Freedom First Society

Issue: H.J.Res. 31, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019. (Formerly titled: Making further continuing appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2019, and for other purposes.) Question: On Agreeing to the House-Senate Conference Report. 

Result:  Passed in House, 300 to 128, 4 not voting. Agreed to earlier by the Senate (Senate Vote Number 26).  Became Public Law 116-6 (signed by the President, 2-15-19). GOP only scored.

Freedom First Society: The House here gave up its power of the purse to control, let alone roll back, unconstitutional spending.  By consolidating the remaining seven regular appropriations bills (and roughly 25 percent of the budget), the House perpetuated the norm of violating regular order as a means to obtain consensus.  Predictably, this “consensus” measure supported and increased unconstitutional spending. The House also suspended its rule on providing time to study bills, thus denying representatives the opportunity to read (or have their staff read) the massive 1,000+ page text before they had to vote on it.

Despite some money for border fencing in the Department of Homeland Security portion, the bill actually encouraged illegal immigration (see GOP Rep. Scott Perry’s objections, below).  We give blue check marks to the 109 GOP representatives who voted against this measure, which was overwhelmingly 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.)

Bill Summary:  The House-Senate Conference Report sets appropriations for the seven remaining appropriations bills through the end of the 2019 fiscal year (ending September 30, 2019), including Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration; Commerce, Justice, Science; Financial Services and General Government; Homeland Security; Interior and Environment; State and Foreign Operations; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

Analysis:  With the Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress supported and expanded unconstitutional spending.  As usual, the appropriators brag about all the good projects they are funding without mentioning where that funding really comes from — taxpayers.  Many congressmen speak as though the money they are spending comes out of their own pockets.  For example, according to Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter: “Providing funding for the Federal Government is one of our most basic responsibilities here in the Congress.”

No, the basic responsibility is not to feed the beast, but to put the beast on a diet.  In short, the job of Congress is to restrain federal spending to what is really necessary and constitutional.  Deplorably, the floor “debates” also ignore the burden federal spending imposes on growth, investment, and higher paying jobs in the private sector.

Despite the fact that 109 Republicans voted nay (compared to 87 yea), Representative Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) was the only Republican given an opportunity (or who took the opportunity) during the “debate” on the measure to voice his objection:

“Mr. Speaker, this is bad policy following bad process — an 1100-plus- page bill dropped at midnight last night, and we are acting like we can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. We are acting like we can’t keep our Federal Government open and fix our border situation….

“At least, if nothing else, we should do no harm. Let’s not make the situation worse.  Mr. Speaker, this bill provides amnesty for anyone in a household of an unaccompanied minor, and it protects the people who have smuggled those children into the United States and encourages them to do that even more. And even more than that, once they are here, we cut $700 million out of ICE, and we reduced their bed space. So there are less people  looking for those people who are here illegally.   Then when we find the criminals, when they have committed some crime and we find them, we can’t even keep them. We have to release them back into our communities. Mr. Speaker, city councils are now deciding where we secure our border. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the time and urge a ‘no’ vote.”

Unfortunately, Representative Perry’s assessment reflects the reality of the betrayal buried in this compromise agreement.  Daniel Horowitz, senior editor for Conservative Review, explained the damage in greater detail in his “5 insane provisions in the amnesty omnibus bill.”

The other big topic discussed in the debates over this consolidated spending was the impact of the 35-day partial government shutdown on 800,000 furloughed employees and the American people.  Although we would agree that little positive was accomplished by this shutdown, we doubt that most Americans noticed.

Clearly politics were involved on the Democratic side. Democrats didn’t want to hand President Trump a perceived victory, and they successfully carried their message that it was the President’s insistence on $5.7 billion for a border wall that was responsible for the shutdown.   Republicans disagreed, but their argument didn’t carry.  For example, Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole presented the following argument during the debate:

“Now, of course, we have a little bit different view of how that  shutdown came about. It is worth noting for the record that the House actually did vote to fund the government and produced a bill in December that the President said he would sign and a majority of the  United States Senate actually favored.   But the Senate gets to set its own rules. They could reach a number of 60, but the Democratic minority chose not to do that.”

It was also clear that Democratic leaders wanted to preserve their “open borders” image with their constituents.  Given the size of the entire package and the negative impact alleged by many, the $5.7 billion was peanuts, and the opposition, when the unproductive spending in the total package was so much greater, was pure posturing.

The Open Borders Movement

Although most Democratic lawmakers claim to support border enforcement, many also insist that there is no real immigration or border problem other than the inhumane treatment of those seeking asylum by the Trump administration.  Their claims don’t withstand scrutiny.

There is a very real open borders movement, driven by the Establishment, dating back decades and supported by politicians from both parties. The Establishment, such as the Ford Foundation, has promoted massive uncontrolled immigration and sought to prevent it from assimilating, as a clear means to bring about socialist revolution.

Books have been written and organizations formed to address the need for immigration  reform.  But Establishment pressure has prevailed.  Recall the July 2, 2001 Wall Street Journal editorial “Open NAFTA Borders? Why Not?”:

“Reformist Mexican President Vicente Fox raises eyebrows with his suggestion that over a decade or two NAFTA should evolve into something like the European Union, with open borders for not only goods and investment but also people. He can rest assured that there is one voice north of the Rio Grande that supports his vision. To wit, this newspaper.”

As Vicente Fox suggests, NAFTA was much more than a trade agreement. Trade promotion, as with the EU, was just an Internationalist pretext for the creation of regional government and open borders. And President Trump’s USMCA upgrade to NAFTA continues that agenda.   For more, please see our January 25, 2018 post, “Immigration Betrayal!”

The Proper Course

If a majority of representatives, backed by informed constituents, were truly determined to roll back unconstitutional spending, the House could still use its power of the purse without letting the big-spending socialists gain the upper hand.  The essential tactic is for the House to vote on the 12 appropriations bills independently (regular order) and then insist that the Senate deal with each.

We agree with Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie, who voted against a May 2017 omnibus spending package.  After the vote, he 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 even when not in the majority, the principled course for a Congressman is to vote no on bills where there is no effort to roll back stifling unconstitutional spending, and in particular to insist on regular order by voting no on all consolidated spending bills.

For your enlightenment and reading displeasure, we provide here, and frequently comment on, examples of how congressmen from both parties are marching to a radical drummer.

From the Congressional Record (2-14-19) [Emphasis added]:

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado), Committee on Rules:  “The conference report in front of us today is by no means perfect,  but it represents a compromise between Democrats and Republicans and  between the House and the Senate.   There are many programs well funded by this bill…. This legislation provides $17 billion in funding for new infrastructure investments in roads, bridges, transit, and housing, and the bill blocks attempts by the White House to hamstring the EPA and other agencies from protecting our environment.

“Importantly, the bill overrides the President’s decision to freeze  Federal employee pay this year. Instead, it provides a 1.9 percent pay  raise for all Federal employees.  This conference agreement also makes smart investments in border security by investing $755 million in infrastructure and technology at ports of entry, additional funds to hire customs agents, $563 million for immigration judges to reduce the backlog, and humanitarian aid for Central American countries and along our border to those who need the help.”

Freedom First Society:  Throughout the “debate” on this bipartisan, bicameral compromise, congressmen repeatedly hammered the public with the theme that compromise (with socialists) is the American way (echoed also by the Establishment media).  But there are limits to acceptable compromise.  Moreover, the Constitution provides the House, if a simple majority were really responding to informed constituent pressure, the means to impose its “power of the purse” to roll back unconstitutional government.

During the “debate” we are also repeatedly told that high America ideals demand that we take care of those less fortunate seeking asylum.  But the misleading claim ignores the causes of the massive wave. We cite two significant omissions:

  • Our policies, such as the welfare magnet, have long encouraged illegal immigration and those policies have become worse; and
  • Internationalists in our government have regularly supported socialist governments to the south and attacked those leaders, such as Pinochet of Chile and Anastosio Somoza of Nicaragua, who wished to follow the American way. Thus we have made it difficult for much of Latin America to prosper. That subversive intervention must be stopped.

Moreover, for America to promote high ideals, we must have the means and the public support to do so.  This means rejecting socialist revolution (supported by uncontrolled immigration) and preserving our nation’s independence.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), Ranking Republican on Rules Committee and Vice Ranking Republican on Appropriations Committee:  “I think I can speak for all of us here in this body when I say that government shutdowns are bad for the American people, bad for government, and bad policy, and we should all strive to never let them happen again….

“But today we are poised to finish our work, and though the road may  have been difficult, I think Members should look back on this process and commend themselves for what they have accomplished.   Last September, we finalized and passed into law 5 of the 12 funding  bills, an accomplishment we had not matched in over 20 years. Those five, which included the two largest bills — Defense and Labor, Health  and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies — covered approximately 75 percent of all Federal discretionary spending. Prior to the end of the FY 2018 year, the House also passed four  additional spending bills, which we then moved to conference with the Senate.   Indeed, of the seven outstanding spending bills, six of them were negotiated with the Senate and have been ready to be moved for final passage for quite some time. The sticking point has been the final bill  on that for Homeland Security, which vexed Members for some time. But  though we did not reach a deal on Homeland Security quickly, we did  eventually reach a deal.   Today, I am pleased to be standing with my colleagues to bring up seven bipartisan, bicameral, fully negotiated and conferenced spending  bills that are ready to be passed and sent to the President’s desk for  signature….

“We have a Democratic  House, we have a Republican Senate, and we have a Republican President.   Everything that we are going to accomplish in the next 18 months for the American people will have to be a compromise where we work  together. I actually think this is a good first step in starting that  process….

“I look forward to beginning that process here tonight by working together to pass a bill the Senate has already passed in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion and that the President has said he will sign, and I  assume that he certainly will….

“But at the end of the day, we have come together and given the American people what they deserve, and that is a fully funded, operational government, and we have resolved our differences in conference.”

Freedom First Society:  More important than avoiding government shutdowns is for the House to use its power of the purse to begin rolling back unconstitutional programs. The House should cut back, rather than temporarily shuttering, unconstitutional government. Realistically, however, such an agenda must be imposed on Congress by informed constituents.

Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-Calif.), Rules and Appropriations Committees:  “Madam Speaker … today I rise in support of the conference  report. I want to congratulate the conferees, and specifically,  Chairman Lowey, Ranking Member Granger, and the other conferees for  their hard work, for coming together, and spending so much time to  ensure that we have a bill moving forward that opens up our government.   This is a bipartisan statement about who we are as a country. This was a fight to reclaim the country that welcomed me as a little girl  from Guatemala, to make sure that this country welcomes other children who come here fleeing violence and poverty.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Committee on the Budget, vice-chair of Congressional Progressive Caucus:  “We are protecting the environment in my own State: the Bentsen-Rio  Grande Valley State Park, the National Butterfly Center, the Santa Ana  National Wildlife Refuge, places where I have gone and people are  pleading: Don’t put fences there. We brought down the number of ICE detention beds from 49,000-50,000 to 40,000, and, of course, we have provided, as I have indicated, and fought for facilities that deal with those children and women that are  coming across: $415 million for enhanced medical support; transportation; food; clothing for migrants in detention, particularly  children; and $30.5 million for family case management.   As my good friend said, we brought up the alternative detention from  82,000 to 100,000….

“Finally, of course, in the justice area, we have given money for Byrne grants; Community Oriented Policing Services, sexual assault kits and DNA, Second Chance Act programs, and we funded NASA….

“ICE — we have to realize, there must be due process and justice. It is  unfortunate that this administration’s treatment of immigrants is unconscionable and inhumane. We can do better and we will do better….

“Madam Speaker, coming from a border state, I am very pleased that this legislation does not provide the President the billions of dollars he demanded for a wasteful, ineffective, and immoral concrete wall.   In fact, it rejects the President’s demand for $5.7 billion for his  wall and provides instead $1.375 billion for physical barriers with  language specifying that new fencing is limited to currently deployed  designs–ruling out the President’s border wall proposal.  My constituents and other Texans will be gratified to learn that this  legislation specifically prohibits construction on sensitive  environmental areas such as the Bentsen-Rio State Park, the National  Butterfly Center, the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, La Lomita Historical  Park, and the Lower Rio Grande Wildlife Refuge between Brownsville, TX,  and the Gulf of Mexico.   I also strongly approve that the legislation provides a path to a  reduction in ICE detention beds from 49,057 today to 40,520 at the end  of the fiscal year, bringing the number of detention beds back to the  level of average daily population funded in the FY18 omnibus bill.   This reduction in ICE detention beds, combined with Democratic  control of the Appropriations Committee and new biannual inspections of  detention facilities, will provide a check on the Trump  Administration’s out-of-control deportation policy that targets law-abiding families instead of focusing on deporting violent criminals;  The agreement before also provides funding a more humane immigration  system with $415 million for enhanced medical support, transportation, food and clothing for migrants in detention, particularly children and  families; $30.5 million for family case management; an expansion in  Alternatives to Detention participants from 82,000 to 100,000; and a  prohibition on ICE using information collected by HHS from sponsors of  migrant children for removal and deportation purposes….

“The agreement provides more than $3 billion for state and local law enforcement to keep communities safe, including by addressing the opioid crisis, closing sexual assault kit backlogs and hiring more  police officers.   Madam Speaker, all Members should celebrate the fact that the  agreement provides more than $17 billion in funding for new infrastructure investments to improve our roads, bridges, highways,  railways and mass transit.   Another reason why I strongly support the legislation before us is  because it restores and increases investments in job-creating  initiatives for economic and business development, including for  minority and women-owned businesses, that the Trump Administration  tried to eliminate or reduce drastically.   Madam Speaker, the bipartisan agreement before us rejects the Trump  Administration’s attacks on the environment by blocking the  Administration’s deep cuts to initiatives to protect clean water, clean  air and public lands and it invests more than $9 billion in the EPA and  Land and Water Conservation Fund.   The agreement reinforces and strengthens America’s global leadership by rejecting the Trump Administration’s radical cuts and securing $9.1  billion in security assistance for allies, including $3.03 billion for Israel, $5.7 billion for PEPFAR and $1.7 billion for the Food for Peace program….

Expands the Alternatives to Detention program from 82,000 to 100,000.   Provides $30.5 million for ATD family case management, which improves  compliance with immigration court obligations by helping families’  access community-based support for basic housing, healthcare, legal, and educational needs….

“$3.1 billion for grants to help States, communities, citizens, and  nonprofit organizations, with every grant being at or above the FY 2018  level, including $277 million for training, exercises, and education  for our Nation’s first responders and emergency managers….

“$6.075 billion in discretionary funding for Special Supplemental  Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which is $100  million below the FY 2018 enacted level and $325 million above the  President’s budget request.   $73.477 billion for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),  which will fully fund the program in 2019.   $23.141 billion for Child Nutrition Programs, which will fully fund  the program in 2019.   International Programs: $1.716 billion for Food for Peace and  $210.255 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education  and Child Nutrition Program.   Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is funded at $3.08 billion in  discretionary funding for the FDA, an increase of $269 million.   Census Bureau — $3.82 billion, an increase of more than $1 billion above FY 2018 and $20.9 million above the President’s budget request,  to enable the Bureau to effectively prepare for a thorough, accurate,  and cost-effective 2020 Decennial Census….

Grants to State and Local Law Enforcement — $3.02 billion:   1. $423.5 million for Byrne JAG;   2. $303.5 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)  Program;   3. $178 million to address sexual assault kit and other DNA evidence backlogs;   4. $87.5 million for Second Chance Act programs;   5. $347 million for grant programs to address the opioid crisis;   6. $100 million for the STOP School Violence Act;   7. $497.5 million for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs; and  8. $75 million for grants to improve the NICS firearms background  check system.   National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)–$21.5 billion, an increase of $763.9 million above the FY 2018 enacted level and $1.6  billion above the President’s budget request.   $1.93 billion for Earth science, an increase of $10 million above the FY 2018 enacted level and $146.8 million above the President’s budget  request, to enable better scientific information about the Earth and its changing climate….

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) — $1.37 billion in  total funding for the operating expenses of USAID, which is $25 million  above the FY 2018 enacted level and $258 million above the President’s  budget request.   Global Health Programs — $3.1 billion, including $575 million for  family planning programs, $302 million to fight tuberculosis, $145  million for nutrition programs, $755 million to combat malaria, and  $290 million for GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.   Development Assistance — $3 billion for Development Assistance.   Economic Support Fund (ESF) — $3.7 billion in total funding for  Economic Support Funds, which is $251 million less than the FY 2018  enacted level.   Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Assistance — $7.8 billion, which is $173 million above the FY 2018 enacted level and $1.46 billion above  the President’s budget request.  International Disaster Assistance (IDA) — $4.4 billion, which is $100  million above the FY 2018 enacted level and $828 million above the  President’s budget request.   Refugee Assistance — $3.4 billion, which is $73 million above the FY 2018 enacted level and $632 million above the President’s budget  request.  Multilateral Assistance — $1.86 billion to meet U.S. commitments to  multilateral organizations and international financial institutions,  which is equal to the FY 2018 enacted level and $440 million above the  President’s budget request.   Peace Corps — $410 million, $500,000 above the FY 2018 enacted level  and $14 million above the President’s budget request.  Millennium Challenge Corporation — $905 million, which is equal to the  FY 2018 enacted level and $105 million above the President’s budget request….

Public and Indian Housing (PIH) — $31 billion, an increase of $6.4  billion above the President’s budget request.  Tenant-Based Rental Assistance is funded at $20.3 billion, adequate  to renew all existing vouchers.   Public Housing Capital Fund is funded at $2.8 billion and the Choice  Neighborhoods Initiative is funded at $150 million-both programs will  revitalize our nation’s public housing stock.   A mobility voucher demonstration program is funded at $25 million.   Community Planning and Development (CPD) — $7.7 billion, an increase  of $29 million above the FY 2018 enacted level and $5 billion above the  President’s budget request.   Homeless Assistance Grants are funded at $2.6 billion.  Community Development Block Grants are funded at $3.4 billion.  The HOME program is funded at $1.3 billion.   Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS is funded at $393  million.   Housing Programs are funded $12.7 billion, an increase of $726  million above the President’s budget request.   $61 million is for the renovation and construction of housing units  for the elderly and $30 million is for new housing units for persons  with disabilities.   Project-Based Rental Assistance is fully-funded at $11.7 billion.  Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is funded at $65.3 million, equal  to the FY 2018 enacted level and $3 million above the President’s  budget request.   Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes is slated to receive $279 million, an increase of $49 million above the FY 2018 enacted  level and $134 million above the President’s budget request.

“Madam Speaker, the collateral damage caused by the Trump Shutdown was  substantial, long lasting, and unnecessary because it could have been  avoided had the President not reneged on his promise to sign the  continuing resolution passed by the Senate unanimously on December 19,  2018.   Instead, the President callously shut down the government for 35  days, furloughing 800,000 civil servants and forcing nearly half that many to work  without pay, which cost the national economy more than $11 billion in lost productivity and economic output.  Because the President broke his promise, frontline federal employees, including law enforcement and public safety personnel, worked without  pay from December 22 through January 25, 2019….

“Madam Speaker, shutting down the Government of the United States, or  any portion thereof, is not an acceptable tactic or strategy for resolving differences regarding policy, funding levels, or governing  philosophy.  It should never happen again.  Given the damage mercilessly inflicted on the American people and the  economy by the Trump Shutdown, Congress has a fiduciary duty to the American people to ensure the continued, uninterrupted operations of the Government of the United States and its services.   And that begins with an overwhelming majority vote in support of H.J. Res. 31.”

Freedom First Society:  The above much-shortened excerpt listing federal expenditures should provide an inkling of the incredible unconstitutional involvement of today’s federal government and why we have a $22 trillion national debt.  Clearly Representative Jackson Lee (joined by most of her colleagues) has no respect for the limits on what the federal government is authorized to do, which our Founding Fathers spelled out in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-New York), Chair House Committee on Appropriations:  “Mr. Speaker, the bill before us would prevent another government  shutdown by completing the remaining appropriation bills for fiscal year 2019. It represents what is possible in a strong democratic process when we work hard to reach agreement that puts politics aside and puts the American people first.  This bipartisan compromise rejects the President’s irresponsible budget cuts and, instead, invests in priorities that will strengthen our families, communities, and economy.”

Freedom First Society:  “Puts politics aside and puts the American people first”?  It’s difficult to respond politely to such audacious distortion.

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), Ranking Republican on Appropriations Committee:  “I rise today in support of H.J. Res. 31, a bipartisan plan to fund  the Department of Homeland Security and the remaining appropriations  bills for fiscal year 2019….

“It also does not include any limits on ICE enforcement actions that could cause dangerous criminals to be released into our country. The agreement prevents another unnecessary shutdown by including funding for the remaining unfunded appropriations bills: Agriculture;  Commerce, Justice, Science; Financial Services and General Government; Interior; State and Foreign Operations; and Transportation, Housing and  Urban Development.   By voting for these bills today and funding these vital areas of the  Federal Government, we will secure America and our allies, promote  economic prosperity, protect human life, promote the health and safety  of all Americans, and make vital investments in our Nation’s  infrastructure.   Mr. Speaker, it would take hours to go through all the bipartisan  provisions included in this bill….”

Freedom First Society:  “It does not include any limits on ICE enforcement actions that could cause dangerous criminals to be released into our country”: What an indictment of the Democratic negotiators that Republicans consider this a plus in the agreement!

Rep. Lucille Royball-Allard (D-Calif.), Committee on Appropriations, member Congressional Progressive Caucus:  “The negotiations on the DH funding bill were among the hardest I have  experienced to date. Although we did not win every battle, we won many.   We prevented new funding for immigration enforcement field personnel….

“We held firm on a provision to prevent ICE from using information from the Office of Refugee Resettlement to detain and remove sponsors of unaccompanied children….

“While I am not happy with the outcome on border fencing, we did limit  funding for border fencing to only $1.375 billion, no higher than last  year. We also won protections for several ecologically sensitive areas  in Texas. And we secured hundreds of millions of dollars for  humanitarian efforts to ensure migrants who spend time in CBP custody are appropriately cared for.   Our bill also has large investments in equipment to detect drugs and  other contraband at our ports of entry, where the real threat lies….

“Compared to the current detention bed level, we significantly reduced  the funding available for ICE detention beds for the rest of this fiscal year.”

Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Kentucky), Committee on Appropriations:  “Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this legislation, but first, I want to congratulate our committee’s distinguished chair and ranking member on their masterful work in shepherding this compromise to the floor….

“Mr. Speaker, we have a crisis at our southern border, period. There  is no denying that our Nation’s security is threatened by the seemingly  unending flow of drugs that find their way into nearly every American  community, as well as the violence of the brutal cartels that profit  from this trade.   Where does it take place? On that border. So we do have a problem. It is an emergency. President Trump is absolutely correct that we can’t allow this ruthless criminality to continue unchecked….

“In addition to the security crisis, there is also a very real  humanitarian crisis that we simply can’t ignore. Thousands of  vulnerable women and children are seeking a better, safer life in the confines of this country. It is not the American way to turn our backs on these people, and that is precisely why we have processes under Federal law to facilitate legal entry into our country.”

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Committee on Appropriations:  “The conferees worked together to make sure that we seek an acceptable funding solution for the different sides we  have.   Now, what do we have here? It is a matter of vision. There are some people who see the border as a crisis, and I respectfully disagree with  them….

“On the border, we don’t believe in open borders. We want to see smart  border security, and I think that is what this bill does.”

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida), Committee on Appropriations:  “Mr. Speaker, I am also proud of the housing portion of this bill.  This meets our commitments to help the most vulnerable among us with  decent, affordable housing. This is a good bill, Mr. Speaker, particularly if you care about our veterans, our disabled, and our elderly.

“This bill also includes funding to rebuild urban, suburban, and rural communities with block grant funding that goes directly to the local decisionmakers and to the local communities.

“Mr. Speaker, I urge a ‘yes’ vote on what I believe is a bill that will create jobs, rebuild our communities, secure our future, and, yes, stop the gridlock.”

Freedom First Society:  It’s amazing what you can do when you have deep pockets, supported by the income tax and a central bank to finance deficits. These federal usurpations have caused the states to become subservient to the federal government instead of the other way around as originally designed. America’s Founders understood the importance of keeping government at the lowest effective level.

Rep. David E. Price (D-North Carolina), Chairman of the Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related  Agencies Subcommittee: “Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this conference agreement — bipartisan and bicameral — averting a second reckless Trump shutdown. This legislation represents the best possible deal to responsibly  fund our government and secure our border, while holding true to our values as Americans. This agreement denies the President billions of dollars for an unnecessary wall. It includes a number of provisions to hold the  administration accountable. And it boosts funding for humanitarian support for migrants, alternatives to detention, and family case  management.   The bipartisan agreement also includes six additional appropriations bills beyond Homeland Security. For example, the Transportation-HUD  bill, on which Chairman Diaz-Balart and I worked cooperatively for many  months, is included in this package.   It increases the Trump budget for infrastructure by $23 billion, and  it includes investments that were totally eliminated in the Trump  budget: community development block grants, the HOME program, New Starts for transit, and the BUILD program. All these are made whole,  having been, of course, eliminated in that earlier Trump budget. These six bills were all caught up in the Trump shutdown. They are  now salvaged by this agreement. The deal is not perfect. We know that.  But it represents the best way to reject the President’s outrageous  border demand, keep our government open, and address our pressing national needs.   Mr. Speaker, let’s send this bill to the President’s desk. Then let’s  fight to overturn this phony ‘national emergency.’”

Rep. Michael K. Simpson (R-Idaho), Committee on Appropriations:  “Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this bill. Let’s put the  2019 appropriations behind us so that we can move on to 2020.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Committee on Appropriations and a conferee:  “This legislation, of course, Mr. Speaker, is not perfect. It is not the bill that I would have written or chosen. And, yes, I have serious  concerns with several of the provisions, which I will discuss.  But let me tell you, this bill will keep the government open. It will  prevent another shutdown, which caused so much misery for Federal workers and their families. And it provides funding for humanitarian  assistance, which is desperately needed at the border.   Once more, the package of bills includes funding increases for six other spending bills, including housing for people living with AIDS, transportation grants for low-income communities, increased funding for homelessness, and Section 8 vouchers….

“With this bill, Democrats held the line, Mr.  Speaker, in denying the President $5.7 billion in funding for an unnecessary concrete wall. Instead, it includes $1.3 billion in border fencing only. And it includes strong language to protect sensitive locations….

“Not only did we secure $415 million in this bill for humanitarian relief, including for enhanced medical support, transportation, and food at our border, but we got many, many programs and funding for alternatives to detention.”

Rep. Charles J. Fleischmann (R-Tennessee), Committee on Appropriations:  “Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight in support of this joint  resolution….

“And I have been privileged to serve, Mr. Speaker, as the ranking member, the highest Republican, on the House  Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee.   Where were we? From time to time, in our great Republic, we hit a blip; we have a problem; we run into a difficulty. We did that in this shutdown. This was a very odd situation. We had actually passed five  appropriations bills, and seven were left remaining.

“Mr. Speaker, that put us in a very awkward situation where there was  a partial government shutdown. I heard the rhetoric on both sides of  the aisle, and I know it was sincere, but it hurt. It hurt our country, and it hurt workers.

“But we reopened the government. In the interim, Members of the House from both parties and Members of  the Senate from both parties came together and convened. There was a  wide, wide difference of opinion on that first day. I heard it. I was in that room. Everyone was acting in good faith, strong-held convictions.

“A lot of naysayers and skeptics and cynics said we weren’t going to get there, but we owed it to the American people to get there. And, Mr.  Speaker, we got there.   We didn’t get there with a bill that I would have drawn. My bill, candidly, would look more like the bill that President Trump would have wanted: more money for border security and more money for ICE. But we  came up with an agreement that the vast majority of Americans could  support and the vast majority of Members in both Houses could support.

“But, Mr. Speaker, I have been in this Chamber for 8 years. I saw us come together and work together. My colleagues on both sides of the  aisle, sometimes our differences are bipartisan, sometimes our  differences are bicameral. Today, we are going to come together as Americans and pass this bill.   It is not a great bill, but it is a good bill. It represents compromise, and it will, I believe, restore the faith of the American people, not only in our institutions, but in our great Republic.   We can be proud that we came together when they said ‘can’t’ and we  said ‘can.’’   So I will vow to continue, as we work forward, to work with Ms. Roybal-Allard, a very fine lady. We view the world sometimes differently; sometimes we view it in a very similar light.

“But as we go into 2020 and we fall under the draconian Budget Control Act, the dreaded sequester, we will have to address that. We will have a debt ceiling vote.   The American people need to know our work will not be easier; it will be harder. But let our resolve be to do the work of the American people, as we have done today and we will do in the future.   May God bless the United States of America.”

Freedom First Society:  As an 8-year member of Congress, Rep. Fleischmann must be naive if he doesn’t recognize the deceptive rhetoric camouflaging revolutionary agendas at work in the background.

Since there is so little respect for the Constitution in Congress, a welcome comfort is the respect paid to “the draconian Budget Control Act, the  dreaded sequester” and also to the debt ceiling.

Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), Vice Chair Appropriations Committee and a conferee:  “It has been 3 weeks, colleagues, since the end of the longest  shutdown in American history — 35 days–where we saw friends and  neighbors who hurt, where this body didn’t do enough to push back against a shutdown that hurt our communities and hurt individuals  throughout this country.   This is a compromise bill, and we are here today to reflect that good  will and that good faith effort of Democrats and Republicans negotiating together to find compromise….

“This bill works to improve the only true crisis that we have at our southern border, which is the humanitarian crisis….

“This bill also unlocks the other appropriations bills that will fund the Environmental Protection Agency, make investments in the Census,  and make investments in transportation. What this bill will not do is this bill will not fund the President’s wall from sea to shining sea, a wall that he said Mexico would pay for.”

Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-New York), Chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee:  “Mr. Speaker, this bill — Commerce, Justice, Science — comes in at $71.5 billion, which is $1.6 billion above 2018.   One of the highlights of the bill is that it restores many programs that had been zeroed out by the administration, including the Legal Services Corporation, which comes in at over $368 million.  NOAA gets extra money for climate research, and we put in $368 million for opioid epidemic issues. The President wanted $336 million; we came in at $368 million.

“To me, the greatest accomplishment in this particular part of the bill is $1 billion for the Census, to continue to work on the Census. This is a major victory, and we thank the other side for agreeing that  this is something that has to be done and something that is important  for all of us.”

Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-Georgia), chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee:  “This bill is good but not perfect. It makes significant investments in rural development; it includes language setting aside funding for persistent poverty counties; it has a modest increase for the Farm Production and Conservation mission area; and domestic nutrition programs are all well-funded. On the international side, the bill provides good funding for Food for Peace and the McGovern-Dole Program. Finally, FDA gets $3 billion, including significant investments to fight the opioid epidemic.”

Freedom First Society: And again, this representative takes pride in spending without regard to constitutional limitations.  The public needs to understand both the danger of allowing the federal government to do anything it claims is somehow beneficial and the current big-government agenda of both parties in Congress.

Rep. John H. Rutherford (R-Florida), Committee on Appropriations:  “Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the compromise appropriations  package that includes major wins for our national security and our  economic success….

“Now, this is not the bill that I would have written, and this is  probably not the bill that any of my colleagues on the other side of  the aisle would have written, but we have all finally found a  compromise that Congress can pass and the President has indicated he will sign into law.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota), Chair of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee:  “Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this conference committee report. The Interior and Environment section provides $35.6 billion, which is $300 million more than fiscal year  2018 enacted.   We made critical investments in this legislation in Indian Country, environmental protection, public land management, and the arts. The Environmental Protection Agency is funded at $8.8 billion. This funding will enhance the EPA’s ability to protect human health and the health of our environment

“We worked in a bipartisan way to increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities….

“Funding for Indian Country is over $1 billion more than the  President’s budget, and we did it in our committee’s nonpartisan way.”

Freedom First Society:  “Critical investments in the arts”?  The unconstitutional National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities has long been exposed for subsidizing radical and even vulgar art. Yet it survives with bipartisan support, as it supports revolutionary goals and is not opposed by an aroused and informed public.  Moreover, to invest you have to reduce elsewhere. No mention is made of what the taxpayer and private sector have to give up.  Yet with all this profligate unconstitutional spending, Democrats direct the focus of their indignation on a border wall.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida), Chair of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee:  “Mr. Speaker, I rise to support this bipartisan agreement which, while  not perfect, keeps our government open and funds many essential,  crucial needs. It also passes sound policy, like one preventing our government from using asylum-seeking children to be used as bait to  arrest immigrants seeking to sponsor them.  I urge all Members to vote for this important compromise. However, I cannot stay silent on the President’s threat to declare a national emergency to pay for his boondoggle of a border wall. This lawless end-run around Congress is a craven act built on lies and distraction.”

Freedom First Society: Next are a few comments from the only dissenting Democrat permitted time to voice opposition to the agreement.  (Note: Rashida Tlaib is one of the freshmen Reps who, along with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are members of the Democratic Socialists of America).  You can see here why we did not score the Democrats for their vote on this measure, as some voted against it for what we consider the wrong reason and not because unconstitutional spending is out of control.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan):  “Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to the Conference  Report to Accompany H.J. Res. 31. Our country used to celebrate being a nation of immigrants, one that  protected the most vulnerable and those fleeing from violence and  persecution. We are, after all, home to the American Dream. Increasingly, though, this country’s policies have become a nightmare  for immigrant families, adults, and children.   People, including children, have died under our custody, and immigrants and refugees are being targeted, detained and deported with  little oversight or accountability, and with no regard for keeping  families together. DHS, specifically it’s enforcement methods and  immigration policy is out of alignment with our American values, and  instead of increasing its funding to separate families and cage  children, we must step back and conduct an audit of DHS funding and  policies, with an eye towards decreasing its budget and ending the  militarization of our immigration system. More importantly, we need an  audit of our morality as a country. Our true test is how we treat the most vulnerable amongst  us, including our neighbors seeking a better life….

“The Conference Report also provides $1.375 billion for wall construction, a complete waste of resources that makes us no safer but  perpetuates environmental degradation and dehumanizes border communities….

“I cannot in good conscious vote for this DHS funding bill. On behalf  of my immigrant neighbors, I must reject hateful policies and rhetoric by the Trump Administration. I am committed to working toward a just  border, a welcoming country, and a comprehensive immigration system that respects the humanity and dignity of people while inspiring people  to live up to the best of our country’s ideals.”


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