“Mini-Bus” Conference Report Released
November 14, 2011 -
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers tonight introduced the final conference report on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science (CJS), and Transportation/Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bills – also known as the “Mini-bus” (House Report 112-284). In addition, the package contains a Continuing Resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown and continues other federal operations until December 16, 2011 – or until Congress completes the remaining nine FY 2012 Appropriations bills. This CR is a “clean” extension and includes no new funding provisions. The conference report was approved by the Conference Committee on wide bipartisan basis with all but one of 38 House and Senate conferees signing off on the package.
Chairman Rogers made the following statement on the conference report:
“The legislation introduced today represents a bipartisan compromise that will prevent a potential government shutdown, support important programs and services that the American people rely on, and make hard but necessary cuts to help rein in the nation’s deficit.
“By holding the line on spending within the levels agreed to in the Budget Control Act, we’ve cut total discretionary spending for the second year in a row – a remarkable achievement that will save taxpayers billions of dollars and help get our nation’s budgets back into balance.
“Within this bill, we also include many critically important policy items that will reduce harmful regulations on employers, create a better environment for economic growth and job creation, and halt unnecessary government interference into the daily lives of Americans. This package represents significant progress in the budgetary work of Congress, and will put us one more step ahead as we strive towards swift completion of all the fiscal year 2012 Appropriations bills.”
Responsible Funding Levels – The bill provides responsible funding for integral federal agencies and departments, maintaining the critical services and programs our citizens rely on. These programs facilitate public safety and health, improve our infrastructure, protect our most vulnerable citizens, and help grow our economy.
The conference agreement for the three bills upholds the overall regular base discretionary level of $1.043 trillion as agreed to in the Budget Control Act (BCA). This funding level is a decrease of $7 billion from last year, and represents a savings of $98 billion compared to the President’s request.
Important Policy Items – This Conference Report contains important policy items that will discourage government overreach in the daily lives of Americans, provide better oversight on the use of precious taxpayer dollars, protect our citizens and our homeland, and tighten the reins on harmful, job‐killing federal regulations that make it harder for employers to create jobs. Some of these items include:
- Bolstering Trade and Job Creation – The report includes language to bolster U.S. trade and strengthen the marketplace, including language encouraging free trade agreements, manufacturing growth, a better import-export trade balance, and repatriation to bring jobs back to the U.S.
- “GIPSA” Rule – The report places restrictions on the implementation of a proposed rule by the Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) that would have allowed harmful government interference in the private market for livestock and poultry.
- Second Amendment Rights – The conference agreement includes numerous provisions that protect the right to keep and bear arms. Three of these protections are made permanent beginning in FY 2012. These three provisions prohibit Department of Justice (DOJ) from consolidating firearms sales records, electronically retrieving the records of former firearms dealers, and maintaining information on persons who have passed firearms background checks. In addition, the conference agreement contains numerous one-year firearms protections, and new language prohibiting DOJ from requiring imported shotguns to meet a "sporting purposes" test.
- Amtrak – Included in the legislation are reforms to Amtrak that save taxpayer dollars and reduce inefficiencies, such as overtime limits and a prohibition on funding for routes where Amtrak offers a discount of 50% or more off normal, peak fares. The legislation also does not include any funding for High Speed Rail or Intercity Passenger Rail Service.
- Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Oversight – The Conference Report includes new oversight reforms at HUD, including: oversight reports on how community development program funds are used, reforms to the mismanaged HOME Investment Partnerships Program, required reports on eliminating waste, fraud and abuse; a 37.5% funding cut for the mismanaged HOME Investment Partnerships Program; and no funding for the unauthorized “Sustainable Communities” program.
- Gitmo – The report continues provisions related to Guantanamo Bay – including a prohibition on the transfer or release of any detainee into the U.S., and a prohibition on the acquisition or construction of any new prison to house detainees.
- Federal Home Loan Reform – The bill does not increase the maximum loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These entities have been under public scrutiny for their questionable businesses practices and use of billions in federal bailout funds, some of which have been used for extravagant management bonuses. The bill limits the increase in the conforming loan limits to only the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), which is subject to greater congressional scrutiny and oversight.
- Climate Change – The conference agreement does NOT include funding to establish a new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Service. The Administration requested $322 million to establish this new entity within NOAA.
Disaster Funding – Numerous major natural disasters this year have cost states and communities billions – requiring historic levels of relief and recovery assistance. Federal agencies are receiving relief requests from nearly every state, and it is critical that Congress provide necessary funds to help families, businesses, and communities recover from these devastating disasters.
After close scrutiny of disaster funding needs within the Departments of Transportation, Commerce, and Agriculture, the Conference Report provides $2.3 billion in disaster relief funding for these agencies – approximately $850 million less than the Senate-passed legislation. These funds will be used solely for recovery related to natural disasters and catastrophes and will not grow the underlying budget or size of these agencies.
For a detailed summary of the Conference Report, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/UploadedFiles/11.14.11_Minibus_-_Detailed_Summary.pdf