By Wayne Alsip
IN 2011 CONGRESS BANNED EARMARKS AKA PORK.
When Republicans took control of the house in 2011, they eliminated earmarks; in the name of good government. What gave rise to this action?
In 2005, a $223 million earmark to fund construction of a bridge from Ketchikan, Alaska, to the tiny island of Gravina, Alaska, captured national attention. The earmark was part of a bill to provide funding for reconstruction efforts after hurricane Katrina. In 2007 Congress removed that earmark.
Fast forward to 2018. “Washington logrolling sometimes forces lousy choices,” said Texas Senator Ted Cruz. In the same response he explained, ‘after much consideration, I will reluctantly vote for this legislation. This bill contains major victories; if hurricane relief and restoring vital defense spending were the only elements of this bill, I would support it energetically and enthusiastically. Unfortunately, besides funding those critical priorities, this bill also unnecessarily balloons the deficit.’ Well DUH! By how much? Ted Cruz says ‘by over $130 billion AND irresponsibly suspends the debt limit to allow unfettered spending for yet another year.’ HUH?!?! And yet he voted for it, anyway.
Ted had this to say about the hurricane Sandy relief bill, “the problem with that particular bill is it became a $50 billion bill filled with unrelated pork. Two-thirds of that bill had nothing to do with Sandy.” That package was approved in January 2013, without the votes of Texas Republicans. Even current republican house speaker Paul Ryan, then the chairman of the budget committee, was arguing the money needed to be offset. ‘This legislative abuse is an insult to families facing real emergencies in the wake of the storm.’ An alternative bill by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, now President Trump’s budget director, would have funded a smaller emergency bill with a 1.63 percent across-the-board reduction in spending on discretionary programs. Mulvaney said at the time, “It’s so important to me that I think we should pay for it,” but his bill was rejected.
So why did Cruz and the republicans vote for this bill? Why not reconciliation and a simple majority vote to pass legislation WITHOUT pork, without funding for Planned Parenthood? Reconciliation is a legislative process of the United States Congress that allows the passage of budget legislation on spending, revenues, and the federal debt limit, with a simple majority vote in both the House (218 votes) and Senate (51 votes). Reconciliation bills can be passed on spending, revenues, and the federal debt limit once a year per topic.
The reconciliation process came from the congressional budget act of 1974. In 1993 Congress used reconciliation to enact bill Clinton’s fiscal year 1994 budget. In 1999, Congress for the first time used reconciliation to pass legislation that would increase deficits without a companion bill that reduced spending (thereby ignoring the limits from the 1974 bill) for the taxpayer refund and relief act of 1999; so they can’t use that as an excuse. It is a dog and pony show for our benefit folks. Look, we tried our damndest, our bestest, but by golly, we HAD to make deals with the Dems ya know. Shaking my damn head.
Wayne Alsip’s been writing since he discovered crayons and chalk. Wayne’s strong opinions and convictions are heard often. Contributing to Little Bytes News is a way to put those thoughts into writing while enhancing his writing skills. Wayne prays truth vindicates both.