Blaine's Bulletin: Appropriations Season

Washington, June 28, 2019

Each year as spring turns to summer we can always count on a few things: temperatures – and humidity – are going up, kids are enjoying their summer break, the MLB All Star game is right around the corner, and weekends include a trip to the lake.  In DC this is “Appropriations Season.” Temperatures outside and inside the Capitol are also on the rise as Congress debates federal spending levels for the next year.

With a divided Congress there was little doubt this years’ debates would be contentious and span a wide range of views.  However, each year I head into appropriations season hoping Congress will find the wherewithal to work in a bipartisan fashion and put forth legislation that will responsibly steward taxpayer dollars and direct our resources to projects that better our nation and reflect the will of the people. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, over the last two weeks House Democratic leadership has decided to put forth partisan appropriations bills which have no chance of being signed into law.

The appropriations bills from House Democrats fail to address key priorities and reveal their disinterest in working across the aisle. Taking yet another opportunity to put partisan messaging ahead of their constituents, Democrats have refused to consider the amendments of their Republican colleagues, a dramatic break from tradition.

Last week, the House passed H.R. 2740, a trillion-dollar package including appropriations for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Defense, State, Foreign Operations and Energy and Water Development. With House Democrats failing to produce a budget, if made law this spending package will blow past the budget caps and trigger sequestration which could be disastrous for our military.

Although H.R. 2740 includes massive amounts of spending, it neglects our military, provides insufficient funding for the national defense and fails to address the changing national security challenges facing our nation. In addition to underfunding the Department of Defense, the legislation includes provisions which prohibit funding to secure our border and prohibit the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, in direct opposition to President Trump’s stated intentions. H.R. 2740 also attempts to reverse various pro-life policies introduced by the Trump administration.

This week, the House passed yet another five-bill appropriations package filled with poison pills, including drastically increased discretionary spending caps, the removal of second amendment protections and authorizing taxpayer dollars to pay lawyers for illegal aliens. Not only does this appropriations package include harmful provisions, but it highlights the House Democrats’ complete disregard for their responsibility as stewards of taxpayer dollars. H.R. 3055 is written to an unrealistic topline funding level nearly $200 billion above current budget levels.

Finally, this week the House passed the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill which provides funding for the Treasury Department and its agencies, the Supreme Court, and the District of Columbia, among others. This bill again raises spending by eight percent over this year’s level while permitting tax dollars to be spent on abortion in Washington D.C. and making illegal immigrants eligible for employment in the federal government.  Apparently patting themselves on the back for all their hard work, House Democrats also included in this bill a pay raise for members of Congress – the first in a decade.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said, “show me your budget, show me your values.” In the absence of a budget from Speaker Pelosi’s House Democrats, I am led to believe their values include irresponsible federal spending, the neglect of our armed forces, hampering our law enforcement, and, of course, a pay raise for Congress. The people of Missouri and Americans across this great nation don’t deserve dysfunction, they deserve real debate and responsible appropriations that prioritize our government’s most essential functions and supporting our nation’s success.