Every elected Republican came to Washington promising to slash spending and balance the budget. Yet, when it comes time for the most direct way to enact those spending cuts; namely, the annual appropriations bills, most of them are missing in action.
In an ideal world, Republicans should hold the upper hand in negotiations over spending bills. They enjoy complete control over the House, while Harry Reid only has a tenuous hold on the Senate at just 53 seats. Unfortunately, as we chronicled extensively here at Red State, House and Senate GOP leaders agreed to jettison the Ryan budget halfway through the process in favor of Harry Reid’s minibus and omnibus bills, which vitiated every worthy goal of that budget.
There were two consequences of that betrayal. First, House Republicans were denied the opportunity to vote on all 12 appropriations bills individually. Second, because the bills were shunted off to conference straight from the Senate, House conservatives were denied an open floor process to offer conservative amendments cutting more spending or eliminating harmful and wasteful programs. It is these bills that offer us the opportunity to truly cut spending, at least on the discretionary side, yet that opportunity was completed surrendered to Harry Reid. The net effect was that not a single penny of discretionary spending was cut from the previous year’s budget and not a single program was eliminated.
As we noted earlier this week, Republicans are on track for more of the same this year. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans already disregarded the House budget in favor of Obama’s spending levels, while statist House appropriators are signaling they wish to do the same. In order to preempt a repeat of last year’s insanity, Tom McClintock has drafted a letter to House leadership requesting adherence to their promise of an open amendment process on all 12 bills individually:
Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor:
We write to express our support for a fully open appropriations process in which all twelve appropriations bills are brought individually to the House floor and every member has an opportunity to offer amendments.
We agree wholeheartedly with Speaker Boehner who said, “Let's do away with the concept of 'comprehensive' spending bills. Let's break them up, to encourage scrutiny, and make spending cuts easier.” To make this possible, House Republicans promised in the Pledge to America to “advance major legislation one issue at a time” and “let any lawmaker – Democrat or Republican – offer amendments to reduce spending.”
This vision for an open, transparent spending process is not new – it is a return to the regular order which was discarded during four years of Democrat control of the House. The new Republican House majority came to Washington with a mandate from the American people to address this historic breakdown in spending controls and to stem the tide of spending and debt. We began that work by passing a responsible budget, bringing spending bills to the House floor individually and under open rules, and letting the House work its will.
There is still much to be done to keep runaway spending and debt from destroying our economy and diminishing the prosperity of future generations. We encourage you to build on last year’s progress as we work together to put America back on a path to fiscal sanity.
It’s not surprising that some Republicans would rather Harry Reid control the spending bills and send them straight to conference committee, where Republicans will be blocked from filing amendments on the committee report. They don’t want to be forced to vote on conservative amendments to cut more spending on the floor. It’s enough that the appropriators have to deal with a few pesky conservatives who offer spending cut amendments on a committee level. Yesterday, Congressman Jeff Flake offered an amendment to cut another $95 billion in spending, and let’s just say that the results were not pretty [via CQ]:
Fiscal 2013 Appropriations Subcommittee Allocations/Lower Discretionary Spending
Flake, R-Ariz. – Amendment that would change the fiscal 2013 discretionary budget authority allocations for 10 subcommittees in the following manner:
Rejected 4-44: R 4-25; D 0-19; I 0-0; April 25, 2012.
Republicans (4) Flake (Ariz.) Graves, T. (Ga.) Lummis (Wyo.) Yoder (Kan.)
Republicans (25) Aderholt (Ala.) Alexander, R. (La.) Austria (Ohio) Bonner (Ala.) Calvert (Calif.) Carter (Texas) Cole (Okla.) Crenshaw (Fla.) Culberson (Texas) Dent (Pa.) Diaz-Balart (Fla.) Emerson (Mo.) Frelinghuysen (N.J.) Granger (Texas) Kingston (Ga.) Latham (Iowa) LaTourette (Ohio) Lewis, Jerry (Calif.) Nunnelee (Miss.) Rehberg (Mont.) Rogers, H. (Ky.) Simpson (Idaho) Wolf (Va.) Womack (Ark.) Young, C.W. (Fla.) Democrats (19) Bishop, S. (Ga.) DeLauro (Conn.) Dicks (Wash.) Farr (Calif.) Hinchey (N.Y.) Honda (Calif.) Jackson, J. (Ill.) Kaptur (Ohio) Lee (Calif.) McCollum (Minn.) Moran, James (Va.) Olver (Mass.) Pastor (Ariz.) Price, D. (N.C.) Rothman (N.J.) Roybal-Allard (Calif.) Schiff (Calif.) Serrano (N.Y.) Visclosky (Ind.)
NOT VOTING (2)
Let’s bring this discussion out of the committee and have a full and open debate on the House floor regarding spending cuts and the legitimate role of the federal government.
Find out if your Republican representative plans to sign this letter. Talk is cheap in Washington. Anyone who purports to support a balanced budget but refuses to keep control of the appropriations process within the Republican-controlled House isn’t worth a dime to us.
Cross-posted from The Madison Project