Issue: H.R. 5895, Making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, and for other purposes. Question: On Passage.
Result: Passed in House, 235 to 179, 13 not voting. GOP only scored.
Freedom First Society: Despite its misleading title, H.R. 5895 is not a single appropriations measure. It is a minibus package consisting of three appropriations bills. By rejecting regular order (separate votes on separate bills), the House leadership forfeited the House’s “power of the purse” leverage to roll back unconstitutional spending.
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Moreover, instead of respecting constitutional limits, the House leadership has focused here on spending to the limits of the recently negotiated increases in unconstitutional spending (the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018).
We applaud those 16 GOP representatives who voted no. We do not score the Democrats on this one, as many undoubtedly voted no for reasons other than wanting to trim big government.
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: H.R. 5895 is a minibus package of three FY 2019 appropriations measures: 1) Energy and Water (mentioned in the title); 2) the Legislative Branch; and 3 Military Construction and Veterans Administration. The current Congressional Research Service Summary only describes the Energy and Water bill in the package (so much for transparency).
Analysis: During the “debates” over H.R. 5895, both the GOP and Democrat sides repeated the myth that appropriations bills must necessarily be the work of a bipartisan consensus with socialists. When that myth is followed in developing appropriations legislation, a responsible congressman should vote no and not become a party to the sellout of our nation and our Constitution.
30 of 234 House Republicans serve on the full House Appropriations Committee. All but Steven Palazzo (who did not vote) supported H.R. 5895. As usual, none of the 16 GOP opponents, who were not on the Committee, were given time to register their complaints.
The following “debate” excerpts from the June 6, 2018 Congressional Record illustrate forcefully the big-government agenda that drives the leadership of both parties in the appropriations process. [Emphasis and comments are added.]
Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Chairman, Committee on Appropriations: “I rise today in support of H.R. 5895, the first set of the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills: Energy and Water, the Legislative Branch, and the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs…. To highlight a few of these important investments: The Energy and Water bill, under Chairman Simpson’s direction, funds our national security and supports the energy and water infrastructure that keeps our economy moving and America open for business.”
[Freedom First Society: If the Department of Energy, which produces no energy, “keeps our economy moving and America open for business,” we must ask, how did America function before President Jimmy Carter created the Cabinet Level Department of Energy (DOE) in 1977?
Contrary to Mr. Frelinghuysen’s claim, President Carter’s energy policy could be summarized as a campaign to deny America use of its own energy resources, create dependence on foreign suppliers, and create shortages leading to government rationing. In the beginning, the DOE drew a lot of political fire, but, in the decades following, several defense related functions were shifted to the department, which served to protect the department from calls for its abolition.]
Mr. Frelinghuysen continues: “In total, [Rep. Simpson’s] bill provides $44.7 billion in discretionary funding…. The bill also further supports economic growth by investing in the Department of Energy’s programs to advance the goal of an all-of-the- above solution to energy independence.”
[Freedom First Society: Were it not for the Foundation-funded environmental movement, which was responsible for creating an energy crisis, the U.S. would never have lostits energy independence. And with technological progress, America could have enjoyed increasingly plentiful energy at lower and lower costs.
For example, where are the new nuclear power plants being built to increase U.S. reliance on nuclear power (as of 2015, France generated 40 percent of its electricity with this American technology, now blocked from use in the U.S.)? Or when will American companies be allowed to tap our vast reserves of shale oil?
In the decades of the 70s, several foundation-funded studies bolstered the case for oppressive federal measures. One of the most significant was “The Unfinished Agenda: The Citizen’s Policy Guide to Environmental Issues,” a 1977 report of a task force sponsored by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
The panel of “experts” preparing the report was staffed with leaders from foundation-funded groups. The finished “Unfinished Agenda” summarized its message: “[T]his book is about a world transition from abundance to scarcity, a transition that is already well underway.”
“The Unfinished Agenda” called for many federal measures designed to restrict ostensibly environmentally damaging consumption and the American standard of living.
The previous year, the Internationalists’ Foreign Affairspublished an essay, “Energy Strategy: the Road Not Taken?” The essay gave “scientific” standing to a clever campaign to stifle America’s energy production by pushing for conversion to “soft” energy sources (e.g. solar, wind, and geothermal). The campaign was in full swing during the Obama administration. (See our review of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them by Steve Milloy.]
Mr. Frelinghuysen continues: “Next, the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill under Chairman Yoder’s lead provides $3.8 billion in funding for the operation of Congress and its support agencies, excluding Senate-only items. It may be the smallest of the 12 appropriations bills, but it is very important to the operation of our great democracy. This total represents a small increase above current enacted levels….
“Lastly, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, led initially by former Chairman Dent and now by Chairman Judge Carter, provides a total of $96.9 billion in discretionary funding at a crucial time for our Armed Forces and the VA…. This bill also includes $85.3 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest total amount for the VA in its history…. These bills received bipartisan support in committee because they focus on universal priorities: national security, care for our veterans and military families, and essential infrastructure. I am extremely disappointed to read and hear the minority has directed its Members to oppose this appropriations package, despite the fact that all of these bills were constructed as they always have been: in a bipartisanmanner.”
[Freedom First Society: Constructing appropriations bills in a bipartisanmanner, as a compromise with socialists, should not be the goal as this just continues the collectivist expansion of our federal government. Instead, America desperately needs a Congress that will curtail unconstitutional programs and spending.
The panacea for solving America’s problems cannot be found in the collectivist vision of government doing everything for us. Quite the contrary, the federal monster has already pushed quality jobs overseas, destroying middle class opportunity, and it threatens our very survival as a free nation.]
Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations: “Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the three-bill package that Republicans are bringing to the floor today. Instead of following regular order and debating and amending the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bills separately, Republican leadership is forcing us to consider them together. This broken process has a simple aim. Republicans are using America’s veterans as pawns to force through cuts to clean energy research and harmful policy provisions that weaken environmental standards….”
[Freedom First Society: While we agree with Rep. Lowey’s complaint about process, we certainly disagree with her support of the subversive environmental agenda.]
Mrs. Lowey continues: “While I support many of the increases within the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill, Republicans have created a dilemma by transitioning the VA Choice program from mandatory to discretionary funding in the middle of fiscal year 2019. I want to make it clear: This is a serious decision. It should have been adequately debated. Even worse, Republicans have blocked consideration of my amendment to solve this problem. That will mean a further squeeze, and perhaps even cuts, to programs that benefit the middle class. The Bipartisan Budget Act provided an $18 billion increase for both defense and nondefense discretionary spending between fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Instead of using those resources to create jobs and grow our economy, Republicans have chosen to devote $4.8 billion, more than a quarter of that increase, to the Department of Homeland Security, presumably for President Trump’s border wall and the deportation force….
“Frankly, it is just part of a pattern in which Republicans are underfunding bills that will come later in the appropriations process. For example, Republicans have not provided a single penny in additional resources to the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. What does that mean? This means that they threaten to starve our schools, hurt job training and workplace rights protection, jeopardize Pell grants, and limit access to affordable healthcare, among many other ill effects. We can and must do better than spending levels that prioritize President Trump’s border wall and attacks on immigrant communities over the urgent needs of American children, families, and seniors.
“Now, with regard to the Energy and Water bill specifically, we are confronted with a partisan bill that contains cuts to many important priorities for the American people.”
[Freedom First Society: Clearly Rep. Lowey is pushing the fiction that the key to America’s prosperity is more spending by the federal government.]
Representative Mike Simpson (R-Idaho): “Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to present to the House the fiscal year 2019 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. Before I review the details of the bill, I would like to thank Chairman Frelinghuysen for his leadership and unwavering commitment to the appropriations process. Our committee is back on track to bring 12 bills through the committee markup and before the full House for the second year in a row….”
[Freedom First Society: Yes, but last year (FY2018) the House ignored the individual bills in favor of a massive $1.3 trillion bipartisan omnibus. And so far, with this minibus, the House seems to be on the same track for FY2019. And, in what follows, Mr. Simpson shows no interest in rolling back unconstitutional spending, let alone reducing spending.]
Mr. Simpson continues: “The Energy and Water bill totals $44.7 billion, which is $1.5 billion more than last year’s level and $8.2 billion above the budget request….
“The bill includes strong funding for the Army Corps of Engineers — $451 million more than last year and $2.5 billion more than the budget request.This is to address our Nation’s critical infrastructure needs. Harbor maintenance activities are funded at $1.6 billion, which is $200 million more than the fiscal year 2018 appropriation. The level exceeds the WRDA annual target by $160 million and represents — and I am proud of this — 95 percent of the estimated revenue.
“Basic science research and applied energy research and development programs at the Department of Energy, including Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy, the Office of Science, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and ARPA-E, are strongly supported in this bill. Taken together, these programs advance the all-of-the-above energy strategy that will support a strong national economy well into the future….This is a strong bill that incorporates priorities and interests of all Members of the House….”
[Freedom First Society: It’s difficult to find a substantive difference between House GOP leaders like Mr. Simpson and Democratic leaders. America doesn’t need the federal government to incorporate “priorities and interests of all Members of the House.” The mission of the Department of Energy, since its founding days under President Jimmy Carter, has been to inhibit energy production and, in conjunction with the Establishment-funded environmental movement, to force industry to rely on politically correct sources such as dilute solar, which are incapable of powering a modern industrial economy. The DOE is really an assault on energy independence and energy availability.]
Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH): “Mr. Chairman, I wish to thank the ranking member from New York, Nita Lowey, for yielding me this time and for the wonderful work she has done on 12 bills, and this is but the first. I also want to thank the chair of the full committee, Congressman Frelinghuysen, whose service has been so meritorious. We miss his service on the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Committee directly, but he has moved up to greater things. I also thank Chairman Simpson and the members of our fine subcommittee and our staff on our side of the aisle….
“Our bill contributes to ensuring the critical availability of energy and waterway improvements for domestic stability and national security, not just for today but for the tomorrows to come. Energy is the power that flows and drives our economy and courses through our Nation. Sometimes people even forget it is there binding our country together at the community level, connecting our Nation from coast to coast, and ensuring our superior defense posture globally. Our Nation has made enormousstrides in increasing our energy independence by developing a broad portfolio of power sources, with no bill more important than this one in reaching the strategic goal of energy independence for America’s independence. But it is not yet time to declare mission accomplished….
“Actually, energy can become a tourniquet that throttles economic growth, and rising fuel prices means our Nation could be headed there again. So we must not lose sight of the ultimate goal of energy independence for American independence. Largely, thanks to the bipartisan budget agreement, the chairman has been able to provide increased funding levelsto that end across much of our bill….
“And, unfortunately, while the chair has been generous in the funding of most programs, the bill cuts over $400 million in funding from this year’s levels for next year for some of the highest priorities to those of us on this side of the aisle….
“Think about this: Nearly 3.2 million Americans now work in clean energy industries alone. Those are jobs that didn’t exist 35 years ago. Energy means jobs, and new energy systems means economic growth….
“One of our biggest concerns is the damage this bill does to other bills. It is like musical chairs: if we succeed with our bill, then the 11 bills that follow may not have sufficient funding. Mr. Chairman, I thank the chairman for leading us to this point. We are very proud to be the first bill on the floor this year, 2018, in the appropriations process.”
Representative John R. Carter (R-TX): “Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to be here as the newly appointed chairman of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Subcommittee…. Charlie Dent and Debbie Wasserman Schultz developed such a good bill that it was approved by a 47-0 vote in the full committee…. The bill contains $96.9 billion in budget authority, an increase of $4.2 billion over last year’s level.”
[Freedom First Society: The following remarks of the Representative from California demonstrate clearly that the deceptive collectivist fraud is alive an well in Congress. A big share of our problem is that the American people are not being taught the proper limited role authorized by the Constitution for the federal government. That role is not to take care of our health and our education.
A much more serious omission is the media cover-up of the subversive agenda hiding behind a camouflage of pretended humanitarian concern — a power-seeking agenda that targets our freedom.]
Representative Barbara Lee (D), Calif. 13: “Mr. Chair, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I rise in strong opposition to this bill — H.R. 5895 — the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water, Leg Branch, and MilconVA spending bills. This Republican minibus fails to protect the health, security, and safety of the American people. And really, this bill is an attempt to block critical funding for education, health, and the economic security. Once again, Republicans are funding defense at the expense of priorities here at home….
“Mr. Chair — instead of making defense contractors even richer, how about we start helping struggling families here at home? At a time when we should invest robustly in the American people, Republicans are doing just the opposite…. By flat funding four of our most important domestic spending bills — including Labor, HHS, and Education, the funding subcommittee I sit on — there will be less money for job training, education, and public health…. This is a shame, Mr. Chair. And I am sad to say that with the flat funding of many of our bills — people will lose out. Americans want good-paying jobs. They want to be able to see a doctor when they’re sick.They want safe schools to send their kids to. But instead, Republicans keep shortchanging families so that billionaires, polluters and defense contractors can pad their pockets. This bill is a disgrace. I urge my colleagues to vote no.
[Freedom First Society: Senate rules would not allow a senator to impute such disgraceful motives to a specific fellow senator. But apparently such remarks can be directed at an entire party. Unfortunately, we rarely see Republicans speak the hard truth about the real motivations driving many fellow Democrats and the subversive agendas that both parties are supporting.]