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    Budget Tag

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) became the fourth Republican senator to voice his support on a resolution to block President Donald Trump's border wall emergency declaration. Paul wrote at FoxNews.com that he "cannot support the use of emergency powers to get more funding." At a GOP event, Paul told the audience that he cannot "vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress."

    On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul succeeded in blocking a vote on the so-called Budget Deal (which we discussed thusly Wednesday). In so doing, the federal government shut down at 12:01 AM. An hour and a half later, the Senate invoked cloture, voted on the huge spending deal reached by both parties Wednesday evening, passing the bill with a vote of 71-28 (without bothering to debate it). Just before dawn it passed the House and heads to Trump for signature.

    UPDATE: A cloture vote to end debate in the Senate on the funding bill passed by the House failed. So we're heading to "shutdown" unless there is a last minute deal reached. As a reminder of how Obama weaponized the 2013 shutdown, see my post Flashback to when Obama weaponized 2013 government shutdown. 60 votes were needed, and it fell 10 short. 5 Democrats voted Yes: Donnelly, Heitkamp, Manchin, Jones, McCaskill. 4 Republicans voted No: Graham, Paul, Lee, Flake.

    It's unclear at this point whether there will be a short-term budget deal, or a government "shutdown." Despite the drama, a shutdown is not really a shut down. Essential services continue. It's more of a scale-back, and the government has a lot of discretion as to what gets scaled back. In a press conference today OMB Director Mick Mulvaney made the point that many agencies have reserve funds that can be used, but weren't used in the 2013 shutdown.

    Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Bob Corker (R-TN), two members with opposing views on fiscal policy, have announced "a path forward on tax reform" that "would allow for a tax reduction, as scored on a statistic basis, over a 10-year period." They hope to Senate Budget Committee will vote on said plan next week. The senators did not release any details about the plan, but new outlets have stated it will allow tax reductions up to $1.5 trillion. The Wall Street Journal reported that the "agreement would allow Republicans to lower tax rates while making fewer tough decisions on what tax breaks to eliminate to help pay for the cuts."

    What a shock. The Illinois legislature has once again missed its spring deadline to pass a budget even though the state owes $14 billion to unpaid bills. From ABC 7:
    Knowing the Governor Rauner would veto a budget that included tax increases, House Democrats left town without voting on a Senate-passed budget. The governor said all along he would only sign a budget with tax increases if it included reforms like workman's comp or a property tax freeze, two things Democrats have passed but the governor said the bills don't go far enough. "The majority of the House has shown no interest in any real changes to the system but I hope we can work something out with senators and then all of us together, Democrats and Republicans, put pressure on the House majority so they aren't just loyal to their political positions, they actually want to do things that are good for the people of Illinois," Governor Rauner said. "I believe we can get there, we just got to stay persistent."

    Last week, Louisiana passed a resolution calling for a Convention of States as described in Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The resolution passed on May 25 with a vote of 62-36, making Louisiana the eighth state to call for a meeting of the states for the purpose of proposing constitutional amendments addressing abuses by the U.S. Federal Government. Other states that have called a Convention of States for the same purposes are Florida, Georgia, Alaska, Alabama, Tennessee, Indiana, and Oklahoma. Increased national interest in a Convention of States (COS) is due largely to the government's failure to operate as the Framers envisioned. Having accrued a national debt of over $19 trillion and a debt-to-GDP ratio of 105%, the government's size and scope has grown far beyond anything the Founders could have imagined. Meanwhile, the states, having created the Federal Government, find themselves acting at the mercy of Washington's limitless regulations and outstretched tentacles, lest they lose federal sacred funding.

    Our generation is enduring a crisis, yet very few of us are actually aware of its existence. On April 4, 2011, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (OCR) released what has come to be known as the “Dear Colleague” letter (DCL). As a preface, Title IX is a federal statute that forbids discrimination on the basis of sex, and OCR is an office within the Department of Education that is tasked with enforcing Title IX on federally funded colleges and universities. Therefore, this bureaucratic office holds authority over the vast majority of college student’s schools. A violation of OCR policy could result in the loss of federal funds that are vital for any school’s operations, so OCR often issues guidance to colleges and universities on how to maintain compliance. DCL is one such issuance of guidance. So where is the crisis?

    Monday, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin had a camera follow him to the State House to check on the progress of the state budget. At 11:00 on a Monday, the chamber was completely empty. Governor Bevin implored state legislators to "get to work," citing a mere nineteen days left in the legislative session. Posted to Bevin's official Facebook page, the video went viral.

    Marco Rubio missed Friday's vote on the Omnibus bill. It was a bill he stated he opposed and might even try to delay. But he didn't show up for the vote. 98 other Senators did. Including Ted Cruz, who returned from the campaign trail to be able to just say No. Omnibus Bill 12-18-2015 Senate vote In the run up to the vote, Rubio excoriated the process used to draft the bill as well as provisions funding Syrian refugees. He suggested an effort to slow things down:

    The trillion dollar plus Omnibus bill being eased through Congress is stuffed with all sorts of provisions which, if debated individually, would cause an uproar. Senator Jeff Sessions focused in on immigration provisions and funding for the Obama agenda: Power Line has analysis:
    With Republicans in control of both House and Senate, the backroom omnibus spending bill that was unveiled yesterday should have been an opportunity to advance the conservative agenda across a very broad front. No doubt there are a few good aspects to the bill. But, as Paul noted earlier, it strikes a blow against education and against the Constitution by expanding funding for the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

    Monday afternoon, President Obama signed a two-year budget deal saying it was, "a signal of how Washington should work." Avoiding an election-year budget showdown, the bill suspends the debt limit until March of 2017 and brings the national debt total to a staggering $20 trillion. According to USA Today:
    Some House Republicans had proposed the former debt limit — which was set to expire Tuesday — to leverage more spending cuts from the administration. Outgoing House speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, put together a plan to avoid breaching the debt limit, saying that doing so would threaten the nation's credit rating. The bill sets the federal budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, with an end to spending caps that had affected both national defense and domestic programs. "By locking in two years of funding," Obama said, "it should finally free us from the cycle of shutdown threats and last-minute fixes. It allows us to, therefore, plan for the future."
    The two-year budget deal was passed by the Senate Friday with a vote of 64-35. All 35 dissenting votes were Republican. Several Senate Republicans vocally opposed the budget deal which essentially robs the Social Security Trust Fund of about $150 billion. Senator Lee referred to the bill as, "the last gasping breath of a disgraced bipartisan Beltway establishment on the verge of collapse."
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