On Thursday, December 11, 2014, the House will consider the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 83, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, under a suspension of the rules. The Amendment was submitted on December 9, 2014 by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
The House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 83 includes full Appropriations legislation and funding for 11 of the 12 annual Appropriations bills through the end of Fiscal Year 2015. The 12th bill, which funds the Department of Homeland Security, is also included in the legislation, but is funded under a temporary “Continuing Resolution” that expires on February 27, 2015.
The package also contains emergency Overseas Contingency Operations funding to combat the emerging real-world threat brought by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and a total of $5.4 billion in emergency funding to address the domestic and international Ebola crisis. Also included in these 11 bills are important policy provisions to improve accountability and transparency, to ensure good government, and to put the brakes on harmful overregulation by federal agencies.
Bill Highlights (Courtesy of the House Appropriations Committee)
Funding Level – The bill abides by all the terms set by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (the “Ryan-Murray Agreement”), providing a total of $1.013 trillion for the operation of the federal government, and meeting the $521 billion defense and $492 billion non-defense budget caps. The legislation contains full funding for fiscal year 2015 for 11 of the 12 regular annual Appropriations bills, with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Homeland Security portion is funded under a temporary Continuing Resolution (CR). This CR maintains DHS funding at the current fiscal year 2014 level, and expires on February 27, 2015.
National Security – The Omnibus contains the fiscal year 2015 Defense Appropriations bill, providing funding for our nation’s security, military readiness, and resources for our troops at home and abroad. The bill will fund important Department of Defense programs and projects, a pay raise for our troops, and the advancement of our military operations to protect the nation from current and future threats. The bill also includes $64 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding to provide needed resources and training for our troops in the field, to combat the threat presented by ISIL, to train and equip our Iraqi allies, and to reinforce European countries facing Russian aggression.
Bolstering Job Creation and Reining in Bureaucratic Overreach – The legislation prioritizes funding for important programs that strengthen U.S. innovation and competitiveness, and that help our businesses thrive, such as small business loans, science research funding, resources to expedite domestic energy development, and critical infrastructure investments. The bill also includes many provisions to rein in regulatory overreach that causes job loss and harm to our economy. Some of these provisions include:
- A provision to prohibit the Export-Import Bank and OPIC from blocking coal and other power-generation projects – helping to increase exports of U.S. goods and services;
- A provision prohibiting funds for the Army Corps of Engineers to change the definition of “fill material,” which could have harmful effects on many U.S. industries;
- A restriction on the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) from implementing regulations harmful to the livestock and poultry industry;
- Language amending Dodd-Frank swaps pushout requirements to protect farmers and other commodity producers from having to put down excessive collateral to get a loan, expand their businesses, and hedge their production;
- Provisions restricting the application of the Clean Water Act in certain agricultural areas, including farm ponds and irrigation ditches; and
- A provision prohibiting funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue further rules to place sage-grouse on the Endangered Species List – an action that could have severe economic consequences in Western states.
ObamaCare – The bill provides no new funding for ObamaCare, and holds the line on funding for the IRS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – the primary agencies responsible for the implementation of ObamaCare. The bill also prevents any taxpayer bailout of the Risk Corridor program, and cuts the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) by $10 million.
Life – The Omnibus maintains all existing pro-life policy and funding provisions that have been carried in Appropriations legislation in previous years, including the Hyde Amendment, a ban on public funding for abortions in the District of Columbia, and a ban on abortion funding for federal prisoners. The bill also includes three new provisions: 1) allowing states increased access to abstinence education funding; 2) directing the HHS Secretary to increase the transparency of abortion coverage within federal exchange health care plans; and 3) directing HHS to quickly respond to claims filed by health care providers on conscience clause violations within the Office of Civil Rights.
Other Policy Provisions – Many other important policy provisions are included in the Omnibus, such as:
- A ban on the Administration’s onerous “light bulb” standard;
- Provisions to protect Second Amendment rights, including a prohibition on funding for the EPA to regulate lead content in ammunition or fishing tackle;
- Bans and limitations on federal agency conferences and awards;
- Provisions to stop the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees into the U.S.;
- A prohibition on funding for the IRS to target organizations for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs or for exercising their First Amendment rights;
- A pay freeze on cost-of-living increases for Members of Congress in FY15;
- The text of H.R. 4414, the Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act, which exempts expatriate health plans from any provision under Obamacare; and
- An extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) until October 1, 2015.
Savings and Oversight of Tax Dollars – The bill includes program cuts and oversight provisions to ensure the responsible use of taxpayer dollars. Some of these items include:
- No funding for high-speed rail;
- A $345.6 million cut and extensive oversight requirements for the Internal Revenue Service;
- A $60 million cut and extensive oversight requirements for the Environmental Protection Agency;
- Oversight and monitoring requirements to weed out waste and abuse in nutrition programs;
- No funding for contributions to the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO);
- A pay freeze for the Vice President and senior political appointees;
- No funding for the Administration’s “Race to the Top” program; and
- No funding for the International Monetary Fund.
For Summaries of the 11 Appropriations bills within the Omnibus, please visit the following:
- Agriculture: The Agriculture portion of the omnibus provides $20.57 billion in funding, $305 million below the FY14 funding level. This section peels back the Administration’s restrictive school lunch regulations to provide local schools with greater flexibility, and improves the ability of the USDA to detect and eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in SNAP. The bill also provides funding to restore flood-affected farmland, and emergency funding to assist the FDA in approving Ebola viruses and vaccines quickly.
- Commerce/Justice/Science: The Commerce/Justice/Science portion of the omnibus provides $50.1 billion in funding, $1.5 billion below the FY14 funding level. This section maintains all important Second Amendment provisions, including a new prohibition on implementing the Arms Trade Treaty; prohibits funds from being used to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay; and maintains all previously passed pro-life provisions. Moreover, the bill provides critical economic investments in science, technology, and research, including necessary funding for the Patent and Trademark Office in order to meet commitments made by Republican-led patent reform legislation.
- Defense: The Defense portion of the omnibus provides $554 billion in funding, including $64 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) to ensure our military’s readiness and to meet our national security needs. The bill maintains Republican spending priorities set out in this year’s defense appropriations bill, and fully funds a one-percent pay raise for our troops. The bill increases military health funding by $1.2 billion above the President’s request, and restricts the use of funds for Pakistan and Rosoboronexport.
- Energy and Water: The Energy and Water portion of the omnibus provides $34.2 billion in funding, including $8.2 billion for weapons activities. The bill maintains funding to complete the Yucca Mountain Safety Evaluation Report and the Supplemental EIS; prohibits DOE from forcing manufacturers to stop producing incandescent light bulls; provides $1.1 billion for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund; and strengthens Republican priorities for an all-of-the-above energy policy and greater innovation in science and energy innovation. Finally, this section prohibits funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to change the definition of “fill material” and to regulate farm ponds and irrigation ditches.
- Financial Services: The Financial Services portion of the omnibus provides $21.8 billion in funding, $246 million below FY14. The bill decreases funding for the IRS $345.6 million below FY14 and $1.5 billion below the request, which is below FY08 enacted levels. This section amends Dodd-Frank’s swaps pushout requirements; blocks $200 million in proposed increases for the SEC; and contains a number of provisions to improve governance.
- Interior and Environment: The Interior and Environment portion of the omnibus provides $30 billion in funding, $14 million below the FY14 enacted level. This section cuts EPA funding for the fifth consecutive year (and $60 million below the FY14 level); contains a number of provisions to prevent EPA overreach (including a prohibition on regulating lead content in ammunition); and provides $3.53 billion for Interior Department and Forest Service wildland fire management activities. Moreover, this legislation prevents FWS from issuing further rules to place the sage-grouse on the Endangered Species List, and includes $372 million for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) to local governments to help offset losses in property taxes (due to nontaxable federal lands). Combined with the $70 million in PILT funding in this year’s NDAA, PILT will be fully funded in FY15.
- Labor/Health and Human Services/Education: The Labor/Health and Human Services/Education portion of this legislation provides $156.6 billion in funding, $926 million below the President’s request. This section prevents any new funds for Obamacare; cuts IPAB funding by $10 million; prevents a taxpayer bailout of the Obamacare Risk Corridor Program; and includes new provisions to protect the sanctity of life. This legislation also provides $30 billion for NIH; funds special education grants to states; and includes $2.7 billion in emergency funding to address the Ebola crisis.
- Legislative Branch: The Legislative Branch portion of this legislation provides $4.3 billion in funding. This section freezes the funding level for the House at the FY14 level; provides an additional $9.5 million to the Capitol Police; and provides $21 million for the Capitol Dome restoration project.
- Military Construction/Veterans Affairs: The Military Construction/Veterans Administration portion of the omnibus provides $71.8 billion in funding, including $45.2 million to provide care for approximately 6.7 million patients estimated to be treated in 2015. To address the VA goal of ending the disability compensation claims backlog by the end of 2015, the bill includes $2.5 billion for processing disability claims, $69 million above FY14.
- State/Foreign Operations: The State/Foreign Operations portion of the omnibus provides $49 billion in funding, $1.2 billion less than the President’s request. This section provides an additional $46 million for embassy security; fully funds the $3.1 billion commitment for the U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding; prohibits OPIC and the Export-Import bank from blocking coal-fired or other power-generation projects in low- and lower-middle-income countries; and blocks funding for the Green Climate Fund. This section also provides the full funding amount requested for Ukraine; adds $485 million for countries in the region to counter Russian aggression; prevents funding for the IMF, UN Arms Trade Treaty, and UNESCO; and includes new reporting requirements to ensure the Secretary of State keeps Congress informed of Iranian nuclear negotiations.
- Transportation/Housing and Urban Development: The Transportation/Housing and Urban Development portion of the omnibus provides $53.8 billion in funding, $6.08 billion below the President’s request. This section reduces AMTRAK operations by $90 million; fully funds critical FAA air traffic control and aviation safety operations; defunds high-speed rail; cuts TIGER grants by $100 million from FY14 levels; and fully funds the MAP-21 level of $43 billion
CBO estimates that enacting this legislation would result in $1.1 trillion new budget authority
(Amendment was adopted in Rules Committee on December 10, 2014)
1) Reps. Kline (R-MN) and Miller (D-CA) Amendment #1 – The amendment addresses pension reforms in two areas. First, Division O permits trustees of severely underfunded plans to adjust vested benefits, enabling deeply troubled plans to survive without a federal bailout. Furthermore, Division O: 1) requires approval by plan participants of any proposed benefit adjustments that take effect, with a fail-safe mechanism for those plans that present a systemic risk to the multiemployer pension system; 2) provides participant protections to safeguard the most vulnerable retirees, including disabled retirees and individuals age 75 and older; 3) gives the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) the authority to take earlier action to help save failing plans, thereby reducing potential future costs; and 4) adjusts the premium structure in order to place the PBGC on more firm financial ground. Second, Division P amends the rules relating to PBGC enforcement and the rules governing certain charity and nonprofit pension plans. Finally, the amendment provides for the budgetary treatment of these divisions.
STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
H.R. 83 – Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015
(Rep. Rogers, R-KY)
The Administration supports House passage of H.R. 83, making appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2015, and for other purposes. The Administration appreciates the bipartisan effort to include full-year appropriations legislation for most Government functions that allows for planning and provides certainty, while making progress toward appropriately investing in economic growth and opportunity, and adequately funding national security requirements. The Administration also appreciates the authorities and funding provided to enhance the U.S. Government’s response to the Ebola epidemic, and to implement the Administration’s strategy to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as well as investments for the President’s early education agenda, Pell Grants, the bipartisan, Manufacturing Institutes initiative, and extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.
However, the Administration objects to the inclusion of ideological and special interest riders in the House bill. In particular, the Administration is opposed to the inclusion of a rider that would amend the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and weaken a critical component of financial system reform aimed at reducing taxpayer risk. Additionally, the Administration is opposed to inclusion of a rider that would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act to allow individual donors to contribute to national political party committee accounts for conventions, buildings and recounts in amounts that are dramatically higher than what the law currently permits.
Furthermore, the Administration is disappointed that the bill would fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 27, 2015, at last year’s levels. Short-term continuing resolution funding measures are disruptive, create uncertainty, and impede efficient resource planning and execution.
The Administration urges the Congress to enact comprehensive full-year appropriations legislation for all Government functions free of provisions that have no place in annual appropriations bills.