The final touches of the omnibus funding bill are being put into place, and it is imperative that conservative House and Senate members provide leadership with a pathway to get their votes and that the leadership reaches out to conservatives for that guidance before it is set in concrete.
Unfortunately, the spending levels have been set too high, rightfully causing great distress amongst conservatives, but that is water under the bridge at this juncture. The only question on the table is: How will the money be spent?
If conservative members don’t provide leadership with a set of policy de-funds that, if included, will win their vote, and if leadership isn’t actively engaging them, then the funding bill will be subject to the exact kind of deal-making with the Democrats that led to former Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) demise. What’s worse, the last significant opportunity to use the power of the purse to stop President Obama’s extreme agenda will be lost.
Let’s be clear: Obama only has 13 months left in his presidency and this funding bill covers ten of them.
If pausing Middle Eastern refugee resettlement to the U.S. while providing for their care closer to home is a priority, then conservatives should promise leadership that they will vote for the bill if that and some other key policy riders are included.
If stopping Obama’s destruction of the electricity grid through his war on coal is a priority, then conservatives should push for the defunding of his two power plant rules, the Boiler MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) rule, the wood-burning stove regulation, ending cozy enviro-funding sue-and-settle deals, and stop the $3 billion Green Climate Fund expenditure to buy support from developing nations for the Paris climate treaty. While they were at it, they should defund the fracking regulations that are designed to enable local environmental groups to bury energy-producing companies in lawsuits, killing the industry that has brought us low-priced gasoline with a thousand paper cuts.
If stopping Obama’s fundamental transformation of America is a priority, then conservatives should defund his Department of Housing and Urban Development rule, known as “Obamazoning,” that overrides local zoning based upon federal Census maps, and stop the administration’s efforts to criminalize speech using the IRS, Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Election Commission, Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice. They should also keep the current de-fund of Obama’s attempt to give away control over the Internet, and rein in Obama’s use of his executive powers to remove public land from development using the power of the purse, as a de-fund included in the House Interior Appropriations bill by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) would do. And join House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) effort to stop Justice Department lawsuit settlements from compelling companies to fund the next generation of ACORN, as occurred in the Bank of America settlement.
And if preventing Obama from tipping the scales in favor of Big Labor is a priority, then ending the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s walk-around rule; the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) attack on the business franchise model through its joint employer standard; as well as the NLRB’s establishing quickie union elections, along with hamstringing employers from getting help on how they can legally communicate with their employees in an organizing situation, is a must.
In just the past few months, Obama has issued Labor Department guidance that puts the thumb on the scale in favor or private pensions and 401(k) plans investing in socially conscious or politically correct investment funds, and through the fiduciary rule, Obama is trying to drive out small investment advisers in favor of the Wall Street bigwigs.
These are just a few examples of things that leadership and conservative members should be able to work together on to reestablish Congress’s Article One constitutional authority.
In 2015, these type of riders are the new earmarks. Rather than add goodies to the basket, this omnibus will likely be the last chance to substantially rein in Obama’s regulatory onslaught on our nation’s freedom. It would be a shame if the Republican majority in Congress failed to seize this opportunity to stop some significant parts of Obama’s agenda. And for those conservatives courageous enough to provide leadership a pathway to get their vote, it is up to leadership to get as much of its to-do list done as possible.
With Obama’s time in office dwindling, Congress must assert its authority on as many matters as possible. The stakes are too high to allow petty differences get in the way of stopping Obama’s fundamental transformation from becoming a reality.
Manning is president of Americans for Limited Government.