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FreedomWorks: We handed out Dean Clancy’s FoxNews op-ed, “In the Debt Ceiling Debate, Republicans in Congress Should Not Cut a Deal without a Balanced Budget Amendment.”
House/Senate/Schedule: The Senate will be in session for the next two weeks. The House will be in session this week and then in their districts for a week.
Senate/Agenda: This week the Senate will continue working on the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011, S.782, sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). The Economic Development Administration provides grants and loans to state and local governments for public works projects.
Several good amendments were offered by Senate Republicans, but it does not look like Harry Reid will allow more amendment votes on the EDA bill. Reid has scheduled for Tuesday a vote to invoke cloture on the EDA bill to stop debate and move to final passage. If the closure vote fails, Reid will likely pull the bill from the floor and move on to the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 (S. 679).
S.679 would make 200 executive nominations that currently have to be confirmed by the Senate, no longer confirmable positions. It would also streamline the process for approximately 200 other executive nominations. Some Senate Republicans are worried this will give too much power to the executive branch and reduce Senate oversight.
This week, the House will have a suspension vote on the Election Support Consolidation and Efficiency Act (H.R.672), which terminates the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the EAC Standards Board, and the EAC Board of Advisors.
On Wednesday, they will consider the American Invents Act (
H.R. 1249), which is a controversial patent reform bill, and the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act (H.R.2021).
Thursday, they will possibly work on a short-term extension of the Federal Aviation Administration or vote on the conference report if a deal on FAA is reached.
Thursday, they will also start consideration of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act (H.R.2219), which will likely roll over to the week they come back from recess.
House/Energy: On Wednesday, the House will work on the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act (H.R.2021) sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO, 4th). H.R.2021 would streamline the energy permitting processes off the coast of Alaska to help start up energy production. The bill aims to eliminate uncertainty and confusion under the Clean Air Act that has delayed oil exploration in the Alaskan Outer Continental Shelf and other offshore areas.
House/Spending: On Thursday, the House will start working on the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2012 (H.R. 2219). According to the Appropriations Committee, the base budget of the bill provides $530 billion in discretionary budget authority for defense activities, which is an increase of $17 billion over last year’s level. The overseas contingency operations recommendation for emergency spending for Defense activities related to the Global War on Terror is $118.7 billion, which is $842 million above the request.
House/Committees: The Committee on Financial Services will markup the Securing American Jobs Through Exports Act (H.R. 2072), which would reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The Export-Import Bank would finance the export of United States goods and services in markets where private capital is limited or unavailable. It would also “help” level the playing field for United States exporters by matching the financing that other governments provide to their exporters.
House/Member Initiative: Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX, 8th) has introduced the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act (H.R.1259), which would amend the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) repeal the estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes, and (2) make permanent the maximum 35% gift tax rate and a $5 million lifetime gift tax exemption. He currently has 121 cosponsors for his bill. This was a RSC Repeal Taskforce initiative.
House/Member Initiative: Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX, 14th) has introduced H.R.1830 to authorize the interstate traffic of unpasteurized milk and milk products that are packaged for direct human consumption.
Other/Outside Organizations: Let Freedom Ring, along with 34 other organizations (including FreedomWorks), put together the Cut, Cap, and Balance Pledge for Citizens, Candidates, and Lawmakers to sign. The idea is to state that raising the debt ceiling is unacceptable without making serious immediate spending cuts, capping spending, and passing a strong balance budget amendment to the Constitution. The Pledge will be unveiled Wednesday at 4pm in the Cannon Caucus Room.
Currently, Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Jerry Moran, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Jason Chaffetz, Jim Jordan, Joe Walsh, Adam Hasner (FL Senate Candidate), Ted Cruz (TX Senate Candidate), Tom Leppert (FL Senate Candidate), Josh Mandel (OH Senate Candidate), Sarah Steelman (MO Senate Candidate), and over 8,000 citizens have signed the pledge. See: www.cutcapbalancepledge.com.
The weekend of February 13th-15th, FreedomWorks sponsored the 8th annual International Students for Liberty Conference, a gathering of more than one thousand students from all over the world and across America for the purpose of exploring the ideas of liberty. The International Students for Liberty Conference, held in Washington each year around Valentine's Day, hosts many prominent leaders in the libertarian movement for speeches, question and answer sessions, and breakout sessions on a variety of topics pertaining to liberty in the world today.
Lame Duck sessions are the crazy drunken uncles of the Congressional schedule - we didn't invite them, nothing good ever happens when they're here, but every couple of years during the holidays they show up anyways and make a nuisance of themselves. Ousted and retiring lawmakers get to vote on laws that their successors will have to live with, and recently reelected Members feel invincible and unaccountable to anyone. Good times.