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Capitol Hill Update, 8 February, 2016
The House and Senate are in session this week. They will both be out of town next week in observance of Washington’s Birthday (Presidents’ Day).
The Senate will vote on the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, H.R. 644, this Thursday. H.R. 644 would make changes to customs and duty law. Importantly, legislation to permanently and retroactively ban any tax on Internet access is included in H.R. 644. We support this provision of the bill, however we wanted the ban to be passed as stand-alone legislation.
Internet access must be tax free, and as currently drafted, H.R. 644 would accomplish this. FreedomWorks has issued a key vote against any attempts to strip the internet tax ban from the underlying bill.
On Wednesday, the House will vote on the Scientific Research in the National Interest Act, H.R. 3293. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX-21), Chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, requires applicants for grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explain why their project should receive taxpayer funding. This a minor reform, and does not address the fact that the federal government should not be subsidizing science. The free market is much better able to determine what science projects should receive funding, not federal bureaucrats.
On Thursday, the House is scheduled to vote on the Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Act, H.R. 3442. Sponsored by Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX-24), this bill would require that when the debt limit is approaching, the White House will have to report to Congress on what steps they plan to take to reduce the debt.
Finally, on Friday, the House is scheduled to vote on the Commons Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, H.R. 2017. Sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA-5), Chair of the House Republican Conference, this bill would lessen the impact of a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule that requires extensive nutritional labeling on menus. This places a real burden on small restaurants. The regulation was authorized by Obamacare, as part of its goal to promote public health by inserting the federal government into our individual decisions about what we eat. The bill doesn’t go far enough. The better solution would be to simply eliminate the regulation altogether.