This week in Congress

The Senate will consider some of the legislation overturning President Obama's regulations. Congressional leadership has created a new website to track the progress of efforts to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn some of the regulations President Obama rammed into law in the waning days of his administration.

You can see the website here.

The House is in session from Tuesday to Friday.

The big legislation it is considering is HR 1301, the Fiscal Year 2017 Defense Department Appropriations Act. This bill increases the Pentagon's "official" budget by $5.2 billion dollars. It provides another 62 billion in Overseas Contingency Funding (OCOCO), which is designated as "emergency" in order to avoid the sequestration's spending caps.

The House is considering this bill now because last year's continuing resolution will soon expire, and unless Congress passes this bill, the Pentagon will lose the funding increases that were provided by the CR- and we must provide the Military-Industrial Complex more money to run a global empire protect our safety, even though the US "defense" budget is more than the combined budgets of the next biggest military budgets.

The House will also consider a series of bills dealing with legal reform, including:

1. HR 725-- Allows federal judges to send cases filed in federal court under the Constitution's provision for federal jurisdiction in cases of  "diversity of citizenship" (meaning the plaintiff and defendant reside in different states) if the Court finds one of the following:

  • actual fraud in the pleading of jurisdictional facts with respect to that defendant,
  • state law would not plausibly impose liability on that defendant,
  • state or federal law bars all claims in the complaint against that defendant, or
  • no good faith intention to prosecute the action against that defendant or to seek a joint judgment including that defendant

2. HR 985-- Reforms the federal laws dealing with class action lawsuits. Specially, the bill requires that classes consist of members with the same type and scope of injury. Under the proposed legislation, uninjured or non-comparably injured parties can still join class actions, but must do so separately from parties that experienced more extensive injury.

The bill also contains additional provisions to:

  • Prohibit judges from approving class actions in which the lawyer representing the class is a relative of a party in the class action suit.
  • Require that class action lawyers should only get paid after the victims get paid.
  • Order any third-party funding agreement be disclosed to the district court.

3.HR 720-- This bill aims to reduce frivolous lawsuits by increasing sanctions against lawyers for bringing "frivolous" lawsuits.

The House will also consider the following pieces of legislation under suspension of the rules:

1, HR 1214-- instructs FEMA to simplify the procedures for providing relief to victims of natural disasters. FEMA processors for giving aid are unnecessarily complex, but the solution is to to get the federal government out of the disaster aid business.

Read Ron Paul on FEMA here.

2. HR 1117-- Another FEMA bill, this bill requires FEMA to report to Congress regarding its plans to provide: (1) consistent guidance to applicants on FEMA disaster funding procedures during the response to an emergency or disaster, (2) appropriate record maintenance and transfer of documents to new teams during staff transitions, and (3) accurate assistance to applicants and grantees to ease the administrative burden throughout the process of obtaining and monitoring assistance.

The report must: (1) include a plan for implementing operating procedures and document retention requirements to ensure the maintenance of appropriate records throughout the life cycle of the emergency or disaster; and (2) identify new technologies to aid the disaster workforce in partnering with state, local, and tribal governments and private nonprofits in the wake of a disaster or emergency to educate, assist, and inform applicants on the status of their applications and projects.

3. HR 1174-- Requires federal buildings that have restrooms provide a lactation room for breastfeeding mothers. Only question I have about this bill is how much will it cost and where will the money come from?


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