Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) this week voted for and the House passed legislation to keep the government open and protect hard-working Americans from tax hikes. The legislation protects Georgia’s water rights, contains major conservative policy victories and addresses controversial actions by the Obama administration.
“The number one issue for Georgia in this legislation was stopping an assault by other states on our water rights,” said Rep. Graves. “These other states were trying to use a government funding bill to circumvent the legal process and restrict Georgia’s access to its own water. I’m grateful to every member of the Georgia congressional delegation, Republicans and Democrats, for working around the clock to secure this major victory for our state.”
“This legislation delivers more hard fought victories for conservatives as we go into the final year of the Obama administration. The bill lifts the 40-year-old ban on U.S. crude oil exports, which will help lock in lower gas prices, create an estimated one million American jobs and grow our economy by $170 billion annually. It tightens security of the Visa Waiver Program so terrorists cannot use our nation’s generosity to sneak in and attack our communities. This legislation also protects hard-working Georgians from tax increases sought by liberal Democrats and the Obama administration. Importantly, we didn’t lose any ground on the major victories we won last year, such as holding EPA funding to its lowest levels since 2008, freezing the budget for most IRS operations and continuing to prohibit new funding for Obamacare, including its program for taxpayer funded bailouts of insurance companies.”
“Finally, this legislation provides our military with the critical resources it needs to defend our nation and destroy terrorist groups like the Islamic State,” Rep. Graves continued. “It ensures our soldiers are properly equipped and trained today, while investing in new and better technologies to stay ahead of our enemies.”
Highlights in the Fiscal Year 2016 funding bill are detailed below.***
Repeals the antiquated oil export ban. This provision would end the 1975 ban on the export of American oil. Domestic energy production is booming in the United States, and lifting the ban will help create jobs, grow our economy, and promote greater exploration of our natural resources.
Increases resources for our military. The arbitrary spending cuts in the sequester have depleted the resources our armed forces need to carry out their mission. This bill restores funding for our military to ensure our troops can confront today’s challenges and defeat the Islamic State.
Strengthens the Visa Waiver Program to protect the homeland. The Visa Waiver Program presents one of the most urgent threats to our homeland from radical Islamic terrorism. This agreement includes the House-passed bill to tighten the security requirements under the program. It would also deny visa waiver status to any individual who has traveled to certain terrorist hotspots, including Syria and Iraq, in the last five years.
Prohibits new funding for Obamacare. The bill contains no new funding for Obamacare and continues to prevent a taxpayer bailout of Obamacare’s risk corridor program.
Prevents the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to American soil. The bill prohibits funds from being used to transfer terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States, and prohibits the construction or acquisition of a facility in the U.S. to house detainees.
Blocks EPA overreach. The bill contains no funding for new or expanded EPA programs, holding the agency to its lowest funding levels since 2008 and its lowest staffing levels since 1989.
Reins in the IRS. The IRS continues to act with impunity against the interests of hardworking taxpayers. This bill freezes most IRS operations and maintains budget cuts necessary to ensure this agency roots out wasteful spending and redirects resources to serving the American people. In addition, the tax extenders package also includes a measure to prohibit the IRS from unfairly imposing the gift tax on contributions to non-profit groups, which have historically been exempt, to encourage donations to these important organizations.
Increases protections for life. The bill includes a new prohibition on genetic modification of human embryos, and cuts funding for a program involved in abortion-related activities, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), by 7 percent. This bill maintains important pro-life provisions, including the Hyde Amendment, and prohibits taxpayer funding for abortion.
Honors our commitment to our veterans. This bill ensures our veterans receive their much-deserved health benefits, speeds up VA claims processing, prioritizes modernizing the VA’s electronic health care record system, and tightens oversight of construction projects.
Provides critical healthcare benefits for 9/11 first responders. More than 30,000 first responders continue to suffer from injuries or illnesses sustained during the 9/11 attacks. The bill contains a bipartisan measure to permanently reauthorize critical health care benefits for these brave men and women—and it does so in a fiscally responsible way.
Repeals harmful labeling requirements on American meat. The bill repeals mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements, ensuring that our economy does not suffer more than $1 billion in trade penalties.
***As prepared by Speaker Ryan’s office.
Enhances privacy protections. The bill addressed privacy concerns about the Cyber Information Sharing Act by removing Section 407, which would have increased the federal government’s role in creating “cybersecurity strategies” for the private sector.
Includes conservative victories from last year’s funding bill. The Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations bill also includes the following conservative wins from last year’s funding bill:
• The EPA funding cut of $60 million was continued, making it a 21% budget cut since Fiscal Year 2010. The EPA’s staffing level is at its lowest level since 1989.
• The EPA is prohibited from regulating the lead content in ammunition or fishing tackle.
• Livestock producers are exempt from EPA greenhouse gas regulations, thwarting the agency’s effort to regulate livestock flatulence.
• The Army Corps of Engineers is prohibited from regulating farm ponds and irrigation ditches.
• Aid to Libya is prohibited until the U.S. Secretary of State confirms that the Libyans are cooperating in the Benghazi investigation.
• Funding for any future "Fast and Furious" type activity is prohibited.
• The UN Arms Trade Treaty cannot be funded or implemented.