If you ask an incumbent GOP House member if the Republicans are actually in the majority they’ll probably say yes. All kinds of votes will be cited, and maybe they’ll whine about the Senate refusal to take up the bills. Here’s what they probably won’t tell you. There are certain enumerated responsibilities of the legislative branch that can’t be discarded. Every time a bill has to be addressed in both the House and the Senate, a majority of Yes votes in the House are cast by Democrats and all the Senate Democrats vote Yes. Let’s look at the Ryan-Murray Budget bill and the Rogers-Mikulski omnibus appropriations bill.
They are both awful bills, and the 1,582 omnibus appropriations bill is the worst of the two. Lumping the 12 appropriations into one gigantic omnibus is a recipe for disaster. Ryan and Murray decided they would not fight over entitlement funding and taxes, but Ryan couldn’t even be smart on the small ball. He had a chance to set the spending caps with eliminating some farm subsidies instead of military pension cuts, and he nixed the offer. Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers are poster boys for Big Government.
Most of the blame is with these two chairmen because the rank and file can’t change what they are presented to vote on. However, the rank and file are not completely innocent either. If you’re a new Republican member and you cast your vote the same way that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi votes, then you’re doing it wrong. The newest GOP members are Bradley Byrne AL-1, Vance McAllister LA-5, and Jason Smith MO-8. Byrne and Smith did it right voting No, and McAllister did it wrong on his very first vote by voting Yes.
One way to realize the Rogers bill is worst than they Ryan bill is that only 3 Democrat House members voted No. There were 32 Democrat members voting No on the Ryan bill. If both of these bills had been better written there would have been about 70 No votes by Democrats in the House and 15 No votes by Democrats in the Senate. Better written refers to only addressing the small ball issues. Heritage is an excellent source of information that details what’s wrong with these bills.
Here’s an excerpt from Bottom Feeder Lurking in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill.
If you’re looking for the word catfish in the omnibus appropriations bill, you’ll just look past the language that was included in the legislation:
Provided further, That the Food Safety and Inspection Service shall continue implementation of section 11016 of Public Law 110–246.
There’s wide support for repealing the program. President Obama sought to eliminate funding for it in his fiscal year 2014 budget. The House farm bill would repeal it. Even the independent Government Accountability Office hasn’t been shy to consistently recommend its repeal. The program is expected to cost taxpayers about $14 million annually without any additional safety benefits.
However, the omnibus appropriations bill expressly directs the USDA to implement the infamous catfish program and to interpret catfish broadly, which will help protect the domestic catfish industry from foreign competition.
There’s one simple solution to this farce: The catfish inspection should be repealed.
Here are some excerpts from Heritage Experts Weigh In On Massive Omnibus Spending Bill.
Tucked away in Congress’ appropriations bill (Division G, Title II) is funding for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grants, a program which should instead have been discontinued. DERA grants have been used to pay for new or retrofitted tractors and cherry pickers in Utah ($750,000), electrified parking spaces at a Delaware truck stop ($1 million), a new engine and generators for a 1950s locomotive in Pennsylvania ($1.2 million), school buses in San Diego County ($1.6 million), and new equipment engines for farmers in the San Joaquin Valley ($1.6 million).
The problem has very little to do with the merit of the projects. In fact, some of these projects might be worthwhile.
The problem is that federal tax payers in Pennsylvania shouldn’t be paying for pet projects in California. The kinds of projects these EPA grants go to should be and are best accomplished by private investors or at the state and local levels.
High profile taxpayer-funded failures like Solyndra and Fisker have made it a little more difficult for the feds to play venture capitalist, and deservedly so. But that hasn’t stopped policymakers from using other channels to promote their special interests.
Included in the omnibus bill is $1.5 billion in funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Funds, a loan program for water quality improvement projects, is language that says, “to the extent there are sufficient eligible project applications, not less than 10 percent of the funds made available under this title to each State for Clean Water State Revolving Fund capitalization grants shall be used by the State for projects to address green infrastructure, water or energy efficiency improvements, or other environmentally innovative activities.”
Further, a stipulation as part of the funding for The Export-Import Bank of the United States is that “not less than 10 percent of the aggregate loan, guarantee, and insurance authority available to the Bank under this Act should be used for renewable energy technologies or energy efficiency technologies.”
While not new programs or avenues to subsidize green companies, the continued promotion of handouts is a signal that politicians still don’t get it. We need to be removing subsidies for all sources of energy. Whether a government-backed project succeeds or fails, it is a waste of taxpayer dollars to pick winners and losers among energy technologies. The market does a fine job of determining what makes economic sense and what doesn’t.
The biggest problems our country faces are the elected establishment in Washington, DC. It’s not enough for Republicans to have a majority in the Senate and the House. What needs to happen is we need to elect more Republicans who perform like Trent Franks and David Schweikert and stop electing those who perform like Hal Rogers and Paul Ryan.