This Week in Congress Part Two

Here are some more suspension bills Congress will consider this week:

  1. H.R. 3994— Establishes the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within the National Telecommunications and Infrastructure Association. The office’s mission is to help communities gain access to high speed Internet . . . because government is really good at providing access to goods and services. Besides, we have a right to high speed Internet, right?

  2. H.R. 1689— Forbids any state or local government from using eminent domain for “economic development” (taking someone’s property to give it to a politically-powerful business interest) if they receive federal economic development funds. Also forbids the federal government from using eminent domain to support “economic development.”

Campaign for Liberty signed the following coalition letter in support of the bill:

April 25, 2018

The Honorable Robert Goodlatte
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C., 20515

The Honorable Jerrold Nadler
B-336 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C., 20515

Dear Chairman, Goodlatte and Ranking Member Nadler:

Conservatives for Property Rights and the undersigned coalition members write in strong support of the Private Property Rights Protection Act, H.R. 1689, sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens from being deprived of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This fundamental civil liberty was gutted in Kelo v. New London (2005) when the Supreme Court reinterpreted “public use” to mean “public purpose,” including taking property from one private property owner on behalf of another private entity.

As Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in her dissent in Kelo, “Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.”

This practice puts property owners at risk. People in the most vulnerable communities across America are susceptible now to being victimized by these corporations and development firms. This also puts rural areas at risk. In the past, farmers have ceded their land for railways, highways, and other transportation projects. The current law leaves them at the mercy of these same corporations and firms.

H.R. 1689 would freeze federal funds to any state that steals land from a private entity for the purposes of transferring it to another. It would also bar the federal government from using eminent domain for economic development.

The rights to life, liberty, and property have been a cornerstone of our Republic since its founding. In 1792, James Madison, the Father of the Constitution and author of the Bill of Rights, explained that private property has a sacred place in American society. “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses,” he wrote. “This being the end of government, that alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man whatever is his own.”

The practice of eminent domain is, at the very least, controversial. However, if our elected leaders cannot put their foot down and outlaw taking someone’s property to give it someone else in such a manner for nebulous economic gains, then they will have failed every American who believed in the promise of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

It is for these reasons that we call on the committee to report out H.R. 1689, the Private Property Rights Protection Act. Sincerely,

Adam Brandon

James Edwards
Executive Director
Conservatives for Property Rights

Norm Singleton
Campaign for Liberty

Jenny Beth Martin
Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund

Daniel Schneider
Executive Director
American Conservative Union

C. Preston Noell, III
Tradition Family Property

Seton Motley
Less Government

George Landrith
Frontiers of Freedom

Dick Patten
American Business Defense Council

Kevin L. Kearns
U.S. Business & Industry Council

Martha Boneta
Victory Coalition Strategies

Ed Martin
Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund

cc: Members of the House Committee on the Judiciary

The final Conference Report on the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was filed on Monday night. The NDAA authorizes spending $639.1 billion dollars on “defense.” It increases spending on military equipment and places a new emphasis on cyber and electronic war.

The bill also approves the President’s request for $250 million for “lethal weapons” for Ukraine, authorizes U.S. Special Forces Operations in eastern Europe, and instructs the President to direct the national security to continue to coordinate a “whole government response” to malign foreign influence campaigns against the United States. This may seem reasonable except there is an ongoing effort to smear critics of U.S. foreign policy-and even domestic policies like the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy and erosions of civil liberties-as agents of foreign governments out to weaken the U.S. This bill could assist this latest effort to marginalize and even criminalize dissent.

The bill also directs a “whole-of-government” approach to countering China and directs the Department of Defense to provide the necessary military force and infrastructure to secure the Indo-Pacific region.

It also prohibits the Defense Department from reducing the number of troops in Korea to below 22,000 unless certified that this is in our national security interests (as if continuing to ensure U.S. troops are among the first to die in military conflict between North and South Korea is somehow in our interests).

And there’s more! It also continues the failed U.S. intervention in Syria, as well as in Iran and Afghanistan.

It even authorizes the Defense Department’s creation of a strategy to counter Iran’s “increasing influence” in the Middle-East.

One final note regarding one of the House bills on the schedule this week, H.R. 6311. Concerns have been raised about the provision in the bill allowing all Americans to purchase “copper” plans. These plans only offer catastrophic coverage and were limited to adults under 30, which allows insurers to offer the plans at lower premium rates than other plans.

There is a concern that expanding access to everyone will raise the premiums of copper plans and cause many young people to drop their plans. While this may be the case, the fact is it is not just those under 30 who need relief from higher premiums. The solution is not to pass this bill -- Congress should keep working to expand access to Health Savings Accounts and repeal Obamacare to create a true free-market in healthcare.

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