The bill’s sponsors misleadingly claim the bill “reduces Amtrak’s authorized funding levels by 40 percent.” This is a reduction in previous authorization levels, but does not represent an actual reduction in spending, as authorizations for Amtrak have consistently exceeded appropriations. For instance, Amtrak received $1.4 billion in FY 2015. According to the Congressional Budget Office, H.R. provides $1.4 billion for Amtrak in FY 2016.
In December, The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke put forward four crucial benchmarks for any overhaul of No Child Left Behind. Despite the presence of a historic Republican majority in the House, H.R. 5 fell short on each and every requirement.
H.R. 5 does not enable states to completely opt out of the programs that fall under No Child Left Behind. The bill does not include language that would allow states to opt out of all the programs that fall under NCLB, along with the law’s mandates, and utilize those dollars for any lawful education purpose under state law.
H.R. 5 does not eliminate programs or reduce spending. The bill consolidates more than 65 programs into a Local Academic Flexible Grant, which requires states to submit detailed documentation, follow prescriptive rules, and comply with onerous reporting requirements. This is not a block grant. Furthermore, H.R. 5 does not appreciably reduce spending in relation what was actually spent.
H.R. 5 does not eliminate all the burdensome federal mandates. Although the proposal wisely eliminates counterproductive and prescriptive Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) mandates, H.R. 5 maintains the current NCLB mandates for states to establish standards in reading and math and to test kids annually between grades 3-8 and once in high school. H.R. 5 orders that academic achievement standards “include the same knowledge, skills, and levels of achievement expected of all public school students in the state.” States must also use “the same academic assessments…to measure the academic achievement of all public school students in the state.” Taken together, these twin mandates direct the state to establish a single uniform assessment, limiting the ability of local schools to determine their own curriculum.
H.R. 5 does not provide states the option of full Title 1 portability. H.R. 5 provides increased portability, but only to public schools and public charter schools. Adequate portability would extend to private schools of choice, if a state chose.
For each of the substantial shortfalls described above, an amendment was submitted to the House Rules Committee for consideration.
The Heritage Foundation’s Alyene Senger lists five reasons to repeal Obamacare:
- Obamacare creates $1.8 trillion in new health care spending and uses cuts to Medicare spending to help pay for some of it.
- Millions of Americans already have lost, and more likely will lose, their coverage because of Obamacare.
- Many Americans have not been able to keep their doctors as insurers try to offset the added costs of Obamacare by limiting the number of providers in their networks.
- In spite of the president’s now-infamous promise, the law increases the cost of health coverage.
- Obamacare contains 18 separate tax increases, fees and penalties.
Heritage also notes “Obamacare has made yet another problem worse—creating a government exchange that is less competitive than the prior individual market.”
Heritage Action supports H.R 596 and will include it as a key vote on our scorecard.
Heritage Action Scorecard
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act is a good pro-life, pro-taxpayer bill that has earned Heritage Action’s support in the past. However, the merits of this bill do not justify the House’s refusal to consider the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36)–a bill that would have saved 11,000 lives each year and had broad support among men, women, independents and all age groups, including millennials. The Republican-controlled House should bring this bill to the floor without delay and without watering it down.
Regarding H.R. 7, The Heritage Foundation notes Congress failed to apply longstanding protections against federal funding of abortion or abortion coverage to the totality of Obamacare, potentially allowing large taxpayer subsidies to flow to health plans that cover elective abortion. They explain, “taxpayers will now foot the bill for federal subsidies for the purchase of health plans on the exchanges… and some of those plans could cover elective abortion.”
Under Obamacare, individuals and families who live in states that allow abortion coverage on their exchanges could end up paying directly for coverage of elective abortions, possibly without their knowledge. Individuals enrolled in one of the federally subsidized exchange plans that cover abortion will be forced to pay a surcharge of at least $12 per year – and possibly much more – out of their own pockets. Many individuals and families who would otherwise object to paying for abortion coverage may not even be aware of the surcharge. Insurers are allowed under Obamacare to disclose the existence and amount of the abortion surcharge only at the time of enrollment, and that warning may be as little as a single sentence in a massive plan document.
Taxpayers should be protected against all funding of abortion and abortion coverage. Of course, to truly protect Americans’ freedom to purchase the health care plans that meet their needs and respects their values, Obamacare must be repealed. In the meantime, this legislation provides essential protections to federal taxpayers from being forced to fund abortion or abortion coverage.
Heritage Action supports H.R. 7 and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.