Freedom First Society

Senate Vote 219 (10-16-13) H.R. 2775 as amended. Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014. An act making continuing appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014, and for other purposes.

Passed 81 to 18, 1 not voting. Became Public Law No: 113-46 (signed by the President 10-17-13).   GOP and Democrat selected vote.

Bill Summary: This final version of H.R. 2775 (amended by the Senate) makes continuing appropriations through January 15, 2014, thus ending the government shutdown, and increases the debt limit for essential borrowing through February 7, 2014.

The final version also retains the household-income verification requirement for Obamacare subsidies that was the substance of the original version of H.R. 2775 passed by the House on September 12, 2775 (Roll Call 458) as the “No Subsidies Without Verification Act.”

Analysis: This Senate-forged “compromise” continued federal spending at the levels both parties had agreed to under the Budget Control Act of 2011. Liberals especially continued to scream that those cuts were deep and intolerable. In commenting on the final passage of this measure, the Establishment’s Washington Post (10-16-13): reinforced that illusion, thus giving many Americans concerned over out-of-control spending a false sense of comfort:

“Meanwhile, federal agencies are funded through Jan. 15, when they might shut down again unless lawmakers resolve a continuing dispute over deep automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.” [Emphasis added.]

A more honest view was expressed by Alabama’s Senator Jeff Sessions, one of the 18 GOP senators to vote against the amended H.R. 2775. In a prepared statement, Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, correctly decried the lack of federal restraint:

“In the last five years, Washington spent more than $15 trillion and added more than $6 trillion to the debt. Never has so great a sum been spent for so little in return. Despite this huge stimulus spending, wages are lower than in 1999 and nearly 60 million working-age Americans aren’t working. Fewer people are employed today than in 2007.”

Sessions was joined in his opposition by fellow Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Shelby also “firmly opposed” the legislation:

“We should fund the government and safeguard the full faith and credit of the United States. We should do both, however, by putting our nation on a more responsible fiscal path. This legislation fails to do so. Once again, we are kicking the can down the road. In the meantime, the spending continues and our national debt grows unabated. The American people deserve better.”

We agree with Shelby and Sessions, up to a point. Continuing federal spending and racking up debt are certainly prescriptions for disaster. And choosing between business-as-usual and shutting down the government or defaulting on government debt are false alternatives.

However, our problems won’t be solved by political leadership that refuses to recognize the forces that have taken America off course and the real agenda driving their power grab. What is needed is leadership that takes the offensive and works to reverse the unconstitutional, socialist inroads destroying the American dream.

Even when House and Senate leaders present their members with the tough choice members had in this Roll Call (or Senate Vote) and the Establishment media places responsibility for the shutdown on congressmen unwilling to compromise, congressmen should still remember their oath to support the Constitution. They simply cannot in good conscience vote for continued spending on unconstitutional programs.

What is necessary to put America on a sound fiscal path is a “more responsible constitutional path.” Unconstitutional programs must be phased out and eliminated. Compromise with socialists won’t preserve either freedom or prosperity.

Pressure for such a change in course must come from outside Congress. Once that outside informed pressure builds a majority in either the House or Senate committed to upholding the Constitution, that majority can refuse omnibus bills and play strategic hardball: Present the other branches with the tough choice of accepting a responsible rollback of smaller packages of government programs or refusing to allow any of the 12 regular appropriations bills to fund any department of government at reduced levels.

In the absence of such a majority, a responsible senator will still set the example and not buckle to false alternatives.

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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