Today, the House began debate on the first of the 12 annual appropriations bills; the Commerce, Justice, and Science bill (H.R. 5326). So far, Republican leaders have agreed to abide by their pledge to bring these bills to the floor under an open rule. This allows conservative members to offer amendments to cut more spending and eliminate wasteful and unconstitutional programs. It's the votes on these amendments that often separate the conservatives from the statists.
The underlying bill appropriates $52.94 billion for the Justice and Commerce Departments, NASA, and some other related agencies. This is a $1.6 billion cut from last year's spending, and is in line with the individual spending allocations established in the Ryan budget. This is a good start, but as is that case with all these spending bills, there's a lot more to cut. After all, with the exception of the Census Bureau, we should be eliminating the Commerce Department altogether.
The most important amendment that has been proposed so far is Mike Pompeo's amendment #37 to abolish the Economic Development Administration (EDA). The EDA is a failed Great Society program that serves as a stimulus/pork slush fund for special interest communities under the guise of assistance to economically distressed areas of the country. It's nothing more than a fund for corporate welfare and a way of picking winners and losers in the market. It has been as successful in creating jobs as Obama's stimulus. Senator DeMint wrote a great piece on the EDA last year.
Anyone who claims to oppose earmarks and stimulus must oppose the EDA. While the underlying bill cuts funding to the EDA, it still appropriates $219 million for FY2012. Call your members and ask them to support the Pompeo amendment to end the EDA. If we can't close down this failed agency, we will certainly never eliminate any major agency or full department.
We're waiting to see if other members will step forward with some more prudent amendments, such as one to abolish the Legal Services Corp. We'll keep you posted on how the amendment process plays out and post the roll call votes of the major amendments.
It's these spending bills that grant us the opportunity to truly reduce the size of government. Then, we must force leadership to stick with the House bills and refrain from abandoning them for omnibus bills negotiated with the Senate, which refuses to pass a budget. The time for talk of balanced budgets and spending cuts is over. Now is the time for action.
Cross-posted from The Madison Project