Freedom First Society

Issue:  H.R. 933 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013, as amended. On motion that the House agree to the Senate amendments.

Result:  Agreed to in House 318 to 109, 4 not voting. Became Public Law 113-6 (signed by the president 3-26-13).  GOP 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 (Senate Vote 44, 3-20-13, also selected for scorecard) and returned the measure to the House. In this Roll Call 89, the House approved the Senate changes without amendment and sent the bill to the president for his signature.

We object to H.R. 933, as passed by the House, on constitutional grounds and also because the House did not responsibly manage its power of the purse to force a roll back of unconstitutional and excessive government.

H.R. 933 continues to appropriate taxpayer moneys for massive unconstitutional government. It offers no serious effort to roll back unconstitutional programs responsibly. The much-hyped impact of the sequester caused many House Democrats to oppose this measure (right vote, wrong reason) and so we do not score them on this roll call.

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 responsible representatives to enforce the House’s power of the purse. 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 should insist that the House vote on individual committee bills in a timely manner and then defend those bills individually against Senate amendments, not allow them to be consolidated for a compromise with the Senate.

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.)

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