Freedom First Society

Issue: H.R. 3055, Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020, and Further Health Extenders Act of 2019.  Question: On the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3055).

Result:  Motion agreed to, 74 to 20.  Passed earlier by House (Roll Call 631, 11-19-19).  Became Public Law No. 116-69 (signed by the President, 11-21-19).  Senate GOP and Democrats scored.

Freedom First Society:  H.R. 3055 extends appropriations at current levels once again, this time for another month until December 20, 2019.  At the end of its CR’s, 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. 3055 also further 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. 3055 merely perpetuates big, unconstitutional, out-of-control government.  For a thorough explanation of what’s wrong with these continuing resolutions and with their supporting arguments, please read our analysis of the preceding CR, House Roll Call 538 (9-19-19).

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:
Senate agreed to House amendment (11/21/2019)

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

This bill provides continuing FY2020 appropriations to federal agencies through December 20, 2019, and extends several expiring health programs.

It is known as a continuing resolution (CR) and prevents a government shutdown that would otherwise occur if the FY2020 appropriations bills have not been enacted when the existing CR expires after November 21, 2019.

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

  • the 2020 Census,
  • the Indian Health Service,
  • Ebola preparedness and response activities,
  • the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and
  • the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program.

The bill temporarily extends several authorities and programs, including

  • several public health, Medicare, and Medicaid authorities and programs;
  • the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and related programs;
  • certain provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act;
  • the National Flood Insurance Program;
  • several authorities related to immigration;
  • the Calfed Bay-Delta Authorization Act;
  • the 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 provides a pay raise for the military, repeals a rescission of state highway funding, and modifies the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund.

Freedom First Society Analysis:  The Senate went along with this House-proposed CR extension without any debate – pro or con.   Senator Rand Paul was allowed to propose an amendment, which was immediately tabled. Then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asked for a vote on cloture to end the debate that had never started:  “I move to concur in the House amendment to the Senate  amendment to H.R. 3055.  [Cloture Motion]    I send a cloture motion to the desk for the motion to concur.”

The cloture motion passed 75 to 19, so the Presiding Officer announced:  “Under the previous order, all postcloture time is yielded back.   The question is on agreeing to the motion to concur [this Senate Vote 365].”

The Proper Course

If a majority of representatives, backed by informed constituents, were truly determined to roll back unconstitutional spending, the House could even today use its power of the purse without letting the big-spending socialists gain the upper hand.  The essential tactic is for the House to vote on the 12 appropriations bills independently (regular order) and then insist that the Senate deal with each.  A determined Senate could also force regular order by refusing to consider any aggregated House appropriations measures.

Even CR’s could apply to individual appropriation bills.  They should especially not include House bills already passed much earlier.

We agree with Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie, who voted against a May 2017 omnibus spending package.  After the vote, he 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.”

And even when not in the majority, the principled course for a Congressman is to vote no on bills where there is no effort to roll back stifling unconstitutional spending, and in particular to insist on regular order by voting no on all consolidated spending bills.

Again, for further explanation of what’s wrong with these continuing resolutions and with their supporting arguments, please read our analysis of the earlier CR, House Roll Call 538 (9-19-19).

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