Spend­ing bill: Im­mi­grants, guns, churches and sui­cide

Repub­li­can-led group tucks rid­ers into $20B spend­ing bill

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Stephen Ohlemacher and Matthew Daly • Young im­mi­grants: • Po­lit­i­cal churches: • Re­peal Dodd-Frank:

WASHINGTON POST» Out of the spot­light, a House panel has taken steps to help vic­tims of gun vi­o­lence, al­low ro­bust pol­i­tick­ing from the pul­pit, and pre­vent doc­tors in the Dis­trict of Columbia from help­ing ter­mi­nally ill peo­ple com­mit sui­cide.

The Repub­li­can-led House Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee passed a $20 bil­lion spend­ing bill Thurs­day to fund the Trea­sury Depart­ment, the Ju­di­ciary and other fed­eral agen­cies.

Qui­etly tucked in­side were nu­mer­ous pro­vi­sions that have lit­tle to do with fund­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. These are called rid­ers. Some are con­tro­ver­sial while oth­ers are bi­par­ti­san. Many will be dis­carded when Repub­li­cans and Democrats ne­go­ti­ate a fi­nal spend­ing pack­age this fall.

The bill now goes to the full House. A look at some of the pro­vi­sions: The bill would al­low young im­mi­grants en­rolled in for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s De­ferred Ac­tions for Child­hood Ar­rival pro­gram to ap­ply for jobs with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., said young peo­ple brought to the coun­try as chil­dren “iden­tify as Amer­i­cans.” For many, he said, the U.S. is the only coun­try they have ever called home.

“Deny­ing Dream­ers the op­por­tu­nity to serve their com­mu­nity and coun­try through pub­lic ser­vice stands in stark con­trast to our na­tion’s core val­ues,” Aguilar said, us­ing a nick­name for peo­ple en­rolled in the DACA pro­gram, which gives young peo­ple il­le­gally brought into the U.S. as chil­dren a work per­mit and pro­tec­tion from de­por­ta­tion.

Roy Beck, pres­i­dent of Num­ber­sUSA, said Amer­i­cans will be out­raged to learn that peo­ple in the U.S. il­le­gally would be able to com­pete for fed­eral jobs. “So much for Repub­li­can prom­ises of mak­ing de­ci­sions that put Amer­i­can work­ers first,” he said.

• Gun vi­o­lence: The bill en­cour­ages states to use money from the Crime Vic­tims Fund to es­tab­lish or ex­pand hospi­tal-based pro­grams that help vic­tims of gun vi­o­lence.

Un­der such pro­grams, gun­shot vic­tims re­ceive coun­sel­ing at hos­pi­tals to help them ac­cess com­mu­nity ser­vices and avoid get­ting shot again. One pro­vi­sion pre­vents the IRS from en­forc­ing a 63year-old law that pre­vents churches and other non­prof­its from back­ing po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates. Un­der the law, non­prof­its could lose tax-ex­empt sta­tus if they get di­rectly in­volved in po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns, ei­ther by do­nat­ing or pub­licly en­dors­ing can­di­dates. The law doesn’t stop reli­gious groups from weigh­ing in on pol­icy or or­ga­niz­ing in ways that may ben­e­fit one side in a cam­paign.

The pro­vi­sion for­bids the IRS from spend­ing money to en­force the law, un­less the IRS com­mis­sioner signs off on it and no­ti­fies Congress.

• As­sisted sui­cide: The bill would pro­hibit fund­ing for doc­tor-as­sisted sui­cide in the Dis­trict of Columbia. It also re­peals the DC Death with Dig­nity Act.

Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a law in De­cem­ber that makes it le­gal for doc­tors to pre­scribe fa­tal med­i­ca­tion to ter­mi­nally ill res­i­dents.

Congress granted Dis­trict res­i­dents an elected mayor and leg­is­la­ture in 1973, though Congress re­tained au­thor­ity over the city, in­clud­ing the abil­ity to block lo­cal laws. On Thurs­day, the ap­pro­pri­a­tions com­mit­tee adopted an amend­ment that tries to stop the law by block­ing money to im­ple­ment it. The bill takes aim at the Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau, which was cre­ated un­der the Dod­dFrank Act in the wake of the eco­nomic cri­sis. The agency gets fund­ing from the Fed­eral Re­serve, a move de­signed to pro­mote in­de­pen­dence. House Repub­li­cans want Congress to con­trol the agency’s purse strings.

The bill would strip the agency of its au­thor­ity to go af­ter lenders and debt col­lec­tors it de­ter­mines have en­gaged in un­fair, de­cep­tive or abu­sive prac­tices. The agency has used that au­thor­ity to re­turn bil­lions of dol­lars to con­sumers.

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