December 12th, 2014
This week, the House passed the bipartisan Consolidated and Furthering Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 to keep the government running. The Omnibus Appropriations bill contains many important priorities that will protect jobs, stop wasteful spending, rein in government overreach, and bolster our national security efforts. This appropriations measure provides the House and new Republican Senate the opportunity to take up important priorities like the President’s immigration executive actions and defunding Obamacare next Congress rather than challenging the Harry Reid-controlled Senate.
This year’s Omnibus appropriations bill follows suit with last year’s bipartisan agreement; resulting in a reduction of overall discretionary spending. Although, the Senate never passed a single House Appropriations bill, the House Appropriations Committee was able to approve and prioritize 11 appropriations bills for this year. Ideally, appropriations would be passed through regular order each year. This past summer, the House passed eight appropriations bills under regular order, which were never taken up in the Senate.
Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked to stop the EPA’s overreach of day-to-day practices of farmers and small businesses. This bill would cut funding for the EPA for the fifth consecutive year and reduce its staffing levels to the lowest level since 1989.
Although I was disappointed the House-passed language that would stop the harmful proposed EPA rule, designed to redefine jurisdictional waters under the Clean Water Act, was not included in the final package, an important provision to protect farmers from overreaching Clean Water Act regulations was included. The Army Corps of Engineers has the intent to change the definition of “fill material” which would hurt many industries across the country.
Since the inexcusable treatment of our nation’s veterans was uncovered, we have made important reforms to the Veterans Affairs system including their healthcare options. This bill would deliver a 21st-century health care system for our veterans and their families. This bill includes provisions that would address the VA’s goal of ending the disability claims backlog by the end of 2015 and increase oversight efforts by over $5 million from last year’s level. This increase will provide the necessary resources to ensure our veterans have the best available patient care.
The 2015 Omnibus bill would also reduce funding for the IRS by $345 million below its Fiscal Year 2008 level. This reduction would prohibit funds for the IRS to target groups based on their political beliefs and will ensure that the White House does not have the funds to order the IRS to determine the tax-exempt status of an organization. Every American should be able to exercise their First Amendment rights without unwarranted scrutiny from government agencies.
While this bill is not perfect, it keeps us on track towards a balanced budget and a stronger economy. The measure passed will cut discretionary spending for Fiscal Year 2015 and save taxpayers $2.1 trillion over ten years. The funding package had bipartisan support, and each dollar spent reflects bipartisan priorities to get Americans back to work. By fulfilling our Constitutional duty to responsibly fund the government, Americans will have more certainty as we head into the New Year.