Last Thursday, Majority Leader McCarthy (R-CA) indicated that the House would consider a “minibus” appropriations measure that included the Defense, Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military construction/Veterans Affairs spending bills.
Abandoning regular order this early in the appropriations process inhibits transparency and accountability for a package that represents roughly two-thirds of the total federal discretionary budget. In addition, Leader McCarthy indicated that it will fully fund the budget request for a wall on the country’s southern border. There is currently $1.6 billion in the Homeland Security spending bill which is not part of the minibus.
All house members should have the opportunity to vote on the wall spending as part of the minibus appropriations.
When asked whether there would be a vote on funding or if the Rules Committee would simply incorporate it into the legislation as part of the rule, Leader McCarthy indicated that was a decision for the Rules Committee to make. The Rules Committee is a tool of leadership; the Committee web site indicates that it is “commonly known as the Speaker’s Committee.” If leadership wants a vote, leadership would get a vote. This isn’t an academic exercise, a similar self-executing rule was recently used to strike a prohibition on using Pentagon spending for building a border wall.
At TCS, we are concerned that money spent on additional border wall construction is money wasted and there are better ways to secure the nation. We also strongly believe in transparency and accountability.
In other words, lawmakers should vote on this spending – up or down – rather than hiding behind parliamentary gimmicks. Additionally, the Pentagon budget, massive as it is, should not be used to pay for items outside its area of responsibility. The Department of Homeland Security is where border security funding belongs.
We urge Members to vote against any effort to transfer Pentagon dollars to build a border wall or any other border security barrier. We also urge the Rules Committee to refrain from another “self-executing” rule to abet such a misappropriation of funds.