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House Roll Call: 215     Vote Date: May 1st, 2015

Issue:  H.R. 2028 Making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes.

Result:  Passed in House, 240 to 177, 14 not voting.  Republicans scored.

Freedom First Society: This annual energy and water appropriations measure (one of the 12 in regular order) would increase overall spending by $1.2 billion for its assigned portion of the federal government. Most seriously, the measure makes no effort to identify and eliminate or phase out unconstitutional programs and departments. As an example, most of the functions of the Department of Energy are unconstitutional, yet the DOE budget is increased under H.R. 2028.

We do not score the Democrats on this one, as most undoubtedly voted the right way (Nay) for the wrong reason — they wanted to spend more.

We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)

From the Cong. Research Service Summary: Highlights: The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 provides FY2016 appropriations for the civil works projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation and Central Utah Project; the Department of Energy (DOE); and several independent agencies, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The bill increases overall FY2016 Energy and Water Development funding above FY2015 levels and includes increases for DOE and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation….

The bill authorizes DOE to conduct a pilot program with private sector partners to provide interim storage for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. [Emphasis added.[

Freedom First Society Analysis: Undoubtedly, some of the programs funded by this measure are proper. However, a common practice with legislation that continues progressively larger unconstitutional government is to mix the good with the bad. This tactic provides weak politicians with the “excuse” for voting for the entire package.

Informed constituents should demand that their representatives vote “no” on legislation that makes no serious effort to phase out and eliminate unconstitutional spending.

Unfortunately, in the floor “debate” over this appropriations measure we could find no mention that some of the programs or even most of a department, such as the Department of Energy, were unconstitutional.

As a candidate for president in 1980, Ronald Reagan called for the abolition of Jimmy Carter’s Department of Energy (the DOE), but there has been little serious effort to do so, to the detriment of our nation. In general most of what the DOE does is not only unconstitutional, but counterproductive — acting to keep energy scarce and expensive. (The DOE did absorb some constitutional defense-related functions re our nuclear stockpile, making it a more difficult target.)

In the debates, we saw no eagerness to expose the federal government’s war on energy, supported by the Insiders and their environmentalist offspring. That war has prevented and continues to prevent the U.S. from enjoying plentiful, inexpensive energy resources and the tremendous boost to the economy that would entail, while empowering the government to ration and act as a gatekeeper to those resources.

Instead, the partisan floor debate over H.R. 2028 was respectful and polite. Even the Democratic opponents generally praised the bill, objecting mainly to the limits imposed by the sequester in the 2011 Budget Control Act on other appropriations measures (see below).   Those GOP who were unhappy with the measure did not have a chance to speak until their proposed amendments were debated.

Unauthorized Appropriations

Perhaps the most instructive remarks were made by Representative Tom McClintock (R-CA). McClintock offered an amendment to freeze appropriations in this measure at FY 2015 levels (not roll back) for programs that have not been reauthorized:

Mr. Chairman, this amendment continues the effort to stop or, at least in this case, to freeze appropriations that are made for agencies whose legal authorizations lapsed many years and even decades ago.

Ever since 1835, the rules of the House have forbidden spending any money for purposes unauthorized by current law; yet today, about one-third of our discretionary spending is for unauthorized programs.

Why is that? Well, it is because the rule against unauthorized spending cannot be enforced because it is always waived by the resolutions that bring these bills to the floor.

The bill before us today contains $25 billion in unauthorized spending for programs that have not been reviewed by the authorizing committees since as far back as 1980, Jimmy Carter’s last year in office….

Rather than review our spending decisions and making tough choices about spending priorities, Congress simply rubberstamps these programs out of habit, year after year. It is no wonder we are so deeply in debt with so little to show for it.

My amendment does not defund these unauthorized programs, as the House rules require. It simply freezes spending on them at last year’s level.

The cuts contained in this amendment total $129 million, or about thirty-six one-hundredths of 1 percent of the total spending in this bill.

This House has a responsibility to examine these programs, reauthorize the ones that work, and modify or end the ones that don’t. It has a responsibility, but it has no incentive, as long as we keep funding them and, worse, increasing the funding that these programs receive.

In a sense, this is a token. It is a symbol. Reducing this bill by thirty-six one-hundredths of 1 percent will have no appreciable effect on the $35.5 million in this appropriation or the $3.8 trillion the Federal Government plans to spend this year, but I hope that it will send a subtle but clear message that the Members of this House insist that the Congress reassert its constitutional responsibility to authorize Federal spending and to enforce its own rules that prohibit spending blindly on unauthorized programs.

A majority of GOP representatives (126 to 113) supported this symbolic protest. But the 126 supporters were overwhelmed by their 113 colleagues combined with unanimous Democratic opposition. And so the McClintock amendment failed, 126 to 295.

It was disappointing to see Representative McClintock nevertheless support the final measure. His action confirms that our representatives must have the informed support of a sizeable number of constituents if we want most of them to take even tougher stands that are not merely “token” or “symbolic.”

The Bill’s Sponsor

Representative Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who chaired the appropriations subcommittee that produced the bill, introduced it as follows:

The bill provides $35.4 billion for the activities of the Department of Energy, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and other agencies under our jurisdiction. This is a $1.2 billion increase from last year’s funding level, and $633 million below the request.

This is a responsible bill that recognizes the importance of investing in our Nation’s infrastructure and national defense. As we do each year, we worked hard to incorporate priorities and perspectives from both sides of the aisle. [A red flag!]

Simpson made no comment re constitutional limitations, suggesting instead that he was proud of his work to compromise with socialists. But, as we shall see, that was to be of no avail.

Democrat Strategy

H.R. 2088 was the second of 12 FY2016 appropriations bills brought to a floor vote in the House. Following the first such bill, H.R. 2029 Making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies, Washington’s Roll Call wrote:

House Democratic leaders succeeded in holding back all but 19 of their members on the first appropriations vote of the season without even formally whipping against the Republican bill.

It’s a sign the Democratic caucus is putting a plan in motion to try to stymie GOP appropriations bills one by one, until Republicans reach a breaking point and agree to reconsider the current sequester-level spending caps. — Roll Call (4-30-15): “One Down, 11 to Go: GOP’s Uncertain Appropriations Season.”

Ms. Kaptur (D-Ohio) served as the ranking Democrat on the appropriations subcommittee with Mr. Simpson. She controlled the Democrat side of the debate on H.R. 2088:

Our bill’s priority is to strengthen our Nation’s energy foundation. This bill does responsibly invest in that effort, as well as in our nuclear security as well as our water infrastructure. But I must ask: At what cost does our bill do this? Our bill is among the first two to be considered. There are 10 bills that will follow, and, frankly, they were raided to pay for ours.

This Republican budget will mean that additional funding for this bill—1 of 12 appropriation bills on which Congress must act—comes at the expense of other vital national needs that will be shortchanged as subsequent appropriation bills are brought forward; in total, 12 of them….

Nuclear nonproliferation and environmental cleanup efforts in our bill will make our world safer. But on America’s streets, police and fire departments will remain understaffed, insufficiently trained, and underequipped because the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill is shorted…. [Note: The Constitution does not give the federal government any responsibility for police and fire departments.]

Though this Energy and Water bill is respectable, it is only one oar in the water pushing our ship of state forward. We can’t reach our destination without the other 11 oars in the water too. For that reason, I urge my colleagues, as we move forward, to consider a “no” vote on this measure in hopes that a message will be sent strongly. [Emphasis added.]

Because most Democrats chose to follow their party leadership and vote “no” (right vote, wrong reason) in order to lobby for more unconstitutional spending, we score only the Republicans on this measure.

The “Renewable” Energy Scam

Earlier, Ms. Kaptur propounded a well rehearsed myth supporting the Insider focus on soft energy sources and conservation:

Thirty-seven years ago, President Jimmy Carter, after the first Arab oil embargo, as gasoline prices exploded and the U.S. fell into deep, deep recession, championed the creation of a U.S. Department of Energy. He equated the struggle for America’s energy independence as the moral equivalent of war, and he was right. He set a goal to steer the United States toward energy independence by 1985.

Today, America still struggles to meet that challenge set out nearly four decades ago: reducing our imported energy dependence, curbing our voracious appetite for foreign oil, and growing a diverse domestic energy portfolio that invests in a self-reliant America and the job creation here at home that goes with it.

Containing our ballooning consumption topped President Carter’s agenda. But while he successfully reduced consumption during his Presidency, his successors lost focus. Demand for gasoline increased by 40 percent in the 25 years after he left office, a troubling reality….

President Carter also envisioned a new energy horizon for our Nation, including renewable energy and conservation. Solar electric capacity currently operating in our country is enough to power more than 3.5 million homes, on average.” [Emphasis added.]

Author Steve Milloy, in his 2009 blockbuster, Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them, very credibly exposed these myths and the real agenda driving them. In our review (see our complete review of Milloy’s book) we stated:

The Green War on Energy

A primary green objective is to create scarcities, which then provide the pretext for government regulation and rationing. And what better place to bring a modern industrial nation to its knees than to starve it of energy?

In the late sixties and early seventies, the anti-nuclear movement, in cooperation with revolutionaries in government, largely killed the use of this American technology on American soil.

The current tactic to achieve energy scarcity, promoted by the Obama administration, is to emphasize the development of ‘renewable’ energy, while attaching burdensome strings to the construction of power plants and the development of resources that can realistically supply our immediate energy needs, such as oil from shale. Colorado, as Milloy points out, is the Saudia Arabia of shale oil. Yet this resource has for years been off limits to development.

Green Hell provides a much-needed dose of reality regarding promises that a modern society can be run anytime soon on the alternative sources being touted, and Milloy points out the enormous expense in trying.

Moreover, when push comes to shove, as Milloy shows, green leaders will oppose even their “renewable” sources where these sources look like they might offer serious help, since the real but not advertised objective is no energy. The renewable energy campaign is really just a campaign to create shortages (at immense expense) that government can ration.

Myths re Nuclear Waste

The late Petr Beckman in his 1979 booklet “The Non-Problem of Nuclear Wastes,” correctly observed:

  1. It is utterly untrue that no method of waste disposal is known;
  2. The paramount issue that is being covered up is a simple comparison: Is nuclear waste disposal a significant advantage in safety, public health, and environmental impact over wastes of fossil-fired power plants … or not?
  3. Much of the answer to the question above is contained in two simple statistics: For the same power, nuclear wastes are some 3.5 million times smaller in volume; and in duration of their toxicity, the advantage ranges from a few percent to infinity.

Yet by perpetuating the myth of a nuclear waste problem, the federal government, with convenient pressure from the Insider-financed environmental lobby, has been able to stifle the use of U.S.-pioneered nuclear technology on American soil. And, of course, big-spenders love a problem to manage.

Unfortunately, we are getting no leadership from any of our elected politicians to expose these ruses.

Again, we do not score the Democrats on this one, as most undoubtedly voted the right way (No) for the wrong reason — they wanted to spend more.