresses multiple current and future appropriations topics. Here are some of the principal ones:

  • The Act further extends continuing appropriations for FY 2018 through March 23rd (the 5th Continuing Resolution), keeping the government fully funded as the details of an expected omnibus are worked out to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year ending September 30th.
  • To win bipartisan support for this measure, the massive Act raises the defense and non-defense budget caps (imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act) for FY 2018 and FY 2019. The cap on discretionary spending for defense was increased by $80 billion in FY 2018 and $85 billion in FY 2019.

The cap on discretionary spending for nondefense was increased by $63 billion for FY 2018 and $68 billion for FY 2019.

  • Some of the other “sweeteners” designed to attract bipartisan support include:

– $6 billion to address opioid addiction and mental health;

– $2 billion to the National Institutes of Health;

– $20 billion in infrastructure investment;

– $ 7 billion for community health centers;

– and $4 billion to help the Veterans Administration Department with its backlog.

  • In addition, the Act provides $89.3 billion in new supplemental disaster aid, not subject to the caps, for states and territories damaged by the recent hurricanes and wildfires;
  • And the Act suspends the debt limit ceiling through March 1, 2019.

The Congressional Budget office estimates that the net budgetary impact of The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 will cost an additional $320 billion over the next ten years, much of that in the first year.

The measure did offer about $100 billion in questionable “offsets” to help fund the increased spending. For example, some of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would be sold off and surplus funds at Federal Reserve Banks reduced.

Analysis: This fiscally irresponsible Act makes zero effort to roll back massive unconstitutional federal programs and spending.

This GOP sellout, under the mask of bipartisan compromise, was unnecessary if the Republican leadership had stuck to their promise to restore “regular order” (12 individual appropriations bills voted on by the full House). But many Republicans and the Republican leadership are also committed to big government, along with most of the Democrats.
Former Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), interviewed on Fox after the House vote, correctly summarized the Republican sellout:

“Republicans have lost every single bit of credibility on the idea that they care at all about debts and deficits.   They can talk all they want, but when they had the chance to do it [by controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress], they caved and they spent so much money it’s stunning.”

Of some comfort, 73 GOP representatives (and 16 GOP senators) did stand tall and opposed the massive spending spree, signed into law by President Trump.  Yet several expressed surprise at the sellout:

“It’s a terrible deal. I never thought Speaker Ryan would be supportive of this … I just never thought the Speaker would go here with these high numbers.” — Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)

“I am baffled why the Republican Party has turned into such a big spending party. It is one thing to spend money; it is another thing to spend money you don’t have. No American family can operate that way; no American business can operate that way, and it is folly to believe that the United States of America can operate that way.”— Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama)

Even a few Democrats opposed the bill not for the absence of a DACA agreement, because they couldn’t stomach the spending:

“When it comes to the budget, both parties agree on only one thing: being irresponsible. This isn’t compromise, it’s collusion. It’s not bipartisan, it’s a pay-off.” – Rep. Sean Patrick Mahoney (D-New York)

But the sellout shouldn’t have been a surprise for those who understand the Establishment grip on Congress. Asked earlier whether he had the votes to approve the Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan said:

“I feel good. Part of it depends on the Democrats. This is a bipartisan bill. It’s going to need bipartisan support.”

Which meant Ryan had written off those in his party who wouldn’t go along.


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