This Thursday, the Senate will vote on Senator Rand Paul’s resolution blocking President Trump’s arms sales to Qatar — more on that here.
The Senate will also vote on nominations.
The House is in session Monday through Thursday. The vote that no doubt will get the most media attention is H.Res.430, which authorizes the Judiciary Committee to intervene in judicial proceedings to enforce congressional subpoenas.
Of more significance is H.R. 2740, which combines five appropriations bills. The bills are Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, State and Foreign Operations, Energy and Water, and Legislative Branch.
The summaries of the appropriations bills are admittedly long, but they give you a good detailed look at how Congress spends your money. You will also find examples of wasteful spending to use to counter arguments that we can not afford any more cuts.
- Defense—Provides $690.2 billion, an increase of $15.8 billion over Fiscal Year 2019 and $8 billion below the president’s request.
The spending is divided between $622.1 billion in base funding ($15.2 billion above the FY 2019 level and $88.2 billion above the president’s request) and $58.1 billion in “Overseas Contingency Operations” funds, which is an increase of $165 million over the FY 2019 levels and $96.2 billion below the president’s request. Limiting the use of OCO slush funds to increase military spending is one of the few items that is praiseworthy about the budget.
For background on OCO funds, read here.
Two other good provisions are a repeal of the 2001 Authorization of Military Force (AUMF), which has been used to justify military interventions which have nothing to do with getting those responsible for the 9-11 attacks. The 2001 AUMF has also been used to justify crackdowns on civil liberties. Secretary of State Richard Pompeo recently suggested that the 2001 AUMF would allow for military action against Iran!
The bill also requires the president to remove all US troops from Yemen.
Unfortunately, those are the only good parts of the bill. Here are some troubling provisions:
- $250 million for Ukraine security innovation.
- $749 million for “partner countries” like Columbia and Jordan on top of the $424 million provided in base funding.
- $4.5 billion for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund, including $100 million to recruit female soldiers and train security personnel. Whatever your views on women in combat, I would hope we would all agree that social engineering is not a proper role of the US Military.
- Prohibits the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo.
- $970 million for Counter Drug activities plus $172 million for the National Guard Counter Drug Program.
- $176 million for Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic aid, which is not a proper function of the US Government. Plus, civic aid means meddling in other nations internal affairs, which creates resentment of the US.
- $200 million for Israeli cooperative procurement programs.
- $8.7 billion for 90 F-35 aircraft, 12 more than requested. For more on the F-35 see here.
- $6.5 million for gender advisor programs.
- Legislative Branch — Provides $3.972 billion for the House of Representatives. This is a $264 million (or 4.3%) increase from FY 2019.
- Energy and Water:
- Appropriates $45.4 billion– $1.8 billion above FY 2019 levels.
- $7.36 billion for Corp of Engineers, $357 million above FY 2019 and $2.53 billion above the president’s request.
- $1.6 billion for the Department of the Interior, which is $82.8 million above FY 2019 and $528 million above the president’s request.
- $37.1 billion for the Department of Energy — $1.4 billion above FY 2019 and $5.6 billion above the president’s request.
- $2.65 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which is $273 million above FY 2019 and $2.3 billion above President Trump’s request.
- $150 million for security for the nation’s energy infrastructure — $30 million above FY 2019 and $44 million above the president’s request.
- $200 million to “advance” new energy technologies — $44 million above FY 2019 and $17.5 million above the president’s request.
- $1.3 billion to develop the next generation of nuclear energy — $494 million over President Trump’s request.
- $750 million for fossil fuels research and development, which is equal to FY 2019 and $178 million above the president’s request.
- $6.87 billion for the Office of Science which does basic research. This is $285 million above FY 2019 and $1.3 billion above the president’s request.
- $425 million for the Advance Research project, equal to FY 2019. President Trump proposed eliminating this program which funds “cutting edge research” for developing new entry technologies. Of course, without a market test, there is no way of knowing if the projects funded by this are the best use of resources.
- $15.9 billion for the Department of Energy’s nuclear program — $665.7 million above FY 2019. These programs oversee the US government’s “nuclear deterrent.” This also funds nuclear non-proliferation activities.
- $7.175 billion for environmental clean-up. This is equal to last years funding amount and $76 million above President Trump’s request.