House GOP To Vote on Overall Funding Bill That Continues Foreign Aid to Egypt, Libya
(CNSNews.com) – A bill in the House of Representatives introduced by the Republicans to fund the government for the next six months will continue foreign aid funding -- including to Libya and Egypt -- where militants stormed the U.S. Embassies in Cairo and Benghazi, killing the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other diplomatic personnel.
Known as a continuing resolution (CR), the bill would continue funding current federal operations through March of 2013, including any foreign aid expenditures the government might make. The CR is scheduled for a vote in the House today, Thursday, where it is expected to pass with bipartisan support.
House conservatives had agreed to a deal with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in July to support the bill, apparently to avoid a lame-duck fight with Senate Democrats and President Obama.
But following Tuesday’s attacks on American property and personnel in Egypt and Libya, the fact that the CR allows for further foreign aid – including to those two countries – gave House conservatives heartburn.
“It makes it easier to vote against,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) said that President Obama should ask that the funding be blocked, although House Republicans themselves could amend the bill to stop that funding. Landry, in fact, sent a letter to Speaker Boehner Wednesday evening asking that the CR be halted until it could be changed to strip out funding for Egypt and Libya.
“In light of the recent developments, if the president were to come back and demand that the amount of money that's in that CR [continuing resolution] for Libya and Egypt be stripped out, that would be tremendous leadership,” Landry said at the same press conference.
Now that the language of the bill has been revealed, House conservatives are expressing other reservations about it, including provisions relating to federal welfare programs.
“Conservatives went to [Republican] leadership several months back and said ‘Look, to help provide some certainty – we all know that that’s something that’s missing out there in our economy with the tax issue, the sequestration issue coming – one of the things we could provide certainty on is [that] we’re not going to have some shutdown showdown fight on funding the government in the month of September or in the lame duck session at the end of the calendar year,” Rep. Jordan said.
Jordan, who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), said that House conservatives agreed to a CR worth $1.047 trillion in exchange for avoiding the lame-duck session after the election. However, he said that the RSC would have to discuss the new CR now that final language was available.
“So, we said we would be willing to entertain voting for the $1.047 [trillion] discretionary level – which I don’t think anyone on this panel supported last summer – we’d be willing to do that if it was a six-month CR that got us into next year and what would hopefully be a Romney administration.
“But now we look at the text and there have been some things that have been added to the CR that causes some concern, first and foremost the TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the formal name for welfare] dollars that are in there,” Jordan said.
The bill extends the current welfare reforms – passed in 1996 – for an additional six months, making no mention of President Obama’s questionable policy of waiving the work requirements that were central to the 1996 reform effort.
The 1996 reform was scheduled to expire this year.
Technically, the bill includes a 0.6 percent increase in spending, in order to comply with the 2013 levels mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011that set discretionary spending caps.
That increase amounts to $8 billion over last year’s spending. The continuing resolution is necessary because the Senate has not passed any appropriations bills for fiscal year 2013, which begins on October 1, 2012.