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Capitol Hill Update, 15 June, 2015
House & Senate/Schedule: Both House and Senate are in town this week. Both will recess next for Independence Day week, 29 June through 3 July.
Senate/Spending: The Senate will likely spend much of the remainder of the week continuing to debate the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) H.R. 1735, which sets the levels of funding for national defense. This bill continues to abuse the emergency war funding (known as "Overseas Contingency Operations" spending, or OCO) to pay for over $30 billion in regular defense spending. Republicans insisting upon using "emergency" spending to dodge the spending caps that conservatives won in 2011 undermines their moral authority on achieving fiscal restraint.
House/Health Care: This week, the House will vote on two bills to repeal parts of ObamaCare. H.R. 160, the "Protect Medical Innovation Act", would repeal ObamaCare's tax on medical devices. H.R. 1190, the "Protecting Seniors' Access to Medicare Act" would repeal the "Independent Payment Advisory Board", which is the infamous "death" panel that would advise the government on how best to ration Medicare coverage for seniors. Both bills should pass easily with a number of Democrats in support.
House/Spending: This House will also vote this week on the spending bill for classified Intelligence projects, H.R. 2596. The total spending amount in this bill is classified. Although privacy advocates such as Reps. Ted Poe and Thomas Massie offered a number of amendments to this bill that would reform the government's unlimited spying on American citizens by the agencies funded under this bill, none of those amendments have been allowed to come to a vote.
House & Senate/Infrastructure: Senator Mike Lee and Congressman Ron DeSantis have introduced the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA Act). This bill would solve the problem of the bankrupt federal Highway Trust Fund by devolving the money for that fund to the states and allowing those states the opportunity to decide how best to use that money to maintain their highways. FreedomWorks strongly supports this legislation.
House/Taxation: Rep. Jason Chaffetz has unfortunately introduced a new piece of legislation, the "Remote Transactions Parity Act", that would impose an internet sales tax collection system on all states. Any state can decide to require businesses within its borders to collect taxes on internet sales, but instead this bill allows states to collect taxes on sales from businesses outside their borders, creating a chaotic situation that fundamentally changes the tax-collection authority of every state. FreedomWorks has been a steadfast opponent of this bill's predecessor, the "Marketplace Fairness Act", and has joined a broad coalition of fiscally conservative groups in opposing this bill as well.