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Democratic Amendments to FY2016 Republican budget

Mar 27, 2015


On March 19, 2015, the House Budget Committee approved the Republican fiscal year 2016 budget that is a badly misguided recipe for national decline.  It weakens the American middle class and chops down the ladders of opportunity that help hard-working Americans get ahead.  It makes it harder to buy a home or pay for college, causes millions of struggling Americans to fall deeper into poverty, and makes it harder to have a secure retirement.  It does nothing to help those Americans looking for jobs.  It does nothing to boost the paychecks of working Americans, whose wages have stagnated for decades as the economic gains from their hard work have increasingly flowed to those at the highest income levels.  This budget, instead of reversing that trend, makes it worse.  It redistributes income away from the American middle class and those striving to join the middle class and directs it to the top one percent.  The budget deliberately ignores the growing mountain of evidence that trickledown economics has been a miserable failure, having boosted nothing but budget deficits and the incomes of the already wealthy.  The budget also disinvests in America by slashing our nation's commitments to education, research, infrastructure, and other crucial drivers of economic prosperity. And its phony claim of reaching "balance" is built on a shaky foundation of huge gimmicks.  All in all, the budget rigs the rules to favor the wealthy and special interests at the expense of everyone else.

Budget Committee Democrats offered 27 different amendments to improve the budget by helping American families by increasing paychecks and protecting the middle class from tax increases, putting Americans back to work in the short-term, growing the economy through wise investments, protecting government guarantees to our seniors, preserving the safety net for those who need it, and ensuring truth and transparency in budgeting.

None of the amendments would have increased the deficit and one would have reduced the deficit.  The amendments offset any proposed spending or tax breaks for working families by cutting unproductive special interest tax loopholes  for the wealthiest and the well connected – including subsidies for big oil companies, egregious tax breaks such as tax deductions for corporate jets, and closing tax loopholes in the U.S. international corporate tax system that result in fewer American jobs.  Republicans rejected every Democratic amendment.  Following is a description of the amendments. The Appendix at the end includes the text of each amendment and each roll call vote tally.
 

#AmendmentSponsor
1Boost Paychecks of the Middle Class and Those Working to Get into the Middle Class by Providing Tax Relief for Working Americans, Supporting Worker Paychecks over CEO BonusesVan Hollen
2Protect the American Middle Class from Tax IncreasesPocan
3Reject Sequester Cuts to Defense and Non-Defense SpendingNorcross
4Preventing the End of Medicare as We Know ItLujan-Grisham
5Protect Medicaid for Children, Seniors, and People with DisabilitiesDingell
6Protect Tax Credits to Keep Health Coverage AffordablePascrell
7Protect Nutrition AssistanceMoore
8National Strategy to Eradicate Poverty and Increase OpportunityLee
9Protect Scientific Jobs and Provide a National Investment in Biomedical ResearchCastor
10Protect Access to Primary Care in Medicaid and MedicareMcDermott
11Fully Fund VA Programs and Protect them from Future Government ShutdownsMoulton
12Adopt Comprehensive Immigration ReformYarmuth
13Accelerating Growth in U.S. Manufacturing Ryan
14Protect Consumers from Abusive Financial PracticesLieu
15Protect Help with Prescription Drug Costs and Other Valuable Medicare Benefits for SeniorsLujan-Grisham
17Protect Social Security Benefits from CutsVan Hollen
18Invest in America's Transportation Infrastructure Castor
19Increase Effectiveness of the Earned Income Tax Credit Moore
20Lower Student Debt by Refinancing Student Loans and Protecting Pell Grants and Student Loan Benefits Pocan
21Importance of Raising the Minimum Wage Yarmuth
22Promote Early Childhood DevelopmentMcDermott
23Truth in Budgeting Regarding Affordable Care Act Savings and Expiring Tax ProvisionsPascrell
24Van Hollen
25Eliminate Overseas Contingency Operations Funding Lee
26Improving the Availability of Long-Term Care Services and Supports for Seniors and Other AmericansDingell
27Supporting Infrastructure InvestmentNorcross
28Preparing Students for 21st Century JobsMoulton
   

 

 

Boost Paychecks of the Middle Class and Those Working to Get into the Middle Class by Providing Tax Relief for Working Americans, and Supporting Worker Paychecks over CEO Bonuses

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Van Hollen)

This amendment creates a deficit-neutral reserve fund to cut taxes on the middle class and incentivize business to boost paychecks, states the sense of the House to pass the CEO-Employee Paycheck Fairness Act, and amends the budget to improve and extend the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit. 

A YES vote boosts middle-class paychecks by cutting taxes for American workers and incentivizing businesses to raise their workers' wages.  A NO vote rejects higher pay and tax cuts for workers, two-earner households, and families paying child-care expenses.

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Protect the American Middle Class from Tax Increases

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Pocan)

This amendment opposes tax increases on the middle class.  The Republican budget green-lights an average tax increase of $2,000 for middle-class families in order to finance a tax reform plan that reduces the top marginal tax rate to 25 percent.

A YES vote protects taxpayers making less than $200,000 ($250,000 for couples) from paying higher taxes to finance lower tax rates for high-income taxpayers.  A NO vote supports taxing the middle class in order to finance lower tax rates for the wealthy.

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Reject Sequester Cuts to Defense and Non-Defense Spending

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Norcross)

This deficit-neutral amendment rejects the inadequate levels of defense and non-defense discretionary spending set by the sequester for 2016, bringing non-defense funding up to the pre-sequester level and defense to the President's level. 

A YES vote supports necessary investments in important domestic and security priorities, and rejects the Republican budget's deep cut below the pre-sequester Budget Control Act Caps to fiscal year 2016 defense and non-defense discretionary funding.  A NO vote continues the Republican strategy of gutting investments that are critical for economic growth and job creation, and misusing the war funding designation to pay for needed defense funding.

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Preventing the End of Medicare as We Know It

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Lujan-Grisham)

This amendment opposes changes that would eliminate guaranteed health insurance benefits for seniors and people with disabilities under the Medicare program, increase costs for seniors and people with disabilities by establishing a Medicare voucher or premium support plan that provides limited payments to Medicare beneficiaries to purchase health care in the private health insurance market, or weaken the traditional Medicare program by diverting the healthiest enrollees into private plans and undermining the program's ability to control costs while offering access to a broad range of providers.  The Republican budget calls for transforming Medicare into a premium support or voucher program that would dramatically increase premiums for seniors who wish to use traditional Medicare.

A YES vote protects the Medicare guarantee for senior citizens and persons with disabilities who rely on Medicare.  A NO vote jeopardizes health care coverage for these populations by refusing to prevent proposals that shift health care costs from the federal government to seniors and persons with disabilities by transforming Medicare into a voucher or premium support system.

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Protect Medicaid for Children, Seniors, and People with Disabilities

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Dingell)

This deficit-neutral amendment ensures that seniors, persons with disabilities, and children do not lose access to critical health care and long-term care services provided through Medicaid by rejecting the Republican budget's  plan to block grant Medicaid and cut roughly $900 billion  to the base Medicaid program. Medicaid improves health, access to health services, and financial security and is a vital safety net for hard-working families. 

A YES vote protects health care and long-term care services for millions of seniors, persons with disabilities, and children.  A NO vote undermines basic health care for vulnerable members of our society and hardworking American families.

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Protect Tax Credits to Keep Health Coverage Affordable

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Pascrell)

This deficit-neutral amendment restores the premium tax credits provided by the Affordable Care Act to ensure that middle class individuals and families and those striving to join the middle class can afford to purchase quality health care insurance plans that cover necessary health care goods and services, that protect patients from unlimited out-of-pocket costs that can lead to financial ruin, and that do not deny coverage or charge higher premiums based on pre-existing conditions.

A YES vote supports retaining the premium tax credits that are helping 8 million people buy quality, affordable health coverage this year and will help an estimated 15 million people do so in 2016.  A NO vote rejects the Affordable Care Act tax credits that help make health coverage affordable and instead endorses taking away these tax credits starting next year.

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Protect Nutrition Assistance

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Moore)

This deficit-neutral amendment rejects the $125 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) included in the Republican budget.  There is no way to achieve these savings without either pushing vulnerable people from the SNAP rolls or cutting SNAP benefits.

A YES vote will protect SNAP, helping millions of vulnerable Americans to maintain adequate diets.  A NO vote means slashing SNAP funding, putting the nutritional needs of struggling families at risk.

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National Strategy to Eradicate Poverty and Increase Opportunity

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Lee)

This amendment supports a goal of developing a national strategy to eliminate poverty, with the initial goal of cutting poverty in half in ten years, and extending equitable access to economic opportunity to all Americans.  It discusses a multi-pronged approach that allows workers to develop skills and have good jobs, removes barriers and obstacles to taking advantage of economic opportunities, and supports the most vulnerable in society.  The amendment includes findings that make clear the important role that government plays in reducing poverty.

A YES vote supports development of a comprehensive national strategy to address poverty and lack of opportunity.  A NO vote rejects both the findings that government programs play an important role in reducing poverty and the need to develop a national strategy to eradicate poverty and increase opportunity.

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Protect Scientific Jobs and Provide a National Investment in Biomedical Research

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Castor)

This deficit-neutral amendment provides mandatory funding to ensure resources for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grow with our nation's economy over the next ten years. NIH conducts cutting-edge research and supports scientific jobs, and yet, over the last decade, growth in NIH's budget has not kept pace with inflation, leading to a decline in its purchasing power. 

A YES vote ensures funding to maintain NIH's ability to advance cutting edge research and support young scientists.  A NO vote jeopardizes technical jobs and lifesaving research.

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Protect Access to Primary Care in Medicaid and Medicare

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. McDermott)

This deficit-neutral amendment protects access to primary care for Medicaid enrollees by providing funding for states to restore primary care reimbursement rates for physicians at 100 percent of the Medicare rate, and by extending these increased rates to additional providers.  It also assumes a permanent 10 percent increase in Medicare rates for primary care in a budget-neutral manner. 

A YES vote expands access to primary care for the millions of seniors, people with disabilities, and hardworking families who rely on Medicaid and Medicare.  A NO vote undermines access to primary care and risks the health and well-being of Medicaid and Medicare enrollees.

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Fully Fund VA Programs and Protect them from Future Government Shutdowns

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Moulton)

This deficit-neutral amendment restores $6.3 billion in cuts below the President’s request for veterans’ programs for 2016 and 2017 to ensure veterans receive timely access to health care and benefits.  It also extends advance appropriations to all discretionary programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to help ensure funding is in place at the beginning of each fiscal year and to protect veterans’ programs from future government shutdowns.  The amendment also supports requiring the VA to submit along with its annual budget a “Future-Years Veterans Program.”  This will facilitate transparency and oversight with regard to VA’s longer term plans and it will help Congress in enacting adequate advance appropriations.

A YES vote ensures veterans receive the benefits they have earned in a timely fashion and protects veterans’ programs from a government shutdown.  A NO vote means providing insufficient resources to ensure timely provision of benefits and services, and leaves those programs vulnerable to government shutdowns.  

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Adopt Comprehensive Immigration Reform

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Yarmuth)

This amendment changes the budget to accommodate passage of comprehensive immigration reform, such as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act proposed by House Democrats during the 113th Congress, which will boost our economy, lower deficits, secure our borders, and establish clear and just rules for citizenship.

A YES vote boosts our economy, lowers our deficits, extends the Solvency of Social Security, helps secure our borders, and establishes clear and just rules for citizenship.  A NO vote means a less robust economy, higher deficits, a less secure border, and an immigration system that will continue to keep millions of hard-working, law-abiding families who have lived in our communities for decades hiding in the shadows.

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Accelerating Growth in U.S. Manufacturing

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Ryan)

This deficit-neutral amendment strengthens U.S. manufacturing by establishing a Scale-Up Manufacturing Initiative and expanding the National Network of Manufacturing Institutes. The amendment advances our country's manufacturing technologies and ensures our nation's ideas and inventions are developed and produced in the United States. 

A YES vote accelerates growth in U.S. manufacturing – an economic sector that employs millions of Americans.  A NO vote fails to invest in ideas and technologies that create well-paying American jobs.

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Protect Consumers from Abusive Financial Practices

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Lieu)

This amendment expresses the House's support of continuing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's important work and funding mechanism that helps ensure its independence.
 
A YES vote supports the continued independence and efforts of the Bureau, whose efforts have won more than $5.3 billion in refunds and relief for 15 million consumers.  A NO vote seeks to undermine the Bureau's work by exposing it to budget cuts and restrictions on its activities in the appropriations process.

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Protect Help with Prescription Drug Costs and Other Valuable Medicare Benefits for Seniors

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Lujan-Grisham)

This amendment rejects the Republican budget's cuts to health care for current seniors and those near retirement.  It expresses the sense of the House that the important new health benefits for seniors and disabled individuals provided in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) should be retained, rather than repealed as called for in the Republican budget.  These benefits include the gradual closing of the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap, coverage of key preventive services with no co-pays or deductibles, and expanded support for alternatives to nursing homes.

A YES vote supports important ACA benefits for people with Medicare, including prescription drug cost relief and no co-pays or deductibles for life-saving preventive services.  A NO vote increases costs for seniors in the "doughnut hole" – the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap – and increases costs to seniors for preventive health care services.

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Protect Social Security Benefits from Cuts

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Van Hollen)

This amendment expresses opposition to cutting Social Security benefits and support for Social Security's continued payment of Disability Insurance benefits using its $2.8 trillion in existing reserves.

A YES vote supports allowing the Social Security Administration to use its existing reserves to ensure that all earned benefits continue to be paid on time.  A NO vote leaves the prospect of cuts in Social Security benefits on the table, particularly for Social Security Disability beneficiaries.

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Invest in America's Transportation Infrastructure

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Castor)

This deficit-neutral amendment rejects the Republican budget's cuts in transportation spending, and puts Americans to work by increasing the investment in our nation's transportation infrastructure to address the immediate needs of our roads, bridges, and transit systems that are in disrepair.  At a time when so many Americans are ready to work, it makes no sense to defer these investments when roads and bridges are falling apart, and to forgo the economic opportunities that would have been created in the interim. 
 
A YES vote rejects the $187 billion cut in transportation spending that the Republican budget makes over ten years.  A NO vote supports cutting the highway program and other transportation spending by 19 percent.

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Increase Effectiveness of the Earned Income Tax Credit

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Moore)

This deficit-neutral amendment increases the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for childless workers, who are the only group that can currently be taxed into poverty.  It also allows some additional workers, including some who are either currently too young or too old to benefit, to claim the EITC.

A YES vote ensures that low-income childless workers can more fully benefit from the anti-poverty and employment effects of the EITC.  A NO vote denies that support, which liberal and conservative experts agree is one of the most effective anti-poverty efforts.

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Lower Student Debt by Refinancing Student Loans and Protecting Pell Grants and Student Loan Benefits

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Pocan)

This deficit-neutral amendment helps students lower their debt by accommodating legislation that lets them refinance federal student loans to the lowest available rate, and by rejecting the Republican budget's cuts to Pell grants and to existing student loan programs. 

A YES vote lowers students' debt by allowing them to refinance their federal loans and protecting current grant aid and student loan rates and repayment options.  A NO vote makes college less accessible and increases student debt, which already stands at more than $1.3 trillion and exceeds all credit card debt in this country.

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Importance of Raising the Minimum Wage

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Yarmuth)

This amendment adds language calling for passage of legislation to raise the minimum wage.
 
A YES vote is a vote in support of increasing the federal minimum wage, which has not risen since 2009 and is now lower than the minimum wage in most states.  A NO vote is a vote to keep the minimum wage unchanged, denying a raise to millions of Americans and leaving many of them in poverty.

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Promote Early Childhood Development

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. McDermott)

This deficit-neutral amendment funds the President's early childhood initiative, creating universal access to high-quality preschool, expanding services in at-risk communities during pregnancy and to parents with young children through voluntary home visits, and extending the Children's Health Insurance Program for four years. 

A YES vote invests in early childhood, ensuring children a healthy start and school readiness.  A NO vote jeopardizes health care for millions of children and the continuation of a successful program that has provided nearly 1.4 million home visits in at-risk communities.

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Truth in Budgeting Regarding Affordable Care Act Savings and Expiring Tax Provisions

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Pascrell)

This amendment prevents House Republicans from counting certain savings in their budget while pursuing legislation that would eliminate those savings. It promotes transparency in budgeting in two ways.  First, it prohibits the House from considering legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety if the House has approved a budget resolution that includes the Affordable Care Act's revenue increases and Medicare savings in its spending and revenue numbers.  Second, if the House has approved a budget resolution that includes the revenues projected to occur after tax provisions expire under current law, this amendment prevents the House from considering legislation to extend those expiring tax provisions without paying for the extension.

A YES vote supports the principle that the revenue and spending numbers in a budget resolution should honestly and accurately reflect the policies described in that resolution as well as the policies that the House majority plans to consider this year.  A NO vote rejects the principle that the spending and revenue numbers in a budget should be accurate and consistent with the policies that resolution purports to include as well as the policies that the House majority actually intends to vote on.

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Truth in Budgeting - Preventing the Abuse of the "Overseas Contingency Operations" Designation to Skirt Funding Caps

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Van Hollen)

This amendment provides additional oversight to prevent the use of the “Overseas Contingency Operations” designation to circumvent discretionary funding caps.  Both the Pentagon and Congress have abused this loophole to fund non-war related activities.  If discretionary caps are too low and additional funding is needed to address the country’s priorities, Congress should amend the law to raise the caps rather than providing funding through backdoor loopholes that undermine the integrity of the budget process.

A YES vote maintains transparency and discipline in the budget process and prevents abuse of backdoor loopholes to circumvent spending caps.  A NO vote means less transparency and less budget discipline and gives a green light to the use of backdoor loopholes to skirt spending caps.

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Eliminate Overseas Contingency Operations Funding

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Lee)

This amendment puts a stop to the Republican attempt to undermine the budget process by eliminating the budget's extra $36 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding.  The amendment brings OCO levels back to those the President requested and what our military commanders and our diplomatic corps say are needed for 2016.  It dedicates these savings toward deficit reduction.

A YES vote reduces the deficit by $36 billion and instills more discipline and transparency in the budget process.  A NO vote increases the deficit and allows the OCO to continue to be used as a backdoor loophole to skirt discretionary funding caps.

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Improving the Availability of Long-Term Care Services and Supports for Seniors and Other Americans

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Dingell)

This amendment endorses  initiatives to improve the availability of long-term care services and insurance for seniors and other Americans.  Such initiatives could include creation of a comprehensive long-term care insurance program, pilot programs or studies to determine the best options for improving access to long-term care services, or improvements to Medicare, Medicaid, or other programs to provide increased access to long-term care.  An estimated 7 in 10 Americans aged 65 or older will need long-term services and supports at some point. As the share of the U.S. population aged 65 and older continues to grow, the demand for long-term care services and supports will increase.  Existing programs leave significant gaps in access to affordable care, and these gaps will get worse as the population ages.

A YES vote supports Congress taking action to improve access to affordable long-term care services.  A NO vote rejects the idea that the Congress should take action to make sure that senior citizens and persons with disabilities can get long-term care services when they need them.

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Supporting Infrastructure Investment

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Norcross)

This amendment expresses Congress's support for investment in highways and a wide range of other infrastructure priorities.

A YES vote supports infrastructure investments that fuel future economic growth and jobs in the U.S.  A NO vote opposes these critical investments

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Preparing Students for 21st Century Jobs

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Moulton)

This deficit-neutral amendment funds career and technical education that will prepare students to meet the demands of the 21st century workforce. 

A YES vote helps ensure that every student graduates from high school ready for college and a career.  A NO vote leaves funding for career and technical education below the 2012 level, despite the need to ensure students are prepared for college or careers in high-skill, high-demand jobs.

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