Today, the House came together by a vote of 316-113 to ensure our government is open and working for the American people. This bipartisan compromise secures a significant number of wins for Republican priorities:

Maintains strong protections for life. This bill maintains important pro-life provisions, including the Hyde Amendment, and prohibits taxpayer funding for abortion. It also includes a new prohibition on gene editing and cuts funding for a program involved in abortion-related activities, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), by 7 percent.

Strengthens the Visa Waiver Program to protect the homeland. The Visa Waiver Program presents one of the most urgent threats to our homeland from radical Islamic terrorism. This agreement includes the House-passed bill to tighten the security requirements under the program. It would also deny visa waiver status to any individual who has traveled to certain terrorist hotspots, including Syria and Iraq, in the last five years.

Repeals the antiquated oil export ban. This provision would end the 1975 ban on the export of American oil. Domestic energy production is booming in the United States, and lifting the ban will help create jobs, grow our economy, and promote greater exploration of our natural resources.

Prohibits new funding for Obamacare. The bill contains no new funding for Obamacare and continues to prevent a taxpayer bailout of Obamacare’s risk corridor program.

Prevents the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to American soil. The bill prohibits funds from being used to transfer terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States, and prohibits the construction or acquisition of a facility in the U.S. to house detainees.

Blocks EPA overreach. The bill contains no funding for new or expanded EPA programs, holding the agency to its lowest funding levels since 2008 and its lowest staffing levels since 1989.

Reins in the IRS. The IRS continues to act with impunity against the interests of hardworking taxpayers. This bill freezes most IRS operations and maintains budget cuts necessary to ensure this agency roots out wasteful spending and redirects resources to serving the American people. In addition, the tax extenders package also includes a measure to prohibit the IRS from unfairly imposing the gift tax on contributions to non-profit groups, which have historically been exempt, to encourage donations to these important organizations.

Honors our commitment to our veterans. This bill ensures our veterans receive their much-deserved health benefits, speeds up VA claims processing, prioritizes modernizing the VA’s electronic health care record system, and tightens oversight of construction projects.

Provides critical healthcare benefits for 9/11 first responders. More than 30,000 first responders continue to suffer from injuries or illnesses sustained during the 9/11 attacks. The bill contains a bipartisan measure to permanently reauthorize critical health care benefits for these brave men and women—and it does so in a fiscally responsible way.

Tax Extenders in the Omnibus. The bill makes permanent over 20 tax relief provisions, extends for 5 years or 2 years a number of other tax relief provisions that expired at the end of calendar year 2014, provides for a 2-year moratorium on the medical device tax, and includes a number of additional tax policy changes.

There are issues that were not addressed in this Consolidated Appropriations legislation which disappointed me; specifically language dealing with Planned Parenthood, a ban on Syrian refugees, language blocking the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule and the Waters of the United States Rule that redefines wetlands.

Planned Parenthood is not directly funded under a federal appropriations bill. Title X, which is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services is funded through Medicaid.

In order to block funds to Planned Parenthood, a policy rider was needed blocking Title X funding going to them or any organization that performs abortions. Pro-Life Republicans have been engaged in this effort for years. We had hoped to specifically block funds to Planned Parenthood after the revelations that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal organs and tissues, but could not negotiate the language into the bill.

I do expect the Senate to block funding to Planned Parenthood in the reconciliation bill which they will take up in the New Year. The Omnibus still maintains the Hyde Amendment which prohibits taxpayer funding for abortions and also includes a new prohibition on gene editing and cuts the United Nations Population Fund by 7%.

In October, the House established a select committee chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn to undertake a full review of laws and policies related to unborn children with legislation expected in the next year. I am confident in her abilities to get to the truth of this matter.

I have 100% score with the National Right to Life, who has hailed this omnibus bill as a Pro-Life victory. I will continue fight for the unborn.

The Consolidated Appropriations Bill also contains a number of provisions that are important to Mississippi and to the Third Congressional District:

National Guard Counter-Drug Program & Regional Counterdrug Training Academy. $192 million – funding to support the Regional Counterdrug Training Academy at Naval Air Station Meridian. A program that we have been fighting to keep alive year after year.
$5 million is included for the FAA Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Center of Excellence. Earlier this year the FAA designated the Mississippi State University-led consortium of universities from across the country–the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) –as the FAA UAS Center of Excellence.
Millions for radars upgrades for F-15s and F-16s, work that will be done in Forest, MS.

In the end, failure to pass the omnibus would not have achieved the goals that we did not get into the bill. Instead it would have forced the adoption of a continuing resolution which would not contain any of the wins listed above, or other favorable provisions in the bill which will protect and create literally thousands of Mississippi jobs.

God Bless,

Gregg Harper
Member of Congress

12/18/15