This week in Congress

With ObamaCare (sorta of, kinda but not really) repeal and replace on hold, the Senate was forced to revise their agenda this week. Yesterday they held a cloture vote on the treaty adding Montenegro to NATO.

Sadly, only Rand Paul and Mike Lee voted no on cloture.

Senator Paul delivered a great speech on the follies of this vote, which you can see here. Senator Paul also tried to offer an amendment restating the Constitutional requirement that the U.S. cannot go to war unless Congress votes to declare war, but he was blocked from doing so.

This reminds me of the time Senator Paul's father, Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul, attempted to offer an amendment to the "authorization of force" against Iraq which officially declared war.  Dr. Paul was lectured by the Chairman of the International Relations Committee (who was considered a leading constitutionalist) who said that the requirement that Congress declare war before the President sends troops into combat was "anachronistic."

The final vote on the treaty could come as early as later today.

The Senate will also consider some Congressional Review Act legislation, possibly including

  • H.J. Res. 67, regarding the Department of Labor’s final rule that exempts mandated qualified municipality-run retirement plans for non-governmental employees from the protections of ERISA;
  • H.J. Res. 43, regarding the Department of Health and Human Services final rule relating to how states are allowed to distribute family planning grants; and
  • H.J. Res. 66, regarding the Department of Labor’s final rule that exempts state-mandated retirement plans for non-governmental employees from the protections of ERISA.

The House is in session Monday through Thursday.

The main legislation the House will consider is S.J.Res. 34, which overturns a so-called "privacy" regulation introduced by the Federal Commutations Commission. Of course, everyone favors privacy, but it is not the role of governments to dictate practices to businesses. Instead consumers should be able to choose whether or not to deal with certain companies based on their privacy polices, among other factors.

Furthermore, this rule could deprive consumers of valuable features, such as ads targeted to their specific interests as shown by their past buying practices.

The House will also consider H.R. 1430, legislation which prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from taking any action  unless it uses the ". . . best available science." The bill also requires the EPA to make sure that information is publicly available. This bill is valuable effort to increase transparency of the information the EPA and the requirement the agency use the "best available science" may provide some check on the agency.

However, it does not define what is, and is not, the best available science, which is probably for the best since does anyone think Congress is capable of defining what is the best of anything, especially science?

Furthermore, just because an EPA regulation is based on sound science does not make it constitutional or (because it violates the Non-Aggression Principle) moral.

The House will also  considered the following bills under suspension of the Rules:

1. H.R. 1117-- 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.

2.  H.R. 1214-- instructs FEMA to simplify the procedures for providing relief to victims of natural disasters. FEMA procedures 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.

3.  H.R. 654-- Requires FEMA to develop an early warning earthquake system for the Cascadia Subduction Zone; and (2) identify the funds necessary, and make grants to states, Indian tribes, and local governments, for its implementation.

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