In testimony before the House Rules Committee, where he pushed Speaker John Boehner’s 1,603-page, $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) made false claims about the bill’s budget calculations.
“We abide by the Ryan-Murray budget caps on the act of a couple years ago,” Rogers testified, claiming that the omnibus bill sticks to spending caps set in a budget deal that House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) last year.
But conservative and liberal analysts agree that the omnibus requires a series of accounting gimmicks to avoid busting through the spending caps.
The Conservative Review found that “taken as a whole, this bill will total $1.119 trillion, over $85 billion more than the agreed-upon discretionary budget caps.”
Maya MacGuineas, the president of the liberal Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, found the same thing.
“That Congress appears to have agreed to full-year funding for 11 of the 12 appropriations bills — avoiding a government shutdown — is welcome news,” MacGuineas said in a statement.
But the legislation includes too many gimmicks and is coming too late in the legislative process. Appropriations bills are supposed to pass well before the October 1 start of the fiscal year, not two months after it has begun. The pattern of policymakers governing after-the-fact is unfortunately an increasingly common one, as demonstrated by not only by this legislation but the tax extenders bill, which arrived more than 11 months after the tax breaks expired. Policymakers can’t keep missing their deadlines if they intend to start making responsible policy choices. We need to get back to something that at least resembles regular order.
MacGuineas said that there are billions of dollars in spending above the Ryan-Murray caps that are hidden in “several budgetary gimmicks.”
“These include nearly $20 billion in phantom ‘savings’ from CHIMPs (changes in mandatory programs) that are scored as savings on paper but produce none in reality, a shift of several billion from the base defense budget into the uncapped war budget, and at least $3 billion of hidden tax cuts and mandatory spending increases that are not offset, with the revenue losses explicitly exempt from PAYGO,” MacGuineas said. “These gimmicks must stop. If lawmakers cannot make the tough choices necessary to spend within existing discretionary caps, they should replace a portion of the sequestration cuts — which will return in full next October — with more thoughtful reforms focused on the entitlement programs that are actually driving our debt.”
Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing hasn’t responded to a request for comment on whether her boss misled the Rules Committee in testimony. But Conservative Review executive director Gaston Mooney told Breitbart News that his testimony before the Rules Committee is unacceptable.
“Calculators work differently for appropriators than the rest of America,” Mooney said in an email.