Issue: H.R. 1865, Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Vehicle: National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act). Question: On the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 1865).
Result: Passed 71 yeas to 23 nays, 6 not voting. Previously passed in the House (House Roll Call 689, 12-17-19). Became Public Law 116-94 (signed by the President, 12-20-19).
Freedom First Society: The bipartisan agreement between congressional leaders and the White House consolidated the 12 regular FY2020 appropriations bills into two packages.
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This package, labeled “Further Consolidated Appropriations,” comprises eight of the regular appropriations bills, providing $539.9 billion in discretionary funding. The package was not supported by the majority of House Republicans, but, unfortunately, Senate Republicans voted 31 to 21 in favor. The total cost included $520.4 billion subject to the new budget caps raised by the irresponsible Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (see House Roll Call 511, 7-25-19).
Presenting a package of eight appropriations bills to Congress, on a take it or leave it basis, just before the Christmas recess is no way to control government spending, let alone roll back unconstitutional spending. Of course, reining in the federal monster is not the current program driving Washington.
However, if freedom in America is to survive, we must change Washington’s direction, and only determined pressure from an informed public can force the House of Representatives to use its power of the purse to change that direction. We give blue check marks to the 21 GOP senators who voted against this measure, which was overwhelmingly supported by the Democrats.
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: H.R. 1865, Further Consolidated Appropriations Act 2020, combines appropriations for eight of the 12 regular appropriations bills for the 2020 fiscal year (ending September 30, 2020). The eight bills are: Agriculture, Rural Development, and FDA; Energy and Water Development (8% more than the FY 2019); Interior and Environment; Labor-HHS-Education; Legislative Branch; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; State and Foreign Operations; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.
In addition, congressional leaders attached numerous legislative provisions to the spending package.
Analysis: There are many glaring opportunities to cut back unconstitutional programs, starting, for example, with the federal expansions inaugurated under the Johnson administration, such as Housing and Urban Development. Also, the unconstitutional Department of Education established by President Jimmy Carter.
Energy and Water Development is a joke. Since 1977 when President Jimmy Carter established the Department of Energy, the department has hampered realistic energy development (nuclear power and shale oil, as examples) in favor of investment in unrealistic low-energy substitutes.
Congressional leaders prefer hitting Congress with a last minute-appropriations package because they know that a return to regular order (votes on the 12 bills separately, and allowing amendments from the floor, would subject unconstitutional socialist spending to unwanted scrutiny. Even worse, they attach subversive provisions that might not survive a separate vote.
One of the legislative provisions slipped into this Act extends the charter of the controversial U.S. Export-Import Bank for seven more years. Contrary to its hype of advancing American interests, the Ex-Im Bank has a history of guaranteeing loans to help America’s enemies build up their manufacturing and industry. The existence of credible adversaries provides pretexts for steps to Internationalist-controlled world government.
If Congress claims to be too busy to consider these measures individually on the floor, that would be just one more indication that the Federal government has become too big and invasive for even a Congress responsible to the people to manage.
Freshman Representative Chip Roy (R-Texas) voiced many of our objections to H.R. 1865 and the procedure for this and the other consolidated appropriations package during “consideration” of the measure (see House Roll Call 689, 12-17-19).
We present here the remarks of two Republican Senators on opposite sides of the fence with regard to this legislation. We begin with Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), who provides her support for one of the most outrageous of the eight regular appropriation measures in the package. The Housing and Urban Development Department is a great example of unconstitutional federal overreach that began with the Lyndon Johnson administration.
The federal government has no constitutional authority to involve itself with “rental assistance for low-income seniors, homeless youths, and other vulnerable populations.” Nor should it concern itself with lead paint in homes.
From the Congressional Record Senate, 12-19-19
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), member Senate Committee on Appropriations: “Madam President, I rise today in support of the fiscal year 2020 Appropriations bill for the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. This bill is included in the appropriations package that is before this Chamber. Let me begin my remarks by thanking Chairman Shelby and Vice Chairman Leahy for their bipartisan leadership in successfully finishing the conference and advancing all of these appropriations bills to the Senate floor. I also want to acknowledge the hard work and strong commitment of my friend and colleague Senator Jack Reed, the ranking member of the T-HUD Subcommittee. We have worked closely together in negotiating this bill and have crafted a truly bipartisan product.
“The fiscal year 2020 transportation and housing appropriations bill provides $74.3 billion to continue to improve our Nation’s infrastructure and maintain HUD rental assistance for low-income seniors, homeless youths, and other vulnerable populations….
“Another important issue, particularly to Senator Reed and me, is reducing lead paint in homes. That is of particular health concern to families with children under the age of 6. The bill provides $290 million to combat lead hazards, a historic level of funding…. These grants will help communities protect children from the harmful lifelong effects of lead poisoning.”
Freedom First Society: Next, Senator Mike Enzi, Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Budget, raised an eloquent objection not only to the rushed process, but also to the out-of-control spending itself:
Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming): “Madam President, I rise to raise a point of order on the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, which provides funding for eight appropriations subcommittees and includes numerous tax and healthcare provisions and other new legislation called ‘authorizations.’’ That is code for bills that haven’t been debated on the Senate floor. These are Christmas presents for everyone, all put on the Federal credit card, which is overspent already.
“This legislation was unveiled Monday afternoon and totals more than 1,800 pages, and here we are on Thursday, with just hours to go before a government shutdown, being asked to vote on a bill that has not been subject to amendment or debate and that the Congressional Budget Office tells us will increase deficits by more than $400 billion over the next 10 years. Actually, by the time you add in interest costs to this debt, it is half a trillion in 10 years and $2.1 trillion on 20 years. That is according to the Committee for Responsible Federal Budget, which added in that interest. They added it up. So that will be half a trillion dollars of new overspending in one vote, and what makes it so expensive is that we are trying to do something here to buy everybody’s vote.
“This bill completely bypassed regular order and violates nearly all the Senate self-imposed budget rules with its billions of dollars in giveaways and tax policy changes. We are legislating on funding bills. Legislation is supposed to be scrutinized differently, especially if they pay out real money.
“I will remind my colleagues that our national debt stands at just over $23 trillion, and the Congressional Budget Office tells us that the Federal deficits are already on track to exceed $1 trillion this year and every year thereafter. That is besides this $2.1 trillion add-on. We should be talking about how to address the budgetary mess we are in, not pressing the gas on an unsustainable fiscal trajectory, which is exactly what this bill does. We are making promises that can’t be fulfilled….
“This is the second time this week that I have come to the floor to raise a point of order against legislation that violates the budget. But to be fair, from a budget perspective, this bill is exponentially worse than the Defense authorization bill we considered earlier this year. It is at least 50 times worse. I oppose this legislation. I oppose adding to the already massive debt burden being placed on future generations.
“The pending measure, the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, would cause a deficit increase of more than $5 billion in each of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in fiscal year 2030. This increase violates section 3101 of the 2016 budget resolution. Therefore, I raise a point of order under section 3101(b) of S. Con. Res. 11, the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2016. I have been here long enough to know that you will now hear a list of wonderful things that are on this bill. You will not hear how to pay for all of these Christmas presents. I yield the floor.
Freedom First Society: The Senate immediately addressed Senator Enzi’s point of order by voting to waive all applicable Senate requirements (3/5 vote required) (Senate Vote 314). Senator Richard Shelby, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, made the motion. His successful motion (see next) was immediately followed by a vote to concur in the House amendment — the Senate vote 415 we are scoring — concluding the matter.
Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama): “Madam President, pursuant to section 904 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and the waiver provisions of applicable budget resolutions, I move to waive all applicable sections of that act and applicable budget resolutions for purposes of consideration of the message to accompany H.R. 1865, and I ask for the yeas and nays.”