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Democratic Amendments to FY2015 Republican budget

May 2, 2014


On April 2, 2014, the House Budget Committee approved a fiscal year 2015 Republican budget resolution that casts a dark shadow over the American Dream. It is a direct attack on job creation and condemns America to economic decline by providing perverse tax incentives to ship American jobs overseas while shortchanging investments in jobs here at home. This budget violates our commitments to seniors, punishes Americans struggling to stay afloat economically, and steepens inequality by protecting wealthy special interests as it takes resources away from everyone else. It raises taxes on middle-class families with children by an average of at least $2,000 in order to cut tax rates for households with incomes over $1 million. This budget is the Republican declaration of class warfare. It violates the fundamental promise that every hard-working American should have a fair shot at success. And its claim of reaching "balance" is a sham. The Republican budget passed on a strict party line, with no Democratic support.

Budget Committee Democrats offered 27 different amendments to improve the budget by putting Americans back to work in the short-term, growing the economy through wise investments, protecting the middle class from tax increases, 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, in fact, several would have reduced the deficit. The amendments offset any proposed spending by reducing future unnecessary funding for the war or by cutting unproductive tax breaks – including subsidies for big oil companies, egregious tax breaks such as tax deductions for corporate jets, and additional tax breaks for the wealthiest in society – closing tax loopholes in the U.S. international corporate tax system that result in fewer American jobs, or implementing selected business tax reform proposals from the Republican tax reform bill. 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
1Make it in America with Investments in Economic GrowthVan Hollen
2Importance of Raising the Minimum WagePocan
3Adopt Comprehensive Immigration ReformCardenas
4Extend Emergency Unemployment CompensationJeffries
5Protect Medicaid for Children, Seniors, and People with DisabilitiesPascrell
6National Strategy to Eradicate Poverty and Increase OpportunityLee
7Preventing the End of Medicare as We Know ItLujan Grisham
8Expansion of Earned Income Tax Credit for Childless WorkersMoore
9Protect VA from Future Government Shutdowns and Establish Veterans Job CorpsYarmuth
10Reject cuts to Pell GrantsRyan (OH)
11Promote Scientific Jobs and Provide a National Investment in Biomedical ResearchCastor
12Invest in America's Transportation InfrastructureBlumenauer
13Full Funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education ActHuffman
14Protect Access to Primary Care in MedicaidMcDermott
15Investing in Early Childhood DevelopmentSchrader
16Stop Subsidizing Multimillion Dollar BonusesDoggett
17Reduce the Deficit by Eliminating Tax Breaks for MillionairesKildee
18Protect Nutrition AssistanceMoore
19Protect Help with Prescription Drug Costs and Other Valuable Medicare Benefits for SeniorsMcDermott
21Refinance Student Loans to Lessen Student DebtPocan
22Truth in Budgeting Regarding Affordable Care Act SavingsVan Hollen
23Protect Juvenile Justice ProgramsCardenas
24Van Hollen
25Protect the American Middle Class from Tax IncreasesPascrell
27Eliminate Overseas Contingency Operations FundingLee
   

 

 

Make it in America with Investments in Economic Growth

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Van Hollen)

This deficit-neutral amendment increases non-defense discretionary funding to the pre-sequester level set for fiscal year 2016 in the Budget Control Act of 2011. This amendment is fully paid for by eliminating excess overseas contingency funding from 2016 through 2021.

A YES vote rejects the Republican budget's deep cut to fiscal year 2016 non-defense discretionary funding that provides funding far below the already inadequate sequester level. A NO vote continues the Republican strategy of gutting investments that are critical for economic growth and job creation, including education, workforce training, scientific research, public health, clean energy, advanced manufacturing, and public safety.

Vote Tally

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Importance of Raising the Minimum Wage

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Pocan)

This amendment adds language calling for passage of legislation to raise the minimum wage.

A YES vote supports a raise for tens of millions of hard-working Americans. A NO vote means those same workers will continue to see their wages stagnate, losing ground to inflation.

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Adopt Comprehensive Immigration Reform

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Cárdenas)

The amendment changes the budget to accommodate passage of H.R. 15, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, comprehensive immigration reform that will boost our economy, lower deficits, secure our borders, and establish clear and just rules for citizenship. It also calls for the House leadership to allow a vote on H.R. 15, which has bipartisan support, because it is long overdue.

A YES vote boosts our economy, lowers our deficits, 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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Extend Emergency Unemployment Compensation

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Jeffries)

This deficit-neutral amendment allows for a one-year extension of emergency unemployment benefits, which expired in December, 2013. It assumes enactment of the Senate bipartisan compromise, which extends benefits for five months, offset with revenues from pension smoothing, prepayment of PBGC premiums, and extension of customs user fees in 2024. A variety of revenue provisions could be used to pay for the remaining seven months of benefits.

A YES vote extends emergency unemployment benefits, providing much-needed help to the over 2 million workers and their families who have been cut off due to the expiration of benefits and the thousands more joining them each week. A NO vote means denying help to these workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

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Protect Medicaid for Children, Seniors, and People with Disabilities

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Pascrell)

This deficit-neutral amendment ensures that seniors, people with disabilities, and working families do not lose access to long-term care services and health services provided through Medicaid by rejecting the cuts to the base Medicaid program contained in the resolution and expressing the House's support for not repealing the Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid improves health, access to health services, and financial security and is a vital safety net for middle-class families. The amendment is paid for by an equal amount of revenue from reducing or eliminating egregious tax breaks and from adopting selected business tax reform proposals from the Republican Tax Reform Act of 2014.

A YES vote maintains health care and long-term care services for millions of seniors, people with disabilities, and working families. A NO vote undermines basic health care for vulnerable members of our society and striving American families.

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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 multipronged 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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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 puts health care coverage for these populations at risk by refusing to disallow 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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Expansion of Earned Income Tax Credit for Childless Workers

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Moore)

This deficit-neutral amendment expands the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless workers, as proposed by the President's budget, which encourages work by effectively increasing the wages of low-income workers. The amendment is fully paid for by reducing or eliminating egregious tax breaks, tax breaks for major oil companies, tax loopholes that encourage sending jobs overseas, tax breaks for millionaires, or by implementing business tax reform proposals from the Republican-introduced Tax Reform Act of 2014.

A YES vote means greater incomes and employment among very low-income childless workers, a group left out of most income security assistance programs. 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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Protect VA from Future Government Shutdowns and Establish Veterans Job Corps

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Yarmuth)

This deficit-neutral amendment increases funding at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to the levels reflected in the President's budget. The Republican budget cuts fiscal year 2016 discretionary programs by $1.7 billion, threatening the portion of the VA's budget that covers administrative costs such as those associated with processing claims. This amendment rejects those cuts and also introduces greater certainty into the VA budgeting process by extending advance appropriations to all discretionary programs. The amendment also helps to address high unemployment among veterans by funding a Veterans Job Corps.

A YES vote prevents cuts to veterans programs and protects them from a government shutdown, and provides more jobs for veterans. A NO vote means cuts to programs that provide benefits and services to our veterans and their families, leaves those programs vulnerable to government shutdowns, and rejects a proposal to create jobs for unemployed veterans.

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Reject cuts to Pell Grants

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. T. Ryan (OH))

This deficit-neutral amendment helps make college more affordable by rejecting the Republican budget's elimination of all mandatory Pell grant funding, which supports inflationary increases in the maximum grant. The amendment adds back the $90 billion that the Republicans eliminated. The amendment is fully paid for by ending unnecessary tax breaks for special interests, subsidies for big oil companies, egregious tax breaks, or additional tax cuts for millionaires, or by implementing selected business tax reform proposals from the Republican Tax Reform Act of 2014.

A YES vote helps more low-income students afford to further their education. A NO vote puts obtaining a college degree out of the reach of needy students.

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Promote Scientific Jobs and Provide a National Investment in Biomedical Research

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Castor)

The amendment provides mandatory funding to ensure that resources for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grow over the next ten years in real, inflation adjusted terms, paid for by an equal amount of revenue from reducing or eliminating egregious tax breaks for special interests. This amendment ensures NIH can continue to support technical research jobs and to ensure that vital biomedical research programs are not jeopardized by declines in NIH's inflation-adjusted funding levels. NIH research prolongs life, reduces disability, and strengthens the economy and yet, over the last decade, growth in NIH's budget has not kept pace with inflation, leading to a decline in the real purchasing power of the agency.

A YES vote on this amendment ensures funding to maintain NIH's real purchasing power, supporting young scientists and NIH research into cures for cancer, heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and other illnesses. A NO vote jeopardizes technical jobs and lifesaving research.

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Invest in America's Transportation Infrastructure

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Blumenauer)

This deficit-neutral amendment 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 until roads and bridges fall apart, and to forgo the economic opportunities that would have been created in the interim. This amendment is paid for by an equal amount of revenue, including revenue traditionally generated by the users of the transportation system.

A YES vote supports maintaining our transportation infrastructure, growing our economy, and creating jobs. A NO vote supports slashing transportation spending by approximately 20 percent, costing jobs and making it impossible to adequately develop and maintain our nation's critical surface transportation.

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Full Funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Huffman)

This deficit-neutral amendment will put the federal government on a 10-year glide path to meeting its commitment to provide 40 percent of the average per pupil cost of special education. The amendment is fully paid for by ending subsidies for big oil companies or by implementing selected business tax reform proposals from the Republican Tax Reform Act of 2014.

A YES vote helps provide educational services to more than 6.6 million students with disabilities. A NO vote strains local and state educational resources and leaves the federal government providing less than 16 percent of the average per pupil cost of special education.

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Protect Access to Primary Care in Medicaid

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. McDermott)

This deficit-neutral amendment protects access to primary care for Medicaid enrollees by providing federal funding for states to continue increased primary care reimbursement rates for physicians at 100 percent of the Medicare rate, and by extending these increased rates to independent mid-level providers. As noted by both Republican and Democratic Members of the Committee, states have historically underpaid for primary care in their Medicaid programs. Access to a primary care provider is essential for health, and can reduce health care costs. The amendment is paid for by an equal amount of revenue from reducing or eliminating egregious tax breaks like special depreciation for corporate jets, tax loopholes that encourage outsourcing, or additional tax breaks for millionaires.

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

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Investing in Early Childhood Development

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Schrader)

This deficit-neutral amendment makes preschool available to every child and expands a voluntary home visiting program to connect families to services. It provides $75 billion over ten years for high quality early learning programs and $10 billion for home visiting, without adding to the deficit. Study after study shows that funding early childhood development pays dividends for children, families, and their communities; up to $17.60 for every dollar spent.

A YES vote supports universal preschool for every child and expands a voluntary home visiting program to connect families to services. A NO vote reaffirms the Republican belief that tax cuts for the most well-off must be protected at all costs, at the expense of high-return investment in America's youngest learners.

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Stop Subsidizing Multimillion Dollar Bonuses

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Doggett)

This amendment would eliminate the deduction public corporations can take for annual executive compensation greater than $1 million. The amendment would dedicate the resulting $50.6 billion in additional revenues to deficit reduction.

A YES vote reduces the deficit while ensuring that taxpayers do not effectively subsidize a portion of corporate salaries above $1 million, shifting the full burden of those costs to the company and its shareholders. A NO vote means that subsidy would remain in place and budget deficits would be about $5 billion higher each year.

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Reduce the Deficit by Eliminating Tax Breaks for Millionaires

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Kildee)

This amendment reduces tax breaks for taxpayers with incomes of greater than $1 million per year, by a total of $125 billion over ten years. The amendment dedicates those savings to deficit reduction.

A YES vote reduces the deficit while ensuring that the wealthiest among us share in the burden of deficit reduction. A NO vote means that the budget would not close a single tax loophole for millionaires in order to reduce the deficit.

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Protect Nutrition Assistance

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Moore)

This deficit-neutral amendment rejects the $137 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 variety of revenue provisions can be adopted to offset the restoration of SNAP to its current law levels.

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

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

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. McDermott)

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 resolution. 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 Affordable Care Act benefits for people with Medicare, including prescription drug cost relief and no copays 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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Refinance Student Loans to Lessen Student Debt

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Pocan)

This deficit-neutral amendment helps lower student debt by accommodating legislation to allow students to refinance their federal student loans, and rejecting the Republican budget's cuts to existing student loan programs – cuts that eliminate in-school interest subsidies on undergraduate student loans for needy students and that pare back on income-driven repayment options. The amendment is fully paid for by ending unnecessary tax breaks for special interests, subsidies for big oil companies, egregious tax breaks, or additional tax cuts for millionaires, or by implementing selected business tax reform proposals from the Republican Tax Reform Act of 2014.

A YES vote lowers the debt of college students by allowing them to refinance their federal loans and take advantage of student loan repayment options Congress has already enacted and paid for. A NO vote increases student debt, which already exceeds all credit card debt in this country.

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Truth in Budgeting Regarding Affordable Care Act Savings

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Van Hollen)

This amendment prevents House Republicans from taking credit for repealing the Affordable Care Act while also counting savings from the Affordable Care Act in their budget. It promotes transparency in budgeting by prohibiting the House from considering legislation that would completely repeal the Affordable Care Act, 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.

A YES vote supports the idea that the revenue and spending numbers in a budget resolution should honestly and accurately reflect the Affordable Care Act policies described in that resolution. 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.

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Protect Juvenile Justice Programs

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Cárdenas)

The amendment protects critical juvenile justice programs from the hundreds of billions of undistributed cuts in the Republican budget starting in 2016. These programs are critical in preventing at-risk youth from becoming incarcerated adults and help keep our communities safe.

A YES vote means fewer at-risk youth become incarcerated adults, which saves taxpayer dollars and makes safer communities. A NO vote means more crime, higher incarceration rates, and a more costly prison system.

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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)

The amendment prevents 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 raise the caps by amending the law, rather than through using backdoor loopholes that undermine the integrity of the budget process.

A YES vote instills discipline and transparency in the budget process and prevents abuse of backdoor loopholes to circumvent budget 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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Protect the American Middle Class from Tax Increases

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Pascrell)

This amendment expresses the House's opposition to the average tax increase of $2,000 that middle-class taxpayers would face in order to finance the cost of 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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Eliminate Overseas Contingency Operations Funding

(Lead Sponsor: Rep. Lee)

The amendment reduces the deficit by $180 billion by eliminating overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding starting in 2016 as military operations are winding down in Afghanistan. It also eliminates the possibility that OCO funding will be used as a backdoor loophole to circumvent spending caps.

A YES vote reduces the deficit by $180 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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