Last week, the House conducted a marathon session voting on amendments to the annual Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill. As always, there were a number of votes on spending cut amendments. In addition, there was a rare gun control amendment snuck into the bill. An amendment sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) dumped another $20 million into state grants for beefing up background checks on gun purchases. This will essentially give a green light to blue states to continue their overzealous regulation of firearms. Sadly, it passed with a majority Democrat support.
As always, we have put together a color-coded scorecard to track the way Republican members voted on key amendments. You can view the spreadsheet here.
Below the fold is a brief summary of the amendments scored in the spreadsheet from the Republican Study Committee:
1) Pompeo (R-KS): Eliminates funding for the Economic Development Administration (EDA). The underlying bill funds EDA at $248 million. According to the amendment sponsor, “the Administration uses the EDA as a vehicle to spend taxpayer money on its own personal pork-barrel projects.” The GAO has said that EDA grants “did not have a significant effect” on project success, and the EDA IG has found that up to 29 percent of grant money has been wasted.
The EDA has not been authorized since 2008. The RSC budget proposed to eliminate this program. Conservative Support: American Conservative Union, Americans for Prosperity, and Club for Growth (Key Vote). Many outside groups have supported eliminating the EDA, including: Cato, Citizens Against Government Waste, FreedomWorks, Heritage Action, and National Taxpayers Union.
2) Thompson (D-CA): Increases funding for National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Initiative grants by $19.5 million. These funds are meant to provide federal grants to states to upgrade criminal and mental health records for NICS, as authorized by the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007. NICS is already funded at $58.5 million, a level that is already $3.5 million above the President’s budget request.
This increase is offset by reducing Commerce Departmental Administration by $1 million, Justice Information Sharing Technology by $3 million, Federal Prison System Buildings and facilities by $5.5 million, and National Science Foundation Agency Operation and Awards Management by $10 million.
3) Cicilline (D-RI): Increases funding by $8.5 million for DOJ State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance and reduces NASA Construction and Environmental Compliance and Restoration by $8.5 million. This funding is meant to support Project Safe Neighborhoods, a grant program that is meant to reduce gun and gang crime.
4) Smith (R-TX): Would reduce National Science Foundation (NSF) Social-Behavioral-Economic (SBE) Directorate by $15.35 million and refocus those funds on science and technology NSF research directorates. This would freeze the SBE Directorate at the current FY14 level.
This amendment is consistent with the goal of prioritizing NSF research that is in H.R. 4186, the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act, which was approved by the Science, Space, and Technology Committee yesterday.
The underlying legislation funds the NSF at $7.404 billion, $149 million above the President’s request, $232 million above the FY14 enacted level, and $409 million above the level proposed by the House Appropriations Committee for FY14. The NSF has not been authorized since 2013. The RSC budget called for reducing funding for the NSF due to the number of wasteful grants funded by the NSF.
5) Scott (R-GA): Would eliminate funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). In the underlying legislation, the LSC is appropriated $350 million, $80 million below the President’s request, $15 million below the FY14 enacted level, and $50 million above the level proposed by the House Appropriations Committee for FY14.
The LSC has not been authorized since 1980. The RSC Budget calls for the elimination of the LSC, explaining “the LSC has evolved into an organization that also takes part in the advocacy of political causes and lobbying. Coupling the misuse of taxpayer funds with the redundancy of free legal services provided by states and other organizations eliminates the need for this federally funded entity.” Several outside groups have advocated eliminating the LSC, including Heritage, Citizens Against Government Waste, and Cato.
6) Blackburn (R-TN): Would reduce the bill across the board (other than the FBI) by one percent ($400 million).