Wednesday, December 10, 2014

CRomnibus advances: 1603 pages & $1.1 trillion later... (UPDATES)

Well, they reached some kind of agreement on a bill that very few Americans can decipher or will have time to read...SSDD...

TRS: For those of you who don’t know, cromnibus stands for ‘continuing resolution’ + ‘omnibus’. But I like to think of it as ‘crony omnibus’. Either way, it’s a 1603 page $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill that funds the government through September of next year. However it only funds Homeland Security through February. And lawmakers have just agreed to it and a vote on it will come THIS WEEK.

The link is here where you can read the entire bill.

Here are some highlights from Fox News reporter Chad Pergram:
  • Funds most of gov't thru Sept 30 '15, end of fiscal yr, but only funds DHS thru Feb 27 '15.
  • Notable there wasn't a big fight over funding Obamacare in this spending bill. Prompted '13 shutdown. But no "new" Obamacare $ in this bill.
  • Spending bill provides funding to comabt ISIS & $5.4 billion for Ebola
  • Spending bill restricts Clean Water Act in farm areas & curbs Fish/Wildlife Svs from putting sage-grouse on Endangered Species List
  • Spending bill bans Obama Admin's “light bulb” standard
  • Spending bill bans transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees into the U.S.
  • Spending bill doesn't fund high-speed rail. Cuts some IRS $. Pay freeze for political appointees.
  • Spending bill does not fund UNESCO. No $ for IMF.
  • Spending bill bans local/fed $ to implement DC ballot initiative for recreational marijuana. Doesn't touch medical marijuana.
  • Spending bill bans DoJ/DEA from using money to undermine local medical marijuana laws.
According to Pergram's reporting, the House Rules Committee will meet at 3 pm this afternoon to prep this spending bill for the floor. Floor debate is expected to commence on Thursday.

Though there appear to be some positive signs that Pergram noted, despite the enormous price tag, knowing the politicians behind it, it's hard to believe that this will ultimately benefit us...and that's even if the Senate accepts it and Obama signs off on it, which in its current incarnation is unlikely.

Here's a few differing opinions about the CRomnibus: optimism at HotAir, reality of knowing who these RINOs are over at RedState, and a bit of both from AmericanSpectator:
While the two parties did spend much of last week cutting out unnecessary spending and negotiating the details of the bill in order to avoid a shutdown, the very best, lowest number they could come up with to keep the government rolling on is $1.1 trillion, because everything is terrible and we've lost all sense of reality.

The magic of the CRomnibus is, that while it generally sucks all around, the only person who can shut the government down at this point is Barack Obama. And while he's had quite the "let it burn" philosophy since suffering a crushing defeat in the midterm elections, vetoing the bill right before the Christmas holiday would ensure nothing but constant shutdown coverage, with only minimal interest from Congress in ending the standoff. The Obama Administration is masterful at engineering distractions for the media, but two weeks is a lot of airtime to fill. The President can only have so many sore throats and colonoscopies.

The other magical result of the CRomnibus is basically everyone hates it, which in DC, usually means you've hit upon a fairly decent solution. If anyone were happy about it, it would be time to worry.
That exorbitant $1T cost added to our growing debt is what I worry over on behalf of my retirement years and my childrens' future.

UPDATES: Alright, what a piece of CRAP! ConservativeReview has dug into this and laid out 10 significant problems with the CRomnibus bill:
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 desire to obscure and suppress as much information as possible about the massive bill for as along 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’s 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.
Furthermore, Erick Erickson lays out the stark reality of what's certain to occur if Republicans violate their oath to uphold, protect, and defend the constitution if the GOP is willing to fund illegal or unconstitutional acts of the President...
RedState: if the GOP is not willing to fight right now, they will not fight at all and will instead fund the President and move on. In fact, they are even saying so.
But a GOP majority that has vowed new levels of efficiency in governing is unlikely to allow DHS funding to lapse, meaning that Obama and Democratic leaders will very likely be able to call the Republican bluff.
Remember, in 2013, Republicans said the fight against Obamacare needed to be on the continuing resolution, not the debt ceiling. Once the debt ceiling was extended, the GOP leadership said it needed to fight Obamacare on the next debt ceiling, not on the continuing resolution. When Cruz and Lee and Bridenstine et al held their ground, Republican Leaders used the “wrong fight” mantra and said they needed to use the debt ceiling to stop Obamacare.

Once the government reopened, the GOP also gave the President a blank check on the debt ceiling while doing nothing on Obamacare.

Republican leaders are already signaling they are moving on. They will not fight on amnesty. They are moving the goal posts. So if the Republican Party will not stop the President now, with the continuing resolution, they will both be funding an action they claim is unconstitutional and also setting up a 2015 agenda that quickly moves past the issue without doing anything.

In other words, it is now or never. If you do not make your voice heard immediately, the GOP will move on doing nothing to stop the President.

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