Issue: H.R. 1625, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (Vehicle: TARGET ACT). Question: On Motion to Concur in the Senate Amendment with an Amendment.
Result: Passed in House, 256 to 167, 7 not voting. Passed next day in Senate (Senate Vote #63). 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 a majority of Democrats supported the omnibus, others 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. 90 of the more conservative Republicans refused to go along. (See below for realistic alternatives omitted from the “public debate.” Also see the enthusiastic endorsements of big-spending liberals.)
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).
Note: Few if any of the legislators voting on this 2,232-page measure were given time to read it. The bill was unveiled late on Wednesday for a scheduled Thursday vote. At least 6 days after the measure became public law, the Congressional Research Service still had not posted a summary of what was in it. Nevertheless, the principal features were known.
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.”
After the March 22nd House vote on this latest $1.3 trillion omnibus, Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) explained why so many of his 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.”
The Big-spending Fix is in
The House approved-rule (H.Res. 796) for consideration of this omnibus allowed for one hour of chest-pounding “debate.” The GOP chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ), and its ranking Democrat, Mrs. Nita Lowey (NY), each controlled 30 minutes.
Although 90 Republicans voted against the omnibus, not one was given time to speak during the phony “debate.” Instead, 15 GOP representatives along with several Democrats bragged about what they were accomplishing by spending enormous sums of taxpayer money and borrowing against our future. (Analogy: Give us a million dollars and we will repair your roof for you. But the politicians don’t mention the million dollars they are taking. They emphasize only how fortunate you are that because of this bipartisan “compromise” they are now going to fix your roof.)
From the Congressional Record (3-22-18):
Mr. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ): “After the bipartisan budget deal was enacted last month, appropriations committee leadership, House and Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle, and the White House quickly went to work, negotiating in good faith and in the best interest of the American people. The bill we are considering today is a product of that hard-fought agreement. In total, the legislation provides $1.3 trillion in discretionary funding for the Federal Government, including $78.1 billion for the global war on terror and overseas contingency operations. This meets the caps provided in the recent budget agreement.” [Emphasis added.]
Mrs. Nita Lowey: “This bill rejects scores of divisive poison pill riders targeting women’s health, clean air and water, worker rights, consumer financial protections, health insurance, and other critical priorities. In addition, I am pleased the omnibus includes language clarifying that the CDC has the authority to conduct research on the causes of gun violence.” [Emphasis added.]
Freedom First Society: No such studies are needed. Moreover, don’t expect the CDC research to fault the liberal agenda as a fundamental cause of high-profile violent crimes. (E.g., liberal support for the culture war and the breakdown of the traditional family and the liberal attack on traditional morality and its essential religious support.) In his 1969 book, Journey into Darkness, John Douglas, legendary FBI profiler and expert on the criminal personality, concluded:
“Unfortunately, no matter what we do with our criminal justice system, the only thing that is going to cut down appreciably on crimes of violence and depravity is to stop manufacturing as many criminals…. [T]he real struggle must be where it has always been: in the home.”
And the home has been the target of the Insiders and the liberal agenda for decades.
Ms. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio): “Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bipartisan agreement before us…. In my title, the Energy and Water Development bill, we make progress by bringing forward America’s backlogged construction projects, which number into the billions of dollars, making many important investments for our Nation’s infrastructure, including: a 13 percent increase for the Army Corps of Engineers over 2017, which will allow for more critical waterways projects to drive our economy and job creation; and an 11 percent increase to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to finally move toward complete energy independence for our country, including through the weatherization program, which has increased, as well as an additional 15 percent to invent our energy future through our most advanced energy technology programs, ARPA-E….
“This deal busts through budget caps set in 2011 by $143 billion, or 13 percent. And although I support investment in our military, the balance between defense and our domestic priorities is skewed in the wrong direction. In Ohio, we are at the epicenter of the opioid epidemic, with more than 5,000 drug estimated overdose deaths in the last 12 months alone. We rank second in the Nation for deaths per capita…. Mr. Speaker, although I support the inclusion of a $2.7 billion increase for opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery, this funding only nibbles at the edge of the problem. This is a national crisis.” [Emphasis added.]
Freedom First Society: The collectivist mentality is on full display here, i.e., the Federal Government is responsible for managing America’s future and solving its problems. In reality, the Federal Government — its unconstitutional overreach — HAS BECOME America’s overriding problem.
Also, the illegal drug market is principally responsible for the opioid crisis, much more so than prescription drugs. And the illegal drugs come across our porous Southern border, which Congress, under pressure from the “open borders movement,” has for decades refused to enforce.
Robert Aderholt (R-AL): “Mr. Speaker, as chairman of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee on Appropriations, let me add that this division of the bill has solid wins for agriculture, for the food sector, for the healthcare community, and for rural America. Members from rural districts with agriculture constituents, like I have down in Alabama, can be proud of the many accomplishments that are included in this bill. We are restoring funding and greatly adding to the needed infrastructure upgrades. This bill also provides necessary relief for American farmers and ranchers, who continued to experience a significant reduction in income over the past few years. This bill today contains a downpayment on ensuring that rural America is not left behind. The rural development account in this bill today contains $625 million of commitment to expanding rural broadband in an effort to close the rural digital divide for the 23 million Americans — more than 40 percent of all Americans–who do not have access to broadband. In addition to broadband, the bill invests in water and wastewater needs for our rural constituents. The bill provides a total of $3 billion in loan authorizations and $1 billion in grants–an increase of $500 million over last year — to provide clean and reliable water resources in rural America.”
Ms. Barbara Lee (D-CA): “Almost 6 months after the deadline, though, for the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill, this 2,232-page omnibus was released late last night. Now, less than 24 hours later, we are about to vote on a bill that really no one has had the time to read. I don’t know who in this body has read this bill. We would have had to read 100 pages per hour to get through this bill. Does anybody here read that fast, 100 pages per hour? What kind of informed decisions are we making with this last-minute rush for a vote?
“This is no way, Mr. Speaker, to run a government. However, yes, this omnibus has some really good provisions in it. It eliminates hundreds of poison pill riders ranging from efforts to defund Planned Parenthood to dismantling of critical labor and consumer protections. I am very grateful for that. Many good provisions include a new competitive grant which we have been working on for years for computer science funding for young girls and people of color. We include increases in job training, education, and family relief, as well as for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. My State has the highest number of students coming to HBCUs; so I am very grateful for those increases. Even with these increases, Mr. Speaker, the omnibus bill still falls so far short of what we need to just return to the funding levels before the sequester 8 years ago. Adjusted for inflation, we are still way below the 2010 levels for domestic spending. What is worse, while underfunding our needs here at home, this bill includes an increase in $80 billion in defense.”
Freedom First Society: Democrat Rep. Barbara Lee voted nay.
John Culberson (R-TX): “Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this critical appropriations bill to ensure that our military has the resources they need to protect us abroad and that our law enforcement agencies have the resources they need to protect us here at home.”
Ms. Betty McCollum (D-MN): “Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the omnibus appropriations act. While this is not the bill I would have written, nonetheless, it is a significant victory for Minnesotans and Americans. By investing in critical priorities like education, election integrity, housing, infrastructure, public safety, opioid abuse prevention and treatment, and veterans’ healthcare, this legislation keeps Minnesota and our entire country safe, strong, and moving forward. As ranking member of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, my focus has been on protecting the environment, upholding our commitments to Native Americans, and preserving our natural resources and cultural treasures.” [Emphasis added.]
Henry Cuellar (D-TX): “I know this is not a perfect bill. But, again, we got together, we negotiated, and this is the bill that we have got under the system, working together. This bill, first of all, funds our military’s and veterans’ needs…. It provides $1.6 billion for community health centers to provide healthcare. It also provides money for Pell grants to make sure people are able to go to college.”
Paul Ryan (R-WI): “Mr. Speaker, this measure before us is about as critical as it gets; it really is. It addresses the priorities that we have been discussing in this Chamber for a long time.”
Ms. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “And [Minority Whip Steny Hoyer] said [the Republican Leaders] are rushing because people have codels, trips, fundraisers, and this and that. I contend there may be another reason why they are rushing it through. First of all, they don’t want anybody to know what is in the bill, because this is a tremendous victory for the American people in terms of what Mrs. Lowey was able to negotiate, in a bipartisan way, on the domestic side.” [Emphasis added.]