Bringing Labor/HHS Bill to House Floor Should Be a Priority for Ryan

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has made the theme #ConfidentAmerica a key part of his speakership. This, along with his assertion that "As leaders, we need to raise our gaze and raise our game and talk about ideas," signals a new era in the House. There is a way to tangibly demonstrate that our country is confident and talking about ideas: If the appropriations process takes place this year, the first bill on the House floor should be the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill.

Referred to inside the Beltway as the Labor/HHS bill, this appropriations measure has not come to floor for debate since 2009. For nearly a decade, Democrats and Republicans have failed in one of their principal constitutional duties. Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution states, "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law." That clause can also be found quoted at the top of the House Appropriations Committee website. Sadly, this constitutional directive has become empty verbiage.

This can change under Ryan. If the House can get the appropriations process moving — a task made difficult by the irresponsibly high budget number passed by the House Budget Committee — the Labor/HHS bill should be the first one in line. It would mark a dramatic return to regular order to have a bill that the House has not considered in 10 years to finally go through the normal process of floor consideration. The Speaker has promised to return to regular order, saying that "We should do this in a normal process where every member of Congress has a crack at writing a bill through the amendment process, where we bring all these different bills through the regular system, where we get our work done on time." Mending the broken process that surrounds the Labor/HHS bill would send an important signal that Ryan is committed to the House carrying out its constitutional duties through regular order.

The Labor/HHS bill has been put on hold for years because the bill is filled with controversial accounts. The bill funds Medicare, Medicaid, student financial aid, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public health, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, unemployment insurance, job training, portions of ObamaCare and is a font of finance for Planned Parenthood. The bill is a disaster, a muddle of zombie programs that mock the 10th Amendment, misuse taxpayer dollars and violate free-market principles. According to the Congressional Research Service, the "bill is typically the largest single source of discretionary funds for domestic non-defense federal programs among the various appropriations bills." It is an insult to our form of republican government that politicians in Congress have shirked their responsibility to debate the programs in this bill.