The Senate will soon vote on the cromnibus, formally entitled Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.R. 83).
The $1.1 trillion, 1,700+ page bill would fund most of the federal government through September 30, 2015 while extending funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) until February 27, 2015. Importantly, the bill does nothing to block President Obama’s unilateral, unlawful actions which include granting quasi-legal status, work permits and Social Security numbers to those who are in the country illegally.
When President Obama took action to, as he said “change the law”, the outcry from Congress was widespread. Republicans and Democrats alike took issue with the President on the process and the policy. The half-measures and strongly worded statements that followed have been insufficient given the magnitude of the challenge. As Mitch McConnell, the incoming Senate Majority Leader, observed, “The only tool we have is the power of the purse.”
Some have suggested the short-term funding for DHS will provide conservatives another opportunity to block President Obama’s actions in early 2015, but that approach is problematic because: 1) it forces Senate Republicans, who are virtually unanimous in their opposition to the President’s actions, to cast an initial vote to fund that lawless action; 2) it would occur 100 days after the President’s announcement, meaning the program is likely to be up and running; 3) it removes nearly all the pressure on President Obama and his partisan allies to choose between defending their lawless amnesty policies and funding all other areas of government; and 4) leading Republicans have refused to offer up a viable plan to stop the President’s executive amnesty in February.
In addition to funding President Obama’s amnesty with no strategy to stop it in 2015, the cromnibus makes use of $19 billion worth of changes in mandatory programs (CHIMPS) to make it appear as if it is staying below the Ryan-Murray discretionary budget caps. The bill also makes full use of the “disaster” and “emergency spending” loopholes, authorizing $5.7 billion in disaster spending (only $321 million of which to actually be spent this fiscal year), and another $5.4 billion (only $1.5 billion to actually be spent this year) in emergency spending for Ebola response and preparedness.
There are also dozens of examples of funding increases that reflect liberal, big-government priorities: $456 million extra for federal weather forecasting, $636 million in new money for the Department of Energy, $250 million more than requested for the Environmental Protection Agency, $200 million more for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) than requested, $127 million more for Section 8 housing, $150 million more for the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), $35 million more for the Commodities Future Trading Commission, $42 million more for the legislative branch (i.e., Congress), $141 million more for mass transit, $500,000 for the Peace Corps and many more.
Furthermore, the spending bill includes a host of policy riders that conservatives find objectionable: