Freedom First Society

Issue: H.R. 3055, As Amended; A bill making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020, and for other purposes. Question:  On Passage of the Bill (3/5 vote required). 

Result:  Passed in Senate, 84 to 9. not voting 7. Senate GOP and Democrats scored.

Freedom First Society:  By consolidating four of the 12 regular appropriations bills, the House perpetuated the norm of violating regular order as a means to obtain consensus on ever higher unconstitutional spending.  And with its amended version here, the Senate went along.  For example, funding for the unconstitutional Housing and Urban Development Department, founded in 1965 as part of President Johnson’s socialist “Great Society” program, is included in this bill.

We give blue check marks to the nine GOP senators who voted against this measure, which was overwhelmingly supported by Senate Democrats and the majority of Senate Republicans.

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 of the Senate amended H.R. 3055
(provided by the Congressional Research Services).
Shown Here:
Passed Senate (10/31/2019)
Commerce, Justice, Science, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, Interior, Environment, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, 2020

This bill provides FY2020 appropriations for several federal departments and agencies. It includes 4 of the 12 regular FY2020 appropriations bills:

  • the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2020;
  • the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2020;
  • the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2020; and
  • the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2020.

The departments and agencies funded in the bill include

  • the Department of Commerce;
  • the Department of Justice;
  • science-related agencies, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA);
  • the Department of Agriculture;
  • the Food and Drug Administration;
  • the Department of the Interior;
  • the Environmental Protection Agency;
  • the Forest Service;
  • the Department of Transportation;
  • the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and
  • several additional related and independent agencies.

The bill also specifies restrictions and requirements for using funds provided by this and other appropriations Acts.

Analysis:  The work of the Appropriations subcommittees and amendments in this bill was temporarily abandoned when H.R. 3055 was transformed into a continuing resolution a few weeks later.   So there will be more votes on these four appropriation areas down the road.   However, the vote on this amended measure shows the Senate’s socialist bent.  We comment following each of two supporting excerpts from the Congressional Record.

From the Congressional Record (10-30-19) [Emphasis added]: 

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), member Senate Committee on Appropriations:
“Mr. President, I am about to offer the managers’ package for the four appropriations bills currently before us: Commerce, Justice, Science, Agriculture, Interior and the Transportation,  Housing, and Urban Development bill. This managers’ package includes 45 amendments, many of which — indeed, most of which — have been offered on a bipartisan basis. They have been cleared by both sides…. It is imperative that we move  these bills and go to conference with the House.”

Freedom First Society:   Bipartisan compromise with socialists should not be extolled as a virtue.  What the America people need in Congress is the backbone to reverse the ongoing rush to stifling, socialist big-government that will extinguish our freedoms.  Whether “imperative” or not, both the House and Senate agreed to transform this bill into a further Continuing Resolution, which became law on November 21.

When the House-Senate conference committees do finally agree on the 12 appropriations bills, we can guarantee that there will be no effort to roll back unconstitutional spending.  Instead, 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).  This has to change.  Only better informed voters can make it happen (so share this scorecard and introduce others to Freedom First Society).

From the Congressional Record (10-31-19) [Emphasis added]:

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), vice-chairman Committee on Approprations:
“Madam President, I see my friend, the senior Senator from Alabama, on the floor. I want to offer my praise for him because we are going to vote on final passage of the fiscal year 2020 Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill, the Agriculture  appropriations bill, the Interior appropriations bill, and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. I urge all Members to vote aye.   These are good, bipartisan bills. They show that despite whatever political atmosphere we operate in, the Appropriations Committee can put partisan politics aside and do our work on behalf of the American people. These bills make responsible investments that build on what we were able to accomplish in fiscal year 2019 while strongly rejecting the shortsighted cuts the Trump administration proposed. They back up our commitment to invest in rural communities and farms, law enforcement, and the environment.

Freedom First Society: As an aside, note Senator Leahy’s introductory observation about noticing Senator Shelby on the floor.   Unfortunately, it seems that today when a complex measure is introduced on the floor, many reps and senators are not present until called for the vote.  The senators have already decided whether or not to ratify the work of the subcommittees and their minds are little affected by these shallow campaign statements.

It would be great if most congressmen and senators were driven to “work on behalf of the American people.”  Such is definitely not the case in their drive to get reelected.  Senator Leahy’s comment about “our commitment to invest in rural communities and farms …” displays a dangerous, but common disregard for the proper role of the federal government, as limited by the U.S. Constitution.  In Senator Leahy’s view, amplified by much of today’s media, the role of the states is merely to serve the federal government — a massive federal power grab that desperately needs to be reversed.

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