Tags: Immigration | budget | government | lobbyists | coal | shutdown

Watchdog Groups Set to Pounce at Budget Bill's Release

Monday, 08 Dec 2014 08:29 AM

The government spending bill containing more than $1 trillion in appropriations will come under a microscope from watchdog groups when it is unveiled this week.

Lobbyist and lawmakers will be examining every rider in the so-called "cromnibus" legislation that has to be approved by Friday or there will be a government shutdown, according to The Hill.

The legislation is expected to include 11 appropriations bills funding agencies through the fiscal year, and a continuing resolution, or CR as it's sometimes known, that will fund the Department of Homeland Security for just a few months.

The resolution was introduced as an interim measure while the battle over immigration reform continues to rage between President Barack Obama and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Homeland Security funds the agencies that prevent illegal immigration.

The current lame-duck Congress closes for the Christmas break at the end of the week, and is due to return in January with the Senate and the House both controlled by the GOP.

The bill, which will fund the government through September 2015, has been kept under close wraps, but is expected to be released on Monday with possibly a few eye-opening provisions.

The House is expected to vote first on the "cromnibus."

"We’re ready to be surprised," said Steve Ellis, vice president at Taxpayers for Common Sense, which often shines a spotlight on hidden measures in funding bills.

"In the end, nothing surprises me and I’m sure we’re going to be finding stuff out in January or February," Ellis told The Hill. "You have to not just be a speed-reader, but really be a superman to get through all of it."

Democrats will be keeping an eye out for a possible GOP rider to prohibit federal funds from being used to subsidize insurance plans that provide abortion services, according to The Hill. Liberals are also worried about a rider to reverse Washington, D.C.’s, new pot law.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is said to have been pushing to attach a rider that would stop limits imposed on coordinating spending between campaign committees and candidates, The Hill reported.

"We would watch it with great concern because of the fact that it could open the door to special interests having more influence over all of federal policy and certainly the budget than they even do now," Lindsay Koshgarian, research director at National Priorities Project, which tracks federal spending, told The Hill.

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club will be keen to learn whether the "cromnibus" contains provisions that would curtail the Obama administration’s rule to reduce carbon emissions at power plants.

Melinda Pierce, the Sierra Club’s legislative director, told The Hill, "I’m getting a sense from our conversations on the Hill and the lobbying back in the district that the cromnibus is likely to be clean.

"My sense is Republicans may be holding their fire until they have greater numbers, greater control, greater power."

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The government spending bill containing more than $1 trillion in appropriations will come under a microscope from watchdog groups when it is unveiled, likely on Monday.
budget, government, lobbyists, coal, shutdown
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2014-29-08
Monday, 08 Dec 2014 08:29 AM
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