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Capitol Hill Update, 8 June, 2015
House & Senate/Schedule: The House and Senate both remain in session. Both will recess next for the 4th of July week (29 June-3 July).
Senate/Defense: The Senate will spend the rest of this week considering their modifications to the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 1735. This legislation would authorize a total of $620.1 billion in spending on national defense. That number includes $96 billion on Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, which is categorized as emergency funding (and thus not counted towards budget caps) because it is supposed to be for direct support of wartime activities overseas. Instead, Congress is using OCO to hide over $38 billion in normal DoD operational funding from the budget caps established in 2011, essentially turning OCO into a defense slush fund.
Senate/Export-Import Bank: There is a possibility that senators will try to force a vote on an amendment to the NDAA that would reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im). Even Senator Cantwell, one of Ex-Im's most vocal supporters, has said that the NDAA is not an appropriate vehicle for reauthorizing the bank, which is set to expire at the end of June. FreedomWorks opposes any amendment attaching Ex-Im to the NDAA.
House/Spending: On Tuesday, the House will finish voting on amendments and final passage of the Transportation and Housing & Urban Development Appropriations Act, H.R. 2577. The bill spends $55.3 billion, up from $53.8 billion last year.
House/Spending: On Wednesday the House will vote on the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, H.R. 2685. This bill would appropriate $579 billion for the DoD, and includes the same concerns over the use of OCO spending as the defense authorization bill being considered by the Senate. There will certainly be many amendment votes on this bill, likely including noteworthy votes on the government's surveillance authority.
House/Taxation: On Tuesday the House will vote on H.R. 235, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act which would make permanent the temporary ban on taxing internet access. FreedomWorks has long supported the moratorium on taxing internet access and has issued a Key Vote in support of the bill.
House/Trade: The House may finish a packed week by voting on the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill that would grant the president "fast-track authority" on trade agreements. There has been some fairly shoddy reporting on what the TPA authority actually does. The fast-track authority would last for six years, and requires that any trade agreement negotiated by the president be passed by Congress in an up-or-down vote before it would be allowed to take effect. It prevents Congress from amending trade agreements sent to it by the executive, but does not otherwise prevent them from using every normal procedure to kill ratification of the agreement if it contains bad provisions. It would also require that Congress be briefed on the progress of ongoing trade agreements.