By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congresswoman Martha Roby (R from Montgomery) said that passing the Omnibus Continuing Resolution (C.R.) puts the new GOP Congress in the strongest position to defund executive amnesty. On Thursday, U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) voted to support a comprehensive Appropriations plan that she said: funds critical government operations, includes strong, important, conservative policy provisions, and allows Congress the best opportunity to reverse President Obama’s unilateral immigration actions when Republicans have dual House and Senate majorities in January.
The “CRomnibus bill” funds 11 of the 12 Appropriations titles through the remainder of the Fiscal Year 2015. The C.R. only funds Homeland Security through the month of February because that is where immigration enforcement funding is contained.
Conservative opponents of the President’s executive amnesty hope that the new Congress will use the “power of the purse” to rein in President Obama’s immigration actions in the new term.
Rep. Roby said that in no way does the bill “fund” amnesty, as some have claimed. To the contrary, the bill puts Congress in the strongest position possible to stop the President’s executive amnesty plans by waiting until Republicans control the Senate and have more votes in the House come January.
Rep. Roby said, “I support the Appropriations plan for many reasons, including this important one: this plan puts us in the best position possible to address President Obama’s plans for executive amnesty. There is no question about who is for amnesty and who is against it. The question is what is the best strategy for actually reversing the president’s action? This plan wisely allows us to focus on defunding executive amnesty in four weeks when Republicans have a Senate majority and even more votes in the House.”
Rep. Roby said, “I believe that the power of the purse should be used to defund President Obama’s actions. I disagree with those who suggest otherwise. The truth is, right now there are the same number of Republican votes in the House and Senate as there were in October 2013, when the government shut down over health care. The brinksmanship tactic didn’t work then and it won’t work now. We won a lot of elections this year, enough to have significant majorities in the House and Senate. But, those reinforcements don’t arrive until January.”
Congresswoman Roby said, “The logical conclusion of going ‘all-in’ to insist on defund language now is that it will be defeated. Everyone knows that, including those who favor such a strategy. Setting aside the possibility of another shutdown, the most that strategy could accomplish is a short term Continuing Resolution. While some view a short term CR as a positive outcome, I do not. A short term CR leaves us with the whole range of government spending to work on in January. That means at a time when we should be focused solely on defunding amnesty in the Homeland Security title, Congress would be distracted by moving 11 other major spending bills in short order. Instead of controlling the debate by honing the nation’s attention on President Obama’s unlawful immigration orders, we would offer amnesty supporters and the media the gift of a continued shut down threat.”
Rep. Roby said, “The smart move is to pass our 11 appropriations bills along with a short-term CR on Homeland Security, and then take on immigration head on in four weeks when Republicans control the Senate.”
According to information provided by Rep. Roby, the Appropriations plan contains critical military funding for Alabama-based projects, including: funding for new Lakota Helicopters to enhance the aviation training mission at Fort Rucker and funding for the Navy’s Mobile-built Littoral Combat Ship.
The C.R. also contains certain policy provisions that Rep. Roby has pushed for including: preventing federal authorities from regulating farm ponds and irrigation ditches under the Clean Water Act, instilling transparency and accountability for OSHA enforcement activities, addressing the VA disability claims backlog, and restricting taxpayer dollars being used to fund abortion.
The total spending in the omnibus bill is $1.013 trillion and complies with spending caps put in place by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 at $521 billion for defense and $492 billion for non-defense. Total federal discretionary spending is down from $1.399 trillion in 2010.
This C.R. provides $73.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, including: the fight against ISIS, $5.4 billion in emergency funding to address the Ebola outbreak, and $6.5 billion for disaster aid, such as hurricane and tornado responses.
The C.R. provides the VA Office of Inspector General an additional $5 million to provide the resources necessary for audits of hospital appointment scheduling and lapses in patient care. It includes a one percent pay raise for military personnel including $215 million above the President’s request to fully fund cost-of-living allowance shortfall for military retirees.
The C.R. slashes funding for the IRS by $345 million, bringing total IRS cuts to $1 billion since 2010 and strictly prohibits the IRS from using funds to target groups based on ideological beliefs.
The C.R. also has provisions to rein in the Obama Administration’s regulatory burden on the school lunch program giving flexibility to local schools and cuts funding to the controversial Environmental Protection Agency. The C.R. cuts funding for the EPA to a total reduction of 21 percent since 2010 and brings EPA staffing down to its lowest level since 1989. The C.R. prohibits the EPA from regulating the lead content in either ammunition or fishing tackle. The appropriations bill also eliminates funding for the U.S. Department of Education’s controversial “Race to the Top” program. Roby’s office said that the C.R. fully funds the Federal Aviation Administration’s contract tower program to prevent local airports from shutting down. It increases and maintains U.S. Embassy security around the world and prohibits funding for the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.
The bill was passed by the U.S. Senate on Saturday, December 13.