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Tough conservative decisions

This week I made one of the most difficult votes of my career. I voted for a funding bill that makes major cuts that reflect our rural values and prepares the way for a fight with President Obama over his planned illegal amnesty order. I voted for this bill because it was the most conservative option in front of me. It puts Congress in the best position to fight President Obama on amnesty next session, with a new Republican majority in the Senate, and it significantly cuts the agencies that have led President Obama’s war on rural America: the IRS and the EPA.

This bill funds all of the government except for the Department of Homeland Security until September of 2015 – Homeland Security is only funded through Feb. 27. President Obama is counting on Homeland Security to help him carry out his planned executive amnesty. By forcing Congress and the president to re-visit Homeland Security funding early next year, we will put President Obama in the challenging position of accepting our conservative principles on immigration or vetoing funding for Homeland Security.

It is important that we take this approach because, at the time of this writing, President Obama has not yet issued an executive order on immigration; he has just written memos and made public statements. He is certainly preparing to take further action, and when he does, we will be able to fight it with a larger majority in the US House and the majority in the US Senate.

I, along with my staff, read through the entire bill before I voted on it, and there are many provisions that make this a conservative vote. First, the bill stops an automatic pay increase for members of Congress and blocks a pay raise for the Vice President and senior political appointees.

Next, it reins in the IRS. The IRS under this administration has been out of control. Whether it was lavish trips funded by tax payers, targeting conservative groups, or Lois Lerner’s missing emails, the IRS needs serious oversight and that’s what this bill does. It slashes funding by hundreds of millions of dollars and puts the IRS on notice that its actions will not be allowed to continue in the next Congress.

The bill also slashes funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and makes it less likely we’ll have EPA inspectors show up at our farms and in our businesses. This legislation cuts the EPA by $60 million. This is Congress’s fifth consecutive year cutting EPA funds, and the agency has now been slashed over 20 percent. Over 2,000 positions will be eliminated at the EPA, and the EPA will be staffed at the lowest level since 1989.

It fights back against environmentalists by placing limits on which new animals can be placed on the Endangered Species Act. It also doesn’t allow the Bureau of Land Management to create any new Wilderness Areas without approval from Congress.

There are also significant protections in the bill for private property rights. The Army Corps of Engineers will be restricted from regulating farm ponds and irrigation ditches, the EPA will be restricted from regulating gas emissions from livestock, and the National Park Service will have to follow my language that requires them to give more weight to public comments from local communities and businesses on the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. The PILT program – or payments in lieu of taxes – that reimburses counties and local governments for federal land in their jurisdiction is also fully funded.

This bill protects our constitutional rights. It helps stop the NSA from snooping on Americans’ personal communications. It ensures that federal funds are not spent to provide abortions on demand in the District of Columbia, or for federal prisoners, and requires Obamacare plans to disclose whether they cover abortion services, so that individuals can choose plans that don’t cover abortion. Our right to keep and bear arms is protected by preventing federal funds from being spent on anti-gun lobbying and the UN Arms Control Treaty and also preventing the EPA from restricting the lead content in ammunition and fishing tackle.

While this bill isn’t perfect, it still reflects many of the priorities of rural America and strengthens conservatives to come back in January in a more powerful position to challenge the president’s unconstitutional actions.

U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, (R-MO)

U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, (R-MO)

This report was filed Dec. 12, 2014. 

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