Cantor Outlines Busy June, Highlighted by Appropriations
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor circulated a memo to House offices Friday afternoon outlining a busy schedule for the chamber’s June work period.
The Virginia Republican says the chamber will turn to an assortment of legislative measures, including four fiscal 2014 appropriations bills. Those measures fund a handful of departments and agencies, including the Agriculture, Homeland Security, Defense and Veterans Affairs departments, along with some other federal functions, such as the Food and Drug Administration.
Spending bills are being written at the $967 billion level that includes the budget sequester’s effects in the baseline.
In addition, the farm bill is on track to actually reach the House floor this year. The Agriculture Committee reported out a bill before the Memorial Day recess.
“This bill, together with the effects of sequestration, reflects almost $40 billion in savings reductions through eliminating and reforming wasteful government programs and consolidating more than 100 programs. Over $20 billion in savings comes from much-needed reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), including eliminating benefits for lottery winners and applying asset and resources tests to all applicants,” Cantor wrote. “I commend the chairman and his entire committee for their efforts and I look forward to a robust debate and an open process on the House floor.”
Cantor also signaled that the House will move forward on two other annual measures: the defense and intelligence authorizations bills. He mentions other health and medical research legislation and ongoing oversight endeavors. Work also looms in July on reauthorizing the education law known as No Child Left Behind, Cantor noted. The debt ceiling and immigration also earned mentions in the letter, but neither came with a specific timeline.
The text of the full memo follows:
As Americans observed Memorial Day earlier this week, I hope we all paused to remember those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms here at home. Every day, I am reminded of the courageous blanket of freedom that our men and women in uniform have selflessly provided for us. We thank all of our veterans and military families, and mourn with those who have lost their loved ones. During the next month, we will honor our troops, past and present, by passing multiple bipartisan bills to fund and authorize our national security apparatus and to provide care and support to our returning heroes.
House Republicans remain focused on making like work for all Americans by creating an economy focused on growth and productivity. We will continue our efforts to increase domestic energy production to foster an environment of economic growth and lower costs for working families. We will consider important reforms to our nation’s farm and nutrition programs. We will put pediatric disease research ahead of politics. We will provide Americans with pre-existing conditions access to health insurance through conservative solutions of high-risk pools. And we will continue our oversight efforts of the administration in light of the numerous issues worthy of our scrutiny.
Members should expect a heavy legislative work-period on the floor as we consider a number of bills the House traditionally passes during the summer months. In addition to the legislation listed below, additional needs may arise and could alter the legislative outlook for the month.
Increasing our domestic energy with an all-of-the-above approach will increase economic growth and jobs, boost manufacturing, and make energy more affordable. In order to grow our economy and increase America’s energy independence, we need to responsibly develop both our onshore and offshore oil and natural resources in an environmentally responsible manner. We need to expand onshore energy production by streamlining the permitting process, providing leasing certainty and facilitating oil and gas shale development. Chairmen Doc Hastings, Fred Upton, and their committee members will take the lead as we look to grow jobs and reduce the cost of energy for all Americans.
The power of the purse is one of Congress’s most basic and important Constitutional responsibilities, deriving from Clause 7, Section 9 of Article I which states, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” In light of this, I expect to begin the FY2014 appropriations process the first week in June. Chairman Hal Rogers and his committee members are working hard to produce twelve bills which reflect judicious spending of the public’s money. The overall spending level contained in the twelve appropriations bills is written to the sequester-level of $967 billon. As Republicans have committed, we will have an open amendment process so every member may have a say on how taxpayer money is spent. Please find below a list of the first four bills for which we will consider next month:
• Military Construction/Veterans Affairs (subcommittee chair John Culberson)
• Homeland Security (subcommittee chair John Carter)
• Defense (subcommittee chair Bill Young)
• Agriculture (subcommittee chair Robert Aderholt)
Consistent with our desire to proceed through regular order by passing individual appropriations bills through the House, we can fund our priorities, eliminate wasteful federal spending, and enact policy change through funding limitations.
I would also remind members that during the consideration of appropriations bills, the House will likely hold recorded votes past 7:00 p.m.
Our troops deserve all the tools and resources necessary to protect the freedoms that Americans enjoy. Chairman Buck McKeon and his committee members will produce a bipartisan National Defense Authorization bill, H.R. 1960, which reflects our commitment to our men and women in uniform — the troops who fight for our freedoms every day. Most importantly, this bill provides our warfighters, veterans, and their families with the support they earned through their solemn service and I look forward to its passage in the House.
Since the beginning of the 112th Congress, Chairman Mike Rogers, Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger, and the rest of the Intelligence Committee members have ushered in a robust era of oversight of the Intelligence Community. I expect Mike to bring forth another bipartisan authorization bill to fund our U.S. intelligence and intelligence-related activities critical to national security. It is our responsibility to provide the men and women who serve in our Intelligence Community with the resources and authorities they need to combat our enemies in these times of increased terrorist threats and unconventional warfare. I look forward to swift passage in the House.
Chairman Frank Lucas and the Agriculture Committee members have drafted a bipartisan five-year farm bill, H.R. 1947, The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, and I expect this bill to be considered next month. This bill, together with the effects of sequestration, reflects almost $40 billion in savings reductions through eliminating and reforming wasteful government programs and consolidating more than 100 programs. Over $20 billion in savings comes from much-needed reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) , including eliminating benefits for lottery winners and applying asset and resources tests to all applicants. I commend the chairman and his entire committee for their efforts and I look forward to a robust debate and an open process on the House floor.
Kids First Research Act
H.R. 2019, The Kids First Research Act, introduced by Gregg Harper, Tom Cole, and Peter Welch clearly reflects Congressional priorities in funding: medical research before political parties and conventions. In the era of limited federal resources, it is critical that we set the right priorities and now more than ever our priority should be medical breakthroughs that help children who are suffering from diseases and disorders like autism, juvenile diabetes, Down syndrome, and cancer. This bipartisan bill eliminates the Presidential Election Campaign Fund and diverts the remaining money, approximately $130 million, to expand pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health.
Helping Sick Americans
Chairman Fred Upton, Joe Pitts, Michael Burgess, and Ann Wagner deserve great credit for the work they have done on H.R. 1549, The Helping Sick Americans Now Act. To address the concerns raised several weeks ago, an amended version of the bill has been drafted. The amendment will fully repeal the Prevention and Public Health slush fund (PPHF) which the administration is using to implement Obamacare through hundred million dollar advertisement campaigns and new “navigators”. The amendment does not utilize or fund the existing PCIP program, which will expire at the end of the year. Instead, the amendment provides funding for state based high risk pools, the framework that represents the conservative policy answer to helping Americans with preexisting conditions. States will be able to apply this year for funding to support their based high risk pools. In FY 2014, the state high risk pool funding is subject to appropriations, and therefore by definition, is not a new entitlement. The text makes clear that the Secretary of Health and Human Services cannot require states to comply with any policy in Obamacare as prerequisite or condition of participation. Furthermore, the Secretary is required to develop a funding formula based on estimates provided by and in consultation with the state of the number of individuals with pre-existing conditions in each state. CBO preliminarily estimates that the language would reduce direct spending by $8.5 billion over the 2013-2023 period.
As the last few weeks have demonstrated, congressional oversight is not only a constitutional duty, but also a vitally important check and balance to the Obama administration. Over 100 oversight hearings were held in May and I am proud of the work each of our committees put into these hearings.
During June and the coming months, the House will continue to hold the Administration accountable. We will continue our work to determine who directed IRS employees to target conservative groups, why it was done, and who knew about it. We will follow the facts and continue in our efforts to uncover the truth behind the attacks in Benghazi. We will explore DOJ’s actions in seizing phone records and emails of the news media. We will also continue our oversight of the implementation of Obamacare and the Administration’s energy policy.
We have a busy month ahead of us and July will be just as busy, with our continued focus on making life work for Americans through our conservative solutions. During that stretch, members should expect a number of important issues to reach the house floor, including: the continuation of the appropriations process; action to reform No Child Left Behind with the help of Chairman John Kline and his committee members; addressing overbearing regulations through the good work of Chairman Bob Goodlatte and the Judiciary Committee members. We will also continue our focus on how to deal with our broken immigration system as well as the debt limit.
Thank you for all the hard work you do on behalf of your constituents and all Americans.