So let’s chat about this so-called “CRomnibus” which passed the House earlier this week , and the Senate late yesterday. No, it doesn’t declare war on Obamacare, or illegal amnesty. And yes…. “stop the presses”,,, it’s loaded with pork. Of course there were other strategies, but anyone who thinks O’care or amnesty could have been killed or seriously wounded now, should remember Cruz’s hapless, mini filibuster of last year. The Democrats still have a Senate majority and Obama is still President. Elections do have consequences, but you can’t start the counter-attack, until the reinforcements actually arrive.
Many conservatives are complaining that Republicans shouldn’t have confirmed this discretionary spending until Sept 2015 because Republicans did so well in the election. Reality check: there’s plenty of pork in this thing, but no one should think that the November election results motivated Democrats to just hand the keys to the GOP. Is this “CRomnibus” just another GOP surrender as the well-intentioned, talk-show generals claim? If it is then someone needs to explain how the terms of surrender included these conditions in the version passed by the House, courtesy ipi.org:
- Overall federal spending remains compliant within the sequester caps, which is a major victory for spending limitation, especially against the limitless spending aspirations of the Obama Administration.
- The Federal moratorium against new and discriminatory Internet taxes (ITFA) is extended for another year.
- Republican leadership refused in the face of heavy lobbying to include the onerous so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act,” which would have allowed unconstitutional cross-border tax predation by states in search of more revenue.
- Potential taxpayer bailouts of health insurance companies, risk corridors, a design feature of Obamacare, are eliminated. This weakens the whole “exchange” structure further. “K Street” insurance lobbyists must have gagged” when they saw this go through.
- The budget for the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), an unconstitutional Obamacare rationing provision, is cut. There’s no new money for O’Care. There’s also no new ACA-related funding for the IRS, or CMS, the two agencies most responsible for implementing the failed law.
- The IRS will be under enhanced scrutiny related to approval of nonprofit applications, and its budget is cut to 2008 levels.
- The Obama administration plan to hand off control of the core Internet functions to ICANN is delayed during the terms of the legislation.
- EPA funding is cut to 2008 levels, continuing a trend since 2010, and the EPA’s dangerous “Waters of the U.S.” initiative is blocked. This is a major victory.
- Federal restrictions on campaign contributions are loosened, which is a victory for political speech. Citizens United and now this. Both are big blows to the Democrat fund-raising machine.
- The Department of Homeland Security, which handles immigration policy, is only funded through February 2015, giving the new Republican 114th Congress an opportunity to address immigration policy early next year.
And these miscellaneous nuggets:
- Delays again implementation of new standards that would ban the use of cheaper, less energy efficient incandescent bulbs.
- The bill stops assistance to the Palestinian Authority if it becomes a member of the United Nations or UN agencies without an agreement with Israel. It also prohibits funds for Hamas.
- It cuts funding for Obama’s signature education initiative, Race to the Top .Overall, the Education Department would take a slight hit in funding; at $70.5 billion, down $133 million below the fiscal year 2014, but special education grants to states would get $25 million more than last year, up to $11.5 billion.
- There is also no funding for the controversial Common Core State Standards in this legislation. When is the last time the Dept of Ed budget was cut?
- Moochelle’s school lunch nutritional changes got run over. The bill grants more flexibility to school districts to implement new whole grain nutrition standards “if the school can demonstrate a hardship”when buying whole grain products. The bill also relaxes new sodium standards until they are, “supported by additional scientific studies.”
- It bill blocks new Transportation Department regulations requiring truckers to get two nights of sleep before starting a new work week.
- Cuts EPA staffing to lowest levels since 1989.
To those who wanted to fight their Waterloo here, I’ll emphasize that in February Republicans get to deal with entire Homeland Security mess rather than just Obama’s illegal amnesty. Who knows what the new Congress will do, but suppose they present a plan that removes all funding for the bureaucratic apparatus required to implement Obama’s amnesty and requires reorganization of border operations, serious employment verification, Visa control, and internal enforcement? I would propose waiting for a more comprehensive solution to the problems created by the Executive Order might be worth waiting for a Republican controlled Congress. As for the urgency to attack the “amnesty” now, according to the ICE website, applications for amnesty will not be accepted, until “approximately 180 days following the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.” The 24 states who’ve filed to block the Executive Order have asked the Court for an immediate hearing. That means a court has until about June 1st of 2015 to issue an injunction blocking the new amnesty. The motion asks for a hearing before the court before December 31, 2014. Legal experts believe there’s a good chance the Court will act to stop the implementation until the merits of the complaint can be heard in Federal court.
There is much more work to do, but we should celebrate the victories within the current spending bill. It starts the process of defunding critical Obamacare provisions, weakens several bloated Federal agencies and keeps spending within the sequester caps. Give the new Congress a chance to get in their seats and develop a cohesive and transparent legislative agenda before we say the Red Wave has been betrayed.