The FHA Action team of Executive Director Dale Bartscher and Capitol Lobbyist Norman Woods left Rapid City on Monday, January 9, for Sioux Falls but made an inspiring dinner stop in Mitchell with Dusty Johnson, currently the only declared candidate for the 2018 US House seat. Norman reflected on the evening’s encounter saying, “Dusty shared with us an overview of his campaign fundraising, an explanation of why he is running, and several qualities that our next US Representative should have. Dusty is optimistic that he is gaining traction in his fundraising efforts and his explanation of why he is running was tied into the qualities that he believes our next Representative should have. These qualities included: being a hard worker, balancing work and family, being able to stay afloat in all the political nuances, and connecting with South Dakotans back home. He also said he puts great weight in his Christian Worldview and that even though there may be disagreements at some point, we are all striving for the same goal.” Stay tuned as the race for the South Dakota US House seat is about to get really interesting.
On Friday, December 18, Congress approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill (2000+ pages) with a pair of overwhelming bipartisan votes, capping a frenzied final few weeks of legislating before lawmakers head home for the holidays and gear up for the 2016 election year.
The House moved first, passing the government-funding bill on a 316-113 vote. The Senate followed suit just a few hours later, clearing the legislation —which also included a $680 billion tax package that the House cleared on Thursday — on a 65-33 tally.
VOTING NO: South Dakota Senator John Thune
VOTING YES: South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds and Representative Kristi Noem
Wikipedia defines an omnibus bill as: “a proposed law that covers a number of diverse or unrelated topics. Omnibus is derived from Latin and means “for everything”. An omnibus bill is a single document that is accepted in a single vote by a legislature but packages together several measures into one or combines diverse subjects. Because of their large size and scope, omnibus bills limit opportunities for debate and scrutiny.”
Congressman Mark Sanford, (R-NC) wrote the following concerning the passage of this omnibus bill:
“That the debt, deficit, and budgetary constraints continue to be issues in Washington – as elusive as Taliban fighters in the mountains of Pakistan – was evidenced this week by the omnibus bill. It’s a 2,000-page bill with $1.1 trillion in spending that we had but three days to review. Like any of these bills that combine many areas of government spending, there is enough good and bad to give all members of Congress a reason to vote for or against – and that generally means the taxpayer is the one losing in the process.”
Thank you again Senator Thune for your vote!
Finally, from the respected HERITAGE FOUNDATION we read the following press release issued moments after the omnibus bill was unveiled:
Omnibus a Missed Opportunity to Rein in Wasteful Spending
WASHINGTON December 16, 2015 – Congress has released a $1.1 trillion spending omnibus that—with about $50 billion in spending authority above the Budget Control Act—Heritage Foundation experts call a “missed opportunity to rein in wasteful and excessive spending.”
“While higher spending levels were agreed to back in November, Congress had no obligation to spend up to the cap,” said Paul Winfree, director of Heritage’s Thomas A. Roe Institute for economic policy studies. “This bill also contains a number of budget gimmicks that allow the bill to spend billions more than the November agreement.”
Spending limits present a ceiling, not a goal, Winfree contends. “With annual interest costs on the debt on course to reach nearly $800 billion within 10 years, Congress should have used this as an opportunity to enact meaningful policy reforms and embrace the budget they agreed to earlier this year. This omnibus also shortchanges defense at a time when national security should be a priority by using the war fund to pay for non-security programs.”
When it comes to leveraging the omnibus to govern with policy riders, Heritage experts conclude that Congress mostly disappointed. From continuing funds for abortion-providers like Planned Parenthood to failing to restrict taxpayer dollars for the Obama administration’s illegal and overreaching waters of the United States rule, there isn’t much to laud in this bill.
Ending the ban on oil exports will create more economic opportunities for Americans, increase employment and economic growth, and augment the overall efficiency of global oil markets. Unfortunately, the bill also gives the oil industry a special handout by providing small domestic refiners with a tax credit for the costs they incur from transporting oil.
The bill also continues a provision to prohibit CMS Program Management funds from being used to make payments under Obamacare’s Risk Corridor program. This will prohibit the administration from using undedicated funds to bailout unprofitable qualified health insurance plans in the individual and small group markets.
On the tax extenders bill that was also released, research fellow Curtis Dubay says Congress once again dropped the ball by not going through each policy in the package—making those that reflect sound policy permanent, and eliminating those that are not sound policy permanently in a revenue neutral way.
“Further complicating matters is that Congress included a delay of certain Obamacare taxes without reducing Obamacare spending, including the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost health insurance plans,” Dubay notes. “This is the wrong approach to that tax, which should instead be restructured into a more useful cap on the tax-free amount of employer-provided health insurance.”
Written by Dale Bartscher
The Family Heritage Alliance Action’s message to those representing
“We The People” in the US Congress is clear and it’s essence is found in the words
of an unknown author:
“Don’t pray for a lighter burden. Pray for a stronger back.”
It was a flying trip putting 750 miles on my car in less than 12 hours but it was more than worth the effort! FHA Policy Analysis Ed Randazzo and I received a gracious invitation to attend a reception in Sioux Falls on Thursday, August 6. Our South Dakota US Representative Kristi Noem hosted this event. Her traveling guest, on this day, was US Representative and former Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
A hundred plus patriots filled the room that evening. This face-to-face encounter with two Christian conservative leaders in the US House gave me, as your FHA Executive Director, an opportunity to address with each of them several family valued issues they will soon be dealing with in Congress.
When Congress does return on September 8, they will have little time to deal with some very important legislation such as bills –
- to defund Planned Parenthood;
- to prohibit abortions over 20 weeks (Pain Capable Bill);
- and to pass the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA).
It seems to us that Conservatives in both the House and Senate, like Noem and Ryan, need to find ‘must-pass legislation’ to attach these three important bills to. As standalone legislation, each of them face a Presidential veto and currently there are not enough votes to override his veto.
Pierre Bynum, Chaplain and National Prayer Director for the Family Research Council (FRC) recently shared this urgent plea: “FADA cannot wait. So much hangs on religious liberty. Without it, conscientious objectors to the HHS mandate (e.g., the Little Sisters of the Poor, Christian Universities, etc.) and same-sex marriage (e.g., wedding vendors, chaplains, county clerks, etc.) will all be in jeopardy.”
Today as Christians let us STAND to encourage those who represent us in DC to move these three important pieces of legislation along in the best form possible for their ultimate passage. Psalm 11:7 (MSG) echoes this sentiment, “God’s business is putting things right; he loves getting the lines straight, Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall, we can look him straight in the eye.”