Wednesday, 08 December 2010

House Passes Continuing Resolution

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CongressOn Wednesday night, the United States House of Representatives approved a $1.1 trillion continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the federal government through September 30, 2011. A Continuing Resolution was Congress’ last resort as it failed to pass any of the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2011, as well as a budget resolution.

The Hill reports, “The bill, which passed 212-206 largely along party lines, freezes 2011 discretionary appropriations at the current level, providing $45.9 billion less than President Obama requested for the year.”

House Democrats also managed to sneak into the continuing resolution the Food Safety Modernization Act, a food safety legislation that very nearly died in the House as a result of unconstitutionality issues. The bill was passed in the Senate, but as it contained provisions that virtually created new taxes, the House gave the Food Safety Modernization Act the old “blue slip” — a rejection of the law that sends it back to the Senate for another vote.

However, instead of making its way back to the Senate, the bill found its way into the Continuing Resolution and voilà, the progressives are one step closer to their dream of total control.

The bill also contains a two-year freeze on federal civilian worker pay, as well as billions of dollars in changes to spending, with new spending allegedly covered by reductions in other areas.

Additional funding is allocated to the Veterans Administration for medical operations in the CR, as well as to the Pentagon to cover salary and healthcare costs.

The Continuing Resolution also provides funding for the implementation of the new START Treaty with Russia, and allocates $159 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Provoking the most heated debate is a provision that expands gambling on Native American reservations, reversing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that blocked certain tribes from putting lands outside of the reservations into a trust for the purposes of building a casino.

Also controversial is the inclusion of a lengthy new timeline for the approval of licenses for offshore oil and gas drilling.

According to The Hill, the timing of the resolution perfectly coincides with conclusion of the tax cut compromise:

The vote was timed to force Republicans backing tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals, which will increase the national debt, to come to the floor to blast deficit spending. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) said on the House floor that the CR arrives at a time when Republicans are demanding “super-sized tax cuts for millionaires” and Washington “is singing pious songs about dealing with long-term budget deficits.”

Some Republicans did contest the outrageous spending outlined in the Continuing Resolution, including Jerry Lewis, who asserted that Congress should pass a CR that returns spending to 2008 levels, which would save $100 billion.

Lewis’ recommendation fails to address the dire straits in which the American economy finds itself. At this rate, the federal government may need to return to 1908 spending levels if it intends to give the American people a fighting chance.

The bill is now on its way to the Senate, where it is expected to be amended into an omnibus appropriations bill. It is also expected to have an additional $19 billion added to it.

A White House official explains, “An omnibus bill would enable the government to get on a prudent fiscal path sooner rather than later, at a time when we cannot afford to defer tough decisions.”

Groups like Citizens Against Government Waste are angered by the inclusion of earmarks, such as $15 million for the International Fund for Ireland.

Similarly, the conservative group Campaign for Liberty is angered that the Continuing Resolution means that ObamaCare will continue to be funded for at least the next 10 months.