The Best of the Forge
Proponents of the WRDA legislation have made much about the legislation being “earmark free.” Now while the bill seems to comport with the current earmark moratorium, it does fund or expand previous earmarks. A headline in the Washington Examiner this morning said it all: Earmarks may be dead, but pet projects live on.
For instance, the bill increases the cost share for the Olmsted Lock and Dam in Kentucky from 50 percent to 85 percent. This project was first authorized in 1988 at a cost of $775 million, and it is still not finished and now costs $2.9 billion. Why would the federal government take on more of the burden of the project? The WRDA bill has 34 expansions (authorization for construction) and 8 project modifications (increases in spending) to existing projects in the Army Corps of Engineers’ list of projects, but the real danger is the earmark-like process it sets up to authorize new projects going forward.
“Wherever I see an opening to get things done for the American people, I’m going to take it,” said President Obama recently. He wasn’t referring to the improving the economy — America’s top priority for 2014 — not that his liberal policies would do that even if he implemented all of them unilaterally.
He was referring to “searching for more opportunities to preserve federal lands.” The President just designated 500,000 acres of land in New Mexico as the new Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Environmentalists are no doubt pleased.
Between President Obama’s threats of bypassing Congress and House Speaker John Boehner opening the possibility of passing bad laws in the House, Americans who oppose amnesty have their work cut out for them.
Boehner said Tuesday that he would not rule out the ENLIST Act — a bill that would exchange amnesty for military service — coming to the floor for a vote as a stand-alone bill. Heritage Actionexplained previously that the ENLIST Act should not be passed either as a stand alone bill or as an amendment to the NDAA, a defense policy bill.
With the ENLIST Act headed for final defeat in the House Rules Committee today, it’s important to make one final argument. This week in my Breitbart column, I explain why, as a Marine and combat veteran, I oppose legislation that exchanges amnesty for military service:
It is a privilege to serve in America’s all volunteer force, and that service instills some of the most valuable virtues a citizen could hope for in a Republic. Military service also builds within one the vital moral warrior ethos that every peaceful society must maintain. The United States government also spends significant amounts of money to impart enduring skills on military servicemen and women. The financial compensation for my time in the military pales in comparison to the betterment of my character that military service and combat experience gave me.
This week, the House will vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Conspicuouslymissing as an amendment to the bill is the ENLIST Act, which would have allowed illegal immigrants to obtain amnesty in exchange for military service.
If you’re thinking that amnesty has no place in a defense policy bill, you’re instincts are right. But a look at the battle that was waged over the past couple weeks to stop this misstep demonstrates that were it not for conservative opposition, that’s precisely what Washington politicians would have done.