Freedom First Society

Issue: H.R. 6157, Making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, and for other purposes.  Question: On Agreeing to the House-Senate Conference Report.  Retitled: Department of Defense and Labor, Health, and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019.

Result: Passed in House, 361 to 61, 6 not voting.  (Passed earlier in Senate, 9-18-15, Senate Vote 212).  Became Public Law 115-245 (signed by the President, 9-28-18).  Both GOP and Democrats scored.

Freedom First Society:  America’s military readiness and support is a proper role of the federal government. However, the Senate version (see Senate Vote 193, 8-23-18) and this House-Senate compromise appended appropriations for Labor/Health and Human Services/Education to the Defense bill (these latter appropriations are almost entirely an unconstitutional usurpation of authority).  This minibus combination brought virtually all of the big-government Senate Democrats on board and the same for the House (only 5 House Democrats joined 56 Republicans to vote nay).

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:  


Title I—Military Personnel
Title II—Operation and Maintenance
Title III—Procurement
Title IV—Research, Development, Test and Evaluation
Title V—Revolving and Management Funds
Title VI—Other Department of Defense Programs
Title VII—Related Agencies
Title VIII—General Provisions
Title IX—Overseas Contingency Operations


Title I—Department of Labor
Title II—Department of Health and Human Services
Title III—Department of Education
Title IV—Related Agencies
Title V—General Provisions


Sec. 105:  Unless otherwise provided for in this Act or in the applicable appropriations Act for fiscal year 2019, appropriations and funds made available and authority granted pursuant to this Act shall be available until whichever of the following first occurs:

(1) the enactment into law of an appropriation for any project or activity provided for in this Act;

(2) the enactment into law of the applicable appropriations Act for fiscal year 2019 without any provision for such project or activity; or

(3) December 7, 2018.

Analysis:  Our analysis of the House-Senate compromise measure makes three objections:

1. Collectivism is Alive and Well in Both Parties
Leadership of both parties promote the idea that their principal 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.

The breakthrough American principle of constitutionally limited government is totally foreign to congressional appropriators. Those readers familiar with the U.S. Constitution will see below that representatives are boasting of federal involvement in numerous areas where there is simply no constitutional authorization, nor should there be.

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 the real interests of the American people, and the unborn in particular, are not party to the compromise.

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, funding parts of the government separately, is necessary in order to play hardball and take the sting out of the modern socialist threat of a total government shutdown.)

Responsible congressmen should 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.  Here, there is no compromise on so-called “Poison pills” — attempts to address significant policy problems by attaching them to appropriation measures.  But appropriators deemed it okay to compromise on the Constitution!

3. They Compromised to the Left
The House-Senate “compromise” boosting spending for unconstitutional programs brought the big-government Democrats on board. Conservative Republicans, including some constitutionalists, were left out in the cold by “their” leadership.

House Debates (from the Congressional Record, 9-26-18) [Emphasis added.]:
We support the above three objections with excerpts from the floor “debates” (as reported in the Congressional Record).  (Note: some of the remarks are from the preceding debate over the rule governing consideration.)

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, only in the Senate did one opponent of the measure (Senator Mike Lee of Utah, see Senate Vote 212) take the podium to give his reasons for opposition.  The “debate” time was divided almost exclusively between leading Republican and Democrat appropriators who embraced the House-Senate, Democrat-Republican “compromise.’

Representative Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma, Chairman, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies: “[Passage of this appropriations minibus] represents the first time in more than 10 years that Congress  will send more than one final appropriations bill to the President for  signature before the beginning of the fiscal year. In years past, we  have relied strongly on omnibus spending bills to fund the government;  but now, with the hard work done on both sides of the aisle and in both Houses of Congress, we are returning to regular order and completing spending work through the normal legislative process.”

Freedom First Society: 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 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.

Rep. Cole continues: “Mr. Speaker, as I have so often said on this floor, the primary obligation of the Congress is to fund the American Government and keep  it open and operating…. In passing this bill, we will provide crucial funding for services across broad areas of the government and fulfill our promises to the American people: to patients, to communities, to business owners, to  the military, and to Americans of all stripes.

“The House is already familiar with this bill from when it was passed  in June, and this conference version, agreed to with the Senate, has not substantially changed with respect to Defense. However, it now  reflects the combined priorities of the Members of both sides of the  aisle and in both the House and the Senate….

“Mr. Speaker, in the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education  title, the conference report appropriates $178 billion, a $1 billion  increase over fiscal year 2018.   As the conference knows, I am fortunate to chair the Labor, Health  and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, and I am  very pleased with the results of this year’s bill. We were able to  increase the budget of the National Institutes of Health by $2 billion  to $39 billion, thus ensuring that we will be able to direct  significant new dollars to medical research, tackling vexing health problems like Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and the opioid crisis.   Indeed, across the entire bill, we are putting more than $6.6 billion  into the fight against the opioid crisis. We are putting $7.9 billion  into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make sure that  we will have the resources available to battle emerging public health  emergencies and fight infectious disease.

“We did all of this while also  ensuring that popular programs like Meals on Wheels, which provides  meals for our vulnerable senior citizens, can continue to be funded at  current levels.   In the other areas of the Labor-HHS title, we have provided $12.1 billion for the Department of Labor, including $3.5 billion for job  training, $1.7 billion for Job Corps….

“We provided $71 billion to the Department of Education. This includes  $12.4 billion for IDEA special education grants to States. We also  funded TRIO at $1.06 million and GEAR UP at $360 million, both substantial increases. These programs are near and dear to my heart personally and help  first-generation college students succeed.   We increased the maximum Pell grant award to $6,195, and we provided $1.9 billion for career, technical, and adult education programs.

“We  included significant funding for our youngest Americans, including  $10.1 billion for Head Start, $5.3 billion for childcare and development block grants, and $250 million for early childhood  programs.

“Finally, Mr. Speaker, this bill also includes a provision acting as a  continuing resolution, extending some portions of government funding  out to December 7. This extension, while not ideal, gives the  Appropriations Committee and both Houses of Congress time to come to an  agreement on legislation funding the remaining areas of our government.  Such an extension fulfills our primary obligation as legislators, which  is to fund the government and keep it open and operating.

“Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a brief look at what we have  accomplished and put these bills in context.   Last week, the President signed into law the first package of three bills for fiscal year 2019, covering Energy and Water, Military  Construction and Veteran Affairs, and the Legislative Branch titles.  These bills covered just over 11 percent of total discretionary  spending.  Today’s bill, which covers the Defense and Labor, Health and Human  Services, and Education titles, will produce the vast majority of  discretionary spending, just short of 65 percent of the total discretionary spending for fiscal year 2019.

“What is left in the remaining seven titles amounts to just shy of 24 percent of  discretionary spending.   We may need to do a short-term continuing resolution for part of the  government, but with these bills today, what we will have accomplished is sending over 75 percent of the total discretionary spending to the President for his signature into law before the start of the new fiscal year. That is an amazing accomplishment, one that has not happened in  Congress in over a decade. Indeed, this is the first time  in more than  10 years that the Department of Defense will have its full annual  funding enacted before the start of the fiscal year. This is the first  time in 22 years that the Departments of Labor, Health and Human  Services, Education, and Related Agencies will have been funded before  the beginning of the fiscal year….

“This  bill, Mr. Speaker, is a return to regular order, and we should all be  proud of what we have achieved. It also represents a compromise between the two parties in this body and between this body and our counterpart  on the other side of the Capitol Rotunda.”

Representative Norma Torres (D-California):  “H.R. 6157, the second minibus to keep the government open in fiscal  year 2019, is an example of how this body can still work together to  reach a bipartisan consensus when we take politics out of the picture.   Perhaps more important than what is included in the minibus is what  is not included. This minibus rejects the proposed cuts to healthcare  programs, job training, education, and access to healthcare that were  in President Trump’s budget proposal….

“In addition, let me make this clear: nothing in this legislation will  pay for one foot of the President’s border wall. I hope President Trump  joins this Congress and listens to the majority of the American people  who don’t want to fund this wall. This Congress has repeatedly rejected  funding for his misguided wall, and it is about time the President gave  up on such a foolish waste of taxpayer dollars while our bridges,  freeways, and streets are crumbling beneath us.”

Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-New Jersey), Chairman, Committee on Appropriations:  “Mr. Speaker, it is my honor this afternoon to present the conference  report for H.R. 6157.  This conference report provides full-year funding  for the Department of Defense and for the Department of Labor, Health  and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. It also includes a  continuing resolution through December 7, 2018, for Federal Government  programs and agencies not covered by the enacted appropriations  legislation….

“The  Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies  Appropriations bill provides $178 billion for programs that protect the  health, education, and labor standards that all Americans deserve.   Funding is directed to programs that have wide national benefit, in  particular, the National Institutes of Health, which receives a $2  billion increase to bolster its lifesaving research.  Notably, funding to fight the opioid abuse epidemic receives historic  funding levels, totaling $6.6 billion. This will support treatment, prevention, research, and other efforts to end this national crisis.   Another top priority is increased funding to keep our children safe in schools. This includes funding for mental health and other  protective measures.   Lastly, the Labor-HHS bill invests in our future, creating economic  opportunity and helping students get ahead and be part of a well- trained 21st century workforce….

“Upon enactment of this legislation, Congress will have provided full- year funding for three-quarters of the Federal Government, but there is  more work to be done on the remaining appropriations bills.  Mr. Speaker, this legislation is yet another step forward to our goal  of returning to what we call regular order and fully funding the  Federal Government for the fiscal year.”

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-New York ), the Ranking Democratic Member of the House Appropriations Committee: “Mr. Speaker, I join Chairman Frelinghuysen in strong support of this  bipartisan legislation. The Defense and Labor-HHS-Education bills carry  out some of Congress’ most important constitutional responsibilities.  We should all be pleased that we have completed our work on these bills  on time.  This conference report provides ample resources for our armed  services and strengthens military readiness….

“Turning to the Labor-HHS-Education division, I am pleased that  Congress has resoundingly rejected President Trump’s budget and restored $10 billion in proposed cuts that would have hurt working  families. Instead, we have won increased funding for a number of  important priorities.   This bill boosts biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, expands opioid abuse treatment and prevention programs, and launches new initiatives for maternal and child health.   The bill increases funding for Head Start, childcare, and after school programs on which working families rely. It lifts the maximum  Pell grant to help more students access postsecondary education, and it  invests in the 21st century workforce with more support for registered  apprenticeships and career and technical education….

“Just as important is what this bill does not include: the unnecessary  partisan riders that caused House Democrats to oppose the Labor-HHS- Education bill in the Appropriations Committee.”

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut), ranking Democrat on the Labor-HHS, Education Subcommittee:  “The Labor-HHS funding bill for 2019 makes important investments in  health, education, and in our families. It is a $1 billion increase over 2018, leaving us to deliberate $178.1 billion. Especially when I view that the Trump administration is pursuing the fundamental hollowing out of our Federal agencies, we secured critical investments  in Democratic priorities that boost the middle class.

“First, let me talk about health. This bill includes an increase of $2  billion for NIH research. It also includes increases across the Centers  for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Resources and Services Administration, particularly to address health threats to pregnant  women and babies.   We also secured increases for our country’s youngest children and their families, including an increase of $50 million for childcare and  $200 million for Head Start, including $50 million more for Early Head Start.   Turning to education, we won an increase for after-school programs and a raise in the maximum Pell grant, $100 for $6,195, to help  students afford the rising cost of a college degree….

So, from health, to childcare, to education, we achieved several  great wins for the American people.   Importantly, the bill before us maintains the bipartisan amendments  that House Democrats introduced to condemn the administration’s policy  of separating families, to demand a reunification plan, and to ensure  that HHS upholds the highest standards of care for children in our  custody.  I am proud of what we included. I am also proud of what we kept out.  We held the line and kept out harmful ideological riders that would have sabotaged the Affordable Care Act, undermined women’s health, and  overturned the Flores settlement to allow the administration to keep  kids in cages indefinitely.”

Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schulz (D-Florida), ranking Democrat on the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies  Subcommittee:  “I am proud to say this bill retains my language protecting access to lifesaving mammograms, particularly for women between 40 and 50 years  old, and provides $5 million for my ongoing initiative, the Breast  Cancer Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young Act, or the  EARLY Act, which will continue to help increase the quality and  quantity of life for young women with breast cancer.  The bill increases funding for the Centers for Disease Control and  Prevention by $125 million and funds programs that fight the spread of  the Zika virus, as well as combats the use of tobacco.  It also provides vital funding that will benefit seniors, and it  includes $5 million to help Holocaust survivors and their families.”

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas):  “But, most importantly, my constituents are suffering from a lack of healthcare because of the undermining of the Affordable Care Act that we are still fighting for. So I am very grateful for the $39.1 billion  for the National Institutes of Health; $4.4 billion for programs that  respond to the opioid crisis; $7.9 billion for the Centers for Disease  Control, and, of course, what is so important to our constituents in  Houston and Texas is that our community health centers that are our  first line of defense to those who don’t have healthcare; $678 million  for a maternal and child health block grant — we have some of the  largest numbers of maternal death in Houston among African American  women; $10 billion for Head Start; and then specifically I want to talk  about the unaccompanied children, $1.3 billion, but I am grateful for  the language that demands of this administration to tell us who is  there that has not been reunited with their families, and then the  12,000 that are in the jurisdiction of HHS.”

Representative Barbara Lee (D-California), senior member of the Appropriations Committee: “As a member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education funding subcommittee, I am pleased to see many good provisions in this  bill. This bill eliminates hundreds of poison pill riders ranging from efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, eliminate teen pregnancy and  title X to dismantling of critical labor and consumer protections.

“The bill also includes $60 million for a competitive grant, which we  have been working on for years, for computer science funding for young  girls, young people living below the poverty line, and people of color.  I thank Mr. Fleischmann and others for helping us work on this, because  this truly is a bipartisan effort. We included robust increases in job  training, education, and childcare, as well as for historically Black  colleges and universities. Now, my State of California has the highest  number of students coming to HBCUs, so I am very grateful for those  increases.

Even with these increases, Mr. Speaker, this conference report still  falls short of what we need to just return to the funding levels before the sequester 8 years ago. Adjusted for inflation, we are still way  below the 2010 levels for domestic spending.   What is worse, while underfunding our needs here at home, the bill includes an increase in $19 billion in defense.”

Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California), member of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee: “Mr. Speaker, this is a good bill. It rejects the draconian cuts the  Trump administration proposed and strengthens our commitment to our  constituents by funding critical programs. It also ensures our national  defense remains strong in a dangerous world.   I am particularly pleased that HHS programs received such robust  funding in this Conference agreement.   The bill increases funding for three of my top legislative  priorities: fighting underage drinking, supporting newborn screening,  and reducing maternal mortality. At a time when this country is  experiencing the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases in  history, this bill restores both the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program  and all Title X Family Planning dollars that help our teens gain  critical access to reproductive health care and education. And as this  country faces a growing demand for health care providers, the conference report reinstates the Health Careers Opportunity Program to  increase workforce diversity and restores funding for the Community Health Centers and the Nursing Workforce Programs to their FY18 funding  levels….

“Among Education and Labor programs, I am glad the maximum Pell award  will get an increase, which I called for during our committee markup. I  am also pleased we were able to work together to provide modest  increases to Head Start and TRIO programs to serve students with the  highest needs. Finally, the bill provides modest increases in funding  for apprenticeships and maintains language that directs those funds to  proven registered apprenticeships.”

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