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Capitol Hill Update, 28 July, 2014

House & Senate/Schedule: The House and Senate are both in session through Thursday. Their August recess begins on Friday and continues until September 8th.

Legislative Highlight of the Week: The Senate is likely to take up the House-passed bill to bail out the structurally insolvent Highway Trust Fund, H.R. 5021. The plan would raise about $10 billion to fund the Trust Fund through May 2015, relying mostly upon budget gimmicks to pretend to pay for the new spending. An agreement was reached last week to vote on several amendments to this bill, including Senator Mike Lee’s amendment to gradually return highway spending directly to the states. FreedomWorks has issued a Key Vote in favor of Lee’s amendment and against the overall bill if the amendment does not pass.

Senate/Taxation: The Senate will likely vote on the Bring Jobs Home Act, S. 2569. Sponsored by Senator John Walsh (D-MT), this bill would give a tax credit to businesses which bring assets back to the U.S. from overseas, while penalizing businesses for any assets they move out of the country. This bill completely ignores the root cause of the supposed problem it is meant to solve - the reason businesses continue to send more of their money, factories, and employment overseas is because the United States continues to impose the largest corporate tax burden of any industrialized nation, while most countries overseas are reducing theirs.

House/Environment: The House will vote later in the week on a bill regarding endangered species, H.R. 4315. Sponsored by Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA), the bill would reform the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) so that scientific justifications for the status of endangered species would be made public. It would also cap attorney’s fees for lawsuits made under the ESA. Currently, the ESA is used by environmentalist and animal rights groups to tie development projects in knots all over the country, often just because of the possibility that an endangered species may live in the affected area.

House & Senate/Veterans’ Affairs: Both chambers may take up a compromise Veterans’ Affairs bill that would spend $17 billion over three years on the beleaguered veterans’ health system. Only $5 billion of that amount is offset. In the end, the inept VA health care system is the inevitable result of a fully government-run health care system – throwing more money at it will not solve its underlying problems.