A prominent conservative group led by a former top House GOP staffer is urging Republicans to welcome additional government spending in three key domestic areas: medical research, education and infrastructure.
Neil Bradley, the former deputy chief of staff for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and now the chief strategy officer for the Conservative Reform Network, is telling Republicans they should use the extra $25 billion available for domestic spending in the next year in a targeted way.
Democrats and Republicans already agreed to additional domestic and defense spending in a budget bill that passed at the end of October. And Bradley says that while Republicans have been focused on adding different riders to a year-end spending measure -- such as language that would block Planned Parenthood funding or block Syrian refugees from coming to the United States -- it's just as important that conservatives play a part in which programs get extra dollars.
"There was a belt-tightening aspect across the government because of sequestration," Bradley told The Huffington Post on Monday. "We shouldn't just say, 'Well, we can untighten a few notches on the belt for everybody.'"
Instead, in a blog post, "The Appropriations Endgame," Bradley argues that directing the additional $25 billion to select programs will ensure those sequestration cuts aren't erased across the board.
Bradley, who was also a longtime aide to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), makes the case for increased spending to, among other things, pay for a medical research bill that passed the House in July.
Many of the offsets proposed in that bill, the 21st Century Cures Act, were already used in other pieces of legislation. And Bradley says it's important that Congress go after deadly and costly diseases.
"Such treatments and cures not only will improve the quality of life for millions, but also have the potential to reduce future health care spending," Bradley wrote in the blog post.
On top of setting aside $4 billion for medical research, Bradley also makes the case for devoting $6 billion of the new funds to help pay for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a bill that mandated that students with disabilities get a free public education, and $5 billion to help tackle a $20 billion backlog of infrastructure projects.
"While some conservatives may object to any spending increases, the relevant question is no longer whether to support an increase in domestic spending: that was decided when Congress enacted the [Bipartisan Budget Act]," Bradley wrote. "Instead, the question is whether conservatives want to influence where that increase goes. If conservatives engage, they can help ensure that the money does not go to agencies like the [Environmental Protection Agency] and [the Department of Housing and Urban Development] but instead to initiatives which already enjoy conservative support."
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