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    Hill Update for 1/17/2012

    This Week’s Legislative Highlight: This week, Congress is set to vote on a resolution disapproving of President Obama’s latest request to raise the debt ceiling, this time to over $16.4 trillion.  More details below.

    House/Senate Schedule: The House is back in session this week and will remain in D.C. for the duration of the month.  The Senate will return next week.

    House/Agenda: The next two weeks in the House will be relatively light, as each party will be holding its strategy retreat this week and the next and no business will be conducted on those days.  Work will also be interrupted by the State of the Union Address, which will occur next Tuesday, 24 January.

    House/Spending: As mentioned previously, the House is set to vote Wednesday on H.J.Res. 98, a resolution of disapproval of President Obama’s request to raise the debt ceiling.  The debt ceiling currently stands at $15.2 trillion (just over 100% of GDP), and would be raised to $16.4 trillion.  Note that this new ceiling represents an increase in the debt of $5.8 trillion in only four years.

    When Congress passed the Budget Control Act (S. 365) in August of 2011, the bill granted Obama the authority to raise the debt ceiling up to three times, with the caveat that these requests would be subject to a resolution of disapproval which could bar his request.  However, in order to prevent the debt ceiling from increasing, not  only would the resolution have to pass the House and the Senate, it would also have to be signed by the President, or else his veto would have to be overridden by a supermajority vote.

    House/Senate/Regulation: Much uproar has been generated over a pair of bills which would open up a Pandora’s box of litigation over online piracy.  These bills, acronyms SOPA (H.R. 3261) and PIPA (S. 968) in the House and Senate, respectively, would potentially allow the government to shut down millions of websites for even tangential connections to sites which are involved with online piracy.  SOPA, the House version, appears to be on hold, but cloture may be invoked on PIPA, the Senate version, on Monday, 23 January.

    House/Member Initiative: Earlier this month, President made several recess appointments to key positions in the National Labor Relations Board, as well as appointing Richard Corday as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  These appointments were made in spite of a pro forma session of the Senate being in session, which represents a major breach of the President’s Constitutional authority.

    In response, Rep. Jeff Landry (LA-3) has introduced H.R. 3770, a bill which would defund the salaries for those appointees and prevent regulations from their agencies from taking effect until the Senate votes to confirm them.

    House/Member Initiative: Rep. Trey Gowdy (SC-4) has introduced a bill, H.R. 2926, which would abolish the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and transfer some of its prior authority to the Department of Justice.  The NLRB is a powerful board with broad authority to mediate contracts between unions and their employers, which recently flexed its muscle in favor of unions by essentially forcing Boeing to cancel its plans to build an airplane factory in the right-to-work state of South Carolina.