Here’s the response I got from my Congressman, Jackie Walorski’s, office to my Open letter regarding her vote for the Omnibus bill among other reasons.
December 17, 2014
Mr. Mark Watkins
South Bend, IN 46635-1559
Dear Mr. Watkins:
Thank you for contacting me in regard to H.R. 83. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important issue.
As you know, Article I of the Constitution creates a bicameral legislature consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate, each of which have their own rules and responsibilities. Specifically, Article I, section 7, clause 1 of the Constitution states, “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.” In addition, Article I, section 9, clause 7 states, “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.” These two clauses give Congress – and particularly the House of Representatives – what is commonly referred to as the “power of the purse.” Even though all appropriations bills originate in the House, the House does not have unilateral power to repeal prior legislation or rescind money that has already been appropriated. The decision to repeal or defund a program must be passed by both the House and Senate, which in divided government has proven to be difficult to achieve.
Each fiscal year (fiscal year equals September 2014-September 2015), Congress is required to pass 12 individual appropriation bills that fund the federal government for the fiscal year – this process is known as regular order. This year, the House Appropriations Committee passed 11 of the 12, and the House as a whole passed 7 of the 12 appropriations bills under an open rule, which means any member of Congress can offer an amendment to the bill. Unfortunately, the Senate shirked their responsibility and refused to bring any of the House passed appropriation bills to the Senate floor for a vote. As a result, on September 17, 2014, a short-term continuing resolution was passed to fund the government through December 11, 2014.
In order to prevent a government shutdown and enable the new Congress to return to regular appropriations order, I supported H.R. 83, which abides by the $1.013 trillion budget cap agreed to in the “Ryan-Murray Budget Agreement.” While this legislation is not perfect and includes some items that I do not fully agree with, it provides critical funding for our nation’s military, addresses national security priorities to combat ISIL, provides no new funding for Obamacare, and addresses excessive regulatory overreach by government agencies such as the EPA and IRS. Specifically, this bill:
• Reduces IRS funding by $356.6 million below fiscal year 2014.
• Prohibits the IRS from using funds to target organizations for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs.
• Does not provide funds for the International Monetary Fund.
• Does not allow the government to bail out the Risk Corridor program created by Obamacare.
• Cuts Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) by $10 million.
• Reduces the EPA’s funding by $60 million below fiscal year 2014, and does not allow the president to expand certain EPA regulatory programs.
• Blocks the EPA from applying proposed water rules to certain farm ponds and irrigation ditches protecting farmers from burdensome regulations.
• Maintains funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and provides $2.35 billion in grants to states for local drinking water and sewer construction projects.
• Provides funding for VA to end the disability compensation claims backlog to ensure veterans receive the medical care they need.
• Provides funding for transportation programs, including highway funding for states.
Furthermore, this bill temporarily funds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at current 2014 levels until February 27, 2015. This gives Congress more leverage to overturn the president’s executive order on immigration without a government shutdown. Even if Congress had shut the government down, the president would still have the ability to fund his executive action through a $465 application fee for the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs. Rest assured, I remain strongly opposed to the president’s unilateral action. I also remain committed to an extensive and honest debate on how to secure our borders and fix our broken immigration system.
While our deficits are still high, I am proud of the job the House has done to reduce wasteful spending by this president. Recently, the Congressional Budget office announced that our annual deficit was down to $469 billion—which is $211 billion less than two years ago. This figure is even more impressive when considering in 2011 our annual deficit was at $1.296 trillion. Although this budget helps improve our position, Congress needs to move away from last minute temporary continuing resolutions or massive “Cromnibus” spending bills and return to regular order. Families across the nation have to create a budget, prioritize spending, and live within their means, Congress should do the same and return to regular order. Additionally, Congress needs to pass a balanced budget amendment. One of the first bills I authored was H.J. Res 38, which proposes a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Please know there is no greater honor than serving the hardworking Hoosiers of Northern Indiana. If you would like updates on the actions I have taken in Congress, please visit my website at www.walorski.house.gov to sign-up for my e-newsletter. Thank you again for contacting me.
Member of Congress
Indiana Second District