This week, the House is waiting to tango on funding the government. Its legislative partner, the Senate, does not appear serious about funding the government and cutting spending, let alone blocking liberal policies. The legislative calendar is light, as they wait for the Senate to act and top negotiator Vice President Biden to return from Europe.
The House will consider two financial services bills that deal with TARP-era foreclosure programs. Specifically, one bill will deal with an FHA program and the other with an element of the Dodd-Frank bill. Both bills will be considered under an open rule, with the potential they will roll over into next week.
For conservatives, the House action is encouraging. Rather than sit around and wait for the Senate or negotiate with themselves, they are tackling important issues related to spending and the proper role of government.
One of the major stories following the debate over the Continuing Resolution (CR) last week has been how the House successfully voted to cut funding for the Joint Strike Fighter’s alternate engine with the help of a large block of the new Freshmen. One such story came out earlier this week from The Hill, which said some Republicans fear the new Freshman will continue to hack away at the defense budget. This story, and others like it, miss the bigger picture.
Overall, the Appropriations Committee (both Members and staff) did an outstanding job to get the Continuing Resolution (CR) to the floor with a large amount of spending cuts ready for debate. But there was one disappointing moment for those of us who watched the floor debate closely.
Last Friday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) offered an amendment to cut an additional $22 billion from the bill in across the board cuts excluding security spending. These cuts would have completely fulfilled the Republican pledge to cut $100 billion in non-defense discretionary.*
During debate over the amendment, Republican Appropriators came down one by one to urge their colleagues to vote against the amendment. Only 7* of the 29 Republican Appropriators voted for the Jordan amendment, which failed 147-281 with 92 Republican no votes.
Last week the House concluded its work on the continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. The House worked tirelessly and late into the night the entire week to identify necessary spending cuts as they crafted a bill to fund the government, something the previous Congress neglected to do. At the end of a long week, the House passed a bill that would cut $61 billion from last year’s budget.
Through the hours of debate that took place on the floor last week the one thing you did not hear from the conservative budget cutters was anything about a government shutdown. And yet that is all that we are hearing from big-government liberals. It was reported that an aide to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a government shutdown was likely. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said, “If the government shuts down, it will be the Republicans’ responsibility.” Mrs. Pelosi later offered a short-term extension of the CR that would freeze spending, cutting none.
Several weeks ago, President Obama gave us a sneak peak at some of his priorities for the year in his State of the Union speech. Now yesterday with the release of his budget we get to see numbers attached to those priorities.
The President’s message coming out of the State of the Union was very muddled. While calling for a five-year freeze on domestic spending he simultaneously called for new “investment” (code word for more spending) in education, clean energy, infrastructure, high speed rail, among other things.
Let’s take high speed rail for example.