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).


What practical impact will the House-passed Ryan Budget have on policy making in an election year?

Unfortunately, since 2010, there has been a notable unwillingness among House Republicans — particularly their leadership — to fight for the policies embodied in Ryan’s budgets

House Republicans and Chairman Ryan deserve credit for passing a budget, but Americans are growing tired of Washington’s budget-this-way, govern-that-way doublespeak. Lawmakers should not make the mistake, as Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) recently did, of suggesting a budget resolution alone is “a strong signal to our base that if we can deliver the election victories that we need, we’re prepared to make some really tough decisions.” 

We will only believe that promise when we see some evidence to support it. 

Read the whole Politico Magazine piece.


Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his budget proposal for FY 2015 yesterday, and as expected, it is quite similar to the budget blueprints from previous years.  Let me first say that this budget would be superior to the status quo a million times over.  Medicaid and Food Stamps would be block granted to the states and Medicare would be subject to at least some optional free market reforms at the end of the budget frame.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be eliminated.  And most importantly, it defunds the Obamacare programs.

If Republicans would only fight for this budget during the debt ceiling fisticuffs, many conservatives would be more than satisfied.

But that is the point.  Given the fact that Republican have no intention to fight for even some major components of this budget when the deadline looms in September, why put out a half-baked proposal?  If this is just designed to be a messaging document that is tossed in the trash at the end of the fiscal year, why not place our ideal proposal on paper?

Ultimately, Ryan accepts the entire fiscal cliff ($618 billion) and Obamacare tax increases (roughly $1 trillion), working off the [optimistic] CBO 10-year revenue projections of $40.6 trillion.  Yet, even with the optimistic revenue projections and tax increases, the budget still runs deficits because not enough government programs are phased out or reformed, especially in the Department of Education and some of the other bloated bureaucracies.

As you can see, this year’s budget proposal is essentially the same as the FY 2014 document.  It’s just that entitlement spending will grow every year, engendering a $1.2 trillion increase in this year’s budget.  Even in the near term, this budget actually spends more, increasing spending in 2015 to $3.664 trillion ($166 billion more than what as projected in last year’s budget).

FY 2015

Outlays $42,636

Revenue $40,630

FY 2014

Outlays: $41.466 trillion

Revenues: $40.241 trillion

Hence, although the budget comes close to balancing in 10 years from now, much of that is achieved by accepting the current tax baseline.  Republicans should be able to show how the budget balances within a conservative framework of the tax code.  Granted that this budget would easily balance if we implement Medicare premium support before 2014, but that is the point.  If we plan to leave traditional fee-for-service Medicare in place and make premium support optional, why not begin the free market option earlier?

Moreover, there is a difference between balancing a budget and limiting government.  Balancing a budget is all about accounting.  You can coalesce enough small cuts across many programs and come up with a big number, without ever eliminating many of the 2228 federal government assistance programs.  I’m not sure how many of them would be abolished under this budget, although as mentioned earlier, solid reforms are imposed on Medicaid and Food Stamps.

Even as it relates to cutting raw dollars and cents, spending would increase, on average, 3.5 percent a year until 2024.  In other words, the federal government will still grow faster than the private economy.

Overall, this would be a great start if Republicans planned to fight for this document throughout the appropriations season.  They should announce upfront that they have no plans to pass a CR or omnibus bill this year and force Democrats to go to conference on each of the 12 appropriations bills through regular order.  That way, we can fight Obamacare in the HHS bill without fear of the Democrats holding the rest of government hostage.  Yet, that demand has not been made.  And sadly, we know from past experience that Ryan will be the first one to ditch his own budget when the going gets tough in September.

One other important point: if Ryan gets his way on amnesty, all of the supposed savings from welfare reform will be rendered null and void.

Cross-posted at


The defeat of former Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Bob Bennett (R-UT) in their respective primaries in 2010 has engendered a new paradigm in GOP politics.  No longer do liberal Republicans run honestly on their records in the primaries.  That would create a recipe for instant defeat.  Instead, they lie their way through the primaries, painting themselves as conservative heroes, and often tainting their conservative challengers as unreliable conservatives. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was the first to pioneer this strategy in 2012.  Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has followed this strategy to a tee.  The two most recent examples are Reps. Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Renee Ellmers (R-NC).

Simpson is close to being unseated by Bryan Smith in Idaho’s Second District.  In an act of desperation, he went up on broadcast television with an ad that touts his support for a balanced budget amendment, spending cuts, repealing TARP, and defunding Obamacare.  Meanwhile, he tosses the meaningless, yet derogatory, label of “personal injury lawyer” at his opponent.

To anyone who knows Simpson’s record, this is possibly the most dishonest ad ever run during a campaign cycle.  He obfuscates all of the consequential votes he’s taken that have actually been signed into law, such as massive spending increases, debt ceiling increases, and funding for Obamacare, and replaces them with vacuous show votes that he knew at-the-time would never pass.  Most egregiously, he has the impertinence to say that he voted to repeal the Wall Street bailout while failing to mention that he voted for the original bailout that was signed into law!

Nobody who has followed Simpson’s career – supporter or opponent – believes he is a conservative.  Even the American “Conservative” Union gave Simpson a failing grade of 46% last year.  Yet, he has the superior firepower to completely lie to his constituents about his voting record while co-opting the conservative message – a message he has been repudiating for years.

Next up is Renee Ellmers running for reelection in North Carolina’s Second Congressional district.  As we noted a few weeks ago, Ellmers is one of the most ardent supporters of leadership and a passionate supporter of amnesty and open borders.  After a major dustup with Laura Ingraham over immigration, her liberal allies sense that she might be vulnerable to Frank Roche in the May 6 primary.  Breitbart is reporting that FWD, which is funded by Mark Zuckerberg and run by McConnell acolytes, is up with ads promoting Ellmers as……tough on the border and against amnesty!

“Renee Ellmers is a conservative fighter for North Carolina,” a narrator reads in the television version of the ad, while pictures of Ellmers move across the screen. It continues:

“Ellmers voted for a Balanced Budget Amendment to cut the debt and stop the wasteful spending in Washington. She’s protecting Fort Bragg and Pope Airfield from massive defense cuts and working hard to secure the border and fix our broken immigration system once and for all. No amnesty, period.”

The ad then lists the D.C. phone number for Ellmers’ congressional office and advises viewers to “call Congresswoman Ellmers and tell her to keep fighting for conservative solutions.”

Folks, you can’t make this up!

One would think that with Ellmers proudly supporting “a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented” and with the polling for such a proposition supposedly skyrocketing to majority support, they would eagerly and honestly promote her real beliefs.  Yet, they know that their views don’t sell at the ballot box, so they have to co-opt our views – even as they fight to the death against our solutions.  That is why they are touting Ellmers as against amnesty and that is why Mike Simpson is running against TARP.

Undoubtedly, many establishment Republicans will win reelection. We cannot change the entire political class in one election cycle.  However, not a single one will win reelection running on their true beliefs.  They will overwhelm us with their liberal campaign cash, ironically, promoting positions that are antithetical to their actions in Washington.

This just goes to show that, despite their unlimited resources, the members of the political class are a bunch of cowards.  They lack the courage to come out of the closet and propagate their big government views during the primaries.

Cross-posted at RedState   

Stressed Schoolboy with Head in Hands

Can you guess when the following statement was made and by whom?

The trouble in too many of our modern schools is that the State, being controlled so specially by the few, allows cranks and experiments to go straight to the schoolroom when they have never passed through … the private house, the church, or the marketplace.

This observation easily applies to the state of education in America in 2014, but it was actually made by G.K. Chesterton in 1910 about the state of education in England.

Clearly, President Obama is no student of Chesterton.  He proposed $75 billion in spending over the next 10 years to create a new federally funded preschool initiative.  Consider the billions already spent on failed federal programs like Head Start, and the idea takes on a whole new dimension of awfulness.  

The problem of determining how best to educate our children obviously transcends time and space. We have learned, however, big government is not best equipped to fulfill the educational needs of our children.  The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke explains:

Expanding government preschool, particularly federal preschool, is wrought with problems. Any expansion of government preschool, whether state or federal, comes at the expense of private providers, who must compete with “free” government programs. When the private provision of care is pushed out of the market, that ultimately means fewer choices for families.

Moreover, taxpayers and parents already know what big government preschool looks like: the federal Head Start program. Head Start has had no long-term impact on the cognitive abilities of participating children, has failed to improve their access to health care, has failed to improve their behavior and emotional well-being, and has failed to improve the parenting practices of parents.

Clearly this new surge in federal spending, Heritage explains, would unnecessarily burden American taxpayers.

They note how expansive federal government involvement in early childhood education is already. The federal government already operates 45 early learning and child care programs, of which 12 have the explicit purpose to provide early childhood and care programs.  There are also five federal tax provisions in place to ease the cost of private early childhood education and care expenditures. 

Heritage analysts delve into various federal programs and expenditures including the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF), Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Head Start, and Child Care Access Means Parents in School, as well as programs in forty states and the District of Columbia.  Tens of billions of dollars are spent on many of these programs.

Moreover, a large majority of mothers indicate that they prefer to stay home when their children are in their most formative years (up to age four); 80 percent of mothers who work part-time indicate that is the ideal scenario for them. Of all mothers, only 16 percent with young children prefer full-time work, a figure that declined by half from 1997 to 2007.

Considering the vast amount of taxpayer funding already channeled toward these programs and the fact that most families have already enrolled in some form of early education and care program, “demand for a large-scale new government preschool program is not evident.”

Heritage concludes:

With three-quarters of four-year-old children already enrolled, and evidence that most children from low-income families already have access to taxpayer-funded or highly subsidized programs, proposals to expand government preschool would be duplicative of existing efforts at best, or, at worst, a new middle- and upper-income subsidy at a time when deficits are at an all-time high.

Ultimately, Obama’s new preschool spending would be a terrible deal for taxpayers and a huge disservice to American children in their most formative years.



Today, President Obama released his fiscal year 2015 budget, which increases spending by $791 billion over 10 years, according to the Senate and House Budget Committee Republican analysis.  It would add $8.3 trillion to the debt over 10 years.  It would never balance. Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham responded with a statement:

President Obama’s budget will no doubt be greeted with cheers from the entrenched special interests that thrive off an ever growing government, but it will do nothing for Americans struggling in this economy.  The American people deserve bold policies that restore economic vitality, renew the American Dream, and equip people to achieve happiness and prosperity.

Heritage Foundation experts are also weighing in.  From energy to transportation to education, Mr. Obama’s budget promotes policies that would harm America.

Heritage’s Romina Boccia says Mr. Obama’s budget “shows a vision where federal government involvement is at the core of American success.”  With his budget, Mr. Obama encourages Congress to violate discretionary spending caps.  At the same time he “fails to adequately prepare our men and women in uniform to effectively fight current and future wars.”

Read more about the President’s disastrous budget here.



After passing the Ryan-Murray budget agreement that increased spending by $63 billion over the next two years, legislators took a winter break. Upon returning they irresponsibly rushed to construct the omnibus spending full of wasteful programs, then gave the House less than 48 hours to read the 1,582-page bill.

On Wednesday, the House passed the $1.1 trillion spending bill, 359 to 67, (64 Republicans voted no).

Now the spending bill moves to the Senate, where a vote is expected this week. The omnibus takes the country in the wrong direction, both in terms of policy and overall spending levels.

Check out our Scorecard to see how your Representative voted. Then make sure to thank the 64 conservatives who voted against this irresponsible omnibus spending bill.

See How Your Representative Voted


December’s Ryan-Murray budget deal was a bad deal for a number of reasons. One of the primary reasons was that it set discretionary spending limit for Fiscal Year 2014 ($1.012 trillion) a full $45 billion above the level that would have been required by sequestration ($967 billion). While the budget number represents a spending limit, meaning Congress can (and should) spend well below that number in upcoming appropriations, there are policy provisions the House should be demanding in negotiations right now as part of any omnibus package of appropriations bills regardless of the ultimate top-line number.

In fact, the ability to fight for these policies was specifically stated as a reason for supporting the Ryan-Murray agreement by none other than Rep. Paul Ryan, who stated that, “by having an agreement like this…you get Congress to reclaim the power of the purse so that we set priorities. I’m fighting for a conscience clause rider on appropriations because I’m very worried about religious freedom… I can do that if Congress is put back in charge of appropriations, which we are because of this budget agreement.”

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee have themselves laid out a number of policy priorities worth fighting for.  Here are some policy goals that, according to the House Appropriations Committee, would be a good place to start:


  • Include language to increase oversight and protect taxpayers from waste, fraud, and abuse in the WIC program

  • Include language requiring more oversight in the SNAP; as well as language prohibiting advertisements or outreach with foreign governments for the program

Commerce, Justice, Science

  • Include language prohibiting funding for any prison within the U.S. to house Guantanamo detainees, and generally prohibit the transfer of Guantanamo detainees into the U.S.

  • Significantly reduce spending for the Department of Commerce, while providing adequate funding for the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO)

Energy and Water

  • Significantly reduce spending for the Department of Energy, including cuts to renewable energy programs and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program

  • Include language rolling back the President’s misguided Yucca Mountain policy

Financial Services and General Government

  • Significantly reduce the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’) budget; include language prohibiting the agency from implementing Obamacare; and include language requiring further oversight into the agency’s political targeting

  • Cut the Executive Office of the President to bring Executive Branch spending cuts more in line with cuts already being absorbed by the Legislative Branch

  • Significantly cut the General Services Administration (GSA); include language requiring additional reporting on GSA property inventory; and include spending limits and restrictions on agency travel and conferences

  • Provide funding for the SOAR Act, which helps low income residents of D.C. attend private schools of their choice

  • Include language prohibiting federal and local funds from being used for abortions, needle exchange, and medical marijuana in Washington, D.C.

  • Prohibit SEC slush fund spending on activities that have not been approved by Congress

  • Include language subjecting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to the regular congressional appropriations process

  • Prohibit federal funding of abortions

  • Prohibit any rules or regulations requiring federal contractors to disclose campaign contributions

  • Eliminate the Election Assistance Commission

  • Eliminate the Administrative Conference of the U.S.

  • Eliminate Allowances for Former Presidents

Homeland Security

  • Provide substantial funding for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and for visa security and overstays enforcement, to protect our border and the integrity of our immigration laws

  • Prohibit funding for any future “Fast and Furious”-type programs

Interior and Environment

  • Rescind funding for the 2009 stimulus bill’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program

  • Significantly reduce EPA spending and insert language prohibiting its efforts to institute certain proposed rules or regulations, including “stream buffer,” “navigable waters,” “new source” performance standards, “silviculture,” “fill material,” and hard rock mining rules and regulations.

  • Limit the ability of the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to issue new rules closing off public lands from hunting and recreational shooting

  • Significantly reduce operating costs for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)

  • Reduce climate change, ecosystem, and administrative accounts within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

  • Reduce funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

  • Insert language prohibiting the President’s National Ocean Policy

  • Eliminate funding for

    • Land acquisition

    • The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

    • The Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation

    • The Woodrow Wilson International Center

    • Clean Automotive Technologies Climate Change Research

    • Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE)

    • Brownfields grants

    • Community Forest and Open Space Conservation

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education*

  • Defund Obamacare and rescind the law’s autopilot appropriations

  • Continue all current pro-life riders

  • Prohibit funding for Planned Parenthood

  • Include conscience protection language for religious and charitable organizations

  • Include language enacting the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act

  • Reduce funding for the NLRB and include language prohibiting it from establishing micro-unions, “quickie elections”, “e-card check,” or attacking secret ballot elections.

  • Include language prohibiting the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for federal construction projects

  • Include language prohibiting “persuader” regulations

  • Include language prohibiting the elimination of the “companionship exemption” for in-home care providers

  • Prohibit funding for the “Healthy Foods Financing” initiative

  • Eliminate “duplicative, inefficient, or unauthorized education programs,” including Race to the Top

  • Prohibit the Department of Education from implementing “gainful employment” and “credit hour” regulations, or from dictating state licensure of higher education

  • Significantly reduce taxpayer support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)

*provisions taken from FY13 House Appropriations proposal. House Appropriations has not released a FY14 bill

State and Foreign Operations

  • Eliminate funding for the Strategic Climate Fund

  • Eliminate funding for the Clean Technology Fund

  • Fully fund embassy security to prevent future Benghazi-like tragedies

  • Limit payments to the United Nations; specifically:

    • Limit UN Peacekeeping funding

    • Eliminate funding for UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

    • Eliminate funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

    • Eliminate funding for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and cap international family planning and reproductive health spending

    • Eliminate funding for the UN Human Rights Council unless it ends its anti-Israel agenda

    • Withhold a portion of UN funding pending adequate financial audits

    • Prohibit funds for UN organizations headed by countries that support terrorism

    • Prohibit funding to implement the  UN Arms Trade Treaty

  • Impose new oversight requirements on the use of U.S. taxpayer dollars in multilateral development banks

  • Reinstate the Mexico City Policy

  • Maintain existing pro-life riders, including the Tihart Amendment, the Helms Amendment, and the Kemp-Kasten Amendment

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

  • Insert language requiring Amtrak reforms

  • Eliminate funding for High Speed Rail

  • Substantially reduce HUD spending

  • Prohibit funding for any “new, unauthorized ‘sustainable,’ ‘livable,’ or ‘green,’ community development programs” within HUD

  • Significantly reduce funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program

To reiterate, these are all policy proposals put forward within the last year by the majority on the House Appropriations Committee (for more ideas of ways to cut spending, see the Heritage Foundation’s “10 Programs to Eliminate in the January Spending Bill”).

In exchange for giving up so much in the way of short-term spending increases in the recent Ryan-Murray budget agreement, conservatives in Congress were promised a significant number of the policies listed above would be secured.  Lawmakers who promised to fight for conservative policies as part of the subsequent appropriations process should be held to that standard.



Were you aware that your taxpayer money is used to fund a pet-shampoo company?  It is.

We’re not kidding.  How, you ask?  The funds are channeled through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to a pet-shampoo company.  Why?  That’s an even better question.

But that’s not the only problem with the CDBG program.  It also issues risky business loans and duplicates other housing and economic development programs, wasting $3.1 billion in the process.

It’s among 10 programs the Heritage Foundation has identified that Congress should eliminate as they appropriate funds in the $1 trillion discretionary spending bill.  If Congress heeds their advice and eliminates these wasteful programs, they will save $10.2 billion of our taxpayer money.

Were you aware that you’re funding bicycle paths, sidewalks and nature paths, community preservation and landscaping in other states — places you may never see?  Federal taxpayer dollars should not be used for these projects, because they are purely local matters.  Yet, the Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), an $800 million program, uses funds this way.

Where did Congress go so wrong?  That’s a loaded question.

But one major wrong turn was the passage of the $1.012 trillion Ryan-Murray Budget agreement, which weakened the bipartisan budget caps set by the sequester in exchange for the promise of savings in the distant future that may never happen.

In light of our $17 trillion debt, lawmakers should eliminate the wasteful, ineffective, and duplicative programs outlined by the Heritage Foundation.

Read all the recommendations here:

10 Programs to Eliminate in the January 2014 Spending Bill—and Save $10.2 Billion





Now that Congress has agreed on a budget deal, the next step in the process is to appropriate the funds for various programs, from agriculture to transportation.  The outcome of this process will be about more than just numbers.

Indeed, according the the House of Representatives, the budget is more than just a bunch of numbers:

The budget resolution is the only legislative vehicle that views government comprehensively. It provides the framework for the consideration of other legislation. Ultimately, a budget is much more than series of numbers. It also serves as an expression of Congress’s principles, vision, and philosophy of governing.

Unfortunately, as Heritage Action’s Dan Holler noted, the Ryan-Murray Budget is much more a reflection of the Senate’s philosophy of governing than of conservatives.  With this budget deal, Congress dragged America further left.  But you needn’t take it from us.  That sentiment came directly from a Senate Democrat budget document, which stated that the Ryan-Murray budget “aligns with the values and priorities of the Senate Budget.”

To demonstrate this one need not look much further than the sheer amount of taxpayer-funded discretionary spending the budget represents, $1.012 trillion in 2014, to be precise.

But the behind the scenes decisions being made by House and Senate staffers will further illuminate Congress’s priorities  – though to a lesser degree than the overall budget itself — as they decide how to appropriate funds for various defense and non-defense discretionary programs:

At center stage are the House and Senate Appropriations committees, whose staffs have been working through the holidays to try to pull together a draft package — really 12 bills in one.

The new 2014 cap for nondefense discretionary spending is $491.8 billion, which will require Senate Democrats to cut $14 billion from the domestic bills reported over the summer. At the same time, Republicans must trim $25 billion from defense-related bills approved by the House last summer if the GOP is to meet the new target of $520.5 billion.

This sets up a battle of perceptions for both parties.

Under discussion are such things as funding for Obamacare and financial reforms, while bills covering “Departments of Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Defense and Veterans Affairs and major science agencies — have been largely finalized.”

The process will continue for the next couple of weeks, and the way money is appropriated under the $1.012 trillion cap will illustrate Congress’s “principles, vision, and philosophy of governing” a little bit more, though having passed a $1 trillion plus budget already speaks volumes.