Thursday, September 13, 2012

Politics in Action: H.J. Res. 117 and H.R. 6365


H.J. Res. 117 – Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013
(Rep. Rogers, R-KY)

The Administration supports House passage of H.J. Res. 117, making continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2013, and for other purposes.  Reflecting a compromise, the legislation adheres to the funding level agreed to by both parties and excludes ideological or extraneous policy riders that have no place in funding legislation.  H.J. Res. 117 allows critical Government functions to operate without interruption in order to protect national security and ensure that Americans continue to receive vital services and benefits in a timely manner.  The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress on appropriations legislation for the remainder of the fiscal year that honors the Budget Control Act, preserves critical national priorities, and makes investments to spur economic growth and job creation for years to come.

H.R. 6365 – National Security and Job Protection Act
(Rep. West, R-FL, and 2 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 6365, the National Security and Job Protection Act.  The bill's unbalanced approach breaks the agreement reached in the bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) and fails the test of fairness and shared responsibility.  Upon the enactment of unspecified spending cuts, H.R. 6365 would reduce discretionary funding below the level agreed upon in the BCA for FY 2013.  Similar to the House Budget Resolution, this reduction would lead to destructive cuts in investments critical to the Nation's economic future, ranging from education to research and development to infrastructure.  Like the House resolution, this bill does not require the elimination of across-the-board cuts to mandatory domestic programs, including Medicare.  The bill also rejects any effort to achieve deficit reduction by asking the most fortunate Americans to pay their fair share.

The BCA, including the sequestration mechanism, was passed in both chambers of the Congress with majorities in both parties.  The sequestration is now scheduled to occur because the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, established by the BCA, did not achieve at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction.  As the Administration has long said, the sequestration would be highly destructive to both defense and non-defense priorities.  It was intended only to serve the function of forcing compromise on a balanced package of deficit reduction that could replace the sequester in its entirety.  H.R. 6365, which contains no elements of compromise, fails to replace the entire sequester in FY 2013, fails to eliminate any of the reductions beyond FY 2013, and fails to ask the most fortunate Americans to pay their fair share. 

Moreover, the requirement that the President transmit to the Congress by October 15, 2012 a legislative proposal that meets the Act's deficit reduction targets is unconstitutional.  The President has already submitted proposals for balanced deficit reduction, and the Administration is ready to work with the Congress to pass a comprehensive deficit reduction package. 

The Administration strongly opposes the approach in H.R. 6365.  If the President is presented with H.R. 6365, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

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