NTU urges all Members of Congress to vote “NO” on the FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act or “Omnibus” being considered as a substitute amendment to H.R. 3547. Despite protracted negotiations, this spending bill falls short of taxpayers’ expectations in a number of areas.
There are serious concerns regarding the process by which the Omnibus was created – behind closed doors with little input from taxpayers and their advocates. Legislators are being afforded minimal time to read and review a 1,582 page bill that appropriates $1.012 trillion. Fast-tracking the legislation outside the normal committee process has limited opportunities to amend and debate the merits of the package.
Policy analysts have barely begun to scratch the surface of what lies within those pages, but what has come to light is more of the same wasteful spending that is perpetuated year to year despite our growing debt and ongoing economic challenges. Here are just a few examples of wasteful spending and ill-advised policies in the Omnibus:
- An additional $612 million ($8.6 billion in total) for Head Start, despite studies from Health and Human Services that indicate that the program is ineffective in improving educational outcomes.
- A one-year delay of all flood insurance rate increases for homes being remapped, a significant step backward for vital flood insurance reform.
- $5 billion more for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), the first ramp-up of war spending in 4 years even as our overseas obligations are winding down. Over time, OCO has become a Department of Defense slush fund, obscuring the need for reevaluating priorities.
- $1.8 billion for the long-troubled Littoral Combat Ship, which has been plagued by cost overruns, cracked hulls, and mechanical problems. The Government Accountability Office has recommended restricting funds for additional ships.
- A provision prohibiting the United States Postal Service from making the kinds of common-sense reforms it needs to continue operating and prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout.
At $1.012 trillion in discretionary spending, the Omnibus is $45 billion above the modest spending caps Congress agreed to with bipartisan support in 2011. The agreement passed by Congress in December undid key provisions of the Budget Control Act and proved once again that Congress cannot abide by reasonable fiscal restraints. Unfortunately, H.R. 3547 continues down that same irresponsible path.
Roll call votes on the FY 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act will be significantly weighted in our annual Rating of Congress and a “NO” vote will be considered the pro- taxpayer position.