21 Sep 2017
Having squandered the past several months trying to take away people’s healthcare, the House decided they would play catch up, by throwing a whole bunch of spending bills into a single omnibus spending bill (HR 3354). Comstock saw this as an opportunity to steal $30 million from an already underfunded U.S. Census, and give it to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program.
Members need to clear several hurdles to get their amendments approved, including getting a ruling from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to ensure they are budget neutral. Comstock’s amendment, which was also co-sponsored by nine other members, cleared all of those hurdles and was ruled “in order” by the Rules Committee.
The decennial census is actually mandated right there in Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution. Civil rights groups were strongly opposed to Comstock’s amendment, because the census is necessary to ensure “fair, proportionate voting representation for all Americans.” Last week, Barbara Comstock, having recently returned from a five week recess, failed to make it to the House floor in time for her amendment to be considered.
Here is an excerpt from a letter that the Population Association of America sent to its members (emphasis theirs):
As you may recall, Congresswoman Comstock’s amendment would have diverted $30 million from the Census Bureau in FY 2018 in support of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program. We are pleased to report that the House did NOT consider the Comstock amendment.
We understand Congresswoman Comstock was not on the floor when her amendment was called up for consideration. Under the Rule, amendments must be considered in the order in which they are printed, and members must be present to offer their amendments when they are called up for consideration.
Comstock’s plan was foiled by her inability to be on the House floor when it was time for the amendment to be considered. Had Comstock bothered to show up, her amendment would have been considered “En Bloc” along with the other approved amendments. We’re not sure what Comstock was doing on September 12 at 2:15 PM, but she sure wasn’t doing her job.