Representative James Lankford (R-OK) voted in opposition to H.R. 3547, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, also known as the Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) omnibus appropriations bill. The bill passed the House in a vote of 359-67.
“Appropriation bills provide a unique opportunity to manage and eliminate wasteful federal spending, but this opportunity was missed by $18 billion,” said Lankford. “I strongly support Congress retaking control of spending from the White House, but I cannot support a spending bill that exceeds the approved budget by using Washington financial gimmicks. This was a moment to make as much progress as possible to solve the problem, not stop short.
“While the bill to fund every area of the federal budget contained some good provisions, in the end—for me—the negative aspects of the bill outweighed the good. Instead of working together to eliminate more federal waste or reform out-of-control federal programs to reduce spending, this bill continues the business-as-usual practice of budget tricks. “
The total omnibus spending bill appropriates $1.129 trillion, including emergency and war funding. To meet the Budget Control Act’s (BCA) spending cap of $1.012 trillion for discretionary spending, the bipartisan omnibus agreement utilizes an all-too-common-place Washington budget gimmick known as “changes in mandatory programs,” or CHIMPs. The CHIMPs essentially take $18 billion in unspent, future spending, cut it this year and call it a savings of $18 billion. This tactic brings the bill’s discretionary funding levels to $1.011 trillion, which is conveniently $1 billion less than the spending caps set in the BCA.
“For the past three years, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued numerous reports that cite rampant waste, fraud and abuse in federal programs and agencies,” observed Lankford. “Those reports certainly outline at least $18 billion in real spending reductions we could have utilized instead of smoke-and-mirror CHIMPs. We cannot keep putting off real reforms in favor of the easier, business-as-usual Washington spending game. We can find common ground to cut spending. We had that opportunity today, but we failed to seize it.
“However, several federal programs were eliminated or reduced in the bill, and national defense was strengthened. I commend the Appropriations team in their work. Finding agreement with the leaders in the Democrat-controlled Senate is no easy task. Both sides of the aisle scored some victories in this bill, but the final product did not hit the agreed upon amount of spending without using phantom ‘future spending’ offsets.
“I look forward to continuing my work with the House Budget Committee this spring to work through the budget process for FY15. We must return to the real budget and appropriations process to protect future generations from the mounting national debt due to deficit spending that ignores federal waste,” concluded Lankford.