Today, Congressman Rick Berg voted to repeal the "Sebelius Slush Fund," a provision in the President's health care law that authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to spend nearly $18 billion of taxpayer funds over the next decade without any oversight.
H.R. 1217, a bill to Repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund, reasserts Congressional authority to weigh the value of different public health service programs and gives Congress the ability to prioritize federal spending through the regular appropriations process.
"Americans deserve access to affordable, quality health care, and repealing this Obamacare provision is yet another step in the right direction," Congressman Berg stated. "Slush funds like this enable the Washington business-as-usual culture that Americans have strongly rejected, allowing government agencies to avoid an open budget process and preventing Americans from knowing how their taxpayer dollars are being spent. With our nation facing record deficits, Americans want common-sense policies, not more backdoor spending. I will continue to fight to put an end to the President's burdensome and costly health care overhaul and work for real reform that North Dakotans have asked for."
At a March 9th Health Subcommittee hearing, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated that she does not need further Congressional approval in deciding how to spend slush fund monies. She also asserted that she had the ability to fund activities above and beyond the levels Congress appropriated.
Nearly $18 billion in advance appropriations over 10 years have been made available to this slush fund and will continue in perpetuity at a level of $2 billion per year after 2015. The Congressional Budget Office has scored H.R. 1217 as saving $16 billion over ten years.
Congressman Berg has ardently fought to repeal President Obama's health care law since being sworn into Congress. He served as an original co-sponsor to H.R. 2, the "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act" and spoke on the House floor in support of the repeal. He has also voted in favor of multiple amendments to defund over-reaching provisions found in the law. On January 19, H.R. 2 passed by a vote of 245 to 189 and was immediately sent to the Senate, where Democratic leadership has refused to take up the legislation for a vote.
Federal courts in Virginia and Florida have ruled that the health care law's individual mandate is unconstitutional. North Dakota was one of twenty-six states participating in the Florida lawsuit. Additionally, more than 1,000 waivers to the health care law have already been granted to businesses and organizations who have sought exemption from the law's mandates.
Rep. Berg is one of two freshman members of Congress serving on the House Ways and Means Committee. He was also selected to serve on the Subcommittees for Select Revenue Measures, Human Resources, and Social Security.