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 Agreeing to the Conference Report.
Result: Passed in House, 377 to 20, 31 not voting. The Senate agreed to the Conference Report the day before (Senate Vote 207, September 12, 2018). Became Public Law 115-244 (signed by the President, 9-21-2018). Both GOP and Democrats scored.
Freedom First Society: Despite its initial posted title, H.R. 5895 first passed the House as a three-bill “minibus,” contrary to regular order. The unconstitutional spending in that version was bad enough (see our analysis of House Roll Call 257, June 8, 2018), but this House-Senate Conference Committee legislation is even worse. The Committee compromised to the Left to gain the support of almost all of the big-government Democrats.
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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: As reported by the Congressional Research Service on the June 8 House-passed bill:
“This bill provides FY2019 appropriations for several federal agencies. The bill includes 3 of the 12 regular FY2019 appropriations bills:
the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019;
the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2019; and
the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019.
The bill also provides additional Overseas Contingency Operations/ Global War on Terrorism funding which is exempt from discretionary spending limits.”
Analysis: Our analysis here of the House-Senate compromise measure makes three objections. We support each with excerpts from the floor “debates” (as reported in the Congressional Record).
However, we must also point out that the so-called House and Senate debates were not debates at all. This is often the case today. Although there was opposition in both the House and Senate to the conference agreement, in neither chamber did opponents of the measure take the podium to give their reasons for opposition. The “debate” time was divided almost exclusively between leading Republican and Democrat appropriators who embraced the House-Senate, Democrat-Republican “compromise.’
1. Collectivism is Alive and Well in Both Parties
Leadership of both parties promote the idea that their job is to spend money in a timely manner and that the American taxpayer is counting on Congress to do so. The appropriators often make it sound as though they are paying for these appropriations out of their own pockets.
Moreover, they tout all of the ostensible good things government can do on our behalf (collectivism), while completely ignoring the damage to middle class opportunity from a bloated out-of-control government. Yet this unrestrained spending on unconstitutional programs threatens to bankrupt our nation and cost us our freedom.
For example: Just imagine the consequence to our modern specialized economy if the confidence in the dollar were destroyed. Starvation and riots would be widespread. The Internationalists would be eager to rescue us by providing us with a regional currency (like the Euro) at the price of our national independence.
Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-New Jersey), Chairman, Committee on Appropriations: “This conference report is a responsible compromise that addresses shared priorities: funding for programs that benefit all Americans, including national security, energy development programs and water resources infrastructure, care for veterans, and operations of the legislative branch. Critically, this conference report represents the next step toward fully funding the Federal Government for fiscal year 2019.
“This is the first time since fiscal year 2017 that Congress will have passed any Appropriations bill before the end of the year and the first time in over a decade —— since fiscal year 2007 — that Congress will be sending more than one Appropriations bill to the President’s desk before September 30. We have done our best to repair a broken appropriations process. This is a welcome and long overdue return to regular order and fulfills our promise to the American people to deliver results….
“Support for this conference report today indicates that Congress is willing and able to get its work done on behalf of the American people on time, under regular order, and within our set budget limits.” [Emphasis added.]
Freedom First Society: Note: Passage of a minibus is not regular order (individual votes on each of the 12 regular appropriations measures). The primary reason that the leadership combines these 3 appropriation measures into a minibus, rather than allowing votes on each individual measure, is to provide protective coloration so that congressmen can support the bad with the good.
2. Bipartisan Compromise Should Not Be Extolled As a Virtue
Legislative leaders and the Establishment media constantly seek to convince the public that political compromise is a necessary virtue. But congressmen should not compromise on fundamental principles, such as their oath to defend the Constitution. And some don’t. Instead, if there were a sufficient faction in the House committed to restoring limited government according to the Constitution, that faction should use the House’s “power of the purse” to play hardball with the socialists in the Senate. (And true regular order is necessary in order to play hardball and take the sting out of the threat of a government shutdown.)
The principled position is for congressmen to vote on principle, even if they are not currently in the majority. Unless some stake out the principled position, as a few are doing (see Scorecard), there is no hope of becoming the majority and averting disaster.
Note: Those who extoll compromise are often employing a double standard. There was no compromise on so-called “Poison pills” — attempts to address significant policy problems by attaching them to appropriation measures. But they deemed it okay to compromise on the Constitution!
Representative Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), member Committee on Appropriations: “Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the ranking member, Mrs. Lowey, for yielding and for the wonderful work she has done as our leader in the Appropriations Committee. I certainly want to thank, also, the chairman for his leadership and the bipartisan work that both individuals, Mrs. Lowey and Mr. Frelinghuysen, have done in working together to make sure we pass this legislation and bring these three bills to the floor….
“Again, I want to say thank you to everybody working together in a bipartisan way.” [Emphasis added.]
Representative Gene Green (D-Texas): “Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5895, the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. In an era of partisanship, bipartisan legislation like this bill is sorely needed.” [Emphasis added.]
From the Senate “debate” the previous day (9-12-18):
Senator Richard Shelby, (R-Alabama), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee: “A few months ago, I came to the floor and urged my colleagues to set aside partisan disputes so that we could focus on our most basic constitutional responsibility: funding the government in a deliberate and timely manner.
“Most observers deemed the prospect dubious at best. Who could blame them? Like so much in Washington, the appropriations process was broken, but at the urging of Leaders McConnell and Schumer and with the help of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle — Vice Chairman Leahy, in particular — we began to put the pieces back together. Steadily, methodically, we passed 9 of the 12 annual appropriations bills in the Senate by overwhelming bipartisan margins. Today, I am pleased to present my colleagues with the first dividends of their cooperation….
“It does a lot of other things, but I can say that this is an important package, and it is very important in what this package does not contain. It contains no poison pills — none of the partisan riders that have taken down appropriations bills in recent years in this package. As a result, the conference report looks a lot like the package that passed the Senate a few months ago by a vote of 86 to 5.” [Emphasis added.]
3. They Compromised to the Left
As one example, the compromise legislation included major funding for government programs promoting “alternative energy sources.” These “energy” programs are driven by the heavily financed environmental lobby with its media support. They serve as a pretext for holding back our economic prosperity by blocking industry access to cheap, reliable energy capable of powering a major economy. (Solar panels won’t do it.)
Some legislators have opposed the limits in the Internationalists’ Paris climate accord purely on economic grounds. Even President Trump indicated a willingness to rejoin the climate accord if the U.S. could obtain better terms (AP, 6-1-17). Others have challenged the flawed “models” and “findings” of the heavily financed environmental lobby as unsettled “science.”
However, no legislator seems willing or able to tell the American public what is really driving the unconstitutional “Department of Energy” to insist on a shift to “alternative energy”: an Internationalist power grab. The power grab is supported by the UN fiction of a “scientific consensus” re man-made global warming due to the release of greenhouse gases. And of course, the media refuses to report the mountains of scientific evidence disputing those claims and instead helps characterize such science as industry-financed or even a criminal threat to life on the planet.
For example, Richard S. Lindzen, Professor Emeritus, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in Climate Change: The Facts (2015):
“Global warming is about politics and power rather than science. In science, there is an attempt to clarify, in global warming, language is misused in order to confuse and mislead the public….
“Advocates of policies allegedly addressing global warming use models not to predict but rather to justify the claim that catastrophe is possible.”
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-New York ), the Ranking Democratic Member of the House Appropriations Committee: “Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this three-bill minibus, which delivers important victories for the American people. The fiscal year 2019 Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch bill is a bipartisan rejection of President Trump’s extreme budget cuts. It restores $8.1 billion in funding for programs that create jobs and strengthen our economy. Instead of cutting energy efficiency and renewable energy programs within the Department of Energy, as House Republicans proposed, we have increased its funding. That means more resources to develop clean energy technology and accelerate job creation in this growing sector of the economy.
“And this bill gives an emphatic thumbs-down to President Trump’s proposed elimination of the highly successful ARPA-E program, which promotes and funds research and development of advanced energy technology.”
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Ranking Democrat on the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee: “Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this three-cornered minibus before us….
“This bill strongly funds programs that were eliminated in the President’s budget, including weatherization assistance to conserve energy and the path-breaking office of the Department of Energy’s advanced research, ARPA-E, which unlocks science to build our future and the progress that goes with it. Additionally, harmful, controversial policy riders that have no place in this bill were removed.” [Emphasis added.]
For more detail please see our analysis of the original House-passed version (House Roll Call 257, June 8, 2018).