This week, the House will consider H.R. 5055 the FY 2017 Energy & Water Appropriations bill. The bill spends a total of $37.4 billion, which is $259 million above FY16 enacted levels and $168 million above the President’s request. Furthermore, it aligns with the higher spending caps enacted as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) last fall, which was opposed by an overwhelming majority of House Republicans. H.R. 5055 is also $2.8 billion above the last E&W bill crafted during Nancy Pelosi’s reign as Speaker.
Each individual appropriations measure should be evaluated on the following three criteria: 1) level of spending; 2) funding of bad programs; and 3) exclusion of conservative policy riders. On the first two counts the House’s version of the FY17 Energy & Water Appropriations bill certainly falls short. On the third, the bill includes some of the key riders conservatives demand. That said, few are likely to become law — as last year’s House-passed E&W demonstrated when important riders were ultimately left out of the December omnibus — while the elevated spending levels appear on track. In this environment, with the Senate seemingly even less interested in policy riders, it is more incumbent than ever for the House to put forward as conservative a bill as possible.
First, on spending, this year’s bill is in stark contrast to the House passed FY 2016 bill, which came in at $35.4 billion ($2 billion below the bill before the House now). Even worse, this bill is $7 billion above the House passed FY 2014 bill that served as the low spending point for the House Republicans.
Heritage Action will key vote the following amendment(s) to the House’s MilCon-VA appropriations bill (H.R. 4974):
Key Vote Alert: “NO” on Maloney Anti-Religious Freedom Amendment
This morning, the House will vote on an amendment by Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY) 18% to H.R. 4974 that would effectively nullify the pro-religious liberty Russell amendment language just passed by the House in the 2017 NDAA.
Heritage Action will key vote the following amendment(s) to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (H.R. 4909):
Key Vote Alert: “YES” on Buck DoD Energy Reform Amendment (#245)
The House will vote on an amendment by Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) 100% to H.R. 4909, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. The amendment would prohibit funding for the renewable energy mandate at DOD and prohibit the Secretary of Defense from purchasing alternative energy unless it is equivalent to conventional energy in terms of cost and capability.
On Wednesday, the House will vote on the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 699). Introduced by Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) 81% and cosponsored by over 190 Republicans, this bill would update the Email Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) by bringing privacy protection standards for electronic communications into the 21st Century.
When ECPA became law in 1986, it was intended to extend Fourth Amendment protections to communications conducted over the Internet. Since 1986, technology has changed rapidly, but the law remains virtually the same. As such, it fails to provide much needed privacy protections. The goal of the Email Privacy Act is to improve these standards, providing stronger privacy protections for communications in response to changes in technology. As Heritage has written:
“To read Americans’ mail as it is in transit with the Postal Service, the government generally needs a warrant issued by a neutral magistrate and must have probable cause to believe the search will provide evidence of a crime.
“To read the content of email messages stored on a cloud server, the government does not need a warrant at all—it can view the content by issuing a subpoena to the cloud service provider.”
On Wednesday, the House Budget Committee is scheduled to mark up its budget for Fiscal Year 2017, with consideration on the House floor likely the following week. The House’s budget should be an opportunity for House conservatives to lay out their spending agenda for the year. Instead, this budget concedes on the FY17 spending levels laid out in last year’s Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA). Conservatives should reject this budget and insist that the House revert back to the previous discretionary spending caps of $1.040 trillion.