Follow Us on Twitter for #Senate Vote-a-Rama! #tcot #Budget2015

The Senate will begin voting on numerous amendments to the Senate Budget. We will be scoring several of these amendments in our scorecard.

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#LLPH #House Key Votes: #Budget2015! #RSCBudget #OCO #Defense #TCOT

2015 Budget Scorecard Freedomworks

Tomorrow, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on several budgets including various alternatives. There are two budgets that LLPH will be watching closely, and we will score them as one vote.

The first budget is the RSC Budget. LLPH will urge members to vote YES on the budget, even though there are a few weaknesses in it. But first, let us explain the strengths: The budget definitely balances and it does so in 6 years (not 10 like the House Republican Budget). It does the following:

Reforms and Reduces Washington’s Spending. The Blueprint cuts spending by $7.1 trillion relative to current policy over the 10 year budget window. The budget sets total FY 2016 discretionary spending at $975 billion, with non-defense discretionary reduced to $405 billion for the fiscal year and reduced by a total of $1.3 trillion by FY 2025. Unnecessary mandatory spending, outside of key safety net programs, will be reduced by $1.7 trillion between FY 2016 and FY 2025.

Repeals and Replaces Obamacare. The Blueprint fully repeals Obamacare through the reconciliation process. It replaces the president’s unpopular health care law with the RSC’s American Health Care Reform Act, a patient-centered solution that lowers costs, increases access to affordable health care and puts individuals back in charge of their healthcare decisions.

Strengthens America’s Safety Net Programs. The Blueprint offers common-sense reforms to strengthen America’s safety net programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, Disability Insurance and Social Security. By making changes that will restore these programs to solvency, we can ensure that they are there not only for current recipients, but for future generations.

The RSC Budget eliminates numerous wasteful programs including but not limited to: the Food Market and Local Food Promotion Program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program ($109 million over 10 years), the Foreign Market Development Program ($316 million over 10 years), the Market Access Program ($1.9 billion over 10 years), the Essential Air Services program, the Legal Services Corporation and many more agencies. It returns transportation funding to the states, promotes internet freedom, audits the federal reserve, and many more conservative solutions. Read the full document here.

The downside to the RSC Budget is that it increases defense spending to $570 billion base budget in FY 2016 compared to $523 billion of the House Republican Budget.

All that being said, LLPH will urge a YES vote on the RSC Budget, since it is the most conservative and if passed would set our country on the right path. It received an A- by Freedomworks. This will count as 60% of the budget score in our scorecard.

The second budget we will be watching is the Price Budget with increases in Overseas Contingency Fund spending. Here is the summary:

The amendment increases new budget authority for the Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism function (Function 970) by $2 billion, from $94 billion to $96 billion in Fiscal Year 2016. The amendment increases the outlay amounts for OCO over the period of Fiscal Years 2016 to 2025. As a consequence of the increase in OCO/GWOT, conforming increases are made in total budget authority and outlays, deficits, interest, debt subject to limit, and debt held by the public. Even with the increase in overall budget and outlays, the budget resolution remains in balance in Fiscal Year 2024 and thereafter.

All Republicans agree that national defense is a key function of the federal government and is truly constitutional. However, spending more money on our military does not make us stronger nor more powerful. Just like the state of our nation is not determined by how much we spending on social welfare programs, the state of our military should not be determined by how much we spend on defense programs.

W. James Antle III wrote a paper a few days ago where he recalls Former Senator and leading fiscal conservative Tom Coburn (R-OK) calling the Defense Department the “Department of Everything.” Coburn stated, “Billions of defense dollars are being spent on programs and missions that have little or nothing to do with national security, or are already being performed by other government agencies,” he wrote in one of his famous compilations of government waste. “Spending more on grocery stores than guns doesn’t make any sense.”

LLPH urges members to vote NO on the Price Budget substitute with defense increases that are not offset. Perfect scores will receive a recorded score of 200%.

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#LLPH Key Vote: “NO” on #HR2 (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015)! #DocFix #TCOT

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LLPH urges all members of the Senate and House to vote NO on H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. This bill is expected to be voted on in the House tomorrow and very soon in the Senate.

The Club for Growth states,

For the past decade and a half, Congress has routinely passed “doc fix” bills that increased reimbursements to health care providers in the face of scheduled cuts.  These fixes papered over the well-intended Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula that tried to tamp down health care costs, but was extremely flawed.  In any legislation replacing the SGR formula, the Club’s top concern is that it is fully paid for with sensible reforms. Unfortunately, this bill falls woefully short of that goal.  News reports state that the 10-year cost of the new bill is $200 billion, of which only $70 billion will be offset.  Part of this huge price tag is a 2-year extension of CHIP, a program that should be terminated.  Worse, a cost estimate by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget suggests this bill will add $400 billion to the national debt over 20 years.  All of this, of course, assumes that Congress will abide by the $70 billion offset.  But we consider it far from certain that they will.

Republicans were given both chambers of Congress to CUT OUR DEBT, NOT INCREASE IT!

Conservative Review states,

This legislative dynamic essentially sums up Republican governance over the past few decades.  In word and campaign rhetoric they talk a good conservative game; in deed they join with Democrats to grow government.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is putting the finishing touches on the $210 billion health care spending plan, which would replace with current “SGR” federal reimbursement scheme for Medicare providers with a new system.  Everyone agrees that under the current broken single-payer Medicare system costs have grown out of control and have engendered a need to better compensate health care providers for treating Medicare patients.  However, it is better to pass a short-term rate increase with spending offsets than to pass a permanent bill that is not fully offset and contains no structural free market reforms to address the root cause of price inflation in Medicare.

Worse, this plan adds in a full two-year reauthorization of the SCHIP welfare program without any reforms, which as we noted, should be terminated altogether in light of the Medicaid expansion and Obamacare.

At present, the federal government spends roughly $920 billion on health care programs ($527 billion on Medicare) – 76% more than our base defense budget.  That cost is already set to explode with the full implementation of Obamacare in the next few years.

Every Republican rails against profligate spending and the entitlement culture, yet they are now set to add a net $140 billion in health care spending over the next 10 years and $400 billion over the next 20 years – all with full bipartisan cooperation.

Republicans were not given a majority in Congress to increase spending, reauthorize wasteful and unconstitutional programs, nor pass fake offsets to pretend they are being fiscally responsible. LLPH urges a STRONG NO vote against this bill which is expected to be voted on tomorrow or Thursday.

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#LLPH #House Key Vote Alert: “NO” on #HR749 ( #Amtrak Reauthorization) & “YES” on McClintock Amdt.! #TCOT #Liberty

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LLPH urges all House members to vote NO on H.R. 749, the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 which reauthorizes Amtrak. Offered by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), Pete DeFazio (D-OR), Jeff Denham (R-CA), and Michael Capuano (D-MA), this bill does little to reform Amtrak.

Amtrak (The National Railroad Passenger Corporation) is a publicly funded railroad system. Amtrak does decent transportation work, but the federal government has no constitutional role in this area. With an $18+ Trillion, the federal government should stop subsidizing Amtrak and privatize it. Allow the free market to work.

Our friends at the Heritage Action explains several problems with the bill:

The bill’s sponsors misleadingly claim the bill “reduces Amtrak’s authorized funding levels by 40 percent.”  This is a reduction in previous authorization levels, but does not represent an actual reduction in spending, as authorizations for Amtrak have consistently exceeded appropriations.  For instance, Amtrak received $1.4 billion in FY 2015.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, H.R. provides $1.4 billion for Amtrak in FY 2016.

Amazingly, the bill also increases the authorized subsidy for money-losing long distance routes rather than placing these routes on a path to fiscal sustainability.  The Heritage Foundation called for the elimination of federal operating subsidies in its recently released “Budget Book: 106 Ways to Reduce the Size & Scope of Government.”  These subsidies also stand in stark contrast to theHouse-passed FY 2015 budget:

“The budget supports eliminating operating subsidies that have been insulating Amtrak from making the structural reforms necessary to start producing returns. The 1997 Amtrak authorization law required Amtrak to operate free of subsidies by 2002.”

Another selling point made by the bill’s sponsors is a provision that supposedly “eliminates Amtrak’s losses in food and beverage service.” Despite the fact that Congress has technically prohibited Amtrak from running losses on its food and beverage service since 1981, Amtrak lost $87 million per year providing food and beverage services from 2006 to 2012.  The consequences for noncompliance under this new policy would not occur until after the bill’s funding authority expires.  There is little incentive for Amtrak to make the necessary reforms to ensure that its food and beverage service does not continue to be a taxpayer liability.

Amtrak has failed to respond to congressional mandates for decades, and there is little reason for that to change under H.R. 749.  If lawmakers want to provide quality, reliable service without burdening taxpayers they should seek to privatize Amtrak, ending federal subsidies altogether.

The Club for Growth states:

In the official 2012 GOP platform, it states, “Amtrak continues to be, for the taxpayers, an extremely expensive railroad.”  Indeed, most Republicans claim they want to end or greatly reform Amtrak.  But this bill doesn’t do that, even though it was drafted and supported by House GOP leaders.  Spending authorization levels go up, not down, between fiscal years 2016 and 2019.  Worse, the bill allows taxpayer-backed debt to be more easily accessed – up to a whopping $35 billion.

Thankfully, conservative members are stepping up to the plate to massively improve the bill. Rep. Tom McClintock, one of the stalwart defenders of liberty and a close friend of LLPH has offered a simple but strong freedom amendment. It reads:

Page 2, line 3, through page 3, line 10, strike section 101.

This amendment would eliminate all Federal assistance for Amtrak. We are in strong support of the amendment.

H.R. 749: http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20150302/CPRT-114-HPRT-RU00-HR749.pdf

LLPH urges a YES vote on the McClintock Amendment to H.R. 749 and a NO vote on H.R. 749 if the amendment is not adopted. 

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#LLPH #House & #Senate Key Vote: “NO” on “Clean” #DHS Funding Long or Short-Term! #TCOT #NoAmnesty

LLPH urges all members of both chambers to vote NO on any DHS Funding bill that does not defund executive amnesty whether short-term or long-term. Kicking the can down the road while letting executive amnesty move forward is wrong.

Congress has the power of the purse and must use it. We will score any votes on any DHS Funding bills that does not defund amnesty negatively. It is that simple. Vote NO!

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#LLPH #House Key Vote: “NO” on #HR5 (#StudentSuccessAct)! #NCLB #Education #NoChildLeftBehind #TCOT

LLPH is officially urging a NO vote on H.R. 5, The Student Success Act. While this bill contains some good reforms, it fails to remove the federal government from its unconstitutional role in education and reauthorizes major parts of No Child Left Behind.

Here are some our largest problems with the bill (thanks to our friends at Heritage Action for putting this together):

H.R. 5 does not enable states to completely opt out of the programs that fall under No Child Left Behind. The bill does not include language that would allow states to opt out of all the programs that fall under NCLB, along with the law’s mandates, and utilize those dollars for any lawful education purpose under state law.

H.R. 5 does not eliminate programs or reduce spending.  The bill consolidates more than 65 programs into a Local Academic Flexible Grant, which requires states to submit detailed documentation, follow prescriptive rules, and comply with onerous reporting requirements.  This is not a block grant.  Furthermore, H.R. 5 does not appreciably reduce spending in relation what was actually spent.

H.R. 5 does not eliminate all the burdensome federal mandates.  Although the proposal wisely eliminates counterproductive and prescriptive Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) mandates, H.R. 5 maintains the current NCLB mandates for states to establish standards in reading and math and to test kids annually between grades 3-8 and once in high school. H.R. 5 orders that academic achievement standards “include the same knowledge, skills, and levels of achievement expected of all public school students in the state.” States must also use “the same academic assessments…to measure the academic achievement of all public school students in the state.” Taken together, these twin mandates direct the state to establish a single uniform assessment, limiting the ability of local schools to determine their own curriculum.

H.R. 5 does not provide states the option of full Title 1 portability.   H.R. 5 provides increased portability, but only to public schools and public charter schools. Adequate portability would extend to private schools of choice, if a state chose.

For each of the substantial shortfalls described above, an amendment was submitted to the House Rules Committee for consideration.

An amendment proposed by Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), known as A-PLUS, would have given the states the ability to escape NCLB’s prescriptive and programmatic requirements, consolidate their federal education funds and use them for any lawful education purpose they deem beneficial.  Even though 91 current members of the House Republican Conference have co-sponsored a version of A-PLUS, it was not made in order by the Rules Committee.

An amendment by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and DeSantis would have eliminated federal testing mandates, avoiding the “twin mandate” that H.R. 5 would create.  It was not made in order by the Rules Committee.

Finally, an amendment by Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) would have expanded the Title I portability in H.R. 5 to include private schools, if a state chose, while protecting their autonomy.  Despite the Speaker’s vocal support for school choice, it was not made in order by the Rules Committee.

Now is the time for Congress to restore federalism in education, empower parents and students instead of bureaucrats and unions, and remove archaic obstacles that have prevented true opportunity for all. By blocking commonsense conservative amendments, the House Rules Committee precluded lawmakers the opportunity to address the bill’s underlying problems.

The bill funds education programs in the billions of dollars, continuing to involve the federal government in the education business. It continues to require federal testing and forces states to develop standards, which even proponents like Rep. Todd Rokita admits (although not explicitly):

It is true the Student Success Act requires states to develop academic standards in reading, math, and science, against which student and school performance can be measured.

In approving a state’s curriculum, H.R. 5 states on page 43 of the Rules Committee Print:

The secretary shall—

‘‘(B) disapprove of the State plan only if the Secretary demonstrates how the State plan fails to meet the requirements of this section and immediately notifies the State of such determination and the reasons for such determination;

The Secretary of Education can make any decision and be vague in their reasoning. If the secretary makes the decision in a political way, the bill does not state how Congress is going to hold the secretary accountable.

Let’s also look at the House Education and Workforce summary of the bill in which they admit that the federal government will still be involved:

States are required to give the same reading and math assessments to all students in the state in each of grades 3-8 and once in high school.

Many portions of H.R. 5 are similar or exactly worded from No Child Left Behind. This bill is 600+ pages…it does not take 600+ pages to eliminate the Department of Education and get the federal government out of the way of states and local governments.

Multiple amendments were offered to improve the bill, but the GOP leadership refused to allow the bill to receive a vote.

It is for all these reasons we urge a NO vote on H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, because it does too little to help our states, our parents, our teachers, and most importantly our students. This vote will likely be included as a TEST (50%) section, if not in our QUIZ (40%) section.

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#House #Conservatives Stand Up Against Current #StudentSuccessAct; Call for Amendments! #TCOT #Education #NCLB #HR5

LLPH is continuing to stand against H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, in its current form. We are glad to see strong conservatives representatives fighting against the Student Success Act, since it reauthorizes most of No Child Left Behind and keeps a large part of federal government control.

Washington Examiner reports:

Conservatives are balking at a GOP measure that would reform the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act, which could threaten passage this week.

The bill would reduce federal input when it comes to deciding where federal dollars are spent on low-income and impoverished students.

The right faction of the House Republican conference wants the bill to go further to unwind federal involvement in education and some say they won’t vote for the measure unless there is an opportunity to change it through the amendment process.

House offices have been flooded with calls from constituents, GOP lawmakers told theWashington Examiner, and conservative groups are lobbying against the measure.

“Right now I’m a no,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., who homeschools his children, said. “I just have a philosophical opposition and a constitutional opposition to No Child Left Behind. Take it all out. Get rid of No Child Left Behind.”

Republican support is critical for the legislation to pass, since Democrats appear wholly opposed to the legislation.

President Obama has threatened to veto the bill, saying it “abdicates the historic federal role in elementary and secondary education of ensuring the educational progress of all of America’s students, including students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners and students of color.”

The legislation would allow federal dollars to follow the student, rather than tying the money to a school district, and would give states more flexibility on how they administer some aspects of the No Child program, which was first implemented during the administration of George W. Bush but has been widely criticized.

Conservatives are demanding a range of changes to the GOP re-write, including an opt-out policy for states who do not want to participate in the program.

“We feel all of those tentacles should be taken down,” Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said.”The only role the federal government should have is to ensure that the states have testing and some level of quality attainment but not dictating to the states what programs and curriculum they should have.”

A vote on the Success Act is slated for Friday.

According to a House GOP leadership aide, there are no plans to pull the bill.

Republicans can only afford to lose about 27 Republican votes on the legislation to prevent it from failing.

“We are moving forward as scheduled,” the aide said. “We don’t really feel that it is in jeopardy.”

Conservatives are balking at a GOP measure that would reform the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act, which could threaten passage this week.

The bill would reduce federal input when it comes to deciding where federal dollars are spent on low-income and impoverished students.

The right faction of the House Republican conference wants the bill to go further to unwind federal involvement in education and some say they won’t vote for the measure unless there is an opportunity to change it through the amendment process.

House offices have been flooded with calls from constituents, GOP lawmakers told theWashington Examiner, and conservative groups are lobbying against the measure.

“Right now I’m a no,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., who homeschools his children, said. “I just have a philosophical opposition and a constitutional opposition to No Child Left Behind. Take it all out. Get rid of No Child Left Behind.”

Republican support is critical for the legislation to pass, since Democrats appear wholly opposed to the legislation.

President Obama has threatened to veto the bill, saying it “abdicates the historic federal role in elementary and secondary education of ensuring the educational progress of all of America’s students, including students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners and students of color.”

The legislation would allow federal dollars to follow the student, rather than tying the money to a school district, and would give states more flexibility on how they administer some aspects of the No Child program, which was first implemented during the administration of George W. Bush but has been widely criticized.

Conservatives are demanding a range of changes to the GOP re-write, including an opt-out policy for states who do not want to participate in the program.

“We feel all of those tentacles should be taken down,” Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said.”The only role the federal government should have is to ensure that the states have testing and some level of quality attainment but not dictating to the states what programs and curriculum they should have.”

A vote on the Success Act is slated for Friday.

According to a House GOP leadership aide, there are no plans to pull the bill.

Republicans can only afford to lose about 27 Republican votes on the legislation to prevent it from failing.

“We are moving forward as scheduled,” the aide said. “We don’t really feel that it is in jeopardy.”

We thank strong leaders like Rep. John Fleming (LA-4) and Tim Huelskamp (KS-1) for standing strong and calling for changes to the bill. The House Rules Committee is meeting on amendments tonight to decide which ones to allow to the floor, and we will announce which amendments we will be key voting soon.

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