This week in Congress

The House is in Monday though Thursday this week.

Withoiut a doubt, the best legislation the is HR 3590  that raises the amount of health care expenses that individuals can deduct from their taxes.

The House will also consider HR 5620, the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016. This act is designed to make it easier to fire Veterans Administration employees who engaged in misconduct or poor performance.

The House will also consider HR 5226, the Regulatory Integrity Act. This bill requires federal agencies to post "....pending agency regulatory action, the date the agency began to develop or consider the action, its status, an estimate of the date it will be final and in effect, a brief description of such action, and each public communication about the action issued by the agency, including the date of the communication, its intended audience, the method of communication, and a copy of the original communication." within 24 hours of taking the action.

HR 5226 is certainly worthy of support. Unfortunately, the third rule bill is not...

HR 5351 prohibits the transfer of any individual from Guantanamo  Bay.

So Congress is once again endorsing giving unilateral Presidential authority to detain anyone--including US citizens- without due process. Remember that next time you hear a conservative member of Congress complain about the imperial executive.

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

1. H.Res. 729-- expresses that sense of Congress in support of, among other things "a robust and long-term Memorandum of Understanding negotiated between the United States and Israel regarding military assistance which increases the amount of aid from previous agreements...."

Funny, I thought we needed to cut spending.

2. H.Res. 728-- reaffirms Congress' commitment to pursuing democracy in Cambodia.

3. HR 5484-- Provides that no country can be removed form the State Department's list of terrorist spending countries if Congress enacts a resolution disproving the removal.

While it is always good to see Congress taking a more active role in foreign policy, the intention of this legislation is probably to prevent the executive from pursuing peaceful relations with disfavored countries.

4. HR 5397-- gives the American Battle Monuments Commission authority to "...enter into an agreement with the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Foundation to acquire, operate, and maintain the Lafeyette Escadrille Memorial in Marnes-la-Coquette, France."

This memorial contains the remains of 49 American aviators, but is it really necessary for taxpayers to pay to operate memorials in France?

5. S. 1579. This bill requires the Departments of Commerce, Interior and other federal agencies with "... recreational travel or tourism functions" to "update their management plans and tourism initiatives to include Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and Native Hawaiian organizations."

The agencies must also "..enhance efforts to promote understanding and respect for diverse cultures in the United States and the relevance of those cultures; and ensure that travelers at airports and ports of entry are welcomed in a manner that both showcases and respects the diversity of Native American communities."

The bill also authorizes the use of "Grants relating to travel, recreation, or tourism for which Indian tribes, tribal organizations, or Native Hawaiian organizations are eligible"  to "(1) support their efforts to present their story and culture, (2) revitalize Native American communities using the arts and humanities, and (3) carry out this Act."

6. HR 5104-- this bill is designed to crack down on ticket scalpers by making it a federal crime to "(1) intentionally using or selling software to circumvent a security measure, access control system, or other control or measure on a ticket seller's Internet website that is used by the seller to ensure equitable consumer access to tickets for any given event; or (2) selling any ticket in interstate commerce knowingly obtained in violation of such prohibition."

Where in the Constitution is the Federal Government given authority over ticket scalping? Even assuming that scalping should be considered a crime.

Interesting this bill cites the "necessary and proper" clause as Constitutional authority. Of course, this clause was is supposed to give Congress powers necessary to carry out its few functions, not to provide a blank check for Congress to legislation in every area of human life.

6. HRes. 847-- calls for a national strategy for the development of an Internet of things. Part of that strategy involves having the government "....recognize the important role that businesses play in the future development of the Internet of Things and engage in inclusive dialogue with industry and work cooperatively wherever possible."

Anyone with even a basic grasp of economics understands that when government and business "cooperate" the result is less innovation, higher prices, cronyism and corporatism, and increased costs for consumers.

7. H.Res. 835-- another endorsement of industrial policy by this so-called conservative congress, this time to develop a "national strategist" to promote consumers’ access to financial tools and online commerce to promote economic growth and consumer empowerment.

8. HR 5111-- The Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016. This bill creates new federal standards for private contracts and voids the contracts if the standards are not met. Not only is this bill unconstitutional, but interfering in private contracts usually raises prices for consumers and thus betides them of access to goods and services.

9. HR 1301-- Gives the Federal Communications Commission the power to stop private property owners from using their land in any way that interferes with radio communications.

Even though this bill takes private property for what Congress will say is a public use, there is no mention of proving "just compensation" for anyone effected by the bill. There is also no constitutional or economic justification for government control of the airwaves anymore than there is for government control of the food system.

10. HR 4979-- updates and streamlines permitting process for nuclear power plants.

11. HR 5587-- renews technical education programs, continuing federal interference in an area the Constitution leaves to states, local communities, and parents.

The US Senate will consider S. 2848, which renews the Water Resources Development Act and a short-term Continuing Resolution to keep the government open until December 9, thus seting up a "lame duck" after the election.




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