Ryan: In Omnibus, 'We Are Maintaining All of Our Pro-Life Protections'

By Susan Jones | December 16, 2015 | 11:01am EST
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - "In divided government, no one gets exactly what they want," House Speaker Paul Ryan told a news conference on Wednesday. "But this week, we have completed two bipartisan agreements that advance Republican priorities." (But not conservative priorities.)

One of those conservative priorities -- defunding Planned Parenthood -- is not among the riders included in the giant appropriations bill, but Ryan said Republicans "are maintaining all of our pro-life protections, including the Hyde amendments; and we are making cuts to the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) program."

Ryan on Wednesday discussed some of the policy riders that did make it into the final draft of the omnibus bill that will come up for a vote on Friday:

"We are lifting the government's 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports. This is a big win for American jobs and our energy industry. It's a big win for our manufacturers and for our foreign policy.

"We are increasing military spending. We are tightening security requirements under the nation's visa waiver program. We are permanently authorizing the critical health care benefits for our 911 first responders in a very fiscally responsible way.

"We are preventing a taxpayer bailout of Obamacare’s risk corridors program. (The program compensates health insurers that sign up sicker-than-expected patients and incur high costs.)

"We are freezing most IRS operations and stopping the IRS from suppressing civic participation in 501(c)(4) organizations. (We have found that the IRS meddles in the political affairs of people. They turned the IRS into a political weapon in 2012, and we're not goin to let them turn the IRS into a political weapon again," Ryan explained later.)

"We are maintaining all of our pro-life protections, including the Hyde Amendments; and we are making cuts to the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) program.

"In addition to all of that, we are ending Washington's days of extending tax policies one year at a time."

Ryan said that "certainty in the tax code" will create more jobs. "I think this is one of the biggest steps toward a rewrite of our tax code that we've made in many years, and will help us start a pro-growth, bold tax reform agenda in 2016."

Ryan made it clear he "inherited" the omnibus appropriations process," and he "played the cards that we were dealt...as best as we possibly good."

He said he looks forward to returning Congress to "regular order," which means doing appropriations bills one at a time in committee. "That is what 2016 is going to be about."

Ryan called the omnibus bill a "bipartisan compromise," and he said he expects bipartisan votes on both the spending bill and the tax extender bill later this week.

"I have no reason to believe we're going to have a (government) shutdown," Ryan said.

A news release from Ryan's office explains the riders in greater detail, as follows:

1.  Repeals the antiquated oil export ban. This provision would end the 1975 ban on the export of American oil. Domestic energy production is booming in the United States, and lifting the ban will help create jobs, grow our economy, and promote greater exploration of our natural resources.

2. Increases resources for our military. The arbitrary spending cuts in the sequester have depleted the resources our armed forces need to carry out their mission. This bill restores funding for our military to ensure our troops can confront today’s challenges and defeat ISIL.

3. Strengthens the Visa Waiver Program to protect the homeland. The Visa Waiver Program presents one of the most urgent threats to our homeland from radical Islamic terrorism. This agreement includes the House-passed bill to tighten the security requirements under the program. It would also deny visa waiver status to any individual who has traveled to certain terrorist hotspots, including Syria and Iraq, in the last five years.

4. Prohibits new funding for Obamacare. The bill contains no new funding for Obamacare and continues to prevent a taxpayer bailout of Obamacare’s risk corridor program.

5. Prevents the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to American soil. The bill prohibits funds from being used to transfer terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States, and prohibits the construction or acquisition of a facility in the U.S. to house detainees.

6. Blocks EPA overreach. The bill contains no funding for new or expanded EPA programs, holding the agency to its lowest funding levels since 2008 and its lowest staffing levels since 1989.

7. Reins in the IRS. The IRS continues to act with impunity against the interests of hardworking taxpayers. This bill freezes most IRS operations and maintains budget cuts necessary to ensure this agency roots out wasteful spending and redirects resources to serving the American people. In addition, the tax extenders package also includes a measure to prohibit the IRS from unfairly imposing the gift tax on contributions to non-profit groups, which have historically been exempt, to encourage donations to these important organizations.

8. Maintains strong protections for life. This bill maintains important pro-life provisions, including the Hyde Amendment, and prohibits taxpayer funding for abortion. It also includes a new prohibition on gene editing and cuts funding for a program involved in abortion-related activities, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), by 7 percent.

9. Honors our commitment to our veterans. This bill ensures our veterans receive their much-deserved health benefits, speeds up VA claims processing, prioritizes modernizing the VA’s electronic health care record system, and tightens oversight of construction projects.

10. Provides critical healthcare benefits for 9/11 first responders. More than 30,000 first responders continue to suffer from injuries or illnesses sustained during the 9/11 attacks. The bill contains a bipartisan measure to permanently reauthorize critical health care benefits for these brave men and women—and it does so in a fiscally responsible way.

11. Repeals harmful labeling requirements on American meat. The bill repeals mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements, ensuring that our economy does not suffer more than $1 billion in trade penalties.

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