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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of “Cromnibus”

Lots of conservatives, with reason, are decrying the bad – and in some case, downright ugly – aspects of the budget deal, nicknamed “Cromnibus,” approved by Congress over the weekend.  But here’s a point I think many are missing…

This was a bill passed by a Republican House of Representatives and a DEMOCRAT Senate.

Harry Reid’s Democrat Senate!

Republicans won’t be in charge of the Senate until NEXT year.  Not this year.

And they’ll STILL have to deal with a Democrat president in the White House until 2017; a Democrat with enough votes in the Senate to sustain a veto.

Most conservative grumbling – again, understandably so – centers on the bill’s failure to immediately override “executive amnesty.”

But what many are missing is that unlike the rest of government, the Department of Homeland Security budget was NOT funded through the end of the fiscal year, but is scheduled to come up again in late February.

“So unless President Barack Obama is willing to go to the mattresses over his plan to give 5 million illegal aliens temporary legal status,” writes conservative columnist Peter Roff in U.S. News & World Report, “and many people are betting he isn’t, the legislation makes a government shutdown highly unlikely.”

And this puts “executive amnesty” back on the possible GOP chopping block less than three months from now – when we’ll have both a Republican House AND a Republican Senate.

That said, there are some good – no, VERY good – things included in the “Cromnibus” bill for conservatives.  As our friend Grover Norquist, Father of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and Preside of Americans for Tax Reform explains…

“This spending bill is a solid win for conservatives, as it lives within the Budget Control Act’s post-sequester caps, cuts an out-of-control IRS, and guts Obamacare’s bailout of Big Insurance. 

“The bill contains a real year-over-year $345 million spending cut to the out-of-control IRS — the lowest level of funding since 2008.

“No Obamacare bailouts for big insurance. Under existing Obamacare law, health insurance companies that lose money over the next three years are eligible for a taxpayer-financed bailout of their losses. This bill prevents any taxpayer funds from being used to bail out health insurance companies that participate in Obamacare.

“Finally, the bill contains a one year extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, a moratorium on Internet taxation.”

Also, consider the following as outlined by Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers

The House Appropriations Committee today unveiled the fiscal year 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill, the legislation that will provide discretionary funding for the vast majority of the federal government for the current fiscal year.

The bill includes full Appropriations legislation and funding for 11 of the 12 annual Appropriations bills through the end of the fiscal year, September 30, 2015. The 12th bill, which funds the Department of Homeland Security, is also included in the legislation, but is funded under a temporary “Continuing Resolution” mechanism that expires on February 27, 2015.

The package also contains emergency Overseas Contingency Operations funding to combat the emerging real-world threat brought by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and a total of $5.4 billion in emergency funding to address the domestic and international Ebola crisis.

“This bill will allow us to fulfill our Constitutional duty to responsibly fund the federal government and avoid a shutdown. The 11 Appropriations bills in this package reflect specific, thoughtful, line-by-line decisions to target funds to critical programs, make reductions to lower-priority areas, and wisely invest the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. And by continuing current funding levels for the Department of Homeland Security, we allow the agency to maintain essential security functions for the next few months,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said.

Funding for programs within the 11 regular Appropriations bills were weighed individually and prioritized, with dollars targeted to the most important and effective programs, while lower-priority programs were cut. Also included in these 11 bills are important policy provisions to improve accountability and transparency, to ensure good government, and to put the brakes on harmful overregulation by federal agencies.

“This package makes the most of each and every dollar, roots out waste and abuse, reins in bureaucratic overreach, and provides stable funding for important national programs – including our national defense – for the remainder of the fiscal year. It reflects conservative priorities, yet it is also a compromise bill that can and should have wide bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. This is exactly the kind of legislation and bipartisan cooperation that the American people called for in the voting booths last month. Passage of this bill will show our people that we can and will govern responsibly,” Rogers continued.

Bill Highlights –

Funding Level – The bill abides by all the terms set by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (the “Ryan-Murray Agreement”), providing a total of $1.013 trillion for the operation of the federal government, and meeting the $521 billion defense and $492 billion non-defense budget caps.

The legislation contains full funding for fiscal year 2015 for 11 of the 12 regular annual Appropriations bills, with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Homeland Security portion is funded under a temporary Continuing Resolution (CR). This CR maintains DHS funding at the current fiscal year 2014 level, and expires on February 27, 2015.

National Security – The Omnibus contains the fiscal year 2015 Defense Appropriations bill, providing funding for our nation’s security, military readiness, and resources for our troops at home and abroad. The bill will fund important Department of Defense programs and projects, a pay raise for our troops, and the advancement of our military operations to protect the nation from current and future threats.

The bill also includes $64 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding to provide needed resources and training for our troops in the field, to combat the threat presented by ISIL, to train and equip our Iraqi allies, and to reinforce European countries facing Russian aggression.

Bolstering Job Creation and Reining in Bureaucratic Overreach – The legislation prioritizes funding for important programs that strengthen U.S. innovation and competitiveness, and that help our businesses thrive, such as small business loans, science research funding, resources to expedite domestic energy development, and critical infrastructure investments.

The bill also includes many provisions to rein in regulatory overreach that causes job loss and harm to our economy. Some of these provisions include:

  • A provision to prohibit the Export-Import Bank and OPIC from blocking coal and other power-generation projects – helping to increase exports of U.S. goods and services;
  • A provision prohibiting funds for the Army Corps of Engineers to change the definition of “fill material,” which could have harmful effects on many U.S. industries;
  • A restriction on the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) from implementing regulations harmful to the livestock and poultry industry;
  • Language amending Dodd-Frank swaps pushout requirements to protect farmers and other commodity producers from having to put down excessive collateral to get a loan, expand their businesses, and hedge their production;
  • Provisions restricting the application of the Clean Water Act in certain agricultural areas, including farm ponds and irrigation ditches; and
  • A provision prohibiting funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue further rules to place sage-grouse on the Endangered Species List – an action that could have severe economic consequences in Western states.

ObamaCare – The bill provides no new funding for ObamaCare, and holds the line on funding for the IRS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – the primary agencies responsible for the implementation of ObamaCare.

Life – The Omnibus maintains all existing pro-life policy and funding provisions that have been carried in Appropriations legislation in previous years, including the Hyde Amendment, a ban on public funding for abortions in the District of Columbia, and a ban on abortion funding for federal prisoners.

The bill also includes new language allowing states increased access to abstinence education funding, new language directing the HHS Secretary to increase the transparency of abortion coverage within federal exchange health care plans, and new language directing HHS to quickly respond to claims filed by health care providers on conscience clause violations.

Other Policy Provisions – Many other important policy provisions are included in the Omnibus, such as:

  • A ban on the Administration’s onerous “light bulb” standard;
  • Provisions to protect Second Amendment rights, including a prohibition on funding for the EPA to regulate lead content in ammunition or fishing tackle;
  • Bans and limitations on federal agency conferences and awards;
  • Provisions to stop the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees into the U.S.; and
  • A prohibition on funding for the IRS to target organizations for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs or for exercising their First Amendment rights.

Savings and Oversight of Tax Dollars – The bill includes program cuts and oversight provisions to ensure the responsible use of taxpayer dollars. Some of these items include:

  • No funding for high-speed rail;
  • A $345.6 million cut and extensive oversight requirements for the Internal Revenue Service;
  • A $60 million cut and extensive oversight requirements for the Environmental Protection Agency;
  • Oversight and monitoring requirements to weed out waste and abuse in nutrition programs;
  • No funding for contributions to the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO);
  • A pay freeze for the Vice President and senior political appointees;
  • No funding for the Administration’s “Race to the Top” program; and
  • No funding for the International Monetary Fund.

This may have only been a 10-yard gain, but we did move the ball down the field and earned another set of downs.  And we’ll come back in the second half with a MUCH stronger team.

Was it a great deal?  Heck, no.

Was it about the best we could have hoped for with the Democrats still in charge of the Senate and Obama still in the White House?


All I know is what’s done is done.  I’m gonna eat my half a loaf and be back in line for the other half after the holidays.