***This is the fourth of several communications to the Senate NTU intends to make during the course of the budget debate. ***
As the Senate considers S. Con. Res. 11, the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2016, NTU urges all Senators to vote as follows:
- “YES” on Flake Amendment #672: This amendment would establish a point of order against any earmarks, provisions that tend to increase waste and decrease accountability in spending.
- “YES” on Flake Amendment #673: This amendment would eliminate funding for the Economic Development Administration, a well-documented money pit whose attempts at reversing stagnation in “chronically depressed areas” of the country have often done more harm than good.
- “YES” on Flake Amendment #675: This amendment would eliminate funding for SelectUSA, one of many unnecessary, taxpayer-funded promotional programs.
- “YES” on Flake Amendment #670: This amendment would eliminate funding for the USDA Single Family Housing Direct Loan Program, which serves essentially the same function as 160 other federal housing assistance programs. The Department of Agriculture should stay out of housing policy and avoid mission-creep.
- “YES” on Flake #819 and Lee #862 Amendments: These amendments would repeal the wind production tax credit, which distorts markets, increases energy costs, and artificially props up a powerful industry.
- “YES” on Flake Amendment #824: This amendment would increase transparency in the Federal crop insurance program, extending the same sunlight rules to federal agriculture subsidies that existed under the direct payments program.
- “YES” on Portman Amendment #679: This amendment would permit states to opt out of Clean Air Act requirements if those regulations increase electricity prices.
- “YES” on Portman Amendment #684: This amendment would repeal middle class tax hikes.
- “YES” on Portman Amendment #685: This amendment would make permanent the pre-2014 expensing amount of $500,000 that can be immediately deducted by small and medium-sized businesses, removing costly uncertainty related to financial decisions and long-term planning.
- “YES” on Scott Amendment #692: This amendment would increase transparency in health care costs by allowing insurance companies to disclose to customers any taxes imposed on premiums as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This would help customers better understand some of the costs driving premium increases.
- “YES” on Shaheen amendment #696: This amendment would limit crop insurance payments at $50,000.
- “YES” on Manchin amendment #709: This amendment would implement the recommendations in the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) annual report, which proposes the reduction or elimination of many overlapping and duplicative federal programs.
- “YES” on Lee Amendment #745: This amendment would permit oil shale development on federal lands.
- “YES” on Lee Amendment #746: This amendment would require reasonable deadlines for environmental reviews. This would help to ensure that major projects requiring extensive planning and capitalization do not languish in uncertainty.
- “YES” on Lee Amendment #747: This amendment would permit the sale of excess federal land, with the proceeds going to reduce debt. The GAO asserts that the federal government maintains “too much excess and underutilized property.” Selling excess land would save money, reduce waste, and put land toward more productive use.
- “YES on Lee Amendment #754: This amendment would repeal Davis-Bacon, eliminating costly prevailing wage provisions that increase construction costs of federal projects.
- “YES” on Lee Amendment #758: This amendment would permit private employees to offer flex-time, the option to take time off rather than overtime pay. This could provide a helpful alternative for many employees who would benefit from a more flexible schedule.
- “YES” on Ernst Amendment #773: This amendment would reform the excessive and costly allowance and perquisites available to former Presidents.
- “YES” on Cornyn Amendment #779: This amendment would protect taxpayers against abuses by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by reducing compliance burdens, strengthening appeals processes, increasing penalties for IRS agents who break the law, and improving access for taxpayers to the judicial system.
- “YES” on Thune Amendment #808: This amendment would make permanent the Internet Tax Freedom Act, barring state and local governments from imposing new or discriminatory taxes on Internet access. Taxpayers need long-term protection against these taxes.
- “YES” on Lee Amendment #855: This amendment would create a point of order against increasing public debt in reconciliation. Increasing public debt will only make it more difficult for the Federal government to achieve fiscal health and create more drag on our anemic economy.
- “YES” on Lee Amendment #860: This amendment would prohibit funding of energy projects for private entities. Taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to back private endeavors; this exposes them to unnecessary risk while at the same time distorting markets.
- “YES” on Lee Amendment #863: This amendment would change the deficit neutral reserve fund for infrastructure spending in the underlying bill to a spending neutral reserve fund, protecting taxpayers from a potential gas take hike. Before considering an increase in the gas tax, Congress should achieve cost-savings in other areas.
- “YES” on Paul Amendment #936: This amendment would create a surgical budget point of order against appropriating funds for authorizations that have expired over five years ago, ending the habit of putting federal spending on autopilot.
- “YES” on Cruz Amendment #970: This amendment would expand portability of federal education funds to charter, private, and virtual schools.
- “YES” on Cruz Amendment #971: This amendment would implement commonsense work requirements for able-bodied adult welfare recipients without children.. Work-for-welfare reforms have a long track record of success, achieving measurable improvement in employment and earnings for low-income Americans.
- “NO” on Reed Amendment #912: This amendment would permanently extend federal unemployment insurance benefits. Excessive extensions of such benefits can reduce incentives to find employment and increase costs to taxpayers.
- “NO” on Reed Amendment #921: This amendment would repeal existing non-interference rules in private sector drug price negotiations, effectively inserting the federal government into a process that has so far worked well for beneficiaries and taxpayers. Proposals such as these bring the potential for drug price controls closer, and with them decreased drug development and poorer patient outcomes.
- “NO” on Cochran Amendment #948: This amendment would roll back recently developed risk management standards for new federal projects. Although some controversy surrounds the assumptions and processes behind these standards, taxpayers deserve stronger long-run protections against large bailout costs from disasters. An amendment of this nature cannot accommodate the comprehensive legislative consideration needed to properly assess reforms to flood standards (or for that matter the entire National Flood insurance Program, which continues to put tax dollars at severe risk).
Roll call votes on the above amendments to S. Con. Res. 11 will be included in our annual Rating of Congress.
If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift at (703) 683-5700