Room to Fight within the Omnibus

By: Jason Yaworske
The Forge

December’s Ryan-Murray budget deal was a bad deal for a number of reasons. One of the primary reasons was that it set discretionary spending limit for Fiscal Year 2014 ($1.012 trillion) a full $45 billion above the level that would have been required by sequestration ($967 billion). While the budget number represents a spending limit, meaning Congress can (and should) spend well below that number in upcoming appropriations, there are policy provisions the House should be demanding in negotiations right now as part of any omnibus package of appropriations bills regardless of the ultimate top-line number.

In fact, the ability to fight for these policies was specifically stated as a reason for supporting the Ryan-Murray agreement by none other than Rep. Paul Ryan, who stated that, “by having an agreement like this…you get Congress to reclaim the power of the purse so that we set priorities. I’m fighting for a conscience clause rider on appropriations because I’m very worried about religious freedom… I can do that if Congress is put back in charge of appropriations, which we are because of this budget agreement.”

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee have themselves laid out a number of policy priorities worth fighting for. Here are some policy goals that, according to the House Appropriations Committee, would be a good place to start:


  • Include language to increase oversight and protect taxpayers from waste, fraud, and abuse in the WIC program
  • Include language requiring more oversight in the SNAP; as well as language prohibiting advertisements or outreach with foreign governments for the program

Commerce, Justice, Science

  • Include language prohibiting funding for any prison within the U.S. to house Guantanamo detainees, and generally prohibit the transfer of Guantanamo detainees into the U.S.
  • Significantly reduce spending for the Department of Commerce, while providing adequate funding for the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO)

Energy and Water

  • Significantly reduce spending for the Department of Energy, including cuts to renewable energy programs and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program
  • Include language rolling back the President’s misguided Yucca Mountain policy

Financial Services and General Government

  • Significantly reduce the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’) budget; include language prohibiting the agency from implementing Obamacare; and include language requiring further oversight into the agency’s political targeting
  • Cut the Executive Office of the President to bring Executive Branch spending cuts more in line with cuts already being absorbed by the Legislative Branch
  • Significantly cut the General Services Administration (GSA); include language requiring additional reporting on GSA property inventory; and include spending limits and restrictions on agency travel and conferences
  • Provide funding for the SOAR Act, which helps low income residents of D.C. attend private schools of their choice
  • Include language prohibiting federal and local funds from being used for abortions, needle exchange, and medical marijuana in Washington, D.C.
  • Prohibit SEC slush fund spending on activities that have not been approved by Congress
  • Include language subjecting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to the regular congressional appropriations process
  • Prohibit federal funding of abortions
  • Prohibit any rules or regulations requiring federal contractors to disclose campaign contributions
  • Eliminate the Election Assistance Commission
  • Eliminate the Administrative Conference of the U.S.
  • Eliminate Allowances for Former Presidents

Homeland Security

  • Provide substantial funding for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and for visa security and overstays enforcement, to protect our border and the integrity of our immigration laws
  • Prohibit funding for any future “Fast and Furious”-type programs

Interior and Environment

  • Rescind funding for the 2009 stimulus bill’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program
  • Significantly reduce EPA spending and insert language prohibiting its efforts to institute certain proposed rules or regulations, including “stream buffer,” “navigable waters,” “new source” performance standards, “silviculture,” “fill material,” and hard rock mining rules and regulations.
  • Limit the ability of the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to issue new rules closing off public lands from hunting and recreational shooting
  • Significantly reduce operating costs for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
  • Reduce climate change, ecosystem, and administrative accounts within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Reduce funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
  • Insert language prohibiting the President’s National Ocean Policy
  • Eliminate funding for
    • Land acquisition
    • The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission
    • The Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation
    • The Woodrow Wilson International Center
    • Clean Automotive Technologies Climate Change Research
    • Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE)
    • Brownfields grants
    • Community Forest and Open Space Conservation

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education*

  • Defund Obamacare and rescind the law’s autopilot appropriations
  • Continue all current pro-life riders
  • Prohibit funding for Planned Parenthood
  • Include conscience protection language for religious and charitable organizations
  • Include language enacting the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act
  • Reduce funding for the NLRB and include language prohibiting it from establishing micro-unions, “quickie elections”, “e-card check,” or attacking secret ballot elections.
  • Include language prohibiting the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for federal construction projects
  • Include language prohibiting “persuader” regulations
  • Include language prohibiting the elimination of the “companionship exemption” for in-home care providers
  • Prohibit funding for the “Healthy Foods Financing” initiative
  • Eliminate “duplicative, inefficient, or unauthorized education programs,” including Race to the Top
  • Prohibit the Department of Education from implementing “gainful employment” and “credit hour” regulations, or from dictating state licensure of higher education
  • Significantly reduce taxpayer support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)

*provisions taken from FY13 House Appropriations proposal. House Appropriations has not released a FY14 bill

State and Foreign Operations

  • Eliminate funding for the Strategic Climate Fund
  • Eliminate funding for the Clean Technology Fund
  • Fully fund embassy security to prevent future Benghazi-like tragedies
  • Limit payments to the United Nations; specifically:
    • Limit UN Peacekeeping funding
    • Eliminate funding for UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
    • Eliminate funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    • Eliminate funding for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and cap international family planning and reproductive health spending
    • Eliminate funding for the UN Human Rights Council unless it ends its anti-Israel agenda
    • Withhold a portion of UN funding pending adequate financial audits
    • Prohibit funds for UN organizations headed by countries that support terrorism
    • Prohibit funding to implement the UN Arms Trade Treaty
  • Impose new oversight requirements on the use of U.S. taxpayer dollars in multilateral development banks
  • Reinstate the Mexico City Policy
  • Maintain existing pro-life riders, including the Tihart Amendment, the Helms Amendment, and the Kemp-Kasten Amendment

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

  • Insert language requiring Amtrak reforms
  • Eliminate funding for High Speed Rail
  • Substantially reduce HUD spending
  • Prohibit funding for any “new, unauthorized ‘sustainable,’ ‘livable,’ or ‘green,’ community development programs” within HUD
  • Significantly reduce funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program

To reiterate, these are all policy proposals put forward within the last year by the majority on the House Appropriations Committee (for more ideas of ways to cut spending, see the Heritage Foundation’s “10 Programs to Eliminate in the January Spending Bill”).

In exchange for giving up so much in the way of short-term spending increases in the recent Ryan-Murray budget agreement, conservatives in Congress were promised a significant number of the policies listed above would be secured. Lawmakers who promised to fight for conservative policies as part of the subsequent appropriations process should be held to that standard.

Donate to

Support American Values...