Rush Votes “NO” for FY2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) voted “NO” tonight on H.R. 83, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015. Rush expressed the following concerns regarding the FY15 Appropriations and Continuing Resolution:
The bill funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), informally known as food stamps, at $81.8 billion, which is $332.4 million less than fiscal year 2014. The bill funds the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the largest discretionary program in the bill, at $6.62 billion, which is $92.8 million less than fiscal year 2014. While the Administration seeks to point out that the reduced SNAP and WIC funding is the result of less people receiving assistance because they are now unemployed and therefore no longer eligible for assistance, Rush is not satisfied that the savings resulting from less enrollees could not have been reallocated in total or in part to sufficiently cover the significantly higher costs of food in FY15 for eligible enrollees.
The bill allows trustees of certain multiemployer pension plans to cut the benefits of retirees. Specifically, the legislation permits deep pension cuts to retirees in certain financially-troubled multiemployer plans. While retirees who are age 80 or over, or are receiving a disability pension, are not subject to benefit cuts, retirees ages 75–79 are subject to smaller cuts than retirees under age 75. Additionally, retirees who are harmed cannot challenge the trustees’ actions in court, even if those actions are arbitrary and capricious, or contrary to the interests of plan participants and there is no provision for automatic restoration of lost benefits if a plan’s funding status improves.
The bill also includes a provision to repeal important taxpayer protections against reckless bank activity enacted as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.
The fiscal year 2015 omnibus appropriations bill totals $1.014 trillion in discretionary spending. The bill funds the U.S. government through September 30, 2015. In addition, it includes: $5.4 billion of emergency funding to prepare for and respond to the Ebola outbreak, $73.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations and $6.5 billion of disaster aid.