The one thing that liberals celebrating the 2,200+ Omnibus Bill just passed and signed by President Trump have in common with unhappy Trump supporters, is that no one celebrating or complaining has actually read the mammoth bill.
It is bad, make no mistake, but the claims the mainstream media has managed to program into the minds of the public are also very misleading.
The entire Omnibus bill is embedded at the bottom of the article, but we will be addressing some specific points from it below.
OMNIBUS BILLS VERSUS FEDERAL BUDGET
A federal budget is an itemized plan for the annual public expenditures of the United States,††Via Investopedia: "Expenses made under the budget are classified as either mandatory or discretionary spending. Mandatory spending is stipulated by law and includes entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Such expenses are also known as permanent appropriations. Discretionary spending is spending which must be approved by individual appropriations bills...."
Since 2009 Congress has appropriated funds to keep the government open with Continuing Resolutions and Omnibus bills rather than proper federal budget legislation.
An Omnibus bill provides†all discretionary funding†for all of the 12 annual Appropriations bills that are required to fund the government, wrapping them all into one mammoth bill, while throwing in "pork," as backroom wheeling and dealing for votes for special pet projects and funding continues to be the subject of justified criticism.
An Appropriation bill authorizes the expenditure of government funds and†sets money aside for specific spending, with instructions/suggestions on how the money is to be spent, but actual distribution (spending the money congress appropriated) is done by the administration.
APPROPRIATIONS AND PRESIDENTIAL SPENDING POWER
Cited by Encyclopedia.com†, Louis Fisher succinctly explains the process in the most understandable terms, stating "On the basis of the Constitution and traditional legislative prerogatives, Congress lays claim to exclusive control over the purse. Nevertheless, while it is up to Congress to appropriate funds, it is also true that the President and the executive branch enjoy considerable discretion as to how those funds are spent.
Examples from both the Obama administration and the Trump administration clearly shows that despite Congressional "instruction" or suggestions, presidents enjoy considerable flexibility in interpreting those instructions.
For example, in the Omnibus bill for 2012, when Congress attempted to block funds from being used to "advocate or promote gun control," he would not "construe these provisions as preventing me from fulfilling my constitutional responsibility†to recommend to the Congress's consideration such measures as I shall judge necessary and expedient."
Congress also attempted to bar Obama from using taxpayer dollars to pay for "salaries and expenses," of Obama's White House czars, to which Obama said could prevent him from "fulfilling my constitutional responsibilities, by denying me the assistance of senior advisers and by obstructing my supervision of executive branch officials in the execution of their statutory responsibilities." Obama then asserted "I have informed the Congress that I will interpret these provisions consistent with my constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." (Source - The Hill, December 2011)
Another example of presidential flexibility comes from August 2017 reports showing that despite Congress allocating funds for the State Department, some $80 billion, the Trump administration simply didn't "spend it," causing†Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to complain "We've seen just too many instances these past few months ... where there is clear congressional intent and funds provided, yet an unwillingness or inability to act."
Politico reported at the time that funds allocated by Congress for the†Norwegian Refugee Council USA, which works with†Population, Refugees and Migration bureau at the State Department and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance at USAID, was complaining they thought the Trump administration was slowing down the "disbursements of money."
In the new Omnibus bill one of the small details that has largely been left out of the conversation is a portion of the bill that provides "cross agency funding flexibility."
The omnibus also gives agencies some flexibility to transfer unused funds to use for broad, governmentwide initiatives.
Specifically, the budget lets agency heads transfer or reimburse the General Services Administration any funds made available during the fiscal year or rebates from charge cards and other contracts to use in support of governmentwide IT modernization, procurement or financial projects, or management initiatives.
Agencies must get approval from the Office of Management and Budget. GSA will administer the transfer. Theyíll work with inter-agency organizations, such as the Presidentís Management Council, Chief Information Officers Council and Chief Human Capital Officers Council.
Total funds for improving inter-agency coordination or reducing duplication canít exceed $15 million, while total funds for government priority goals canít exceed $17 million, the omnibus said.
Congress has 15 days to reject these transfers. Otherwise, agencies can move forward with these transactions on their own.
ADDRESSING SPECIFIC ITEMS
Planned Parenthood: One of the most controversial items contained within the new Omnibus bill is the funding for Planned Parenthood, which is the largest abortion provider in the nation, but which also provides other services to low income areas. Abortion funding is specifically addressed in section 810, Page 639, where it states the following:
SEC. 810. No funds available for obligation or expenditure by the District of Columbia government under any authority shall be expended for any abortion except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or where the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.
The Wall: Another complaint seen quite a bit across the internet is the claim that the border wall is not funded, but a look at provisions within the bill, in conjunction with President Trump's statement announcing his signature on the OmniBus bill, shows that the funds are there, and legally can be used to fund the entire wall, if Trump chooses to do so.
In President Trump's statement, he included some very specific terminology in relation to the border wall, saying "I want to address the situation on border security, which I call national defense. I call it stopping drugs from pouring across our border. And I call it illegal immigration. Itís all of those things. But national defense is a very important two words, because by having a strong border system, including a wall, we are in a position militarily that is very advantageous......."
CNN called it "odd" and "bizarro," but what Trump did was tie "the wall" in to "national defense,"† putting it directly under the Department of Defense (DoD) umbrella.
The DoD itself received nearly $655 billion in the OmniBus bill, which has been touted in the mainstream media, but what hasn't been focused on is that the DoD was also given more "flexibility" and expanded the†DoDís reprogramming authority, where they can move funds from one account to another, with larger amounts being subject to congressional approval.
One of the federal agencies that fall under the DoD is the Army Corps of Engineers, which includes approximately 37,000 civilians and military personnel, considered one of the "world's largest public engineering, design, and construction management agencies," as described by www.army.mil.
In July 2017, the Army Corps of Engineers reportedly had already "begun preliminary preparations for the construction of segments of a wall in several places along the border with Mexico, According to NYT (Archive is link here), showing they were involved in the process.
While President Trump's statement specifically highlighting the border wall as part of his "national defense" strategy, caused considerable chatter and speculation that he would use a portion of the DoD funding to build the wall, which is estimated to cost approximately $25 billion to complete, his statement on Sunday, pretty much turns that speculation into stated intent.
Trump tweeted on March 25, 2018: "Because of the $700 & $716 Billion Dollars gotten to rebuild our Military, many jobs are created and our Military is again rich. Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense. Build WALL through M!"
As Stefan Stanford touched on in a previous article, the Office of Inspector General also saw a huge increase in funding, mentioned on pages 571, 573, 578, and 581, to the tune of nearly $300 million for a variety of functions, which may or may not indicate that the Inspector Generals across the nations federal agencies are expected to be very busy in 2018.†
The DOJ OIG has spent over a year investigating the actions of the FBI/DOJ actions in the run up to the 2016 presidential election, with Inspector General Michael Horowitz expected to issue his final report within weeks, which is what multiple agency heads have publicly testified to be waiting for in order to determine if criminal charges needed to be filed.
The IG investigation has already caused the termination, resignations, and reassignments of nearly a dozen senior level intelligence community employees.
Readers are encouraged to weed through the Omnibus bill embedded below and highlight portions they think are noteworthy in the comment section.†
While no one is calling this a "good" piece of legislation, there are hidden nuggets that promote and further the Trump agenda, and complaints, criticisms and praise is always more noteworthy when it comes after people inform themselves by reading the actual bill, rather than just going by what the media chooses to highlight.
One thing we should all remember is that the media has set themselves up as an "opposition" party to President Trump and it has been their main goal for the last two years to turn Trump supporters against him and cause infighting among them, which is why much of the "good" contained within the bill, things Trump supporters would like, is not being reported by the MSM.
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