Top 10 CR Amendments for Conservatives to Watch

The House Republicans are voting this week to cut government spending this year by at least $60 billion in the Continuing Resolution (CR). 

In addition to the base CR bill, there are 583 amendments (at last count) being offered to the CR in the open process on the floor this week. Many of the Republican amendments would further cut spending and defund liberal policies.

Conservatives should monitor the debate all week in the House this week to track which of these key amendments are included in the final bill for final passage, which is expected on Thursday afternoon.

Having poured through the 583 amendments and gotten input from key conservatives, below is a list of the 10 most important amendments for conservatives to monitor this week.

1. Cut $20 Billion More (Amendment No. 104):  As Chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), Rep. Jim Jordan (R.-Ohio) offered an amendment to further cut spending in the CR to get closer to the promises in  the GOP’s “Pledge to America.” The amendment is expected to be one of the very last voted on before final passage.

The current base text of the CR is $8 billion over the promised 2008 spending levels. Also, the CR cuts spending by $60 billion in this fiscal year, not the $100 billion cited in the Pledge. The RSC’s amendments would further cut spending in the CR by reducing Congress’ own budget by an additional 11% and other non-security accounts by an additional 5.5% (with one exemption for aid to Israel.)

The RSC amendment would in effect cut spending back below 2008 levels (before the Democrats’ spending spree) and save an additional $19-$20 billion in non-security, discretionary spending.

2. Defund ObamaCare Implementation (Amendment No. 575): Rep. Denny Rehberg (R.-Mont.) introduced an amendment on Wednesday that would prohibit any funds from the Labor and Health and Human Services Agencies to be used to implement ObamaCare. Rehberg is the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor and HHS.

This defunding of ObamaCare would be for the duration of this CR, which ends on September 30. Rehberg’s amendment states that “none of the funds made available by this [CR] may be used for any employee, officer, contractor, or grantee of any department or agency” to implement the ObamaCare law.

“We’ll defund ObamaCare one piece at a time.  My amendment prevents funding from being used to implement ObamaCare while we continue to work for a full legislative or judicial repeal,” said Rehberg in a statement after introducing his amendment.

3. Prohibit IRS Funding for ObamaCare (Amendment No. 274): Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R.-Wash.) offered an amendment that would prohibit any funds from the CR to be used to “pay any employee, contractor, or grantee of the Internal Revenue Service to implement or enforce the provisions of, or amendments made by” the healthcare law.

Rodgers’s amendment mirrors a bill which she introduced two weeks ago which would prevent the IRS from hiring the estimated 17,000 new employees needed to enforce the individual mandate section of ObamaCare.

Rodgers said her bill would “protect the constitutional right of every American to decide what healthcare is best for themselves and their families, while also saving taxpayers about $10 billion by preventing yet another unnecessary increase in the number of government employees.”

4. Stop Net Neutrality (Amendment No. 404): Rep. Cliff Stearns (R.-Fla.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R.-Ore.) offered an amendment that restricts any CR funds from being used to “implement the Report and Order of the Federal Communication Commission relating to the matter of preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices.” The FCC rules were adopted on December 21.

As Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee, Stearns plans to “outline that Internet regulation is out of the FCC’s jurisdiction and that regulation will hamper economic growth and job creation.”

5. Eliminate Obama’s Unconfirmed Czars (Amendment No. 204): Rep. Steve Scalise (R.-La.) introduced an amendment to prevent any CR funds to go to paying for any of President Obama’s czars who have not yet been confirmed.

Scalise lists nine czars (with very long titles) and their offices which would be defunded: Director of White House Office of Health Reform, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, Special Envoy for Climate Change, Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Council on Environmental Quality, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury assigned to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy, White House Director of Urban Affairs, Special Envoy to oversee the closure of the Detention Center at Guantanamo Bay, Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation at the Department of the Treasury, and Associate General Counsel and Chief Diversity Officer for the Federal Communications Commission.

6. Block EPA Enforcement (Amendment No. 198): Rep. Ted Poe (R.-Tex.) introduced an amendment that would prohibit any CR funds for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “implement, administer, or enforce” the  cap-and-trade program or requirements pertaining to the emissions of greenhouse gases, such as the permit requirement under the Clean Air Act

7. Defund ‘Family Planning’ Programs in Foreign Aid (Amendment  No. 262):  Rep. Bob Latta (R.-Ohio) has an amendment to eliminate the $440 million in funding for the State Department, foreign operations, and related programs “for international population control, family planning, and reproductive health.” Latta’s amendment would transfer the $440 million to the Spending Reduction Account.

8. Cut spending to 2006 levels (Amendmenent  No. 163): Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R.-S.C.) goes even further than the rest of the Republican caucus by inserting a very brief but pointed amendment that would cut government spending drastically back to 2006 levels. Mulvaney’s amendment states: “None of the funds made available by this [CR] for any account (other than an account of the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, or Veterans Affairs) may be used in excess of the amount available for such account during fiscal year 2006.”

9. Defund Climate Change Panel (Amendment No. 149):  Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R.-Mo.) has an amendment to block any CR funds from being used for “contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”

10. End “Monuments to Me” (Amendment No. 26): Rep. Michael McCaul (R.-Tex.) has an amendment which blocks any CR funds from being used for “a project or program named for an individual serving in the United States Congress.”

McCaul, a longtime opponent of these projects, has called them “the height of hypocrisy,” which “feeds the belief that members of Congress are arrogant and out of touch with the people we represent.”  

The CR debate is being done with a so-called open rule, meaning any Democrat or Republican can offer an amendment to the spending bill. And, if any amendment passes in the votes along the way, it will be a part of the final CR bill that goes to the Senate.

The result of an open process with over 500 amendments is that the House floor debate—on how much and what to cut in government spending—is messy, spirited, confusing, contentious, and exciting.  In short, it’s democracy.