Seven Florida Republicans Balked at $1 Trillion Federal Spending Bill
Dec 17, 2011
By Kenric Ward
The $1 trillion omnibus spending bill passed the U.S. House Friday without the help of seven Florida representatives.
Conservatives assailed the measure, which passed 296-121, for a variety of reasons.
Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, noted that the bill spends $31.6 billion more than the House-passed budget plan and nearly $10 billion more than the bipartisan Budget Control Act agreed to in August.
“Too many in Washington still do not take seriously $1.4 trillion annual budget deficits, adding billions of dollars each and every day to our nation’s $15 trillion national debt. This bill failed to exercise the restraint needed to get our own budget in order.
“The decision to abandon the 72-hour requirement for this 1,217-page bill and rush through a stack of spending bills that should have been subjected to thorough review is disappointing,” Posey said.
Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Tallahassee, said the “megabus” H.R. 2055 did not go nearly far enough in scaling back the excesses of Washington.
“If you want to get out of a hole, you’ve got to stop digging. Fixing this fiscal mess is going to take game-changing spending cuts, a balanced budget, and common sense regulatory policies that create an environment for job creation and economic growth,” Southerland said.
Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, voted against the budget bill after congressional negotiators, bowing to a veto threat, eliminated restrictions on Cuba travel.
“Today, President Barack Obama reaffirmed his allegiance to Fidel and Raul Castro and confirmed his status as the Castro brothers’ best ally and chief lobbyist in Washington,” Rivera charged.
“My vote against this budget is intended to demonstrate my willingness to continue fighting the Obama administration’s policy of appeasement and unilateral concessions toward the Castro regime.”
The four other Florida Republicans voting against the measure were Sandy Adams, R-Orlando; Connie Mack, R-Naples; Dennis Ross, R-Tampa; and Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala.
Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, said he voted for the bill because it cuts discretionary spending by $95 billion compared with fiscal year 2010.
“For the first time since World War II, the House has significantly reduced discretionary spending two years in a row, managing to adequately fund integral programs to maintain critical services and programs Americans rely on,” West said.
“It has been a long time coming, but today’s legislation—consistent with the Pledge to America—has completely eliminated earmarks. Compare that to 10,000 earmarks in the appropriations bill passed under the Democrat majority in 2009, and 8,000 earmarks in the appropriations bill in 2010.”
Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Jacksonville, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the bill “addresses key programming needs in Florida and across the nation.”
He cited $14.9 million in military construction funds to keep nuclearization work at Naval Station Mayport moving forward.
For West, highlights of the spending bill included:
- $915 billion in funding for defense, energy and water, financial services, homeland security, interior, labor, health and human services, education, and state and foreign operations.
- A $25 million rescission of “slush fund” monies for the Securities Exchange Commission to implement programs that were not authorized by Congress.
- Reforms on the Pell Grant program, requiring a GED to qualify and reducing the number of years of the grant awarded from 9 to 6 years.
- A $100 million increase in funding for special education and Headstart.
- Fully funding the U.S. commitment to Israel for $3.07 billion.
With Senate approval expected by Friday’s midnight deadline, the federal government will avert a threatened shutdown this weekend.
But partisan wrangling continued over other legislation, notably extensions of unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut, which the White House had made a priority.
Negotiations were complicated when House Republicans attached a provision to expedite permitting of the Keystone pipeline project, which has been opposed by some environmentalists.
Acrimony between the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-run Senate simmered as lawmakers rushed to adjourn for the holidays.
“It’s been almost three years since the U.S. Senate has approved a budget,” Posey said Friday afternoon. “Senate leaders have once again waited until the last minute to consider appropriations bills, which begs the question: just what have they been doing all year besides having dozens of votes on raising taxes?”
Posey concluded, “The House and, more importantly, the Senate, should hit the ground running next year and work together to stop Washington’s wasteful spending and bring accountability to Washington. Let’s learn from Europe’s mistakes and turn things around while we can rather than rushing headlong into the same disaster.”
On a “lighter” note, the conservative Heartland Institute hailed the House’s appropriations bill for accomplishing at least one thing: blocking the ban on incandescent light bulbs through September 2012.
The 100-watt bulb was scheduled to be illegal for sale in the United States starting in January, with lower-wattage bulbs phasing onto the banned list each year.
“Although this is just a temporary measure, it’s good to see the House leadership reversing one of the fatuous big-government intrusions perpetrated by a previous Congress and the George W. Bush administration,” said S.T. Karnick, Heartland’s director of research.
“The public pressure on Republicans in particular in recent years appears to be having the desired effect. Perhaps this will shed some light on how disconnected the federal government has become from the people it is supposed to serve.”
This article originally appeared on SunshineStateNews.com.
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