CD089: Secrets of the CRomnibus (2015 Budget)

CD089: Secrets of the CRomnibus (2015 Budget)

Jan 31, 2015

In this episode, we look at the riders added to the must-sign 2015 budget, including favors for Wall Street, unions, agribusiness, the oil and gas industry, electric utilities, the vending machine industry, telecoms, the trucking industry, the insurance industry, and the politicians themselves.

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Article: A First-Time Home Buyer’s Guide: What You Need to Know by Brian Robson, The Simple Dollar, February 2018.

Article: CRomnibus Disaster Signals a Sad New Normal in D.C. by David Dayen. The Fiscal Times. December 2014.

Article: Wall Street’s Omnibus Triumph, and Others by Russ Choma, OpenSecrets Blog, December 2014.

Division A

Agriculture & FDA

Division B

Commerce, Justice, & Science

TITLE VI- Travel Promotion Enhancement and Modernization Act

Division C


Coming Soon

Division D

Energy & Water

Division E

Financial Services

Division F

Land Management & Environment

The Department of the Interior

  • USGS: For the United States Geological Survey to surveys and research topography, geology, hydrology, biology, and the mineral and water resources of the United States… approx $1 billion, available until 9/30/2016.
  • Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, offshore safety: $125 million minus fees collected, estimated real appropriation of $66 million for enforcing regulations for leases for oil and gas, other minerals, and energy on the Outer Continental Shelf + $65 million – minus fees collected- over half of which needs to go towards expediting drilling permits on the Outer Continental Shelf.
  • Collection and disbursement of royalties, fees, and other mineral revenue will get $265 million.
  • Wildland fire management: $805 million.
    • Hazardous fuels management and resilient landscapes activities can be privatized.
    • This money can be used by the Secretary of State outside the United States.
    • This money can be used to pay off debts incurred for fires in previous years.
    • This money can be used as emergency funds to deal with earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, storms, oil spills, and to control cricket outbreaks.
  • Section 122: Prohibits the Secretary of the Interior from protecting the Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

Environmental Protection Agency

Amendments identical to Sections 419 and 420 were attached to the 2014 budget by Rep. Ken Calvert of Southern California. He has taken over $650,000 from Agribusiness.

  • Section 425: No money can be used to regulate the lead content of ammunition or fishing tackle.

Division G

Labor, Health, & Education

Health and Human Services

Department of Education

  • Section 301: No money can be used for transporting children to other school districts to “carry out a plan of racial desegregation of any school or school system.”
  • Section 303: No money can be used to prevent voluntary prayer in public schools.

Department of Labor

  • Section 406: The National Labor Relations Board can’t use their money to provide employees with electronic voting for electing representatives for their collective bargaining.

All Departments

  • Section 506: The Departments of Health & Humans Services, Labor, and Education can’t use their money to pay for health benefits coverage that includes abortion coverage.
  • Section 507: Abortions can be paid for with Federal funds if the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest or if the mother’s life is in danger. States will be allowed to cover abortion and abortion coverage can be offered separately.
  • Section 508: No money can be used for research that harms a human embryo.
  • Section 521: No money can be used for programs that distribute sterile needles to drug addicts.
  • Section 529: No money can go towards ACORN, “or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, allied organizations, or successors.”

Ebola Response & Preparedness

Ebola money is available for use until September 30, 2019.

  • Over $1.7 billion for the Centers for Disease Control to “respond to Ebola domestically and internationally.”
    • $10 million for hospital worker and emergency first responder training.
    • $597 million for global health security
    • The money can be used to purchase and insure vehicles in foreign countries.
    • Section 601: The CDC can use this money to “acquire, lease, construct, alter, renovate, equip, furnish, or manage facilities outside the United States.”
  • $238 billion in “emergency” funding will go towards the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases” to “respond to Ebola domestically and internationally.”
  • $733 million for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to “respond to Ebola domestically and internationally” to develop and purchase vaccines, “necessary medical supplies, and administrative activities.”
    • Money can be used for the “renovation and alteration of privately owned facilities at the State and local level”

Division H


  • Section 102: No money can be used to deliver a printed copy of a bill to a Representative unless that Representative asked for it.
  • Section 105: No more than 50 copies total of the US Code can be printed for the entire House of Representatives.
  • Section 1301: The Government Printing Office is renamed to the Government Publishing Office.

Division I

Military Construction

  • Section 101: Construction contracts with guaranteed profits will be allowed in Alaska and/or if the Defense Secretary says there’s a reason for one in writing.
  • Section 109: Military construction money can’t be used to pay property taxes in foreign countries.
  • Section 110: The military can’t use this money for any new installations without notifying the House and Senate Appropriations Committees first.
  • Section 111: Architect or engineer contracts over $500,000 in Japan, NATO countries, or countries bordering the Arabian Gulf must be awarded to US firms or be partnerships with US firms.
  • Section 117: Money for military construction can be held & used up to four years after it is appropriated.
  • Section 127: $125 million extra is appropriated until September 2018 for projects anywhere excepts in Europe.
  • Section 512: No money can be used to prepare any United States facilities to house detainees from Guantanamo Bay prison.


Division J

State Department & Foreign Operations

  • $2.1 billion for Worldwide Security protection for the State Department, which has doubled since 2008.
  • Approximately $3.5 billion will go towards the United Nations, including U.N. “peacekeeping missions”.
  • Over $1 billion plus $2.7 billion in “global health programs” funds will go to USAID.
  • $5.6 billion will go towards combatting AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
  • $2.5 billion will go towards “development assistance”, which includes spending on:
    • Agribusiness
    • Setting up financial institutions
    • “Policy and regulatory programs” that “improve the environment” for financial institutions.
    • Marketing
    • Energy and storage facilities
    • Infrastructure
    • Schools spreading “ideas and practices of the United States, including new education material and curricula
    • “To expedite the location, exploration, and development of potential sources of energy in developing countries”
  • Over $2.6 billion for the “Economic Support Fund”, which includes funding for:
  • $853 million for the War on Drugs
  • $145 million for “Peacekeeping Operations” to “enhance the capacity of foreign civilian security forces” including military forces in charge of policing civilians (gendarmes).
  • $106 million for “International Military Education and Training.”
  • $5 billion for the “Foreign Military Financing Program
  • Section 7004: The State Department can construction “diplomatic facilities” that include office space or “other accommodations” for the US Marine Corps.
  • Section 7008: Money can’t be used to directly assist any government whose elected government is removed by the military. However, we can give that country money again as long as the next government is elected.
  • Section 7034: Prohibits money being used for “tear gas, small arms, light weapons, ammunition, or other items for crowd control purposes for foreign security forces that use excessive force to repress peaceful expression.”
  • Section 7041: We will give $150 million to Egypt as long as Egypt is taking steps to “implement market-based economic reforms”.
  • Section 7041: The State Department can use its money to create a new government and “promote economic development” in Syria.
  • Section 7042: State Department funds are going towards training and equipping Ethiopian military and police.
  • Section 7042: State Department funds will also towards training militaries in Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d”Ivoire, Guinea, and Zimbabwe.
  • Section 7042: State Department money will go towards managing natural resources and supporting security forces in South Sudan.
  • Section 7043: State Department money will be used for naval forces, coast guards and nongovernmental organizations “directly engaged in maritime security issues” in Asia.
  • Section 7043: State Department money will go towards the Philippine army.
  • Section 7043: State Department money will be given to the military of Vietnam and for health/disability activities in areas sprayed with Agent Orange and/or contaminated with dioxin.
  • Section 7044: The State Department can construct and renovated US government facilities to accommodate Federal employees or contractors or expand aviation facilities in Afghanistan if it would “protect such facilities or the security, health, and welfare of United States personnel.”
    • Money for Afghanistan can go towards “programs in Central and South Asia relating to a transition in Afghanistan, including expanding Afghanistan linkages within the region.”
  • Section 7044: Money can go towards military training in Sri Lanka.
  • Section 7045: State Department funds can be used to “support a unified campaign against narcotics trafficking” in Columbia.
    • 10% of the funds will go towards “aerial drug eradication programs”.
  • Section 7045: State Department funds can be given to the Guatemalan army.
  • Section 7045: State Department funds can be given to the Honduran army and police.
  • Section 7045: State Department funds can be given to the Mexican army and police.
  • Section 7074: $100 million for the Special Defense Acquisition Fund, which is under the control of the Defense Department, to buy weapons and defense services for foreign countries.
  • Section 7083: The United States will contribute over $3.8 billion to the International Development Association, a branch of the World Bank that provides loans and grants to “boost economic growth” in poor countries. It’s our 17th contribution.
  • Over $1.3 billion will be for State Department security.
  • Over $7.6 billion for the War on Terror.
  • $1.5 billion for Ebola “assistance for countries affected by, or at risk of being affected by, the Ebola virus disease outbreak.”

Division K


  • $500 million for national transportation infrastructure, including highway, bridge, rail, port, and public transportations projects.
  • $9.7 billion: For the Federal Aviation Administration. $8.6 billion is from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund so the taxpayer subsidy for air travel is $1.1 billion.
  • $40 billion for the highway trust fund.
  • Section 133: Prohibits enforcement of regulations until September 30, 2015. The regulations delayed say:
    • Commercial drivers must not work for 34 consecutive hours between weeks and that 34 hours must include two periods from 1am to 5am.
    • Commercial drivers must not drive more than 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days. Truckers will be able to drive for 82 hours per week.

Article: The Department of Transportation wants truckers to sleep more. Congress said no. by Lydia DePillis. Washington Post. December 2014.

Article: Survey Shows Hours of Service Top Trucking Concern. Trucking Info. October 2014.

OpenSecrets: Senator Susan Collins of Maine inserted the rider on behalf of the trucking industry. She received $21,000 from the trucking industry for the 2014 election. The trucking industry also gave $87,150 to Senator Mitch McConnell, the new Majority Leader in the Senate.


  • Section 235 Forbids funding for a program that reduces mortgage rates for first time home buyers who go through home counseling and financial education.
  • Section 420 “It is the sense of Congress that the Congress should not pass any legislation that authorizes spending cuts that would increase poverty in the United States.”

Division L

Homeland Security

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security remains at the same levels as 2014. Funding runs out on February 27, 2015.

Division M

Expatriate Health Coverage

This section includes the altered text of HR 4414, the Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act of 2014, which was discussed on Congressional Dish episode CD075: The April Bills.

The original version of this bill was written by Rep. John Carney of Delaware, who has taken over $312,000 from the insurance industry.

Division N

Campaign Contributions

In May, as discussed on Congressional Dish episode CD071: Our New Laws, the President signed into law the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, which eliminated public financing of political party conventions.

We don’t know exactly how much individuals will be able to contribute to political parties now that this provision is law. NPR has a different number than the Washington Post, which has a different number than The New York Times. Congressional Dish calculations indicate that the changes will allow an individual to contribute at least $257,400 per year and that amount increases every two years based on the Consumer Price Index.

Division O


Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), pensions for retiree’s who have already started to collect benefits can’t be cut unless a company goes into bankruptcy. This section changes the law to allow benefit cuts to multi-employer pension plans under other scenarios.

  • Section 102: Allows a multi-employer pension plan to be labeled in “critical status” five years before it’s projected to actually meet critical status criteria, if the plan sponsor chooses to label it that way.

Department of Labor list of Multi-Employer Plans listed as “critical status”

OpenSecrets: Rep. John Kline has taken over $14 million in campaign contributions from all kinds of industries.

OpenSecrets: Former Rep. George Miller took over $2.4 million from unions, that we know of.

Music Presented in This Episode

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