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Capitol Hill Update, 3 December, 2013
House & Senate/Schedule: The House is in session this week, and is only scheduled to be in town through the end of next week (the 13th) before adjourning its session for the year. The Senate, meanwhile, is out of town this week, and is theoretically scheduled to remain in session through the end of the month.
House/Financial Services: On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to take up the "Small Business Capital Access and Job Preservation Act", H.R. 1105. Sponsored by Rep. Hurt (R-VA), this bill is intended to roll back some of the new regulations on private equity firms, an important source of capital for small businesses.
House/Patent Reform: The House's big bill this week is the "Innovation Act", H.R. 3309. Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), this controversial bill reins in so-called "patent trolls" - companies that buy up patents and then litigate against any business that they claim are infringing upon those patents. This bill has been divisive among even conservative groups, because while the abuse of patent infringement lawsuits does cost companies large quantities of money each year, the broad reach of this bill could potentially seriously hamper the ability of entrepreneurs to profit from their patented inventions.
House & Senate/Farm Bill: The conference on the Farm Bill is expected to produce its final bill soon, with a vote in both chambers coming possibly next week. The final bill is not expected to contain any significant reforms on its earlier incarnations this year, and continues to provide out-of-control corporate welfare subsidies, a brand new crop insurance entitlement, and no structural reforms or significant reductions to food stamps.
Senate/Defense: Before recessing two weeks ago, the Senate vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), S. 1197, failed on a mostly party-line vote. Although the defeat of the bill was mostly a protest against Senator Reid's unwillingness to allow amendments, this NDAA itself is riddled with problems and Republicans would do well to continue their opposition to it. The Senate will take up the bill once more next week.
Senate/Minimum Wage: Senate Democrats have placed the "Fair Minimum Wage Act", S. 460, on the calendar, and may try to act on it before the end of the year. Sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), this proposal would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over the next few years, and would thereafter index the minimum wage to inflation, guaranteeing a small increase in the wage each year. Increasing the minimum wage would be a terrible drain on an already stagnant jobs market and the economy at large, guaranteeing continued massive unemployment in the unskilled labor market.
House/Labor: In the House, Rep. Tom Price has introduced a bill, H.R. 3485, that combines a number of major reforms to federal labor laws. These include guaranteeing worker's rights to secret ballots in union elections, and allowing them to opt out of contributing to their union's political activities. FreedomWorks has endorsed this bill - you can read our letter of support HERE.
House/Financial Services: Rep. Justin Amash has introduced a huge, comprehensive reform bill that addresses many of the main drivers of the risky lending that lead to the financial collapse of 2008. Entitled the "New Fair Deal Banking and Housing Stability Act", H.R. 3550, this bill would eliminate Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration, and would eliminate all of the federal incentives that led banks to create the housing bubble, and which led to the massive bailouts of the housing and financial sectors. FreedomWorks strongly endorses this bill, which is (as the title suggests) part of the New Fair Deal initiative.