This week in Congress: The end?

This should be the last week of the Congressional session as Congress wraps up work on a long-term Continuing Resolution. The Resolution will also contain a supplement funding bill.

In addition, the Senate will be voted on the conference reports for the Cures Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, and the Intelligence Authorization Act. I wrote about the problems with these bills last week.  Campaign for Liberty members should call their Senators and tell them to oppose the CURES Act, the NDAA, and the Intelligence Reauthorization bill.

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

1.HR 6427--  Reforms to federal financial regulatory agencies by requiring the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to review the findings of the Business-Government Commission on Capitol formation, exempts firms engaging in crowdfunding (where business raise capital though sites like kickstater) from registering with the SEC, and changing the definition of "accredited investor". An accredited investor is someone judged to have sufficient expertise to be be exempt from restrictions the SEC imposes on investors "for their own good."

The bill also puts some restrictions on venture capital funds that are also supposedly imposed for our own benefit.

The bill also creates an office of Small Business Advocate in the SEC. The job of the advocate is, as the name suggests, to assist small business with complying with the SEC rules, identify specific problems with regulations, analyze new rules and how they will affect small businesses. The bill also establishes a Small Business council to advise the SEC.

These efforts are well-intentioned, but wouldn't it be better to focus on repealing these regulations, rather then making taxpayers pay to expand the SEC?

2. S. 795-- extend federal whistlebower protections to  (1) personal services contractors working on defense contracts (currently, the protections apply to employees of defense contractors, subcontractors, grantees, or sub-grantees); and (2) personal services contractors or sub-grantees working on federal civilian contracts (currently, the protections apply to employees of civilian contractors, subcontractors, or grantees).

The civilian contractor protections, which are currently in effect as a pilot program, are made permanent.

3. HR 5015-- requires the Defense Department to inform veterans with combat-related inures of any amounts withhold from their compensation for tax purposes and to assist the affected veterans in filing amended returns to get that money back.

4. S. 3395-- Forbids the Forrest Service form authorizing a "controlled burn" on national forests located by lands that are considered to be at an extreme risk to fire.

A good idea, but the real solution is to return control of these lands to states, localities, and individuals.

5. S. 15635-- reauthorizes State Department and embassy security programs. This seems like something that should not be condensed under suspension in the last week of the session.

6. HR 756-- Creates a clearinghouse to distribute information "regarding available programs and financing mechanisms that may be used to help initiate, develop, and finance energy efficiency, distributed generation, and energy retrofitting projects for schools."

Establishing a clearinghouse for this type of information is every bit as unconstitutional a Common Core or No Child left Behind. Any conservative who votes for this bill is ceding the principle of opposition to federal control over education.

7. HR 6375-- Allows the Energy Department to exempt certain security systems from federal No-Load Mode Energy Standards.

8. S. 2873-- Requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in collaboration with the Health Resources and Services Administration, to study technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models and the ability of those models to improve patient care and provider education. (Such models connect specialists to primary care providers through videoconferencing to facilitate case-based learning, dissemination of best practices, and evaluation of outcome.)

Seems good, but is the government constitutionally authorized or capable of developing the best ways to "enhance patient protection and patient care? (SPOILER ALERT: NO)

9. HR 4352-- Authorizes a pilot program at three VA's to have veterans schedule medical appointments. The fact that this has to be authorized by Congress illustrates what is wrong with forcing veterans to use a government bureaucracy to receive health care.

The House will also consider HR 51243 under a rule. This bill states that any intentional insurance standard the US agrees to must comply with existing federal and state insurance laws and regulations.

Of course, the federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in insurance regulation at all, much less impose international standards on the industry or the states. It also would be nice if someone would point out that standards for insurance industry should be set via the market, with government stepping in only when there are cases of force or fraud.

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