This Week in Congress

The big vote this week is on the “compromise” immigration reform bill (H.R. 6136). As of this writing, it is not sure if the bill will be amended to include the mandatory E-Verify National ID/Database system, so Campaign for Liberty members should keep calling their Representatives at 202-224-3121 and tell them to oppose any legislation containing a National ID/Database.

Last week, the House rejected the Goodlatte-McCaul immigration bill (H.R. 4760) by a vote of 193-231. Every Democrat opposed the bill because it did not address the status of the dreamers—those who were brought to this country illegally as children. Forty-one Republicans voted no, with some objecting to mandatory E-Verify, while others joined the Democrats in seeking a solution to the dreamers. This roll-call vote is here.

The House also passed the Farm Bill (H.R. 2) by a razor-thin vote of 213-211. Every Democrat opposed the bill, not because they objected to subsidies for millionaire non-farmers or government policies that raise the prices of food, but because they objected to the minor reforms in the “SNAP” (food stamp) program. Twenty Republicans voted no. That roll-call vote is here.

The House also voted on H.R. 6, which combined the 50 or so opioid bills the House has passed over the last two weeks into one giant bill that uses the opioid epidemic as an excuse to massively extend government’s role in health care. The bill passed by a vote of 396-14, with only one Democrat (Vicente Gonzalez, TX-15) voting no. The Republicans who voted no were:

Justin Amash (MI-03)

Andy Biggs (AZ-05)

Mo Brooks (AL-05)

Mark Gaetz (FL-01)

Tom Garrett (VA-05)

Louis Gohmert (TX-01)

Paul Gosar (AZ-04)

Walter Jones (NC-03)

Raul Labrador (ID-01)

Gary Loudermilk (GA-11)

Thomas Massie (KY—04)

Tom McClintock (CA-04)

Mark Sanford (SC-01)

Last Monday, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA) by a vote of 85-10. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike lee (R-UT), who tried to offer amendments stopping the U.S. Government from indefinitely detaining American citizens without due process, were the only Republicans to vote No.

The Senate also failed to advance President Trump’s rescissions package, even though it only needed 50 votes to do so. Maine Senator Susan Collins joined every Democrat in opposing the bill, which would only reduce spending by $14.835 billion. This may seem like a lot, but considering the national debt clocks in at $21 trillion, these rescissions don’t amount to much, yet they were rejected by the Senate.

The  Senate is working on the Omnibus Appropriations bill, which combines Energy and Water, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch bills.

In addition to the Immigration Bill, the House will also consider the Defense Department Appropriations Act. The bill appropriates $606.5 billion—a $17.1 billion increase over last year and $9 billion more than the President’s request—and $68.1 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations Funds (OCO), for a total  of $674.6 billion.

The House will also consider H.R. 2083 which allows the killing of sea lions in the Columbia river.

The House will also consider several bills under suspension, including H.R. 5206, which authorizes creation of an office of biometric identification management in Homeland Security to make the Department’s biometric registry work with federal, state, and local law enforcement to share biometric information. Remember the language authorizing E-Verify explicitly mentions biometric data and this is another sign that government is interested in increasing use of biometrics and maybe even retinal scans to identify and track us. This bill is being considered under suspension with very little time to debate and no opportunity for members to offer amendments.

Among the other bills included are:

  1. H.R. 4294-- Imposes new fines and other penalties on employees of regulatory agencies who disclose an individual’s private information.

  2. H.R. 6069-- Requires GAO to report on the use of virtual currencies for sex trafficking—probably an attempt to justify further efforts to regulate cryptocurrencies.

  3. H.R. 5094-- Directs Homeland Security to create a “suspicious activities” taskforce to study how to improve identification of suspicious activities, which probably means more spying and harassment of American citizens. Among the entries included in the task force are Fusion Centers—the outfits that identified Ron Paul and C4L supporters as potential terrorists in 2009.

  4. H.R. 5081-- Creates a “Surface Transportation Security Committee” in the Department of Transportation to make recommendations on how to protect roads.

  5. H.R. 5730-- Requires testing of all transportation security screening equipment to make sure items like the porno scanners are efficiently violating our rights . . . er . . . keeping us “safe.”

  6. H.R. 5766-- Creates yet another working group, this one to improve the security of public transportation areas—like airports and bus terminals.

  7. H.R. 4257-- Allows western states to transfer or trade public lands to enhance conservation efforts.

  8. H.R. 4528-- Requires bullfish caught in the Hawk or Pacific Insular areas be kept and used in those areas, not exported. (Really . . . Congress has authority to do this?)

  9. H.R. 5841-- This is a big bill that modernizes the Committee on Foreign Investment—which is the committee that decides if a technology is vital to national security or potentially dangerous and thus should not be exported. This seems like something that might derive more conversation than simply being squeezed in the end of a suspension bill.

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