FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill
This week, Congress completed work on an appropriations bill to fund the government through September 30, 2016. The bill passed the House 316-113, with a majority of Republicans’ supporting passage. The Senate passed the bill 65-33 and it has been signed into law.
That means as of today, America’s forty year old oil export ban is gone.
I agree with many of you that this bill is by no means perfect. However, contrary to some media reports, the bill does include many critical conservative priorities and actually cuts funding for Obamacare. President Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty for illegal aliens has already been stopped by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. His amnesty is not in effect.
When Congress reconvenes in January the House will vote to repeal Obamacare, as we have dozens of times, except this time the bill will actually go to the President’s desk. This same reconciliation bill will also fully defund Planned Parenthood. Therefore, we will keep our word to pass legislation to the President’s desk that repeals Obamacare and defunds Planned Parenthood.
Legislation I cosponsored has already passed the House, which will halt all Syrian refugees until they can be properly vetted to ensure the safety of Americans. This bill will be voted on by the Senate early next year.That promise is also being kept.
These three critical priorities are about to be taken care of. President Obama has promised to veto all three. Had any of them been in this bill, military funding, law enforcement funding, veterans funding, lifting of the crude oil export ban, and all the other conservative priorities would have been vetoed because of legislation we are about to pass early next year.
Had we not completed work on this bill, the alternative would have been a full year continuing resolution (CR).
The Constitutional conservatives at Hillsdale College accurately described the problems with a CR in the November issue of Imprimis:
"The CR surrenders Congress’s power of the purse. When Congress is appropriating individual agencies, it can adjust program spending and policy elements on a case-by-case basis. It doesn’t always get its way in the face of a possible presidential veto, but at least Congress is in the game, with a multitude of tactics and potential compromises in play."
While wrapping all twelve appropriations bills into one omnibus funding bill is in no way ideal, this bill does represent a detailed appropriations measure and does allow Congress to wield the purse strings to promote conservative principles. A CR simply would not because it permits the President to continue to do things the way he’s been doing them without Congressional oversight, which is unacceptable.
The conservative principles that we all support are on the schedule to be tackled in 2016. As always, I am keeping my word to you.
The immediate repeal of America’s oil export ban is one of the most important conservative victories within the omnibus. This new law is transformational. In Texas, the oil and gas industry supports 1,938,700 jobs but Texas has lost 110,000 jobs since the oil and gas downturn. The 7th district of Texas, which represents the energy corridor, has been hit particularly hard.
Lifting the oil export ban will very quickly make America the world’s largest exporter of oil and gas. America, and Texas, will quickly crush OPEC, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia. We will liberate friendly countries, like the Ukraine, from being held hostage by Russian natural gas. Had this bill failed the oil export ban would’ve been removed and we would not have seen it again for a very long time, if at all.
With the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, national security is a top priority. Our families deserve peace of mind that our country is safe and our military is strong. The omnibus bill fully funds our military and ensures they have the equipment and resources they need to handle any threat facing the United States abroad.
While we are protected abroad with a strong military, it is imperative that we are secure at home by preventing terrorists from entering the United States through the visa waiver program. At the same time, we must also protect Americans' Second Amendment rights. This bill puts provisions in place that prevent anyone that has recently traveled to a country where there is an ISIS stronghold, like Syria and Iraq, from using the visa waiver program to enter the United States and put our nation at risk.
With the threat of terrorism on our own soil, now more than ever, Americans must exercise their right to protect ourselves and our families. This bill prohibits funding from being used to implement the UN Arms Trade Treaty which would establish an unregulated international body to control firearms. The treaty would inevitably infringe on our right to keep and bear arms but implementation has been halted through this bill.
Not only does this bill strengthen Americans' security and our individual rights, it also cuts programs that impose burdensome regulations on the American people. This omnibus appropriations bill cuts funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) back to 2008 levels to keep them from implementing Obamacare regulations and prevents them from targeting conservative groups. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is cut back to 1989 staffing levels and its funding has been reduced to 2010 levels to prevent the agency from implementing President Obama’s extreme environmental policies.
With a new year comes a new set of leadership that has vowed to fundamentally change how Congress operates. Work will no longer be conducted behind closed doors, but in the sunlight of an open and transparent process. The public and Members of Congress will have more input, more involvement, and more control. This is a priority I have been committed to, and I am glad leadership has put Congress on a better track.
If you’d like to see more conservative priorities that we adopted in the 2016 omnibus appropriations bill, click here.It is an honor and privilege to represent you and Texas in the United States House.