Several key points of conflict emerged during the budgeting process, mostly stemming from the past legislative and executive actions of the Obama administration, among other controversies.
The President’s executive orders announced in late 2014, offers legal status to approximately 5 million undocumented immigrants — something that some members of Congress viewed as an unconstitutional overreach. As a result, Republicans have only allotted funding for the Department of Homeland Security — which enforces immigration law — until February of 2015. This will give the incoming Republican 114th Congress an opportunity to craft their own immigration overhaul.
One of the key legislative reforms that was enacted during the President’s first term was the Dodd-Frank Act, that reshaped the U.S. banking sector in the hopes of reducing the risk of a future financial crisis. This spending bill eases rules that forced banks to take full responsibility for the risk of losses in derivatives trading, allowing banks to keep those trading units in parts of the business that would be backed up by the federal government in the event of insolvency.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been a focus of controversy since it was revealed that the agency had methodically targeted conservative groups for additional scrutiny as they applied for tax exempt status. The IRS would have its budget cut by $345.6 million.
While there is no direct language in this bill denying funds for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), it does not increase the budget for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and reduces the IRS’ budget. HHS plays a critical role in delivering health care and maintaining the federal insurance exchange, while the IRS collects taxes on insurance plans and is tasked with enforcing the individual mandate.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Three million employees of the Department of the Defense - including active-duty, civilian employees and reservists - will receive a 1% raise.
A pay freeze will prevent the vice president and senior political appointees from receiving raises.
There will be a significant increase in the amount of political donations individuals can make to national party committees.
The District of Columbia’s marijuana legalization implementation will be banned from using federal and local funds - effectively blocking it.
Bars the use of funds for transferring or releasing detainees at Guantanamo Bay into the U.S.
States can receive an exemption from the requirement for whole-grain foods in school lunches as long as they can demonstrate a hardship in the procurement process.
Funding for 38 F-35 Joint Strike Fights would be included, which is nine more than the Pentagon obtained the prior fiscal year.
The ban on federal funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or endangerment of the mother’s life would continue.
$618.8 million in funding for Israeli programs, including $175 million for Iron Dome would be included. This is in addition to the recent $225 million appropriation for Iron Dome.
The IRS budget cuts would also eliminate any funding for the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
From the Cato Institute:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will see its funding cut by $60 million from the previous year.
Funding for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository would be continued.
A moratorium on state and local internet taxes would be extended for at least one year.
Obamacare’s risk corridors - which essentially bailout the insurance industry - are required to be budget neutral. While the Obama administration can still pay insurers, they have to be paid from user fees rather than a government fund.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) budget will not increase.
$5.4 billion for operations fighting Ebola would be authorized.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would see a funding increase of $37 million.
$3.2 billion for improving the federal government’s weather prediction capabilities would be authorized.
The Department of Energy (DOE) would receive $141 million for a “next generation computing” program.