House set to unveil $1.1-trillion budget bill

It looks like Congress is going to have to pass the so-called "Cromnibus" bill in order to find out what's in it.

In great secrecy, the chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees have thrashed out a compromise spending bill that would fund most of the government through September of next year.  The House and Senate leadership is ready to rush the bill to the floor and schedule a vote before Thursday's deadline.

The Department of Homeland Security, where Obama's immigration exceutive orders would be implemented, is funded only through March.  This will allow a Republican majority in both houses of Congress to revisit the issue early next year.

Politico:

Details were closely held given the tense political climate. But the formula for the compromise was direct: Freeze domestic appropriations at home and direct the most dollars and punch to counter new threats from overseas.

Almost all the big initiatives begin at the water’s edge: containing Ebola in West Africa, fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the Mideast, shoring up Europe against Vladimir Putin’s Russia, helping Central America counter the violence and poverty that sent thousands of children across the Rio Grande into Texas last spring.

By comparison, President Barack Obama’s domestic agenda — like Alice’s Red Queen — will have to run hard just to stay in place.

Even the president’s popular TIGER transportation grants are reduced to $500 million, $100 million below 2014 and less than half of what Obama wanted in 2015. The National Institutes of Health will benefit from new Ebola funds for clinical trials, but its core $29.8 billion budget is expected to grow by just $150 million — not enough to keep pace with inflation.

Indeed, from Amtrak to Head Start and low-income fuel assistance, much of the domestic budget is flat.

Modest increases are allowed to hire more immigration judges and make good on promises to beef up child care grants. Funding for Pell Grants is preserved and new steps begun to address the problem of college affordability. But Republicans resisted repeated efforts by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to allow some cap adjustment for NIH. And despite support from Obama and Western Republicans, it remained a hard sell to allow emergency, off-budget spending for catastrophic wildfires.

Caught in the middle of this zero-sum game are two favorite Republican targets: the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The bill provides an estimated $10.9 billion for the IRS and $8.1 billion for the EPA — real cuts from current funding, especially for the IRS. At one level, it can be argued that the bill takes money from Peter to pay Paul for a string of Republican priorities, such as $50 million in drought response funding in the Bureau of Reclamation and a $100 million increase in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.

This type of competition was baked into the cake a year ago when Congress and the administration agreed to revised spending caps for fiscal 2014 and 2015.

Conservatives are in an uproar over the measure.  Not only do they think there's no time to read the bill, but they also feel betrayed by Speaker Boehner and the leadership on defunding the president's immigration orders.

As for the former complaint, they have a point.  There are almost certainly some rancid decisions on spending made that won't be revealed because the compressed time period will not allow for members to study the massive bill.  For the latter, I'm not so sure.  Read the Breitbart article for the details, but what it comes down to is that in order to agree with Rep. Gohmert's charge that Boehner pulled a fast one on conservatives, you have to believe that no serious effort to defund amnesty will be forthcoming in March.  I think the GOP will come up with and pass a defunding measure of some kind, but it will be vetoed by the president and there won't be enough senators supporting the measure for it to survive an override.  So unless the right can come up with a way to defund amnesty without getting the president involved (rescission?), the effort will fail.

Otherwise, there isn't much to cheer about in the bill.  It freezes domestic spending – sort of.  But increases in other areas still push total spending skyward.  The new Republican Congress is going to have to buckle down and aggressively attack spending priorities and targets in order to get control of the Leviathan that is the federal budget.

It looks like Congress is going to have to pass the so-called "Cromnibus" bill in order to find out what's in it.

In great secrecy, the chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees have thrashed out a compromise spending bill that would fund most of the government through September of next year.  The House and Senate leadership is ready to rush the bill to the floor and schedule a vote before Thursday's deadline.

The Department of Homeland Security, where Obama's immigration exceutive orders would be implemented, is funded only through March.  This will allow a Republican majority in both houses of Congress to revisit the issue early next year.

Politico:

Details were closely held given the tense political climate. But the formula for the compromise was direct: Freeze domestic appropriations at home and direct the most dollars and punch to counter new threats from overseas.

Almost all the big initiatives begin at the water’s edge: containing Ebola in West Africa, fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the Mideast, shoring up Europe against Vladimir Putin’s Russia, helping Central America counter the violence and poverty that sent thousands of children across the Rio Grande into Texas last spring.

By comparison, President Barack Obama’s domestic agenda — like Alice’s Red Queen — will have to run hard just to stay in place.

Even the president’s popular TIGER transportation grants are reduced to $500 million, $100 million below 2014 and less than half of what Obama wanted in 2015. The National Institutes of Health will benefit from new Ebola funds for clinical trials, but its core $29.8 billion budget is expected to grow by just $150 million — not enough to keep pace with inflation.

Indeed, from Amtrak to Head Start and low-income fuel assistance, much of the domestic budget is flat.

Modest increases are allowed to hire more immigration judges and make good on promises to beef up child care grants. Funding for Pell Grants is preserved and new steps begun to address the problem of college affordability. But Republicans resisted repeated efforts by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to allow some cap adjustment for NIH. And despite support from Obama and Western Republicans, it remained a hard sell to allow emergency, off-budget spending for catastrophic wildfires.

Caught in the middle of this zero-sum game are two favorite Republican targets: the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The bill provides an estimated $10.9 billion for the IRS and $8.1 billion for the EPA — real cuts from current funding, especially for the IRS. At one level, it can be argued that the bill takes money from Peter to pay Paul for a string of Republican priorities, such as $50 million in drought response funding in the Bureau of Reclamation and a $100 million increase in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.

This type of competition was baked into the cake a year ago when Congress and the administration agreed to revised spending caps for fiscal 2014 and 2015.

Conservatives are in an uproar over the measure.  Not only do they think there's no time to read the bill, but they also feel betrayed by Speaker Boehner and the leadership on defunding the president's immigration orders.

As for the former complaint, they have a point.  There are almost certainly some rancid decisions on spending made that won't be revealed because the compressed time period will not allow for members to study the massive bill.  For the latter, I'm not so sure.  Read the Breitbart article for the details, but what it comes down to is that in order to agree with Rep. Gohmert's charge that Boehner pulled a fast one on conservatives, you have to believe that no serious effort to defund amnesty will be forthcoming in March.  I think the GOP will come up with and pass a defunding measure of some kind, but it will be vetoed by the president and there won't be enough senators supporting the measure for it to survive an override.  So unless the right can come up with a way to defund amnesty without getting the president involved (rescission?), the effort will fail.

Otherwise, there isn't much to cheer about in the bill.  It freezes domestic spending – sort of.  But increases in other areas still push total spending skyward.  The new Republican Congress is going to have to buckle down and aggressively attack spending priorities and targets in order to get control of the Leviathan that is the federal budget.