This week in Congress: The Good, the Bad, and the Bison

The Senate resumes session today at 3pm and continues work on amendments to the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill. Two amendments up this week of interest to Campaign for Liberty members are an amendment by Washington Senator Patty Murray that would impose "Buy American" restrictions on US Corp of Engineers' purchase of "anchor and mooring chains." By what I am sure is just a coincidence, this amendment would benefit one corporation from Senator Murray's home state of Washington.

Utah Senator Mike Lee will be offering an amendment imposing the REINS Act on the Department of Energy by requiring the Department to seek Congressional approval before implementing any regulation imposing more than $100,000 of costs on the private sector.

Campaign for Liberty members should call their senators and tell them to oppose the Murray "Buy American" amendment and support Senator Lee's amendment imposing the REINS Act on the Department of Energy.

The House begins voting on Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday the House will consider suspensions. The most important bill is obviously H.R. 2908, which names the North American Bison the National Mammal of the United States.

Another suspension bill is H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act. This bill imposes a limited warrant requirement on government officials seeking emails. It seems like a good bill, but concerns have been raised that this bill does not go nearly far enough. Passing a weak reform bill will make it more difficult to pass stronger reform in the future as members will say "we already dealt with that issue." Unfortunately, since the bill is being considered under suspension, there is no way to amend the bill to make it stronger.

The House will also consider legislation, H.R. 2901, that among other provisions, expands the federal flood insurance program to Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa, as well as legislation (H.R. 223) creating a new EPA "Great Lakes Restoration Initiative."

The House will also consider the Securing Aviation from Foreign Entry Points and Guarding Airports Through Enhanced Security Act of 2016. This legislation requires TSA to develop a plan to:

  • enhance collaboration, coordination, and information-sharing about international-inbound aviation between the United States and domestic and foreign partners in order to enhance security capabilities at foreign airports; and
  • that assesses TSA ability to enter into a mutual agreement with a foreign government entity to permit TSA representatives to conduct inspections of foreign airports without prior notice.

It also authorizes a GAO study on security at foreign airports. 

Another "security" bill the House will consider this week is the PREPARE Act (H.R. 3583). This bill creates another grant program providing funds to public transportation, "high risk" areas, and ports. One disturbing part of this bill is that is one of the agencies involved is the "Countering Violent Extremism Coordinator." Concerns have been raised that the countering violent extremism programs are excuses to stigmatize certain disfavored groups -- including anti-government extremists.

Another interesting bill on the schedule is H.R. 1493, which expresses the sense of the House that the President should "establish an inter-agency coordinating committee to coordinate and advance executive branch efforts to protect and preserve international cultural property at risk from political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters."

It specifically mentions Syria as an area where the US should focus its efforts to preserve cultural property, because US involvement in that area has worked out so well.

Campaign for Liberty has joined a coalition in support of the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016 (H.R. 4923). This legislation updates the procedures for approving Miscellaneous Tariff Bills (MTBs). MTBs used to be submitted by individual representatives on behalf of their constituents, but that practice was halted because MTBs were (mistakenly) classified  as "earmarks." This bill creates a new way to consider MTBs that ensures they will not fall under the earmark ban. I'll have more on MTBs later this week.

Finally, the House will consider H.J.Res. 88, legislation overturning the Labor Department's fiduciary rule. I wrote about similar legislation that the House considered last year here.

Campaign for Liberty members who oppose the paternalistic fiduciary rule should call their representative and tell them to support H.J.Res.88.

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