The Wrong Direction
January 15, 2014
Congressman McClintock delivered the following House floor remarks in opposition to the omnibus appropriations bill. The mesure was voted on by the House on January 15, 2014.
The Wrong Direction
January 15, 2014
The House is scheduled to take up the omnibus appropriations bill for 2014, and I rise this morning to outline my objections to the measure.
This is not the “regular order” promised to the American people, in which each of the 12 appropriations bills is painstakingly vetted. It is all 12 bills rolled into one, with no opportunity for meaningful debate or amendment.
True, it adheres to the budget passed in December – but that is nothing to boast about. That budget destroyed the only meaningful constraint on federal spending.
One member said that he is “surprised” by opposition because – quote – “this bill, for the fourth year in a row, cuts discretionary spending.”
Only by Washington math. Last year, the discretionary spending of the United States government was $986 billion. This measure appropriates $1,012 billion. That’s an increase. And it is $45 billion more than the sequester would have allowed.
After all, they didn’t blow the lid off the sequester because they wanted to CUT spending, now did they?
So what’s that money going for?
It increases funding for Head Start by $600 million – despite the fact that every credible study has concluded that this program provides no lasting benefit to children.
It continues wasteful TIGER grants, which, under the guise of transportation puts money into projects like a 6-mile pedestrian mall in Fresno and streets that discourage cars.
It continues funding the scandalous essential air service that pays to fly empty and near-empty airplanes across the country.
It continues to throw money at all manner of immensely expensive and failed green energy programs and other forms of corporate welfare.
We’re told to be grateful it doesn’t fund other wasteful programs like high speed rail. But when we vote for these appropriations, we are responsible for the money we waste – not the money we don’t.
The regular order would at least give the House a chance to examine and debate these questionable programs before we cast our votes. Not this process. But do not believe for a moment that they won’t be debated AFTER we cast our votes. This measure will face the full light of public scrutiny in the days ahead, and that may prove to be very harsh light indeed.
True, the measure makes some cuts – but in many cases, the WRONG cuts.
For example, although this bill reverses the cuts made to disabled military veterans’ pensions – it maintains the pension reductions for all other military veterans – about 82 percent of our military retirees. According to published reports, over a 20 year period, a retired enlisted service member will lose an average of $72,000 of promised pension payments, and commissioned officers will lose $124,000.
And the Payments in Lieu of Taxes or PILT are not funded at all. That’s the program that makes up a small portion of the revenues that the federal government has cost rural communities as it has appropriated vast tracts of their land. To add insult to injury, the bill adds roughly $200 million to pay for more federal land grabs, which will cost local communities still more of their local revenues and economic activity.
We’re promised that PILT funding will be restored in the Farm Bill, which is little consolation. That’s the bill that continues to provide massive subsidies to agribusiness at the expense of both taxpayers and consumers.
I am not unmindful of the challenges that faced the Appropriations committee – not the least of which is that the measure must ultimately have the consent of the Senate and the President, who are responsible for the most fiscally irresponsible period of our nation’s history. I understand that.
But under our Constitution, a dollar can’t be spent by this government unless the House says it gets spent. The buck literally STARTS here. As long as we continue to increase spending on frivolous programs at the expense of working families – and at a time when our accumulated debt threatens to sink what’s left of our economy -- we are clearly moving this nation in the wrong direction.
I appreciate the fact this bill has bipartisan support, but a bipartisan agreement that moves us in the wrong direction is still wrong. With all due respect, I must dissent.