Amendment #247 to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, sponsored by Rep. Christ Van Hollen (D-MD), would reduce the funding level for overseas contingency operations (OCO), primarily for ongoing operations in Afghanistan, to the level in the revised Administration defense budget request from last month, explains Heritage’s Baker Spring. Specifically, the revised request sets the level at $79.4 billion. The current level in the Armed Services Committee’s approved NDAA is $85.8 billion.
This funding reduction is extremely ill advised. Spring explains that the administration’s focus is too narrow with regard to costs. He states:
[T]he lower level of funding for OCO that Van Hollen is pressing for would impose a hidden cost on Department of Defense activities outside OCO, commonly referred to as the core defense program. The higher level of funding for OCO in the current version of the NDAA is appropriate. This is because the level requested by the Administration may be failing to account for the true cost of the operations OCO funding is designed to cover.
Heritage Action is strongly opposed to this Van Hollen amendment, as it damages our military readiness by failing to account for the true cost of operations. Inadequate funding impairs our military’s ability to replace weapons and equipment that have been damaged or destroyed, one of the costs of OCO. Maintaining a strong national defense is a core conservative principle, and this legislation only serves to undermine that goal.
John Dingell, the longest serving member of Congress in the history of the country, famously said, “If you let me write the procedure, and I let you write the substance, I’ll screw you every time.” This time, the Gang of Eight wrote the substance and is dictating the procedure.
Put another way, agreeing to the motion essentially allows debate on the bill to begin (and yes, that aforementioned vote did require 60 votes). But debates are weird in Washington. That is especially true in the U.S. Senate, which used to be known as the world’s greatest deliberative body.
Conservatives, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and David Vitter (R-LA), opposed the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 744. They understand, as does Heritage Action, that the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill is flawed beyond repair.
AMNESTY. The Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill would allow registered provisional immigrants to qualify for federal student loans:
Under the immigration reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee, RPIs qualify for loans under the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Direct Student Loan program. While RPIs can’t get grants, the loans will help millions of needy students go to college. I’m hopeful that the loan language will stay in the bill as it moves through the full Senate and House of Representatives.
Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that he would vote for the trillion-dollar food stamp and farm bill. Though he has concerns with the bill, he stated that he will “vote for the farm bill to make sure the good work of the Agriculture Committee and whatever the floor might do to improve this bill gets to a conference.”
He thinks this will help bring about “the kind of changes that people want in our nutrition programs and our farm programs.” Moving the ball forward legislatively may be a good political strategy in Washington, but it is all but certain to result in bad policy (and thus bad politics). As Heritage has explained, the farm bill that the House has produced is dramatically flawed and beyond repair.
Republicans retained control of the House to serve as a check on President Obama’s disastrous policies. Advancing a nearly one trillion dollar food stamp and farm bill ignores that mandate. Now is not the time to be locking in the President’s failed stimulus policies.
As the Senate continues debate on the Senate’s amnesty bill, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), one of the Gang of Eight, loudly asserted that this amnesty bill is “absolutely needed.” Let’s examine some of his claims.
McCain #1: “The status quo is 11 million people living in the shadows, and they aren’t going home! And anybody that thinks that we’re going to round up 11 million people and send them back to the country that they came from, most of them from south of our border, obviously are unaware of the logistics that would be required there.”
RESPONSE: Granting 11 million illegal immigrants amnesty does not solve the problems of our flawed immigration system. As the Heritage Foundation, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and many others have noted, Congress should be taking a step-by-step approach. Those initial steps include securing the border and fixing the legal immigration system so immigrants who will help our economy and prosper are able to come to the United States. But this cannot be properly accomplished in a comprehensive amnesty bill. We tried that in 1986. It failed.