You Can Keep Your Light Bulbs, Congress Has Seen the Light
Some highlights of the almost 1600-page fiscal year 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, a bipartisan effort which will provide discretionary funding for the entire federal government for the fiscal year. Republican House Appropriations Chair Rogers and Democrat Senator Mikulski hammered out the first appropriations bill in years. Up to now the Congress has just been operating on continuing resolutions. It indicates to me that even those who rode the short bus to Capitol Hill are starting to get the fiscal responsibility message.
All 12 regular appropriations bills for 2014 are included in this single bill which allows some targeting and prioritization. The full bill and accompanying report are available for viewing at http://www.rules,house.gov/.
The amount appropriated abides by the Ryan-Murphy Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 which provides a total of $1,012 trillion got the operation of the federal government. The highlights include these:
● Military Pension "Fix" -- The legislation amends the Ryan-Murray Agreement to exempt medically retired personnel and survivor benefit plan recipients from having their cost-of-living benefits temporarily reduced. This will ensure disabled veterans and surviving families receive the full benefits they are due.
● ObamaCare -- The bill provides no new funding for ObamaCare, and holds the line on funding for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services -- the prime agency responsible for the implementation of ObamaCare. In addition, the bill rolls back ObamaCare funding in other areas, including reducing the Prevention and Public Health Fund by $1 billion to prevent the Secretary of Health and Human Services from raiding these funds for ObamaCare exchanges.
● 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 reduces Title X family planning funding by $10 million.
● National Security -- The Omnibus contains the fiscal year 2014 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
● Policy Provisions -- Many policy provisions are included in the Omnibus, including:
● A ban on the Administration's onerous "light bulb" standard;
● Provisions to protect Second Amendment rights;
● A provision to ensure Yucca Mountain maintains its viability for future use;
● Bans and limitations on federal agency conferences, travel, and awards; a provision to prohibit the Export-Import Bank and OPIC from blocking coal and other power-generation projects, which will increase exports of U.S. goods or 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;
● Provisions to stop the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees into the U.S.; and
● A restriction on the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) from implementing regulations harmful to the livestock and poultry industry.
● 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;
● Extensive reporting requirements for the IRS;
● No funding for three new DHS headquarters buildings;
● Oversight and monitoring requirements to weed out waste and abuse in nutrition programs;
● No funding for contributions for 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 Preschool Development Grants and Race to the Top College Affordability proposals; and
● No funding for the International Monetary Fund.