Frelinghuysen Votes Against Omnibus Appropriations Act
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11) today opposed H.R. 1105, the $410 billion Omnibus appropriations bill. H.R. 1105 completes nine unfinished spending bills from the fiscal year that began October 1, 2008 (the start of 2009 fiscal year).
"New Jersey families are cutting back to get through difficult economic times, and Congress must do the same. This massive government spending bill comes on top of an $800 billion stimulus package and a month after a $350 billion taxpayer commitment to the Troubled Assets Relief Program for banks. With each new borrowed dollar, and we are talking about billions, not millions, our nation goes further into debt on the backs of future generations."
"The Omnibus bill was allowed one hour of debate with no opportunity for amendments. Congress is considering these bills five months late, a complete forfeiture of its Constitutional responsibilities as a separate branch of government. The nine bills included in the Omnibus were never brought to the House floor for consideration, and six never received a vote in committee! Not since 1950 has this occurred."
"Speaker Pelosi and House leadership have put together another spending bill with little input from most Members of Congress, even those in their own party," said Frelinghuysen. "The American people deserve an open and transparent process, especially when billions of their hard earned dollars are at stake."
As the new Ranking Member of the Energy and Water Subcommittee, Frelinghuysen was especially disappointed that the Omnibus bill slashed funding to Yucca Mountain - our future national depository for nuclear waste.
"Our national security demands that we develop a more balanced energy portfolio that reduces our dangerous addiction to imported oil. Nuclear power makes up 20 percent of our nation's energy and 48 percent of New Jersey's. Despite the funding cuts to Yucca Mountain, which leave the facility on life support', no other solution for nuclear disposal was proposed."
Also tucked deep inside the Omnibus bill is a provision to eliminate the successful District of Columbia (DC) school choice program, which Frelinghuysen worked to create in 2003. H.R. 1105 prohibits any new students from receiving vouchers and sunsets the program after the 2009-2010 school year. This program gave Washington, DC schoolchildren and their parents new opportunities and access to better educations. This policy change will once again trap children in underperforming and failing public schools.
"These are incredibly serious policy decisions, and they should be carefully considered by Congress and the American people. This is no way to govern, and a huge spending bill should not be used to shove through these major policy changes."
By itself, the Omnibus Appropriations bill contains an 8.7 percent increase in discretionary spending, which represents the single largest jump since 1978 (with the exception of a 10 percent increase in 2002 after the September 11 attacks). When combined with the recently passed stimulus package, the funding increase for 2009 is over 80 percent.
In addition, the Omnibus Bill makes fundamental changes to:
Fairness Doctrine: Removes a provision that prohibits funds from being used to implement the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," which requires the federal government to regulate and censor radio and television content.
Cuba Travel Restrictions: Narrows existing travel restrictions to Cuba, including lifting the "family travel" limitation to immediate family members and the "once every three years" travel limit. We should not be lifting sanctions on Cuba until they account for the whereabouts of Joanne Chesimard, the killer of a New Jersey State Trooper.
ACORN: Provides $181 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation for housing counseling. ACORN has been a past recipient of such funding.
Deficit Impact: With the passage of the $1 trillion "stimulus" bill, the federal deficit will rise well above the record $1.2 trillion (or 8.3% of our economy) that CBO predicted at the beginning of 2009. H.R. 1105 would unnecessarily add billions in deficit spending to the national debt.