This week the House will vote on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017 (H.R. 7). Sponsored by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), the bill would establish a permanent, government-wide prohibition on federal taxpayer funding of abortion and health benefits plans that include coverage of abortion, as well as prevent federal tax dollars from being entangled in abortion coverage under Obamacare.
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. 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.”
On Friday, the House will consider a concurrent resolution (S. CON. RES. 3). While the resolution will technically set the congressional budget for the United States Government for the remaining eight months of fiscal year 2017, its only functional purpose will be to produce reconciliation instructions that unlock fast track authority that Congress can then use to repeal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Separately, there is an expectation that the fiscal year 2018 budget resolution will reflect the longstanding conservative values embedded in previous GOP budgets. But to be absolutely clear, adopting S. CON. RES 3 is the only way to expedite the repeal of Obamacare.
In November, the Mercatus Center’s Brian Blase and The Heritage Foundation’s Paul Winfree, who was recently appointed Director of Budget Policy and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council for The White House, laid out a “roadmap” on how to repeal Obamacare. The first step is to adopt the unpassed FY 17 budget that “include[s] instructions to the relevant committees in Congress” to repeal Obamacare. “This will set up the ability for Congress to pass a reconciliation bill repealing all the budgetary components of the ACA immediately after Trump is sworn into office,” Blase and Winfree continued.
This week, the House will vote on the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017 (H.R. 26). The bill, introduced by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) 79%, would increase accountability for and transparency in the federal regulatory process by requiring Congress to approve all new major regulations.
The Heritage Foundation explains lawmakers should be held accountable for the regulatory policies of the federal government; specifically, Congress should be explicitly responsible for major federal regulations. The REINS Act would restore a level of accountability to the legislative process by preventing Congress from simply passing legislation that delegates significant discretion to the executive (i.e., Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, etc.) and then denying further responsibility.
UPDATE (11/30): While the likely adoption of the manager’s amendment will address isolated problems within the bill — i.e., the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 — it would not change the gimmicky nature of the pay fors, the newly creating funding mechanism designed to bypass spending caps, or the overall level of spending. Unfortunately, members will not be given the opportunity to make additional changes to the bill. Heritage Action will continue to oppose the 21st Century Cures Act and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.
This week, the House will vote on a 10-week continuing resolution (H.R. 5325). The Continuing Appropriations and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017, and Zika Response and Preparedness Act falls far short of conservative expectations. Throughout the summer and into the fall, conservatives said Congress should ensure the length of any continuing resolution did not require a post-election session of Congress. And throughout the appropriations process, Heritage Action evaluated each individual appropriations measure on the following three criteria: 1) level of spending; 2) funding of bad programs; and 3) exclusion of conservative policy riders. Heritage Action also uses these criteria to evaluate any continuing resolution, as well as factoring in a fourth, additional, and critical criteria: length of time.
Length of Time.The current bill would allow funding to lapse on December 9, requiring a post-election lame duck session of Congress. Some will argue that bill could be worse, but requiring a lame duck session will ensure things do get worse. A recent report from The Heritage Foundation outlines the history of lame duck sessions: