Issue: H.R. 1314 Became the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Question: On Motion that the House Concur in the Senate Amendment with an Amendment.
Result: Passed in House, 266 to 167, 2 not voting. Passed the Senate two days later (Senate Vote 294). Signed by the President 11-2-15. Became Public Law No. 114-74. GOP and Democrats scored.
Freedom First Society: The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 had two major functions: Provide new budget authority for FY 2016 and FY 2017 and remove the limit on the National Debt through March 16, 2017.
This backroom budget deal gave President Obama and the big spenders everything they wanted. It drew the unanimous support of House and Senate Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi. Only a minority of Republicans in both chambers supported it.
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 Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 had two major functions: Title I — Provide new budget authority for FY 2016 and FY 2017 and Title IX — remove the limit on the National Debt through March 16, 2017.H.R. 1314 also made adjustments to several other programs (e.g., Social Security, Obamacare, Agriculture, and Strategic Petroleum Reserves), some to provide offsets with disputed fiscal impact.
History of H.R. 1314. It has become common for congressional leaders to use legislative “tricks” to overcome parliamentary obstacles to considering major legislation. These “tricks,” which involve amending legislation already passed in one chamber for a completely different purpose, make it difficult for the casual public to follow what is going on.
H.R. 1314 was passed in April by voice vote as the “Ensuring Tax Exempt Organizations the Right to Appeal Act.” The Senate then amended the Act as the “Trade Act of 2015” and sent it back to the House. Finally, H.R. 1314, through further House Amendment, became the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015” and as such was agreed to by the House and Senate and sent to the president.
Freedom First Society Analysis: This backroom budget deal gives President Obama and the big spenders everything they wanted. It drew the unanimous support of House and Senate Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi. Only a minority of Republicans in both chambers supported it.
The “budget deal” raises the budget caps, so that House and Senate appropriators will develop plans for increased spending following the expiration of the Continuing Resolution on December 11. Some legislators criticized budget gimmicks with “offsets” designed to allow supporters to claim that spending was not being increased.
The “budget deal” also temporarily removes the ceiling for the National Debt again without any effort to reduce the deficit. Proponents and media stories are heralding passage as a great accomplishment to avoid a “disastrous” default on servicing our $18 trillion in debt.
The raise-the-debt ceiling or default scenario presents Americans with false alternatives. There is another alternative. Either the GOP-controlled House or the GOP-controlled Senate, with sufficient backbone, could use the power of the purse to trim unconstitutional spending and, in short order, turn deficits into surpluses.
Some legislators had the backbone to stand against deal. South Carolina Representative Mark Sanford was one of the few opponents allowed time to speak against the agreement. Even though he was generous to his fellow leaders who advanced the agreement, describing them as being “caught between a rock and a hard place,” his assessment provided needed perspective:
[W]e are still left at the end of the day with a $1.5 trillion problem that has grown on top of an $18 trillion problem; and I, therefore, believe that the simple notion is the key to getting out of a hole is to quit digging. Fundamentally, I believe that this bill does more digging than not….
[I]t does remove the caps. As draconian as they are, they represent the only piece of financial restraint in Washington, D.C., that has encumbered this entity. That, I think, has a lot to do with the fiscal restraint that we have seen on domestic discretionary spending.
And finally, as my colleague from California just pointed out, there is borrowing from Peter to pay for Paul….
Therefore, I would remind everyone of what Admiral Mike Mullen said, who is the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said that the greatest threat to our civilization was the national debt. At the end of the day, this bill compounds it; and for that reason, I would respectfully encourage a “no.”
The Real Problem
The real problem with federal spending is that there is insufficient will in Congress, driven by an informed electorate, to confine the Federal government to its constitutional role. Representatives and senators from both parties have accepted the unconstitutional usurpations of authority during the past century that have created the federal monster and reduced the authority of the States.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to find any representative or senator who is demanding that the Constitution (i.e., the law regulating government) be enforced. They argue primarily over waste or what we can afford, not over the open-ended claim of federal authority to provide a never-ending array of services, welfare, and oppressive regulation.
A good time to have addressed the looming debt-ceiling problem was during the appropriations process leading up to FY 2016, which began October 1. Even the Continuing Resolution that provided appropriations thru December 11 could have included major cuts in spending.
At those times, Congress would have had good leverage to impose fiscal restraint. However, Congress could have attacked the spending problem at any time since or even included spending cuts within a more limited raise of the debt ceiling to avoid a last minute default.