This Week in Congress

The Senate continues to work on nominations. The House is only in on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday because Monday was Rosh Hashanah and Tuesday is the 17th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

What’s most interesting about this week’s schedule is not what’s on it but what is not. Congress is only scheduled to be in session 7 days before recessing to go home and campaign. Congress has not passed one of the 13 Appropriations bills, and the only one on schedule this week is possible action on H.R. 5895, the Legislative Branch, Environment and Water, and Military Construction bill.

So why should we care? Because if Congress does not figure out a way to pass funding legislation by September 30, the government shuts down. While most of us would be okay with that, fear of a shutdown right before an election means we will see another giant spending bill, which is rushed to the floor before most members have a chance to read it . . . or Congress will pass a continuing resolution next week and do the funding bill in a post-election lame duck session. Either way, the result will be higher spending and other expansions of big government. Many so-called fiscal conservatives vote for these bills with the justification that “you cannot shut down the government.”

The House will consider H.R. 3798, which changes the definition of “full-time employee” to someone who works 40 hours a week. The change saves part-time workers from having to comply with ObamaCare’s mandates, thus ensuring they will not lose their job because of ObamaCare.

The House will also consider a number of bills under suspension of the rules including:

  1. H.R. 6198– Creates a new agency in Homeland Security, the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Agency, to protect against domestic use of WMDS. (Hasn’t this always been one of the goals of the department?)

  1. H.R. 6720– Prohibits slaughtering and transporting dogs and cats for human consumption. (As an animal lover, I understand the motivation behind this bill but it does exceed Congress’s constitutional authority.)

  1. H.R. 6411– Requires the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) authority to work with tribal law enforcement agencies, changes their mission from protecting against “international” terrorism to protecting “against terrorism regardless of origin,” thus giving the agency new authority to interfere in domestic matters, and gives FinCEN new authority to investigate the use of cyber-currency. (This is a major expansion of FinCEN’s power and should not be passed with just 40 minutes of debate.)

  1. H.R. 6690– Creates a pilot program to test the use of smart cards to crack down on Medicare fraud.

  1. H.R. 1911– Gives the special envoy to combat anti-semitism ambassador status. The envoy’s job is to combat anti-semitism across the globe.

  1. H.Res. 401– Urges a laundry list of countries to outlaw the dog and cat meat trade and urges the U.S. government to press them to do so.

  1. H.R. 6197– Authorizes rewards for stopping international wildlife trafficking linked to organized crime.

  1. H.R. 5317– Brings the 21st Amendment to Indian Reservations by repealing prohibitions against distilleries on them.

  1. H.R. 3186– Provides free access to national parks to every fourth grader in the nation.

  1. H.R. 2591– Provides federal grants to states to promote hunting and recreational shooting. (Yes, you read that right. The same Congress that wants to restrict access to guns wants to give away taxpayer money to promote hunting.)

  1. H.R. 6227– Authorizes the president to develop a National Quantum Initiative Program to set priorities for a 10-year plan for  the development of quantum science and technology. (And I thought Republicans were against central planning.)

  1. S. 97— Makes changes to the government’s programs promoting nuclear energy, another example of government meddling in the free-market.

  1. H.R. 589– Changes Department of Energy programs. The bill also expresses the sense of Congress that the Department of Energy should work with private industry to “promote international, domestic, and regional cooperation on the research and development of energy innovations that: provide clean, affordable, and reliable energy; promote economic growth; are critical for energy security; and are sustainable without government support.”

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