Nel's New Day

December 10, 2014

GOP Offers Sample of Next Two Years in Spending Bill

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 8:34 PM
Tags: , , ,

Without a renewal of government spending, the lights go off around the country in federal agencies in fewer than two days. Conservatives have been flexing their blackmail muscles by threatening to shut down the government again if they aren’t allowed to punish the president and get everything that they want. Today, the House tackled the “cromnibus,” a spending bill that encompasses 11 appropriations bills covering most of the government for the rest of fiscal 2015 and one continuing resolution that would fund the Department of Homeland Security through February.

One fight leading up to the bill was an argument over the renewal of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act that supports businesses in case of an attack. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were on the verge of an agreement, but Hensarling insisted on the repeal of a Dodd-Frank rule that ensures banks don’t engage in risky derivatives trading. If the provision becomes law, banks can then gamble with money insured by the FDIC leading to another taxpayer-funded bailout of big banks like the 2008 collapse. Wall Street institutions spent over $435.9 million this year to buy people in Congress, hoping that their investment pays off.

The $1.1 trillion dollar spending package has a number of problematic issues:

Campaign donations: One great benefit for Republicans is found on Page 1,599, four pages before the end of the 1,603-page bill. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) provision would increases the maximum amount lawmakers can solicit from individual donors for their party committees each election from $259,200 to $1,555,200, a 500-percent increase. Who needs the increases from the Supreme Court when you have Page 1,599. To sweeten this pot, the bill also blocks the president from requiring federal contractors to disclose their political donations. Each corporation is already making $760 for every donated $1; the bill would make this profit skyrocket.

Native American land giveaway: Last week, the House voted to transfer 2,400 of Apache ancestral and ceremonial lands in the Tonto National Forest to Resolution Copper of Rio Tinto, owned by an Australian-English mining company. This location is used for coming-of-age ceremonies for girls and sunrise dancers. The Native Americans would be sealed off from acorn grounds, medicinal plants, and prayer areas. When Apache leaders attended the White House Tribal National conference, they learned that the provision will be part of the spending bill.

Closed internet: While the Federal Communications Commission is gearing up to announce historic open Internet rules in early 2015 (hopefully), this bill would freeze their funding at $340 million. If passed, big telecoms, who gave millions to members of Congress this election, get their money back plus a lot more.

Loss of birth control: The “conscience clause” allows all employers to opt out of the requirement to provide birth control in its insurance policies—sort of a forerunner to GOP plans to pass restrictive anti-abortion legislation in the coming year.

Defunding ACORN: Another ludicrous, continued fight from the far right is against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), an anti-poverty nonprofit staffed by low-income people. A bill this past week would deny ACORN any funds. ACORN folded four and a half years ago with no hint of resurrection. With the Congressional majority next year, the GOP can successfully pass this bill, and the president will probably sign it—because THERE IS NO ACORN!

Big government control of Washington, D.C.: Residents of Washington, D.C pay federal taxes but have no control over their laws because Congress controls the city’s policies. After declaring that the city cannot have the gun-sense laws that they want, GOP congressional members have decided to stop Washington’s legalization of up to two ounces of marijuana for adult recreational use. Democrats don’t care about the city’s new law, and Republicans believe in small federal government with local control—unless they don’t like how the locals control themselves. The bill doesn’t overturn the marijuana law, but it prevents Washington from spending any time or resources to get permission from Congress.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) spearheaded the bill because of possible health risks. The question here might be whether a GOP Congress will try to overturn the new laws in Alaska, Colorado, and Oregon, and Washington state that legalized recreationalized marijuana. Or the 23 other states that have legalized medical and/or decriminatized marijuana use, including Harris’ home state of Maryland. [Green – recreational/medical; dark blue – medical/decriminalized; light blue – medical; teal – decriminalized]


Decreased truck safety: A proposed rider would remove truck drivers’ safety requirements which mandate the time periods of truckers’ rest periods. Taking away these requirements would extend the maximum time per week from 70 to 82 hours. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has been vocal about an increase in the hours because the American Trucking Associations’ lobby has convinced her that fewer hours means more trucks on the road during daylight hours. Last summer, a Walmart tractor trailer crash put comedian Tracy Morgan into a coma, killed his friend, and left two other passengers of the struck limousine with serious injuries. Kevin Roper, the truck driver, had gone 24 hours without sleeping.

Cuts to IRS: In revenge against a misguided believe that the IRS attacked conservative PACs, the GOP has cut enforcement funding in the bill’s provisions to under $4.9 billion, the second significant cut in two years. The cuts would benefit the fat cats that the GOP represents because reduced funding means decreased investigation into income tax fraud.

Benefits to the wealthy: Another cut would also benefit the wealthy if the budget for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) loses $30 million from last year, down to $250 million. It also requires 20 percent of the budget to be used for information technology which decreases money for staff to regulate the financial industry. The CFTC is already unstaffed.

Increasing homelessness: The homeless and low-income families would suffer from the loss of $300 million for permanent supportive housing programs for the homeless and funding for low-income housing would be kept flat.

Cuts to student loan: The $303 million cut from Pell Grants for low-income college students would be given to student loan debt collectors. At this time, the Pell program is operating at a surplus, but last year’s money-shuffling created a shortfall in payments to the companies.

Environment: The GOP has taken whacks at the environment, including a $60 million-cut for the EPA staff in cleaning up Superfund sites and enforcing basic public health protections to 1989 levels. Other provisions would block prohibition of funds to regulate lead in ammunition and fishing, to help developing nations deal with climate change through the Green Climate Fund, and to “implement or enforce” standards for light bulb efficiency.

There is good news for the Pentagon and Israel.  The Pentagon can buy 38 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, nine more than last year; and Israel gets $619.8, including $175 million for the Iron Dome missile-defense system to add to the $225 million that the U.S. gave the Iron Dome just four months ago. The F-35 weapons system flies only in good weather, and computers lack software necessary for combat. Last summer, one of the $100-million-dollar behemoths caught fire and was destroyed. Luckily for Lockheed Martin, the U.S. keeps pouring money into its mistakes.

Moving to the absurd, the cromnibus bill requires the Secretary of Defense to report to congressional defense committees the progress in carrying out revised grooming standards. The issue emerged when black female service members stated that descriptions of certain hair styles were “offensive and discriminatory.” Obviously this is as important as keeping the homeless without shelter.

All seems to be quiet tonight before a possible vote tomorrow. Passing the bill may be difficult if Democrats oppose it because the conservatives think that the bill doesn’t provide sufficient punishment for the president. The Tea Party strategy may be to pass a Continuing Resolution that funds the government for one month before the GOP strips the country of the resources that it gives to the wealthy.

1 Comment »

  1. Stop! I can’t stand it! Americans should not stand it!


    Comment by Lee Lynch — December 12, 2014 @ 11:46 PM | Reply

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