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Hill Update, 8 July 2013
Schedule: The House and Senate are both back in town for four weeks. They will then go into their long August recess, starting August 2nd.
Legislative Highlight of the Week: The House will spend the bulk of this week on H.R. 2609, the appropriations bill for Energy and Water programs. This bill does spend slightly less than last year, at $30.4 billion, but still contains a number of programs, such as energy subsidies, that need to be reformed or eliminated. Look out for updates on good amendments to this bill as the week goes on.
House/Natural Resources: The House will also consider the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act, H.R. 761. This bill would force the government to expedite its permitting process for creating new mines for certain critical minerals. Currently, it often takes years for mining companies to get permits from the government to start a new mine, with the result that the U.S. has become one of the least hospitable nations for mineral development in the industrialized world.
House/Education: FreedomWorks has released a letter of support for Rep. Scott Garrett’s LEARN Act (H.R. 2394). This bill would allow states to opt out of federal K-12 programs, and the funding that would have gone to those programs in that state would be given to residents of the state as a tax credit to be used for educational expenses. This would prevent the federal government from bribing states to participate in top-down educational mandates such as common core by cutting the federal strings attached to education funding.
House/Ways & Means: The House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Health will be holding a hearing at 10 AM this Wednesday on last week’s admission by the Obama administration that they will be forced to delay enforcing ObamaCare’s employer mandate until 2015. The delay of this core component of the health care law adds the biggest question mark yet about whether ObamaCare is workable at all (FreedomWorks VP Dean Clancy says NO). There is also a question as to whether the administration actually has the legal authority to just implement some parts of the law and not others.
Senate/Student Loans: It appears likely that the Senate will turn to addressing the perceived student loan “crisis” this week, probably by considering S. 1238, the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act. This bill would simply extend the artificial lowering of student loans from 6.8% to 3.4%, which was first begun by Democrats as a temporary in 2009. You can find a detailed explanation of why artificially lowering student loan rates is bad for both students and taxpayers alike HERE.
**Update** The House is unexpectedly advancing the Farm Bill again - only this time they have taken food stamps out of the bill. While this is a step that most conservative groups, including FreedomWorks, pushed hard for this year, the news is not all good because it appears that the bill will be pushed through with a closed rule, meaning no amendments will be allowed. Without major reforms, the agricultural provisions of the Farm Bill are still awful on their own.