This week, the Senate began consideration of H.R. 2028, the vehicle for its version of FY17 Energy & Water Appropriations bill. The $37.5 billion spending bill aligns with the spending caps enacted as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) last fall, and would raise spending by $355 million above FY16 levels and $261 million over President Obama’s request.
Conservatives should evaluate 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. On all three counts, the Senate’s version of the FY17 Energy & Water Appropriations bill falls short.
This week, the Senate will conclude consideration of the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 (S. 2012). The Senate began consideration of the 420-page bipartisan bill, introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) 35% and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) 0%, back in January. The bill seeks to promote energy efficiency, infrastructure, supply, accountability, and land conservation through federal intervention. According to The Heritage Foundation, the provisions are simply a “continuation of government meddling in the energy economy” and would “waste taxpayer resources, override consumer preference, direct money toward politically preferred technologies, and appease special interests.”
Proponents of the bill will point to a few encouraging, small-scale provisions, like expediting LNG export applications. True energy reform, however, would reduce government barriers by eliminating mandates, subsidies, regulations, and other programs that hinder the development and use of our natural resources, allowing consumers and the market to determine our country’s energy future. This legislation falls far short of that goal; in fact, it goes the opposite direction by continuing and expanding the ‘government knows best’ model that has failed our country for decades.
Heritage Action will key vote the following amendments to the to the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 (S. 2012):
Key Vote Alert: “NO” on Bennet-Isakson FHA Amendment
The Senate could vote on an amendment by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) 3% and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) 57% to S. 2012, Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015. The Bennet-Isakson amendment would force the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) to further subsidize government-backed mortgage loans under the pretense of energy efficiency.
As Heritage analysts Norbert Michel and Nick Loris explain, this amendment “requires the ‘expected energy cost savings’ from conservation programs to be included in borrowers’ debt-to-income test. In other words, loan applicants will effectively have their income increased because underwriters will be required to reduce borrowers’ estimated future living expenses.”
This is problematic because it:
On Monday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the nomination of John B. King, Jr. to be Secretary of Education.
As head of the Department of Education, King would be in charge of implementing reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Former Secretary Arne Duncan made it clear that ESSA does nothing to actually reduce the federal government’s oversized involvement in and control over our nation’s elementary and secondary education systems. During an interview with Politico, Duncan was asked “How do you respond to the notion that you’ve had your wings clipped on your way out the door?”. Duncan replied:
On Wednesday, the Senate will likely vote on Amendment #3345 offered by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) 0% to S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016. The amendment would provide $600 million in new emergency spending for the purpose of addressing opioid abuse.
Opioid abuse is a serious problem, but not every problem requires federal intervention or supplemental emergency spending outside of the agreed-upon budget caps. Under the current caps in place under the Budget Control Act (BCA) and subsequent Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA), Congress has $519 billion in FY17 to spend on domestic discretionary programs. If Congress determines that addressing opioid abuse is a federal budget priority, it should find funding within the budget caps to provide for it.