WASHINGTON — The House Republican leadership has a secretive way of bypassing floor amendments to get their members’ earmarks into bills, and they secretly let their members know how to do it without drawing any attention to the practice.
Big League Politics has obtained slides from a PowerPoint presentation that Republican leadership on the House Appropriations Committee delivered to GOP members of Congress. These never-before-published slides explain how congressmen can get their own earmarks (i.e. pork barrel spending for their districts) into bills without raising red flags by asking for floor amendments that need to be voted on publicly.
House Speaker Paul Ryan imposed an “earmark moratorium” on the House of Representatives, for the appearance of propriety, so the pork money that congressmen obtain through the process described in the slides is not referred to as “earmark” money. For the purpose of this article, we will refer to these cash handouts as “stealth earmarks,” which insiders say are the same thing.
The wink-wink process is streamlined and efficient. The slideshow, entitled “FY 2017 Appropriations Process: Addressing Your Member’s Legislative Priorities with the Member Submission Database,” is presented below:
Here’s the slide for “The Appropriations Process,” which includes a helpful yellow box called “Member Submission Database Opens” that literally bypasses the first steps of the process and cuts straight to “Subcommittee Markup.”
Here’s the “Roadmap for Success” for pork-hungry Republicans:
Things to avoid:
“Member Submissions Are Critical” says one slide, because the process “Gets us back to regular order…Saves floor time…Helps Committee draft representative bills.”
“The Committee uses the system heavily,” according to the presentation.
The system also “Increases likelihood of inclusion — For FY16 Defense bill, 94% of members who made requests were helped.”
“Making the System Work for You”:
Republican House leadership is apparently angry that Democrats use the system more heavily than Republicans, showing a pie graph that noted 7,827 Republican submissions in fiscal year 2016 against 28,001 Democrat submissions.
The slides noted the “GOP Submission Success Rate” by department, which was: 85% for AG, 93% for Interior, 75% for CJS, 88% for LHHS, 74% for Defense, 80% for MiliCon/VA, 91% for Energy/Water, 91% for SFOPS, 75% for FSGG, 67% for THUD, and 92% for Homeland.
The fiscal year 2017 presentation occurred at the tail end of Republican Hal Rogers’ tenure as House Appropriations chairman, but a well-placed Capitol Hill insider confirms that this process is virtually the same under new Republican chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen. The Appropriations Committee did not return a request for comment for this report.
This process still takes place despite the fact that House Speaker Paul Ryan placed an “earmark moratorium” on the entire Congress, famously stating: “Under the watch of both political parties, Congress grew addicted to the practice of pork-barrel spending. Taxpayers were rightfully angered to learn of their hard-earned tax dollars squandered on the infamous Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska and the Rain Forest Museum in Iowa. More troubling than these egregious examples of waste is the corruptibility of the process. Earmarks aren’t inherently problematic, but when former members of Congress are in jail for selling earmarks, there’s something seriously wrong with the process. In the 111th Congress, House Republicans established a self-imposed ban on the practice of pork-barrel spending through the broken earmark process. At the start of the 112th Congress, House Republicans expanded the earmark moratorium for the entire House. This moratorium remains in place for the 114th Congress.”
Ryan did not mention anything about “stealth earmarks” like the kind described in the PowerPoint presentation.
As Chairman Frelinghuysen said in 2010, while defending earmarks, “My duty is to look after my congressional district. It offends more people to the right of me in the Republican Party but I have to be responsible to look after New Jersey..I have never taken more on my committee than any other member of Congress. Whatever I take is pretty much equal to what other subcommittee members take.”
Congress Uses Fake Russia-Taliban Report as Excuse to Keep U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
Another victory for the war party.
Democrats are seizing upon a fake news report alleging that Russia has funded Taliban mercenaries to kill U.S. soldiers in order to make it more difficult for troops to be pulled from Afghanistan, thus undermining President Trump’s foreign policy agenda.
The House Armed Services Committee voted on Wednesday to make it more difficult for Trump to pull troops out of Afghanistan. It would force several certifications to be met before Trump could bring troops home. Republicans in the committee joined the Democrats to undermine Trump with the approval of this National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the neoconservative who supports Bush-era globalism, said the measure “lays out, in a very responsible level of specificity, what is going to be required if we are going to in fact make decisions about troop levels based on conditions on the ground and based on what’s required for our own security, not based on political timelines.” It was approved by a 45-11 vote.
The amendment requires an assessment to determine whether or not “state actors have provided any incentives to the Taliban, their affiliates, or other foreign terrorist organizations for attacks against United States, coalition, or Afghan security forces or civilians in Afghanistan in the last two years, including the details of any attacks believed to have been connected with such incentives” before troops can be removed from the country.
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) bragged about how the measure will make sure the U.S. does not leave the region and more American lives are put in jeopardy for a war effort that is largely recognized to be a lost cause.
“There’s been bipartisan criticism of what a weak deal [Trump] got with the Taliban, a deal that is already falling apart,” Moulton said. “Now we learned that he was making this deal at the same time as there were bounties on the heads of American troops, American sons and daughters. We clearly need more oversight over what the president is doing in Afghanistan.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is the most eloquent voice for an “America First” foreign policy in the House, opposed the measure because of its obvious implications against peace.
“A great nation does not force the next generation to fight their wars, and that’s what we’ve done in Afghanistan,” Gaetz said. “I think the best day to have not had the war in Afghanistan was when we started it, and the next best day is tomorrow.
“I don’t think there’s ever a bad day to end the war in Afghanistan,” he added. “Our generation is weary of this and tired of this.”
The defense industry is pushing the Russia bogeyman yet again, in order to create xenophobic outrage and a pretense to keep troops occupying in the region. The Pentagon has reported that Russia is trying to expedite the removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, but they are painting this news as if it is a bad thing.
“As of February, the Russian government was working with the central government, regional countries, and the Taliban to gain increased influence in Afghanistan, expedite a U.S. military withdrawal, and address security challenges that might arise from a withdrawal,” a report from the Pentagon said.
“Russia has politically supported the Taliban to cultivate influence with the group, limit the Western military presence, and encourage counter ISIS operations, although Russia publicly denies their involvement,” they added.
The political establishment, including the military-industrial complex, is pulling out all the stops to sabotage President Trump and deprive him of achieving his goals before November’s election.
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