Posted: 8:43 pm Monday, December 15th, 2014

Omnibus filled with funding restrictions 

By Jamie Dupree

With the weekend approval of the Omnibus funding bill for the federal government – the second time lawmakers this year have enacted a giant spending measure – the Congress once more exercised its “power of the purse” in a variety of ways, most of them unknown to those who voted on the plan.

But if you take time to search through the final text of the Omnibus, you will find over 400 different funding restrictions inserted by lawmakers on all kinds of federal spending.

What you look for is the phrase, “none of the funds” – that starts a provision which blocks the use of federal dollars for certain activities by Uncle Sam.

Here is just a sampling of what I found in the bill:

+ Keeping offices open in farm country: “none of the funds available to the Farm Service Agency shall be used to close Farm Service Agency county offices: Provided further, That none of the funds available to the Farm Service Agency shall be used to permanently relocate county based employees that would result in an office with two or fewer employees without prior notification and approval of the Committees on Appropriations.”

+ Keeping the dollar bill in your pocket: “None of the funds appropriated in this Act or otherwise available to the Department of the Treasury or the Bureau of Engraving and Printing may be used to redesign the $1 Federal Reserve note.”

+ No poultry from China for school lunches: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to procure processed poultry products imported into the United States from the People’s Republic of China for use in the school lunch program under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act.”

+ Don’t touch the “Hurricane Hunter” planes based in my state: “None of the funds appropriated or made available in this Act shall be used to reduce or disestablish the operation of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron of the Air Force Reserve.”

+ No partying at Public Broadcasting on the taxpayer dime: “Provided, That none of the funds made available to CPB by this Act shall be used to pay for receptions, parties, or similar forms of entertainment for Government officials or employees.”

+ No more Star Trek videos at the IRS: “None of the funds made available to the Internal Revenue Service by this Act may be used to make a video unless the Service-Wide Video Editorial Board determines in advance that making the video is appropriate, taking into account the cost, topic, tone, and purpose of the video.”

+ No political targeting at the IRS: “None of the funds made available under this Act may be used by the Internal Revenue Service to target citizens of the United States for exercising any right guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,” and “None of the funds made available in this Act may be used by the Internal Revenue Service to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs.”

+ Limits on new uniforms for the military: “None of the funds appropriated in this Act may be obligated or expended by the Secretary of a military department in contravention of the provisions of section 352 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 to adopt any new camouflage pattern design or uniform fabric for any combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms for use by an Armed Force.”

+ You need to be a detective to figure this one out: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this or any other Act shall be used to pay the salaries and expenses of personnel to carry out section 307(b) of division C of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999 (Public Law 105–277; 112 Stat. 2681–640) in excess of $4,000,000.”

+ You might have to Google this one, too: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to pay the salaries and expenses of personnel who provide nonrecourse marketing assistance loans for mohair under section 1201 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–79).”

+ Booze on military bases: “None of the funds appropriated by this Act shall be used for the support of any nonappropriated funds activity of the Department of Defense that procures malt beverages and wine with nonappropriated funds for resale (including such alcoholic beverages sold by the drink) on a military installation located in the United States unless such malt beverages and wine are procured within that State, or in the case of the District of Columbia, within the District of Columbia, in which the military installation is located.”

+ Cancel one air show, maybe get another overseas: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to fund the performance of a flight demonstration team at a location outside of the United States: Provided, That this prohibition applies only if a performance of a flight demonstration team at a location within the United States was canceled during the current fiscal year due to insufficient funding.”

+ Buy them only in the U.S. or Canada: “None of the funds appropriated or made available in this Act shall be used to procure carbon, alloy, or armor steel plate for use in any Government-owned facility or property under the control of the Department of Defense which were not melted and rolled in the United States or Canada.”

+ No extras for the Afghan leader: “None of the funds appropriated in this or any other Act may be obligated or expended by the United States Government for the direct personal benefit of the President of Afghanistan.”

+ No porn on your government computer: “None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to maintain or establish a computer network unless such network blocks the viewing, downloading, and exchanging of pornography.”

+ This didn’t seem to work last time: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this Act may be used to transfer any individual detained at United States Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the custody or control of the individual’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity except in accordance with section 1035 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014.”

+ Maybe there is a method to the madness: “None of the funds made available in this Act may be used within the borders of the State of Louisiana by the Mississippi Valley Division or the Southwestern Division of the Army Corps of Engineers or any district of the Corps within such divisions to implement or enforce the mitigation methodology, referred to as the “Modified Charleston Method”.

+ Leave my small post office alone: “Provided further, That none of the funds provided in this Act shall be used to consolidate or close small rural and other small post offices.”

+ Bad news for government artists: “None of the funds made available in this or any other Act may be used to pay for the painting of a portrait of an officer or employee of the Federal government, including the President, the Vice President, a member of Congress (including a Delegate or a Resident Commissioner to Congress), the head of an executive branch agency (as defined in section 133 of title 41, United States Code), or the head of an office of the legislative branch.”

+ It may not exist anymore, but: “None of the funds made available under this or any other Act, or any prior Appropriations Act, may be provided to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, allied organizations, or successors.”

+ Congress again says no to “scrims” on government buildings: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for scrims containing photographs of building facades during restoration or construction projects performed by the Architect of the Capitol.”

+ Congress wants a say at Arlington: “None of the funds made available in this title may be obligated or expended for planning and design and construction of projects at Arlington National Cemetery.”

+ No money to Palestinian radio and TV: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to provide equipment, technical support, consulting services, or any other form of assistance to the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation.”

+ No money to rehab the United Nations: “None of the funds made available in this Act may be used for the design, renovation, or construction of the United Nations Headquarters in New York.”

+ Limits on overseas staff trips: “None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to send or otherwise pay for the attendance of more than 50 employees of agencies or departments of the United States Government who are stationed in the United States, at any single international conference occurring outside the United States, unless the Secretary of State reports to the Committees on Appropriations at least 5 days in advance that such attendance is important to the national interest.”

+ Message to Moscow: “None of the funds appropriated by this Act may be made available for–(A) the implementation of any action or policy that recognizes the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea.”

+ No money for a top spokesperson at the Transportation Department: “none of the funds provided in this Act shall be available for the position of Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs.”

+ Purchase card limits at the FAA: “None of the funds in this Act may be obligated or expended for an employee of the Federal Aviation Administration to purchase a store gift card or gift certificate through use of a Government-issued credit card.”

+ Leave a home town airport alone: “None of the funds appropriated or limited by this Act may be used to change weight restrictions or prior permission rules at Teterboro airport in Teterboro, New Jersey.”

+ Another example of legislative detective work: “None of the funds in this Act shall be used to implement section 404 of title 23, United States Code.”

+ Limits on overtime at Amtrak: “None of the funds provided to the National Railroad Passenger Corporation may be used to fund any overtime costs in excess of $35,000 for any individual employee.”

+ Someone at HUD aggravated the Congress: “None of the funds in this Act may be available for the doctoral dissertation research grant program at the Department of
Housing and Urban Development.”

+ No GPS tracking on your vehicle: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to mandate global positioning system (GPS) tracking in private passenger motor vehicles without providing full and appropriate consideration of privacy concerns under 5 U.S.C. chapter 5, subchapter II.”