UPCOMING WEEK HOUSE:
Legislation Under Suspension of Rules that LLPH is considering scoring (these bills need ⅔ of the votes and are supposedly non-controversial…although we usually find that they are unconstitutional and expensive):
On MONDAY: H.R. 1073: Nuclear Terrorism Conventions Implementation and Safety of Maritime Navigation Act of 2013
LLPH Statement: This bill is tremendously complicated, including so many different aspects that a normal person would get confused. And this is the exact problem that we see with this bill. It adds several different regulations to oceanic laws. Read the CRS summary here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr1073#summary/libraryofcongress . We are leaning toward opposing this bill and will likely score the bill negatively.
On TUESDAY: You could call this day Veterans’ Day in the House of Representatives. 6 bills will be taken up (4 having to do with Veteran Affairs) and LLPH has concerns about 3 of these veteran bills:
While well-intending, some of these bills could possibly lead to larger government and more spending.
Bill #1: H.R. 1412 – Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2013 (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Coffman / Veterans’ Affairs Committee).
LLPH is concerned about the portion of this bill that “Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to carry out a public relations campaign, advertising in national media outlets”. LLPH questions how much this will cost. We support this effort, but our question is whether this is offset.
In addition, the bill “requires training establishments applying for state approval of on-the-job training programs to certify that the wages to be paid an eligible veteran or person upon entrance into training will be increased in regular periodic increments until, by the last full month of the training period, they will be at least 75% (currently 85%) of the wages paid for the job for which such eligible veteran or person is being trained.” If a training establishment can gain approval from the state, why should the federal government be involved in this. Our understanding of “state” suggests that this should be a states’ right not a federal government power.
A similar bill came up last session: http://www.opencongress.org/vote/2012/h/650 (3 voted no). We will be watching this bill and may consider scoring this bill negatively.
Bill #2: H.R. 570 – American Heroes COLA Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jon Runyan / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
LLPH questions this bill and while we recognize that it is offset by decreasing direct spending for veterans’ pensions and increasing spending for education funds for veterans we question where the government is authorized to do this. The CBO estimates that it will decrease spending and help decrease our debt. We may not score this bill negatively or positively, but it will be interesting to watch this bill.
Bill #3: H.R. 1344 – Helping Heroes Fly Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard / Homeland Security Committee)
LLPH is particularly concerned about this part of the bill that states, “The Assistant Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and organizations that advocate on behalf of members of the Armed Forces and veterans, including organizations that advocate on behalf of severely injured or disabled members of the Armed Forces and severely injured or disabled veterans, shall develop and implement a process to provide expedited passenger screening services for severely injured or disabled members of the Armed Forces and severely injured or disabled veterans. Such process shall be designed to protect the privacy of the individual being screened to the maximum extent practicable.” If these veterans are severely injured or disabled, can someone please explain to me why we are doing extensive screening at a different location to protect their privacy? Why are we even doing such screening that invades the privacy of regular Americans? LLPH will be watching this bill closely and we praise the veterans, but we just think that a bill should be passed protecting all Americans from invasive screening. We may consider scoring this bill, although it is not likely. We just believe that a better bill would be one that stops invasive screenings of any human being.
On WEDNESDAY: Keystone Pipeline Vote Day! (H.R. 3)
H.R. 3, offered by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE 2), would legalize and allow the building of the Keystone Pipeline which could create more than 400, 000 American jobs and would not add to our deficit. Instead of all of these “investments” or government spending that President Obama talks about, why not allow for the creation of 400, 000 free-market jobs that even Democrats like the AFL-CIO President Hoffa or Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) supports? LLPH WILL SCORE A YES VOTE POSITIVELY. We urge all members of congress to cast a YES vote!
ON FRIDAY: H.R. 1911 – Smarter Solutions for Students Act, Rules Committee (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. John Kline / Education and the Workforce Committee)
This bill is the the GOP’s bill that would resolve the problem of federal student loan rates. Without legislation, those rates will double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent this summer. Republicans have a new bill that includes language supported by Obama that would get Congress out of the business of setting the rate, and keying rates to the 10-year Treasury note. Democrats are already claiming that this would allow rates to rise too much. But the bill includes a cap on rates, and support for a similar plan from Obama could prompt some Democrats to support it.
LLPH does not believe that the federal government should be participating in education and trying to cap rates. The Club for Growth gave a great explanation on why the federal government should get rid of the student loans business: “Regardless of the merits, the government should not be in the business of subsidizing student loans. Before 2007, the interest rate for subsidized Stafford student loans was 6.8%, but House Democrats voted that year to lower the rate to 3.4% for the next four years. This bill would extend that rate for new loans for another year, costing taxpayers $6 billion. It’s bad policy to subsidize student loans in the first place, but the net result will likely drive up tuition costs for all students, making the overall cost of the bill much higher than its current price tag. House Republicans want to offset this subsidy by repealing the Prevention and Public Health Fund that was created with the passage of ObamaCare. That fund should indeed be repealed, but fiscal conservatives should only try to repeal the entire law, not just parts of it. And for the most part, the offset is irrelevant. Fiscal conservatives should not be promoting bad policy, which this bill contains.”
LLPH is heavily leaning to opposing this bill and will very likely score a vote for this bill negatively. We OPPOSE this bill.
The Senate will begin work on the $955 BILLION Farm Bill (S. 954). http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44248
It is filled of wasteful spending, food stamps (which make up about 66% of the bill), and subsidies to lawmaker’s favorite farms like corn, rice, meat, etc. LLPH STRONGLY OPPOSES THIS BILL and will score any portion that increases spending negatively, cuts spending positively, and we plan to oppose final passage. This bill is unconstitutional because nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government permitted to be sending subsidies to big farms. Also, why don’t they call this bill a food stamp bill? We urge Senators to work to change this bill radically or we will oppose it and score it negatively.
Also, judicial confirmation votes are expected so we will be watching these votes closely.