#LLPH #Senate Key Vote Alert: “NO” on #PatriotAct Reauthorizations! #TCOT #Liberty #StandwithRand

LLPH urges all Senators to vote against any Patriot Act renewal, short-term or long-term. We oppose any clean reauthorizations of the Patriot Act, whether it be 5 days, 2 months, 6 months, one year, three years, or any other time period. The Patriot Act, specifically section 215, will expire if the Senate does not do anything. That is exactly what LLPH believes the Senate should allow to happen. We will therefore oppose any clean reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

The Senate may also consider the USA Freedom Act, sent to them by the House of Representatives. While this bill is supposed to be an improvement compared to a clean reauthorization of the Patriot Act, we have strong concerns about the bill. The USA Freedom Act would ask telephone companies to be the ones to collect bulk data and store them instead of the federal government. With a federal court having ruled that the Patriot Act never allowed for the collection of bulk data in the first place, we are concerned that the USA Freedom Act would codify and legalize bulk data collection for the first time in United States history. We hope the Senate will allow amendments offered by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) to receive votes and urge Senators to vote YES on these amendments to improve the bill.

Without votes on these amendments and in its current form, LLPH will urge all Senators to vote NO on Final Passage of the USA Freedom Act. We may possibly score this vote in our scorecard. IF improving amendments are passed, we will withdraw our objections to the USA Freedom Act.

Bulk data collection must end. Any bill whether it be a clean reauthorization or the USA Freedom Act in its current form that allows for bulk data collection is absolutely unacceptable, and we urge NO votes on all these bills.

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#LLPH #Senate Key Vote Alert: #TPA (#FastTrack) & #TAA Amendments & Final Passage! #TCOT

LLPH is issuing the following key votes on the Trade Promotion Authority (H.R. 1314-the vehicle for the bill): “YES” on Flake Amendment to Strike Trade Adjustment Assistance from the bill, “YES” on Sessions Amendments to Provide Congress with more Authority over the trade deals than this bill provides, and “NO” on Final Passage of the Trade Promotion Authority bill unless our two main problems with the bill are solved.

First, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will be presenting an amendment to strike the Trade Adjustment Assistance program reauthorization from the bill. The Trade Adjustment Assistance program is being included to buy the votes of Democrats. Our friends at Freedomworks are also key voting in favor of the amendment, and they explain why we should oppose this program:

TAA gives subsidies—in the form of job training for workers and direct financial assistance for firms—to those purported to be harmed by increased international trade. From a public policy standpoint, trying to “correct” for job losses in particular sectors as a result of increased competition is simply wrongheaded. In order for an economy to grow and thrive, industries need to be flexible and able to change with changing market conditions. Trying to prop up industries that cannot compete on their own merely delays the inevitable and inhibits growth.

TAA has also been proven by multiple studies to be ineffective, and it is duplicative of several other federal jobs programs. Finally, the eligibility standards for TAA are notoriously loose, meaning that some companies are able to cash in despite not actually having been impacted by foreign trade.

The government should not have this program which is why we urge Senators to vote YES on the Flake Amendment or any other related amendment to strike Trade Adjustment Assistance from the bill.

LLPH urges Senators to vote NO on Final Passage of the Trade Promotion Authority unless two improvements are made to the bill. First, passing the Flake Amendment would be the first step to improving the bill. Second, Congress must be given the authority to amend these trade deals. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a leader against this bill, put out a fact sheet on how this bill cedes Congressional review of trade agreements:

Myth: Congress will have more control over the trade process under fast-track.

Truth: If Congress gives the Executive six-year fast-track authority, the Senate will cede its ability to amend any future legislation implementing any yet-unseen global trade and regulatory pact; cede its ability to control debate over that pact; and cede its ability to subject that pact to the 67-vote threshold required for treaties, as well as the 60-vote threshold required for important legislation. Proponents of fast-track suggest the negotiating objectives somehow bind the Administration; this is false. The negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership are nearly complete and have been ongoing for years, long before any negotiating objectives will have been suggested. Moreover, the negotiating objectives are vague and lack any meaningful enforcement mechanisms—particularly enforcement from Senators and Representatives not on the revenue committees. Congress will be giving up the only leverage it has: the ability to amend legislation or to refuse to cut-off debate. No fast-tracked deal has ever been defeated, regardless of whether fast-track “objectives” have been ignored, overlooked, or violated by the Executive.

Myth: Congress is ceding no institutional powers under fast-track.

Truth: By eliminating its own powers of review and amendment, Congress would dramatically shift the carefully calibrated balance of power between Congress and the President. Fast-track would ensure that the President has complete discretion over the drafting of international agreements Congress has never even seen.

Myth: If the President ignores the negotiating objectives, Congress can simply block the deal.

Truth: A fast-tracked trade deal has never been blocked. By denying members any opportunity to slow debate, mobilize the public by seeking extra time, amend the deal, or seek a better deal, fast-tracked legislation is always ratified no matter how flawed. The train will have left the station once fast-track is adopted. Without any possibility of a 60-vote, let alone 67-vote, threshold in the Senate, this final check will have been removed. Additionally, the revenues and rules committees have exclusive control over enforcement, eliminating the ability of rank-and-file members to hold the Administration accountable for violations. Those saying Congress can just vote down a bad trade deal ignore the unbroken cycle of history.

Senator Sessions or one of the other senators is expected to present amendments to give more authority back to the Congress. If these amendments are voted on, LLPH will urge a YES vote and may score this amendments in our scorecard.

Without passage of the Flake Amendment and the Sessions Amendment or some equivalent, LLPH will urge all Senators to vote NO on Final Passage of the TPA and will score this vote in our scorecard. It is time to stand up for the Constitution, limited government, and the working men and women of our nation.

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#LLPH #House Key Vote Alert: “YES” on Blackburn #PennyPlan Amdt. to #Legislative Approps. FY 2016! #TCOT

Legislative Appropriations FY 2016: 

LLPH urges all members of the House of Representatives to vote YES on the Blackburn Amendment to Cut 1% Across the Board on the Legislative Appropriations FY 2016 bill. We are thankful for Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) who we can always count on to We will likely include this bill in our annual scorecard. The summary of the amendment reads:

Provides for a one percent across the board cut. Exempts Capitol Police, Architect of the Capitol, and the Sergeant at Arms.

In addition, we strongly support the amendment offered by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) to fully cut all funding for the Open World Leadership Center:

Zeros out $5,700,000 in funding for the Open World Leadership Center and applies the savings to the spending reduction account.

We may possibly score this vote in our scorecard, so all members should be aware of our support for this amendment. This is a duplicative program costing taxpayers more than $5 million annually. With an $18 Trillion debt, it is time to bring this program to a close.

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#LLPH #House Key Vote: #NDAA16 Key Votes: Brooks Pro-Rule of Law #Immigration Amdt. and Others! #TCOT

LLPH is releasing the following key vote alerts on amendments to H.R. 1735, the House National Defense Authorization Act of 2016.

First, we key vote YES on the Brooks Amdt. (along with several other conservatives) to strike the immigration language from the NDAA. During the markup of the bill in the House Armed Services Committee, a provision was added to call for the Department of Defense to perform a study to allow DACA illegal immigrants to be in our military. Whatever your position is on illegal immigration, placing divisive language to make a policy statement is wrong. Here is what the Brooks Amdt. states:

Strikes section 538, relating to a sense of the House of Representatives regarding Secretary of Defense review of section 504 of title 10, United States Code, regarding enlisting certain aliens in the Armed Forces.

We hope that all members will agree that the NDAA should be more unifying as we work to support our troops and not a divisive bill due to immigration policy which does not belong in this bill. Therefore, we urge a YES vote on the Brooks Amdt. to defend the rule of law and strike this immigration language from the bill. We will definitely be including this vote in our Congressional scorecard and urge all members to vote YES.

Here are some others amendments we are watching closely:

LLPH urges a YES vote on the Polis Amdt. This amendment would give flexibility to the military on how many carriers they believe is necessary. Keeping carriers that our generals do not believe are necessary is a waste of money, and we should trust our leaders in the military to make the decisions, not bureaucrats in Congress.:

Reduces from 11 to 10 the statutory requirement for the number of operational carriers that the U.S. Navy must have.

LLPH urges a YES vote on the Mulvaney/Van Hollen Amdt. dealing with the OCO budget and bringing some accountability to this slush fund:

Instructs the Comptroller General of the United States to submit to Congress a report on how funds authorized for overseas contingency operations were ultimately used.

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#LLPH #House Key Vote Alert: “NO” on #USAFreedomAct (#PatriotAct #NSA)-A False Choice! #Liberty

LLPH urges all members of the House of Representatives to vote NO on H.R. 2048, USA Freedom Act of 2015, offered by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI 5). While this bill does make some reforms to the NSA, it fails to recognize some essential facts: the NSA is not constitutional and if nothing is done, the program is finished. Proponents of the bill argue that this bill is the only alternative to a clean reauthorization. That is far from true. If nothing is done, then three key sections of the Patriot Act will expire this year, and Congress should do the right things and let it simply go away.

The USA Freedom Act has several infringements on our civil liberties:

Civil Forfeiture:

Section 801 of the bill (USA Freedom Act):

(g)(1) CIVIL FORFEITURE.—Any real or personal property used or intended to be used to commit or to facilitate the commission of a violation of this section, the gross proceeds of such violation, and any real or personal property traceable to such property or proceeds, shall be subject to forfeiture.

“(2) Applicable procedures.—Seizures and forfeitures under this section shall be governed by the provisions of chapter 46 of title 18, United States Code, relating to civil forfeitures, except that such duties as are imposed upon the Secretary of the Treasury under the customs laws described in section 981(d) shall be performed by such officers, agents, and other persons as may be designated for that purpose by the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, or the Secretary of Defense.”

The USA Freedom Act reauthorizes key parts of the Patriot Act as admitted in the summary of the bill. It also increases punishments without regard for due process. These are all included in the “national security” parts of the bill.

Increases from 15 to 20 years the maximum penalty of imprisonment for providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization in cases where the support does not result in the death of any person.

Amends the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 to extend until December 15, 2019, FISA authorities concerning: (1) the production of business records, including call detail records and other tangible things; (2) roving electronic surveillance orders; and (3) a revised definition of “agent of a foreign power” that includes any non-U.S. persons who engage in international terrorism or preparatory activities (commonly referred to as the “lone wolf” provision).

Liberty Party Reps. Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, Jim Jordan, David Schweikert, Raul Labrador, and others proposed key amendments which would have improved the bill and enhanced civil liberty protections. NO AMENDMENTS were allowed by the House Rules Committee. At this point, we have no choice but to believe that supporters of this bill are not interested in protecting our civil liberties. In fact, this bill is praised by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Attorney General Loretta Lynch:

“The Intelligence Community believes that the bill preserves the essential operational capabilities of the telephone metadata program and enhances other intelligence capabilities needed to protect our nation and its partners,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote in a letter to senators Monday. “In the absence of legislation, important intelligence authorities will expire on June 1.”

Note the last line. If Congress does NOTHING, then the Patriot Act’s three main provisions will expire and one unconstitutional part of the government will be gone. That is exactly what should be done to defend the Constitution. Therefore, LLPH urges all members to not accept the premise that the only choices are the USA Freedom Act or a clean reauthorization. It is NOT true. There is a third choice and that is to allow the provisions to expire and the NSA to end.

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#LLPH #House Key Votes on #Energy #Appropriations: “YES” on #WeWantCutsNow Amdts! #TCOT

LLPH is urging a YES vote on the following amendments to the Energy and Water Appropriations FY 2016. Any of these amendments could be included in our 2015 LLPH House Scorecard which is used to determine LLPH support in future elections as well as membership in LLPH’s Liberty Team.

We urge a YES vote on the following:

  • Ellison (D-MN) – Page 22, Line 20 – ​Reduces Fossil Energy Research and Development by $45 million and transfers the same amount to the Spending Reduction Account.
  • Hudson (R-NC)– Cut 11.1208% across the board cut to all accounts in the bill except for National Nuclear Security Administration, Environmental and Other Defense Activities, or Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.
  • Sanford (R-SC) – Eliminates all funds in the bill made available under DOE-Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program; and prohibits funds from being used to provide a loan under Sec. 136 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

LLPH may score any and/or all of these votes in our House 2015 Scorecard. We urge a YES vote on all of these amendments!

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Politico on Unlikely Partnership Between #Conservatives & #Liberals on #OCO! #TCOT #VAMilCon

For all the talk in Washington about “tea partiers” and “liberty-lovers” being the extremists, yesterday’s fight proves this characterization wrong. Conservatives, tea partiers, and liberty-loving representatives like Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) worked with liberal Democrats like Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) to stop gimmicks that were being played by the GOP leadership, House Armed Services, and House Appropriations Committee members. While their efforts failed in close votes, their efforts are admirable and prove that there are definitely areas where conservatives and liberals SHOULD and MUST work together against the establishment of both parties.

Here is the Politico article by Rachael Bade:

An unorthodox partnership between an ultra-conservative Republican and a liberal Democrat is threatening House Republican plans to fund the government.

Mick Mulvaney, a South Carolina Republican, and Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat running for Senate, are joining forces to block a series of Pentagon spending increases that underpin the GOP’s spending strategy this year.

If Van Hollen can convince all his Democratic colleagues to get on board, and Mulvaney can muster enough conservative votes, they could jeopardize a $38 billion Pentagon boost that GOP leaders used to woo support from defense hawks. The duo’s first try was a big enough threat that leaders abruptly pulled a military construction and VA spending bill off the floor when it wasn’t clear they could defeat it. It ultimately failed when 19 defense-minded Democrats bucked their party and rejected the amendment.

But the two are going to keep trying to take down the extra Pentagon money, which is funneled through the so-called overseas contingency operations account, or OCO, an emergency war fund that critics call a budgeting farce. Van Hollen plans to talk to liberal defectors, and Mulvaney feels confident he can count on more than 25 Republicans to stick with him.

“If appropriations come across with any OCO money hidden in it, I’ll do everything I can to strip it,” Mulvaney said in a Thursday interview. “It’s a slush fund and gimmick, and our own budget called it a backdoor trick last year.”

Defense funds were supposed to be frozen below caps laid out in a 2011 deficit-reduction law. But GOP leadership planned to dole out an extra $38 billion for the Pentagon using OCO, which isn’t subject to the caps. That extra defense spending was the primary reason Republican defense hawks backed leadership’s spending plans in the first place. Hawks could withdraw support if the boost was winnowed, making it hard for Republicans to muster enough votes to pass defense-related budget bills.

That, in turn, would be a major blow to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who want to show they can govern effectively and fund the government in an orderly fashion.

After their first attempt failed Thursday evening, 191-229, Rogers told POLITICO it foreshadowed good news for appropriators crafting spending bill using OCO funds.

“I feel good about it — those were pretty strong votes,” he said.

But Mulvaney and Van Hollen, and many far-right conservatives and Democrats alike, think leaders have gone too far using the OCO account.

“A lot of people who voted for the budget, did so despite objections of the OCO budget,” Mulvaney said. “Leadership were able to twist some arms to get people to vote for the budget, but given the opportunity to go in and make some changes, people are for that.”

Mulvaney and Van Hollen plan to propose amendments to strike every penny of OCO money not used for war from here on out, including in Defense and State department bills.

A GOP source familiar with the process said even if their amendments are adopted, leadership could add the money back at a later time when the House conferences with the Senate, for example. They’ve used similar tactics to circumvent Mulvaney in the past.

The Mulvaney-Van Hollen duo’s test vote Thursday night showed they still have some supoprt work to do. The three Mulvaney-Van Hollen amendments would have eliminate $530 million of OCO money that’s supposed to be used for construction projects on military bases and installations.

Mulvaney swung 27 conservative Republican votes to back the amendment, including a handful who voted for the GOP budget that initially gave the Pentagon the multibillion-dollar increase.

The bigger issue is whether Van Hollen can get enough Democrats to back their cause.

He could not Thursday night; several Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee voted with Republicans to keep the extra funds.

That came despite an effort from Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who joined Van Hollen circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter, urging the left to “eliminate OCO abuse.”

Democrats have different concerns than their Republican colleagues: They want the spending caps lifted for both defense and domestic programs like health and education. Fiscal hawks like Mulvaney are very skeptical of plans to raise spending without offsets they deem worthy, like entitlement reforms.

Yet, the two agree on one thing: They really don’t like the OCO raise.

“It’s one of the places where I think the Republicans and Democrats agree more than you think: They want good governance,” Mulvaney said of the partnership.

Van Hollen said on Thursday that he hopes the amendment will force Republicans to reckon with the spending caps.

“This is a come-to-reality-now [moment] so we can have a serious discussion about how we deal with sequester,” he said. “They’re in fantasyland if they think this will provide an escape hatch.”

On Wednesday night, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), a conservative who is against the amendment, circulated an impassioned email asking colleagues to vote against the provision if they care about stopping terrorism.

“Cutting this money means our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines will have worse facilities overseas,” he wrote. “If you think our troops should have good facilities when they are deployed overseas, deterring China, fighting Al Qaeda and Boko Haram, and guarding against Iranian missiles, than I urge you to vote against the Van Hollen and Mulvaney amendments.”

He listed projects that would lose funds: a fuel depot in the Horn of Africa, “where our Special Operators launch their attacks against al-Shabaab and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” an airfield in Niger where the military fights Boko Haram; and a Navy facility in Southwest Asia that is “vital to prevent aggressive actions from China.”

Mulvaney wrote back in his own email: “This is not money for the war effort. Period.”

The letters continued Thursday, with top Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee circulating additional pleas to kill the amendment.

It worked this time. But if Team Mulvaney-Van Hollen have anything to say about it, next time will be different.

LLPH scored all three amendments in our scorecard. You can see the roll call votes here:

Van Hollen Amendment: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2015/roll184.xml

Mulvaney #1 Amendment: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2015/roll185.xml

Mulvaney #2 Amendment: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2015/roll186.xml

We hope that they and others will keep up the fight against these type of gimmicks. If your representative voted yes, thank them. If they voted no, encourage them to improve their ways.

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