Bob Goodlatte: Countering Senate inaction

bob-goodlatte-afp2Throughout this year, the House of Representatives acted to pass numerous appropriations bills to fund federal agencies and keep the government operating. Unfortunately, keeping with the trend we have seen, the U.S. Senate failed to act on these bills and allowed the House-passed legislation to languish and die. In fact, in 2014, the Senate did not pass even one of the 12 annual appropriations bills required to keep the government running.

Due to Senate inaction, Congress was forced at the last minute to take steps to fund the government through the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2015. H.R. 83ensures that the federal government is funded and remains operational. Without passage of this legislation the government would be placed in a “shutdown” status, causing departments of our government such as the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to go unfunded. H.R. 83 funds the government well within the spending limits set by the Ryan/Murray Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2013 and includes notable policy reforms that will greatly benefit taxpayers.

While no law passed in Washington is perfect, this legislation keeps federal spending in check, enacts many of the priorities of the American public, and fully funds our men and women in the military serving in a time of international conflict. Specifically, H.R. 83 cuts funding for the internal revenue service and prohibits the IRS from using funds to target groups and individuals because of their political beliefs. In addition, H.R. 83 cuts funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 21 percent, bringing the overall staff levels for the agency to levels not seen since 1989. H.R. 83 provides no new funding for Obamacare. It also includes the years-long policy of prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds for elective abortions and mandates that Obamacare insurance plans notify customers about plans covering abortion services. Additionally, H.R. 83 gives flexibility to local schools to get out from under some bureaucratic regulations of the school lunch program. There are many more effective provisions of the measure, details of which are available at www.Congress.gov.

I understand that many folks, like me, want to defund the President’s unconstitutional immigration actions. This legislation funds the Department of Homeland Security, the department responsible for enforcing our immigration laws and processing visa applications, only through February 2015, but does not fund the President’s executive overreach. This will allow the new Congress, with Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate, the best opportunity to counter the President’s actions.

To be clear, I do not support President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. I will continue looking for ways the Congress can use its own constitutional authority to withhold funding from these executive actions and consider legislation to reform and strengthen our immigration laws to prevent any president from deliberately disregarding his constitutional duty to enforce the law. As Congress strengthens our hand to fight this overreach in the coming year, H.R. 83 keeps the government running and at the same time enacts many of the priorities of the American people.

Bob Goodlatte represents Virginia’s Sixth District in Congress.

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