1. Update

House Appropriations Bills Advance FCNL’s Priorities

By Amelia Kegan, Diana Ohlbaum, July 1, 2019


Each year FCNL lobbyists work hard to bring federal spending decisions in line with Quaker values – but it’s a tough job. Invariably, Congress allocates more for the Pentagon and less for domestic and diplomatic programs than we believe is ethical. But this year – thanks to the concerted efforts of advocates like you – FCNL achieved impressive successes in almost every area.

In June, the full House passed 10 of the 12 annual spending bills for Fiscal Year 2020, grouped into two giant packages. One included funding for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-H), Defense (DOD), State Department and Foreign Operations (SFOPs), and Energy and Water (E/W). The second provided funds for Commerce/Justice/Science (CJS), Agriculture, Interior, and Environment, Military Construction and Veterans (Milcon-VA), and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD). The Financial Services appropriation passed separately.

The two remaining bills -- Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Legislative Branch appropriations -- passed out of committee but proved too controversial to be taken up by the full House at this time.

The appropriations bills that passed the House contained several major victories for FCNL’s legislative agenda. While these appropriations bills still need to be acted on by the Senate, these House approvals are huge wins and positions us well as we move forward to ensure that the FY20 appropriations reflect Quaker values.

Here are highlights:

Endless War

  • The House passed Rep. Barbara Lee’s (CA-13) amendment to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which has been used as the basis for endless war. This is the first time that either chamber of Congress has ever approved repealing the 2001 AUMF. The Lee amendment was adopted in the House Appropriations Committee and included in the final defense appropriations bill that passed the House.

Census Funding and Citizenship

  • The House appropriated funding for the 2020 census and included language to prevent the administration from including a question about citizenship.

Criminal Justice Reform

  • The CSJ appropriations include $75 million funding to implement the FIRST STEP Act, which passed last year. This will support educational and occupational training in prisons.
  • The House increased Second Chance Grants to $106 million. These grants support programs to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for people returning from incarceration.

Diplomacy and Development

  • Congress restored funding for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development that the president had proposed cutting.
  • Twelve specific accounts that support conflict prevention and peacebuilding – including the Complex Crises Fund, Contributions for International Peacekeeping Activities, and the U.S. Institute of Peace – were allotted $1.8 billion more than the president requested.

Energy and Environment

  • Funding for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was preserved. No funding was permitted to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • There was bipartisan support for limiting offshore drilling, protecting the social cost of carbon (used to quantify the benefits of addressing climate change), and protecting Obama-era regulations on methane and other greenhouse gas emissions.

Gun Violence Prevention

  • The Labor-H bill included $50 million for firearm injury and mortality prevention research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. This research will establish the public health impact of gun violence.
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives received $1.44 billion that bolsters the existing background check system and assists community-based violence intervention programs.

Immigration

  • The T-HUD appropriations bill included language to prevent the administration’s proposed rule to evict mixed-status immigrant families from assisted housing.
  • The Labor-H and DHS bills ensure that unaccompanied children under the care of Health and Human Services (HHS) can be reunited with loved ones without fearing deportation.
  • The DHS bill that passed out of committee lowered detention beds, restricted overspending on detention, ended family detention by the end of December 2019, and prohibited the use of federal funds for border wall construction.

Poverty and Economic Justice

Robust support for anti-poverty measures were included in the Labor-H and T-HUD appropriations bills, including:

  • A 45 percent increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, for a total of $7.7 billion. Head Start was allocated an additional $1.5 billion.
  • The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program was increased to $3.8 billion, a $150 million increase.

Support for Native American Communities

Funds for many programs supporting Native American communities were increased, including:

  • A 5 percent set-aside of the Crime Victims’ Fund for tribes, which supports victim services such as domestic violence shelters, counseling, and court advocacy. It also provides victims compensation to cover medical care, funeral and burial costs, and lost wages.
  • The House doubled funding for the Office on Violence Against Women for tribal governments to $10 million.
  • Funds for Indian Health Service was increased to $6.34 billion, an increase of more than $500 million. The House also increased funding for Urban Indian Health, which now totals $81 million.

Yemen War

Three provisions were included in the Pentagon spending package that would end U.S. complicity in the Saudi-led war in Yemen:

  • A requirement to enforce the War Powers Act by removing U.S. forces from the conflict. This provision is identical to the Yemen War Powers Resolution (S.J. Res. 7) that was vetoed by President Trump.
  • A halt to a so-called “emergency” arms package to Saudi Arabia, which included weapons of the type used against civilians in Yemen. The amendment, adopted by a vote of 237-191, would stop 22 weapons sales valued at $8 billion to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries.
  • A provision that prohibits Saudi Arabia from securing International Military Education and Training (IMET) funds. The $10,000 Saudi Arabia gets through IMET qualifies it to receive nearly $30 million in military training discounts from the U.S. government.

Nuclear Weapons

  • The House Appropriations Committee rejected funding for the so-called “low-yield” W76-2 nuclear warhead for submarines and an attempt on the House floor to add back the money was rejected by a vote of 192-236.
  • The defense appropriations bill also zeroed out funding for new intermediate-range missile systems that would violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, from which the administration has announced plans to withdraw. An amendment to restore this funding was defeated by a vote of 203-225.

Amelia Kegan

  • Legislative Director, Domestic Policy

Amelia Kegan leads the domestic policy team's work in analyzing legislation, advocating on Capitol Hill, and developing legislative strategy. Prior to coming to FCNL, Amelia worked at a variety of other national non-profits in D.C. and Chicago, focusing on federal budget, tax, and low-income policy.

Diana Ohlbaum

  • Senior Strategist and Legislative Director for Foreign Policy

Diana Ohlbaum directs FCNL’s foreign policy lobbying team and leads an effort to replace the current U.S. foreign policy paradigm of military domination and national superiority with a more ethical and effective one based on cooperation and mutual respect.