This Week in Congress: Another Shutdown or Democrat Retreat?

As the late Yogi Berra said “It’s déjà vu all over again.” The current Continuing Resolution expires Thursday, meaning this week we could have another shutdown showdown.

However, since the Democrats are scheduled to leave town for their retreat it is likely that there will be another short-term continuing resolution. The resolution is expected to last until March and is likely to contain an increase in spending, a multi-billion dollar disaster aide package and an increase in the debt ceiling.

There will be no effort to cut spending, even though the U.S. is borrowing at record levels.

The last Continuing Resolution contained a provision allowing the President to reallocate money from the intelligence budget without authorization from Congress. A similar provision was used by the Bush Administration to create the torture program. Campaign for Liberty has co-signed the following letter against containing this provision:

February 5, 2018

The Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen Chairman
House Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Thad Cochran Chairman
Senate Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Devin Nunes
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

The Honorable Richard Burr
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

The Honorable Nita Lowey
Ranking Member
House Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Patrick Leahy Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Adam Schiff,
Ranking Member
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

The Honorable Mark Warner
Ranking Member
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Dear Chairman Frelinghuysen, Ranking Member Lowey, Chairman Cochran, Ranking Member Leahy, Chairman Nunes, Ranking Member Schiff, Chairman Burr, and Ranking Member Warner:

The undersigned civil liberties and government transparency/accountability organizations, write to express our concern about a provision (Sec. 148) included in H.R. 195, allowing intelligence agencies to secretly reallocate money from one intelligence activity to another without first notifying Congress.

“SEC. 148. Funds appropriated by the Department of Defense Missile Defeat and Defence Enhancements Appropriations Act, 2018 (division B of Public Law 115-96) may be obligated and expended notwithstanding section 504(a)(1) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3094(a)(1)).”

In enacting the above language, Congress has, in effect, given the administration sweeping authorities to use funds, without authorization from Congress, to engage in covert intelligence activities that have not been approved by Congress, and about which Congress may not even be informed.

We urge members of the committee to reject such language in any future funding legislation. In addition, we urge you to require that the administration publicly disclose any shifts in funding made under the provision. Questions may be directed to Sue Udry at Defending Rights & Dissent via email: sue@rightsanddissent.org or phone: 202-552-7408.

Sincerely yours,

American Civil Liberties Union Campaign for Liberty
Defending Rights & Dissent Demand Progress Action
The Electronic Frontier Foundation
Government Accountability Project Government Information Watch National Security Counselors
Open the Government
Project on Government Oversight Restore The Fourth, Inc. RootsAction.org

cc: Members of the House Committee on Appropriations
Members of the Senate Committee on Appropriations
Members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Members of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

The Senate will consider nominations. The House will consider H.R. 772, which provides relief from the Food and Drug Administration’s “menu labeling” requirements. Campaign for Liberty has signed the opening letter in support of the bill:

November 30, 2017

Dear Senators and Representatives:

Several years after the former president signed it into law, Obamacare continues to be a case study of the unintended consequences of overreaching regulation. One case in point is a rigid Food and Drug Administration (FDA) menu labeling rule that requires companies that have 20 or more locations to list nutritional information on their menus.

When FDA issued its final rule, the agency failed to account for the variety of businesses that fall under this new regulation. It advocated for a one-size-fits-all-solution instead of differentiating between the different models present in the restaurant industry. This action vastly expanded FDA’s definition of a menu. FDA indicates that it now believes any and all materials that include a photo of an item and a phone number to be a menu. This vague and overly broad definition has caused a great deal of confusion among many small business owners, and will likely do little to enhance consumer education. The final rule also incurs excessive fines and other penalties on businesses that could result from an honest mistake on the part of an employee.

We are troubled by FDA’s current approach to fixing this rule. In August, New York City was sued for enforcing the rule before it went into full effect. Under pressure from the De Blasio Administration, FDA Commissioner Gottlieb announced that FDA would be issuing further interpretive guidance to industry before the end of the year rather than reforming the rule. Guidance is insufficient, however, to address longstanding concerns about the rule.

In contrast, we applaud the ongoing bipartisan efforts in Congress to remedy through legislation the problems caused by this overreaching menu labeling rule. Sponsored by Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Tony Cárdenas (CA-29) in the House and Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Angus King (I-ME) in the Senate, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017 (H.R. 772 and S. 261) will provide relief from the burdens of this overreaching FDA rule for many businesses, including restaurants, convenience stores, and grocery stores. We were encouraged to see the House of Representatives pass this in 2016 with a bipartisan vote of 266-144, with 33 House Democrats joining with 233 House Republicans in supporting this important legislation. This Congress, the bill already

Has  passed through the House Energy & Commerce Committee and awaits floor action by House leadership.

Not only would the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act correct these egregious problems, it would also level the playing field between businesses of all sizes. This important legislation would benefit thousands of businesses, regardless of their size or scope, in giving them the flexibility they need to comply with the rule. The fact that some of the largest restaurant chains lobbied Congress in favor of this onerous, costly rule is due largely to that fact that expensive regulations gives them a competitive advantage over their smaller competitors.

We encourage all Members to fight crony capitalism by supporting H.R. 772 and S. 261.


Americans for Prosperity
American Commitment
American Conservative Union
American Encore
Americans for Tax Reform
Americans for Limited Government
Campaign for Liberty
Center for Individual Freedom
Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST)
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Consumer Action for a Strong Economy
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Generation Opportunity
Independent Women’s Voice
The LIBRE Initiative
National Taxpayers Union
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Tea Party Nation

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

1. H.R. 2504- From the  official summary: This bill: (1) exempts exporters of sea urchins and sea cucumbers that are designated as food for humans or animals or taken for recreational purposes from licensing requirements; and (2) requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to amend regulations concerning transporting wildlife to clarify that those sea urchins and sea cucumbers are fishery products exempt from the export permission requirements under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Thus, those exporters will be exempted from: (1) inspections to ensure shipments of those fishery products do not contain endangered or threatened species, and (2) related inspection fees.

Good bill but also shows how federal regulations control every commercial transaction the people engage in.

2. H.R. 2646- Extends US agreement with Jordan to allow Jordan to revive streamlined military sales and gives the President authority to create an enterprise fund to provide assistance to Jordan. Great we can go further into debt to aid a Middle-East monarchy!

3. H.R. 1997— Expresses the sense of Congress that the U.S. Government should help Ukraine with cyber security instead of Russia.

4. H.R. 3851– Expands the  program providing cash reward for the arrest or capture of war criminals. This is a good thing but is it really the job of the U.S. Government to provide cash rewards for crimes, that while horrific, have nothing to do with the security of the American people?

5. H.R. 4924– Changes the procedure for handling claims of sexual harassment by Congressional staff.

6. H.Res 724– Requires each House Office to establish a policy to deal with sexual harassment.

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