House Passes $51.4B DOJ, Commerce 2016 Funding Bill: threatened presidential veto

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $51.4 billion bill Wednesday to fund the U.S. departments of Justice and Commerce and a pair of science agencies for 2016, over a presidential veto threat claiming it underfunds key programs.

Lawmakers voted 242-183 to pass H.R. 2578, the fiscal year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The bill provides just under $51.4 billion in discretionary funding for FY2016, up $1.275 billion, or 2.5 percent, from FY2015 discretionary funding.

The DOJ would get the single biggest chunk, $27.5 billion, up $852 million from the previous year, in line with what Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, chairman of the subcommittee charged with producing the bill, said Tuesday was the committee’s most important priority with limited funding available.

“The money that you’ve got, you want to prioritize, and we have in this subcommittee prioritized the many agencies we have responsibility for,” he said on the House floor. “We’ve approached it with law enforcement number one.” (Credit AP).

Among other boosts in the DOJ budget, the Executive Office for Immigration Review and Office of the Pardon Attorney would get an increase of nearly $75 million, to around $426 million, supporting a request for 55 new immigration judge teams — including a judge and support staff — and new Board of Immigration Appeals attorneys to assist with what the bill’s authors say is a recent “surge in illegal immigration.” (Credit AP).

NASA would receive $18.5 billion, $519 million above the 2015 level, with most of the increase aimed at exploration programs, such as continued development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Space Launch System.

Commerce has been allocated $8.2 billion, $251 million down from 2015 and about $1.6 billion below the budget request put forward by President Barack Obama. Among the agencies under Commerce’s remit, the National Institute of Standards and Technology would get $855 million, about the same as 2015, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would receive $5.2 billion, down $274 million.

Among other trade agencies, the International Trade Administration was budgeted $472 million, or nearly $35 million less than in 2015 — an amount further snipped by $5 million through an amendment passed Tuesday — and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would get $364.5 million, equal to its 2015 budget.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been allocated just under $3.3 billion, all from anticipated user fees, with a provision that could allow it to also use any additional fees collected. The National Science Foundation would receive $7.4 billion, up $50 million.

Across two full days of debate, lawmakers considered several dozen proposed amendments, adopting a number seeking to block funding for any efforts by the DOJ or Federal Bureau of Investigation to expand certain electronic surveillance programs, as well as one blocking the use of federal funds to hinder state medical marijuana programs.

Despite its overall discretionary funding increase compared to FY2015, the bill comes in more than $660 million short of the administration’s budget request and has been threatened with a veto by the White House.

In a policy statement Monday, the administration argued that the bill “drastically underfunds” a range of important programs, such as research and development investments and programs to increase the use of body cameras by law enforcement.

The ITA, International Trade Commission and U.S. Trade Representative would wrongly feel the pinch, as would NASA, with cuts to its commercial crew program and efforts to proceed towards sending a manned mission to Mars, as well as to its earth science programs meant to help with climate change and respond to extreme weather and natural disasters, the White House said. (Credit AP).

Further, it contains a number of “highly objectionable” nonspending clauses, such as foreign policy restrictions related to Cuba, several of which raise constitutional concerns by “intruding upon the president’s constitutional authority over international diplomacy,” the administration said.The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $51.4 billion bill Wednesday to fund the U.S. departments of Justice and Commerce and a pair of science agencies for 2016, over a presidential veto threat claiming it underfunds key programs.

Lawmakers voted 242-183 to pass H.R. 2578, the fiscal year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The bill provides just under $51.4 billion in discretionary funding for FY2016, up $1.275 billion, or 2.5 percent, from FY2015 discretionary funding.

The DOJ would get the single biggest chunk, $27.5 billion, up $852 million from the previous year, in line with what Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, chairman of the subcommittee charged with producing the bill, and said Tuesday was the committee’s most important priority with limited funding available.

“The money that you’ve got, you want to prioritize, and we have in this subcommittee prioritized the many agencies we have responsibility for,” he said on the House floor. “We’ve approached it with law enforcement number one.” (Credit AP).

Among other boosts in the DOJ budget, the Executive Office for Immigration Review and Office of the Pardon Attorney would get an increase of nearly $75 million, to around $426 million, supporting a request for 55 new immigration judge teams — including a judge and support staff — and new Board of Immigration Appeals attorneys to assist with what the bill’s authors say is a recent “surge in illegal immigration.” (Credit AP).

NASA would receive $18.5 billion, $519 million above the 2015 level, with most of the increase aimed at exploration programs, such as continued development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Space Launch System.

Commerce has been allocated $8.2 billion, $251 million down from 2015 and about $1.6 billion below the budget request put forward by President Barack Obama. Among the agencies under Commerce’s remit, the National Institute of Standards and Technology would get $855 million, about the same as 2015, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would receive $5.2 billion, down $274 million.

Among other trade agencies, the International Trade Administration was budgeted $472 million, or nearly $35 million less than in 2015 — an amount further snipped by $5 million through an amendment passed Tuesday — and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would get $364.5 million, equal to its 2015 budget.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been allocated just under $3.3 billion, all from anticipated user fees, with a provision that could allow it to also use any additional fees collected. The National Science Foundation would receive $7.4 billion, up $50 million.

Across two full days of debate, lawmakers considered several dozen proposed amendments, adopting a number seeking to block funding for any efforts by the DOJ or Federal Bureau of Investigation to expand certain electronic surveillance programs, as well as one blocking the use of federal funds to hinder state medical marijuana programs.

Despite its overall discretionary funding increase compared to FY2015, the bill comes in more than $660 million short of the administration’s budget request and has been threatened with a veto by the White House.

In a policy statement Monday, the administration argued that the bill “drastically underfunds” a range of important programs, such as research and development investments and programs to increase the use of body cameras by law enforcement.

The ITA, International Trade Commission and U.S. Trade Representative would wrongly feel the pinch, as would NASA, with cuts to its commercial crew program and efforts to proceed towards sending a manned mission to Mars, as well as to its earth science programs meant to help with climate change and respond to extreme weather and natural disasters, the White House said. (Credit AP).

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Martin Milita

Martin Milita is a Senior Director at Duane Morris Government Strategies, LLC. Duane Morris Government Strategies (DMGS) supports the growth of organizations, companies, communities and economies through a suite of government and business consulting services. The firm offers a range of government relations and public affairs services, including lobbying, grant writing; development finance consulting, media relations management, grassroots campaigning and community outreach. Milita works at the firm’s Trenton and Newark New Jersey offices. Visit his blog at: https://martinmilita1.wordpress.com Follow him on twitter: @MartinMilita1 https://www.facebook.com/martin.milita http://www.dmgs.com/ BLOGROLL Martin Milita – About.me Martin Milita :: Pinterest Martin Milita @ Twitter Martin Milita at Slideshare Martin Milita on Google+ Martin Milita Yola Site Martin Milita | Xing

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