Freedom First Society

House Roll Call 857 (11-17-11) H.R. 2112 “Minibus” package. Latest title: Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012. (Uses bill number for Agriculture, Rural Development, and FDA portion of the package.) (Minibus Conference Report.)

Passed in House 298 to 121, 14 not voting. Became Public Law No: 112-55 (signed by the President 11-18-11).

Bill Summary:  A $128 billion “minibus” package of three FY 2012 appropriations bills:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development, and FDA (H.R. 2112);
  • Commerce, Justice and Science (H.R. 2596); and
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (S. 1596).

Analysis:  While a “minibus” is an improvement over the last-minute omnibus appropriations bills used all too frequently to fund the federal government, it still falls way short of responsible control of the purse.   H.R. 2112 (Agriculture) is the only appropriations measure in the package on which the entire House had voted (Roll Call 459, 6/16/2011). It passed the House solely with Republican support (217 to 19). Not a single House Democrat voted yea.

However, on October 12, the White House exposed the phony conservative image of the House GOP majority by strongly urging the Senate to pass H.R. 2112 (and the entire minibus package).

The above roll call was on the House-Senate conference report developed following passage of a Senate substitute on 11-1-11. Each of the three bills in this “minibus” was replete with unconstitutional programs and spending — business as usual.

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.)

When pushing through the “minibus,” the reported plan of leaders in both parties was to group all of the remaining FY 2012 appropriations bills into one omnibus measure. (In fact, Congress did so in December and passed a “megabus” — the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 — see House Roll Call 941, 12-16-11, H.R. 2055).

According to CQ Today (11-16-11):

“The omnibus approach spares House Republican leaders from scheduling difficult spending votes that would divide their majority. And in the case of both the minibus and a future omnibus, GOP leaders are counting on votes for passage from Democrats, because many conservative GOP members are likely to oppose the measures.”

         Well, that’s great! On with business as usual.

The best way for the House to exercise its authority over the purse and begin to phase out unconstitutional spending is to take up the appropriations bills individually or in even smaller pieces.   Faced with many smaller trimmed bills, it will be politically more difficult for the senate and president to hold all essential programs hostage.

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