This Week in Congress

The U.S. House is in session from Tuesday through Friday. The news will be dominated by the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearings.

The main bill on the House calendar is H.R. 4, which restores requirements that certain states receive pre-clearance from the Justice Department before changing their voting laws. The Supreme Court has struck down the Voting Rights Act’s original pre-clearance provision as an “extraordinary measure to address an extraordinary problem” -- the problem being state laws designed to deprive minorities of the right to vote. The court ruled that the extraordinary circumstances that justified the pre-clearance requirement no longer existed, so continuing the requirement, which imposed on a state’s authority to set its own election laws, was no longer needed.

This bill is aimed at allowing the Justice Department to nullify voter ID laws.

The House will also consider H.R. 2534, which clarifies that someone who gives someone else “inside information” can be prosecuted for insider trading if they knew the information was improperly shared and was used for profit.

For an Austrian-libertarian critique of insider trading laws, see here.

The House will also consider H.Res. 326, which expresses the sense of the House in support of a ”two-state solution” to the Irsaeli-Palestinian conflict and to oppose policies detrimental to that goal.

The resolution is a rebuke to the Trump administration’s recent announcement that the US would no longer consider Israeli settlements on Palestinen territory as violations of international law.

The House will also consider legislation under suspension including:

1. H.Res.  517—Expresses support for the replacement of the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

2. H.R. 3460—Expands the US Agency for International Development, State Department, and other agencies roles in international efforts to fund research and programs aimed at preventing  “neglected tropical diseases”—defined as diseases that affect people living in extreme poverty, especially those in developing countries.

3. S. 178—Calls on the US government to take actions to stop China’s violations of the rights of Uyghur, including sanctions and working with the United Nations Commision on Human Rights to end the sanctions. The bill passed by a vote of 406-1. The lone no vote was the courageous champion of peace and liberty, Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie. You can see that vote here.

4. H.Res. 546—Expresses opposition to Russia’s inclusion in the “Group of Seven” until Russia respects the territorial integrity of its neighbors. The bill passed by a vote of 339-71. You can see the vote here.

5. H.Res 585- Expresses support for the Good Friday Accords between North and South Ireland and expresses the sense of Congress that adherence to the accord should be a condition in any future free trade agreement between the US and the United Kingdom.

6. S. 151—Establishes forfeiture penalties for violations of prohibitions on certain robocalls, orders phone companies to develop voice authentication services, orders the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to develop rules for when phone companies can block certain calls, requires the FCC and Justice Department to study the effectiveness of current prohibitions on robocalls and requires the FCC to assess whether its current policies regarding access to phone numbers make it to easy for robocallers to get numbers.

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