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Capitol Hill Update, 19 October, 2015
While the search for a new Speaker of the House remains ongoing, Congress has its hands full over the next several weeks...
House & Senate/Schedule: Both House and Senate are back in town this week. The House will recess next for the week of Veteran's Day (9-13 Nov.), while the Senate will remain in session until the week of Thanksgiving (23 Nov.).
Legislative Highlight of the Week: This Friday, the House is expected to vote on the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, H.R. 3762, which would use the budget reconciliation process to repeal parts of ObamaCare. To its credit, the bill does repeal the individual and employer mandates, a number of smaller spending/grant programs, and the IPAB "death panel". Unfortunately, House Republicans have chosen to move forward with a bill that leaves alone the major spending portions of the law (subsidies and Medicaid expansion), which leaves the bill with an uncertain future in the Senate. Ironically, the bill might have a better chance of passing the Senate if it contained a broader repeal of ObamaCare (as FreedomWorks has called for for months), which makes the House choice to move with this smaller bill even more disappointing.
House/Debt Ceiling: This week, the House is set to vote on the Default Prevention Act, H.R. 692. Sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock, this bill would eliminate the popular but false talking point about the U.S. "defaulting" on our credit if we exceed the debt limit. FreedomWorks has issued a letter of support for this legislation, which takes the focus off of the red herring of default and helps us focus on the real problem of crushing national spending and debt.
House/Education: The House will also vote this week on the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Reauthorization Act, H.R. 10. Sponsored by Speaker John Boehner, this bill would revive the successful D.C. school voucher program that President Obama killed on the day he took office in 2009. While it was active from 2003 to 2009, the SOAR program had a demonstrable impact on the graduation rates of inner-city D.C. students.
House & Senate/Highways: Given that temporary funding for the U.S. Highway Trust Fund is set to expire on October 27th, Congress will be compelled to act to fund it at some point in the next week. It remains unclear what the bill will look like, but given the amount of urgent matters pressing Congress, they may well pass another short-term highway patch and address it in December. Not only are there major concerns about how the highway spending will be offset without adding to our deficits, it is also very possible that this bill could be used as a vehicle to bring the Export-Import Bank back from the dead.
Senate/Cybersecurity: This week, the Senate is expected to work on their Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), S. 754. This bill is a misguided attempt to address threats from hackers around the world by attempting to promote the sharing of information on cyber threats between private companies and government agencies. The problem is, such information is currently allowed and practiced now; what this bill does is give those companies legal immunity even if they share sensitive personal data with the government, which would automatically be shared in turn among dozens of government agencies (including the FBI and NSA). FreedomWorks opposes CISA - you can watch a short video on why HERE.