Freedom First Society

Issue: H.R. 3219, Making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, and for other purposes (but see new title for the expanded bill below). Question: On Passage.

Result: Passed in House, 235 to 192, 6 not voting. GOP scored.

Freedom First Society: Contrary to the bill’s above title as presented on several official government websites, this measure was voted on as the “Make America Secure Appropriations Act, 2018.” It is an appropriations package, a so-called “minibus,” which includes not only the appropriation bill for defense, but also three other appropriations bills — military construction and veterans, energy and water, and the legislative branch.

With this minibus, the House leadership continues to ignore its pledge to return to regular order (12 appropriations bills voted on individually). Regular order is necessary for the House to use its power of the purse effectively to stand up to the big spenders and most importantly to roll back unconstitutional government, when and if informed voters give the House the backbone to do so.

The package is a mixture of good and bad, constitutional and unconstitutional, important and wasteful — one of the on-going reasons for business-as-usual leadership to avoid regular order with a minibus. As such, a minibus is designed to attract support, but keeps government spending on the road to disaster.

We applaud the five Republicans who bucked the House leadership and voted nay. We do not score the mostly unified Democrats on this one, as many undoubtedly opposed the measure for wrong reasons.

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: The four appropriations bills in H.R. 3219, the “Make America Secure Appropriations Act, 2018,” would provide a total of $790 billion in funding for FY 2018. This also includes $1.6 billion in funding for 74 miles of border wall moved from the Homeland Security appropriation bill, which is not otherwise part of this “minibus” “security” appropriations package.

Government published records of this roll call are (or were for weeks) extremely misleading. Without reading the Congressional Record, the official government websites (e.g., and appropriations ) provided absolutely no indication that the bill included anything more than the Defense Appropriations bill.

Analysis: The House leadership knew at the outset that this package, which was strongly opposed by House Democrats for several reasons, could not survive as it now stands in the Senate, where it would need Democratic support. But see Mr. Tom Cole’s admission below (he led the debate in favor of measure).

As Rep. Tom Massie (R-KY) explains below, the only way for the House to get tough on spending is to pass individual appropriations bills (regular order). By contrast, the minibus package approach, which Congress often absorbs later into a larger omnibus package, strives for consensus among those supporting or willing to accept business as usual.   In fact, in less than three weeks (9-14-17) the House unilaterally absorbed this minibus into an omnibus package (see House Roll Call 528, H.R. 3354, amended to become an omnibus for all 12 appropriations bills and retitled as the “Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act.)

This minibus is pure Republican posturing. Although H.R. 3219 purports to provide an increase in defense spending, as it stands the measure breeches the surviving caps in the Budget Control Act of 2011 by $72 billion and would trigger a mandatory 13 percent sequester of defense accounts, until such time as Congress could reach agreement on raising the caps (liberals are insisting that spending caps for domestic, read unconstitutional, programs be raised in the bargain). The $1.6 billion funding that was added to the package for the border wall was designed to pick up votes from Republicans who needed to posture as tough on illegal immigration.

President Trump’s Border Wall

Building the equivalent of a “Great Wall of China” along our border as the solution to illegal immigration is at best misguided. A principal breakdown in our border enforcement lies in the courts and in Congress, both responding to the well funded open-borders lobby. And efforts to curb incentives for illegal immigration, such as the welfare magnet, have been blocked.

However, only a small amount of the total estimated cost of the administration’s proposed wall is included in this bill. That amount is primarily for repairing and strengthening existing border barriers at critical places — totally justified, it seems to us.

We applaud those GOP who voted against this measure, primarily because the minibus tactic, combining several appropriations bills into one, stands in the way of the tough action required to roll back unconstitutional government and federal spending.   Mixing the bad with the good in order to achieve consensus with socialists will not preserve freedom and restore economic opportunity.

From the Congressional Record (7-26-17):

Deputy Majority Whip Mr. Tom Cole (R) OK 04:

“At the end of the day, and I tell this to my friends on the right and the left, we will end up with a bicameral, bipartisan appropriations bill. There is simply no other way to fund the Government of the United States, and we pledge to work toward that.”

FFS: With that statement, Mr. Cole ignores the House’s power of the purse and assumes that a coalition with big-spending socialists must be the order of the day in perpetuating business-as-usual government. Contrast that view with a statement by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY 04) this past May. After voting against the FY 2017 omnibus spending measure, which ends September 30, 2017, Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) correctly stated:

“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.”

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