Commentary

Top 10 Problems with Congress’s Big Spending Bill

By Daniel Horowitz | December 11, 2014 | 12:22pm EST

(AP Photo)

1. Rubber Stamping Amnesty

As Obama unabatedly moves to enact amnesty – already beginning by hiring 1,000 new government employees to quickly process applications for illegal immigrants in a facility the administration has secured by the Pentagon, this bill fails to defund one penny of the process.  Amidst the $1.1 trillion 1,603-page bill that contains roughly hundreds of policy riders, there is absolutely nothing prohibiting any of Obama’s illegal amnesty.  GOP apologists for the bill point out that funding for the Department of Homeland Security is only funded until March, but that is irrelevant.  There is no defund policy rider to prevent or restrict a single action at a time when we need it most, which is now. Moreover, Obama is using many other agencies to help aid and abet illegal immigration, such as the Justice Department and the Office of Refugee Resettlement.  Each of those other agencies will be funded for the entire remainder of the fiscal year – without any restrictions.

2. Accelerates Obama’s Amnesty

Not only does this budget fail to defund amnesty, it actually helps accelerate Obama’s unconstitutional executive order.  The bill contains almost $1 billion in additional funding for Health & Human Services (HHS) so that the recent illegal immigrants from Central America (who are not even officially eligible for Obama’s amnesty) can establish themselves in the country.  The bill also contains $260 million in additional funding to aid poverty in Central America at a time when we should be withholding existing aid until they respect our sovereignty.

3. Long-Term Funding for Everything Else

At this point, no aspect of government, other than Defense, should be funded for the remainder of the fiscal year, especially by a lame duck Congress.  Obama’s lawlessness will not end with immigration.  He will remake American through the HHS, Labor Department, EPA, and IRS.  All of those departments are now fully funded and Republicans will not have any leverage against more executive action until next October.

4. 72-hour Transparency Rule

Once again, House leadership is breaking their 72-hour posting pledge and plans to vote on a bill less than 48 hours after posting the text online. But this is not just any bill.  It’s a 1,603-page, 289,861-word budget bill that funds every aspect of government during a time of grave constitutional crisis.  Even Politico noted the Appropriations Committee’s desire to obscure and suppress as much information as possible about the massive bill for as long as possible.

“The leadership would argue that the secrecy is justified given the political tensions in Congress. But the picture is of a committee so scared of outside disruptions that it’s forgotten the pride it once took as a public panel making public decisions about public money.”

5. Disenfranchising Voters

Voters sent a resounding message in November: they want Obama’s agenda stopped. Not only does this bill consummate Obama’s agenda for another year, it was crafted, in part, by the same Senate Democrats who were voted out of office in November.  The notion that they would override the will of the people and deny the new Congress from making these decisions is unconscionable.

6. Ebola Funding

Not only is Congress planning on throwing in all of the regular appropriations for the reminder of the fiscal year into an omnibus, they are granting Obama even more emergency funding for combating Ebola. The White House requested a whopping $6.2 billion, and most of their request was acceded – roughly $5.4 billion. Most of the funds will go towards the already-bloated HHS and international aid programs.

As we already noted, the CDC does not need any more money; they already waste so much in taxpayer funds.  This is a policy problem, not a funding problem.

7. War Funding

The president asked Congress for an additional $5.6 billion to fund his incoherent foray into the Syrian civil war.  This includes $1.6 billion to equip and train the feckless Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State, $165 million to work with the dubious Syrian opposition forces, and $500 million for foreign assistance programs.   He got almost every penny.

Much like with Ebola funding, Congress could have used the power of the purse to tweak Obama on his wrongheaded foreign policy.  Instead of focusing on destroying all terrorists, cutting off funding for terror entities, stripping citizenship from American Islamic State fighters, and holding Turkey and Qatar accountable, Obama has involved us in another Sunni-Shiite civil war with no good outcome.  Yet, they are giving him the money for an open-ended engagement without debating a formal war authorization and long-term strategy.  This is war by appropriation and it is cowardice.

8. EPA

For all the talk about Republicans holding up the agreement to fight EPA regulations, none of the riders defunding Obama’s climate rules were included in the bill.  The bill provides $8.14 billion in funding for the EPA, $250 million more than the president’s request.

9. Misplaced Priorities

GOP leaders spent the entire month telling us you can’t defund amnesty in the budget bill.  But as CQ’s Steven Dennis notes, the prohibiting language of “None of these funds” is mentioned 451 times in the bill. Sadly, defunding amnesty isn’t one of them.  There are also seven instances in which agencies funded by fees are restricted, something the appropriators claimed was off limits as it relates to defunding Obama’s amnesty.  They further tell us that we can’t “authorize” or “legislate” in an appropriation bill in order to restrict Obama’s unlawful behavior. Yet, they made sure to fight to include their own policy provisions in the bill.

Among the many policy provisions included in the bill was Mitch McConnell’s bailout for the NRSC, easing of Obamacare restrictions….but only on expatriated insurance plans (Cigna’s carve-out), and a rider delaying the placement of the Sage Grouse on the Endangered Species List.

10. Conscience Provisions

Republicans promised to clamp down on Obama’s rule forcing businesses to offer all forms of contraception in employee insurance coverage plans.  But evidently, Nancy Pelosi now has veto power over the House majority and demanded that the rider be removed from the bill.

BONUS: Budget Gimmicks

Like most budget bills, far from cutting spending, this bill actually adds to the deficit.  While the bill is being advertised as adhering to the budget cap of $1.013.6 trillion, it actually authorizes billions more in spending.  Managers of the bill employed a special budget gimmick, which allows Congress to shift around payments on programs outside of the annual budget bill and gives them cover to increase spending in this budget bill by $19 billion.

Additionally, war spending, known as “Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO),” are exempt from the budget caps.  Last year, Congress authorized $85 billion in OCO spending, and due to the drawdown of forces in the Middle East, Obama initially requested only $59 billion.  This bill authorizes $74 billion in war spending.  There is also another $6 billion in disaster relief and the $5 billion in Ebola funding, which is designated as emergency spending and exempt from the caps.   None of the extra spending is offset with spending cuts.  Taken as a whole, this bill will total $1.119 trillion, over $85 billion more than the agreed-upon discretionary budget caps.

Daniel Horowitz is Senior Editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on twitter @RMConservative.

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by Conservative Review.

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