Dozens of trade-offs in $1.1 trillion budget bill

Measure restores some funding to Pentagon and domestic agencies, provides new money for preschools and highway projects
Associated Press
Jan 14, 2014

A massive $1.1 trillion spending bill, aimed at funding the government through October and putting to rest the bitter budget battles of last year, is getting generally positive reviews from House Republicans who are eager to avoid another shutdown crisis with elections looming.

Republicans say the favorable response to the all-encompassing spending bill reflects the desire of the rank and file to avoid a repeat of the politically damaging standoffs with the White House that led to last year's 16-day partial government shutdown. The closure sent congressional approval numbers plummeting and roughed up Republicans in particular.

Since then, they have regained support amid the troubled rollout of President Barack Obama's health care law.

"The shutdown educated — particularly our younger members who weren't here during our earlier shutdown — about how futile that practice is," said House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky. "There is a real hard determination now that we will reacquire and use the power of the purse that the Congress constitutionally has been given."

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., said the new legislation would get "our country off this notion of shutting the government down" and would allow Republicans to keep the spotlight on other issues, a reference to the health care law that's weighing politically on Democrats.

Tea party favorites including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, also have been slow to criticize the spending measure, which appears likely to pass the Senate no later than Saturday and probably before then. Cruz was a key force in the strategy to shut down the government over funding of so-called Obamacare.

The spending measure contains dozens of trade-offs between Democrats and Republicans as it fleshes out the details of the budget deal that Congress passed last month. That pact gave relatively modest but much-sought relief to the Pentagon and domestic agencies after deep cuts last year.

Western Republicans from timber country were anxious about payments to towns surrounded by federal lands but were reassured that the payments would be extended though separate legislation. Gulf Coast lawmakers praised a provision aimed at delaying federal flood insurance premium increases from new flood maps that have proven faulty, but the provision left in place other changes enacted in 2012.

The GOP-led House is slated to pass the 1,582-page bill Wednesday, though some tea party conservatives are sure to oppose it.

Democrats pleased with new money to educate preschoolers and build high-priority highway projects are likely to make up the difference even as Republican social conservatives worry about losing familiar battles over abortion policy.

The bill would avert spending cuts that threatened construction of new aircraft carriers and next-generation Joint Strike Fighters. It maintains rent subsidies for the poor, awards federal civilian and military workers a 1 percent raise and beefs up security at U.S. embassies across the globe. The Obama administration would be denied money to meet its full commitments to the International Monetary Fund but get much of the money it wanted to pay for implementation of the new health care law and the 2010 overhaul of financial regulations.

"This agreement shows the American people that we can compromise, and that we can govern," said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. "It puts an end to shutdown, slowdown, slamdown politics."

The measure doesn't contain in-your-face victories for either side. The primary achievement was that there was an agreement in the first place after the collapse of the budget process last year, followed by the shutdown and another brush with a default on U.S. obligations. After the shutdown and debt crisis last fall, House Budget committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., struck an agreement to avoid a repeat of the 5 percent cut applied to domestic agencies last year and to prevent the Pentagon from absorbing about $20 billion in new cuts on top of the ones that hit it last year.

To be sure, there is plenty for both parties to oppose in the legislation. Conservatives face a vote to finance implementation of Obama's health care overhaul and Wall Street regulations, both enacted in 2010 over solid Republican opposition. A conservative-backed initiative to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions was dumped and social conservatives failed to win new restrictions on abortion.

Democrats must accept new money for sexual abstinence education programs they often ridicule, and conservatives can take heart that overall spending for daily agency operations has been cut by $79 billion, or 7 percent, from the high-water mark established by Democrats in 2010. That cut increases to $165 billion, or 13 percent, when cuts in war funding and disaster spending are accounted for. Money for Obama's high-speed rail program would be cut off — a defeat for California Democrats — and rules restricting the sale of less efficient incandescent light bulbs would be blocked.

The Pentagon will get about $6 billion more in war funding than the $79 billion Obama requested. The additional money is helping the Pentagon deal with a cash crunch in troop readiness accounts. Including foreign aid related to overseas security operations, total war funding reaches $92 billion, a slight cut from last year.

At the same time, the bill is laced with sweeteners. One is a provision exempting disabled veterans and war widows from a pension cut enacted last month. The bill contains increases for veterans' medical care backed by both sides and fully funds the $6.7 billion budget for food aid for low-income pregnant women and their children.

 

Comments

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Wow another omnibus spending bill. 1,500 pages, that's it?! So let's see it has been on public display for a day now with just one more until it's voted on by the House and a few more for the Senate? I am sure each and every one of them is sitting in a comfy chair with their reading glasses going over it to make sure that it truly is the best we can do. No "loopholes". No waste. Or will it be more things we'll just have to pass to see what's in it. That's how we legislate in the U.S.-of-A., don'tchaknow!

This is disgusting and the whole "trade off between parties" is just as sickening. Those trade-offs? THOSE ARE US! WE are being treated as a currency between two political parties! Holy smokes, people...

This isn't even about anything partisan that I say these things! All of us are just swept up in yet another unread, massive bill so that we are nothing more than dots of ink on a page. How does a government that runs like this make you feel?

Contango? Coasterfan? SamAdams? Big Dog? Thinkagain? Pterocaya? So many others here that post supporting different ideologies! Is this what we want? What we get?

So because one or both parties gets denied what it wants makes something good? Balanced? Fair? Somehow "bipartisanship" is a qualifier by itself for a gleaming jewel?

You know, I sent State Rep. Redfern an email weeks ago asking for a meeting. Why? So I can ask him his feelings about a States' Convention. No reply yet, though I'd love at least a declination response from a random staffer instead of nothing. No reply yet from U.S. Rep. Kaptur's office about something similar and that request is many months older than Mr. Redfern's. His (and her) feelings on that aside, we can't get one of these fast enough!

Top 3 Needed Amendments:
1. Term Limits on Congress
2. Senators Appointed by the States (again)
3. Replace Income Tax

There's more, but a few things at a time...

What makes me even more angry (coming from a conservative, mind you) is that I have read very little in the way of any kind of Democratic pushback against the President calling those Democrats who want sanctions on Iran as warmongers! Jeeze Louise! Party first is it? There is no pushback against a President who blatantly admitted he will circumvent Congress at every possible (and impossible as he has made examples) turn? Or is this just a "keep your heads down and grumble" kinda thing as dictatorial words are blatantly uttered by the leader of our Executive (and when he deigns - Legislative) Branch?

While this is a lot of venting on my part, is any part of it incorrect? Something that I must, in some insane fit, be the only one to see?

SamAdams

Hero, if you're interested in tax reform (and what American with an IQ above room temperatures ISN'T), check out Fair Tax (see www.fairtax.org). It eliminates all sorts of loopholes, which should make Big Dog happy. It effectively lowers tax rates for EVERYbody. It involves no complicated forms. And the government would end up collecting more than it does now. Win/win.

There's SOME growing support for it, but not enough. Feel like making some phone calls? :-)

Contango

Re: "Fair Tax,"

Ain't gonna happen.

1. The socialists prefer progressive tax rates. A national sales tax would be regressive.

2. Sales taxes have traditionally been the purview of the states and will not give up control of that revenue source.

IMO, some form of VAT is in the offing IN ADDITION to the fed. income tax.

The kleptocrats need to increase the stealing of assets in order to fund their economic equalitarianism.

SamAdams

It's not just YOUR opinion (unfortunately) that a VAT tax is looming! Of course, it would hurt business, hurt consumers, and hurt the economy. But what's some more pain on our way down, eh?

Contango

Re: "hurt the economy."

I'm told that Pres. Obama's SOTU address will be focused on the economy.

It should be 'interesting.'

If I were a Congressional rep, I 'might' consider boycotting the event.

The Big Dog's back

Giving business tax breaks has worked so well. Where? When? China? Keep on giving the rich more.

Contango

Re: "Keep on giving the rich more."

So you work for a poor person?

To the idiotic Dems, anyone who has $1.00 more than you is rich.

be for real

throw all the dems and republicans out and start fresh,with people who know what they are doing ,this is getting old.Compromise today shut down tomorrow

Contango

To paraphrase Wm. F. Buckley:

I would rather be governed by the first 2000 people listed in the Sandusky telephone directory than our current crop of legislators.

---------------------

When asked about their current Congressional representative, most citizens like theirs, but those other guys?

GET RID OF 'EM!

Dr. Information

People, people people. Settle down. Our government is a runaway train. Nothing you do, or say on here or on FB or twitter or to your family and friends will change anything. The powers that be have ruined this country and it hasn't happened overnight. It isn't all Bush's fault, all Obama's fault all FDR's fault. Its a collective mess of decades of entitlement giving that has been exponentially increased under each president. We are on our way to 20-30-40 Trillion no matter the president or congress.

The ever increasing attitude of "screw it, I'll just let the government take care of me" is growing like a cancer in this country. Our leaders are all super rich, pad each others stats and the media is in their pocket, picking and choosing which hot topic they want to publicize so US peons get distracted from what is really happening in this country and that is a complete government takeover.

The Big Dog's back

You really think the majority of people say "screw it, let Gov take care of me? Quit listening to the paid Pied Piper (rush). All most people want is a decent paying job to raise a family. Get your heads out of your ...

Dr. Information

Then get an education and stop trying to blame everyone else.

SamAdams

Dr. Information has hit the nail on the head. This isn't Obama's fault. It's not Bush's, either. It's not a Democrat or Republican issue. It is, indeed, a "collective mess of decades of entitlement giving that has exponentially increased under each president."

Congress is so busy engaged in "compromise" that it can't be bothered with right or wrong, with sensible or idiotic, or in fact anything that doesn't line their OWN pockets and increase their power over the rank and file.

The single best way to start reversing the trend? Term limits. If you're not worried all the time about re-election, maybe you'll START worrying about constituents! If you're not fundraising all the time for the next campaign, maybe you'll consider paying attention to money spent by the government itself!

Other good ideas that will at least get us started on reform: The Read the Bills Act, the One Subject at a Time Act, and a law that says every single member of Congress is just as subject to the laws they pass as are the rest of us. (Don't even get me STARTED on the idea of stripping the powers to effectively make laws by various and sundry agencies! Did you SEE the photo of the 80,000 pages of the Federal Register from last year???)

The New World Czar

In the words of the legendary Wimpy:

"I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today".

Spend it forward...

kURTje

Hero Zone agree. Thanks for doing more than talking too. It does take an effort, though probably like you I feel we are peasants in their kingdom.

thinkagain

Bend over America. Both parties are getting ready to steal more money from your grandchildren.

The reality is the Republicans are more worried about reelections in 10 months than getting back to a balanced budget. And the Democrats have to rely on vote purchasing by taking from Peter to give to Paul.

I preferred sequestration as it was originally written.

Stop It

I found the following on the web, it really puts the greatest generation into perspective.

"During the 3-1/2 years of World War 2 that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and ended with the Surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945, the U.S. produced; 22 aircraft carriers, 8 battleships, 48 cruisers, 349 destroyers, 420 destroyer escorts, 203 submarines, 34 million tons of merchant ships, 100,000 fighter aircraft, 98,000 bombers, 24,000 transport aircraft, 58,000 training aircraft, 93,000 tanks, 257,000 artillery pieces, 105,000 mortars, 3,000,000 machine guns, and 2,500,000 military trucks.

We put 16.1 million men in uniform in the various armed services, invaded Africa, invaded Sicily and Italy, won the battle for the Atlantic, planned and executed D-Day, marched across the Pacific and Europe, developed the atomic bomb and ultimately conquered Japan and Germany.

It's worth noting, that during the almost exact amount of time, the Obama administration couldn't build a functioning web site."

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Probably for the same cost, too, heh.