This week in Congress

The US Senate is in session today. The main item on the Senate's agenda is the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524). As the title suggests, this bill uses the "opoid crisis" as an excuse to to expand federal power.

S. 524 "...directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to convene a Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force to develop: (1) best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, and (2) a strategy for disseminating such best practices." This is justified as necessary to stop abuses of prescription pain medicines such as Oxycontin.

Even assumes that pain patients will benefit form actions to limit their access to opioids, a highly dubious assumption,that does not justify federal government becoming further involved in the practice of medicine by telling doctors what are the "best practices" for pain management. S. 524 also creates a number of new federal grant programs for state,local, and private sector efforts to treat and prevent opioid abuses.

The funds are focused on treatment and prevention, not the traditional police state tactics traditionally used to fight "the war on drugs." Of course,the federal government has no more constitutional authority to fund treatment and prevention programs then it does to fund laws criminalizing drug use. The bill makes not mention of how the already broke federal government is supposed to pay for these new programs, except to have a sense of Congress that the funding should be offset from reductions in non-defense discretionary spending.

The House is working today through Thursday. Monday and Tuesday the House will consider suspension bills. One of the suspension bills is the HR 4583, which directs the Secretary of Energy to:

(1) maintain and update information and resources on training and workforce development programs for energy and manufacturing-related jobs, including job training and workforce development programs available to assist displaced and unemployed energy and manufacturing workers tran­si­tion­ing to new employment; and (2) act as a resource, and provide guidance, for schools, community colleges, universities (including minority serving institutions), workforce development programs, labor-management organizations, and industry organizations that would like to develop and implement energy and manufacturing-related training programs.

The goal is to increase the number of skilled workers in energy industries. Of course, these programs are no more constitutional than common core. Furthermore this bill assumes that federal government can determine what is the "appropriate" amount of jobs in the energy marketplace,which is the same premise underlying all other type of central planing.

The House will also consider the Amplifying Local Efforts to Root out Terror Act (HR 4401). This act gives the Homeland  Security Department authority to training to state and local governments as well as fusion centers on how to "...counter violent extremism, identify and report suspicious activities, and increase awareness of and more quickly identify terrorism threats, including the travel or attempted travel of individuals from the United States to support a foreign terrorist organization ."

Concerns have been raised that efforts to counter violent extremism can be used as an excuse to label those with unpopular political views--including members of the liberty movement-- as potential terrorists.

HR 4084, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, increases between the Federal Department of energy and the private sector in order to develop innovation in nuclear energy--because the private sector is incapable of innovating without government assistance.

On Wednesday the House will consider HR 3716, the Ensuring Terminated Providers are Removed from Medicaid and CHIP Act. The bill ensures that provider who has been found ineligible to participate in Medicare,Medicaid, or the Children's Health Insurance program cannot participate in nay of those programs. This makes sense but why is Congress just getting around to doing this now?

The House finish off the week on a positive note with HR 4557, the Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act. As the title suggests,this legislation stops the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing their onerous regulations to ceramics.

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