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Senate Vote: 311     Vote Date: Sep 26th, 2019

Issue: H.R. 4378, Continuing Appropriations act, 2020, and Health Extenders Act of 2019. Question: On passage (3/5 vote required).  

Result: Passed, 81 to 16, 3 not voting.  Passed earlier in House, Roll Call 538, 9-19-19.  Became Public Law 116-59 (signed by the President, 9-27-19).  GOP and Democrats scored.

Freedom First Society:  H.R. 4378 extends appropriations at current levels until November 21, 2019.  At that time, Congress will seek to appropriate to the limits of the irresponsible Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (see our scorecard for House Roll Call 511, 7-25-19).  H.R. 4378 also extends several programs set to expire that could and should have been considered individually without an extension.

Congress needs a massive shift in direction to begin rolling back unconstitutional programs and spending.  As expected, H.R. 4378 merely perpetuates big, unconstitutional, out-of-control 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 (excerpted from the Congressional Research Services Summary):
Shown Here:
Passed House (09/19/2019)

Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020, and Health Extenders Act of 2019 

This bill provides FY2020 continuing appropriations to federal agencies through November 21, 2019.

It is known as a continuing resolution (CR) and prevents a government shutdown that would otherwise occur when FY2020 begins on October 1, 2019, if the 12 regular appropriations bills that fund the federal government for FY2020 have not been enacted.

The CR funds most projects and activities at the FY2019 levels with several exceptions that provide funding flexibility and additional appropriations to various programs.

Additionally, the CR extends several programs that are scheduled to expire at the end of FY2019, including

  • several health programs,
  • the National Flood Insurance Program,
  • the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and related programs,
  • several authorities related to immigration,
  • the Calfed Bay-Delta Authorization Act,
  • the Department of Education’s National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity,
  • the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and
  • the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The bill also includes a provision that permits the Department of Agriculture to continue making payments to farmers affected by retaliatory tariffs by accelerating reimbursements to the Commodity Credit Corporation for certain net realized losses sustained in FY2019.

Freedom First Society Analysis:   Thankfully,16 GOP senators voted against this resolution to continue appropriations at current levels through November 21.  However, regardless of their individual reasons, our strong objection is that the extension was not designed to buy time to roll back unconstitutional spending.  No such effort was underway.  (Instead, the plan is to spend to the new bipartisan budget caps.)

Until there are plans to implement the critical rollback of unconstitutional programs and spending, no senator or representative should approve anysignificant appropriations measure.  Otherwise, they are violating their oath of office to uphold the Constitution.

Senate Needed More Time?
The House blamed the Senate for the “need” to approve a Continuing Resolution (CR):  In her opening remarks (9-19-19), House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) charged:   “Mr. Speaker, while the House did its work and passed 12  appropriations bills through committee and 10 off the floor, the Senate appropriations process is far behind. Because of this delay, we must  pass a continuing resolution to avoid another government shutdown like the one that started late last year which caused real harm to our economy and to hardworking Americans.”

Ranking [Appropriations Committee] Member Kay Granger (R-Texas) agreed, but excused the Senate’s failure:  “Because the budget agreement did not get enacted until August, the  Senate began working on the fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills only last week. As a result, there is simply not enough time to complete the  appropriations process by the September 30 deadline.”  Yet the House was able to move ahead (even though its bills were terrible)!

Of the 313 Senate votes so far this session, more than three-quarters were devoted to confirming nominations.  Perhaps, that is more evidence that Congress has created a federal bureaucracy too large for Congress to govern.

On this important vote, which included extending several bad programs (see below), the Senate devoted all of the allotted general debate time to other topics. With one exception.  Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) proposed an amendment to cut spending across the board by 2 percent in order to eliminate deficit spending.   His statement in defense of his amendment is instructive. Program managers were willing to handle a two percent cut if that would curtail the deficit. But the lack of Senate Democratic support for any reduction in spending speaks volumes.

Nevertheless, the Paul amendment is far from the solution needed; it merely addresses the current deficit for the duration of the CR. Of greater concern is the unconstitutional spending and the lack of respect for the constitution, thus liberating Congress from the wise restraints in that document.

Expiring Programs
Congress had reasons for not making certain programs permanent, instead requiring them to be reviewed periodically and to expire if they no longer had support. Each of the programs set to expire on September 30th (see the list in the CRS  Summary above) could and should have been considered individually on its own merits. Instead, the entire group was extended here with virtually no accountability.  Yet some have limited support.  Here is one of the most glaring travesties.

Export-Import Bank
In recent years, the “Bank” had become the target of weak conservative opposition, which merely characterized the Bank as a “bad idea”, as “promoting corporate welfare,” or as “crony capitalism.”  In reality, the Export-Import Bank has served the internationalist Conspiracy for decades as a workhorse, funding America’s enemies, including Communist China, and advancing internationalist objectives.