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PODCAST: Hill Update from Max Pappas! Oct. 11, 2011

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House/Senate Schedule: The House will recess next week, 17-21 October, as members return home for a constituent work week. The Senate will similarly recess a week later, 24-28 October.

House/Agenda: The House has a busy, holiday-shortened week, and will undertake several important votes:

  • Tuesday: H.R. 2250 to limit EPA regulations on boilers and incinerators. (We’re key voting YES)
  • Tuesday: H.R.’s 3078, 3079, and 3080, Free Trade Agreements. (We’re key voting YES)
  • Thursday: H.R. 2273 to limit EPA regulations on coal ash disposal. (We’ll key vote YES)

After the recess, the House will address, among other things, the 3% withholding tax mandate, and postal service reform.

Senate/Agenda: The Senate has somewhat less on its agenda:

  • Votes are expected on the Obama/Reid jobs bill and on the China Currency bill which was discussed last week. More details below. (We’re key voting NO)
  • The Senate will also consider the Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama, and S. Korea this week, assuming that the agreements pass the House.

Senate/Trade Relations (update): The Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act (S. 1619) to label China a “currency manipulator” is expected to receive a vote at about 5:30 PM today (11 October). Although passage only requires a simple majority and the bill is expected to pass, Speaker Boehner has stated that the bill is likely dead on arrival in the House. Notably, even President Obama has refused to support this bill, which would potentially spark a trade war with China.

Senate/Procedures: In a move that stunned unsuspecting Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid used an arcane parliamentary procedure to change the operating rules of the Senate. The technique, which has been referred to as the “nuclear option”, gives Reid dictatorial power to shut the Republican minority out of the amendment process for a bill. This could be a historically defining moment for the Senate, as the ability for both parties to introduce amendments to a bill is one of the great and long-standing traditions of the Senate.

Ironically, one of the first acts of the new Republican majority in the House was to loosen the amendment process to allow greater freedom for Democrats to add amendments to bills, while Democrats in the Senate have now done just the opposite.

Senate/Stimulus The Obama Jobs Bill (The American Jobs Act - S. 1660) is expected to receive a vote today (Tuesday) on a motion to proceed. The bill is currently not expected to receive the 60 votes necessary for cloture, and will likely fail.

House/Trade: Four years after they were initially proposed, the House is finally set to vote on passage of the free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea (H.R. 3078, 3079, and 3080, respectively). The Committee on Ways and Means has estimated that passing these three agreements will increase U.S. exports by at least $13 billion, and could create 250,000 new jobs – all without spending a dime of the taxpayers’ money.

However, the Obama administration has made passing these Free Trade Agreements contingent upon passing H.R. 2832, the Generalized System of Preferences (GNP) bill which also contains a renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

  • The GNP: picks favorites among trade partners and industries to help some developing nations at the expense of others. This is not free trade.


  • The TAA: is a failed policy that gives higher unemployment benefits to workers who have been laid off as a result of foreign trade. Besides showing favoritism to some unemployed workers over others, the Government Accounting Office actually reports that TAA training and benefits are more likely to result in workers reentering the workforce earning less than before.

Unfortunately, the GNP/TAA bill has bi-partisan support and is likely to pass, although the TAA program will expire after 2014. (We’ll key vote NO on GNP/TAA, YES on FTA)

House/Regulation: The House should vote today (11 October) to pass H.R. 2250, the EPA Regulatory Relief Act. As discussed previously, this bill will prevent the EPA from enacting needlessly harsh regulations on industrial boilers and incinerators. FreedomWorks will score ‘YES’ votes on this bill as a Key Vote for economic freedom.

House/Regulation: Also likely to receive a vote this week (possibly Thursday) is H.R. 2273, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, which will prohibit the EPA from regulating coal ash as a toxic waste in any state which prefers to develop its own plans in that regard. This bill would further slow the EPA’s Regulatory Trainwreck and could save thousands of jobs in coal-rich states such as West Virginia and Ohio. We will also score a ‘YES’ vote on this bill as a Key Vote for economic freedom.

House/Member Initiative: Rep. Mike Pompeo (KS-4) has introduced the H.R. 3090, EDA Elimination Act. The Economic Development Administration was established as part of President Johnson’s Great Society initiative to aid “economically distressed” areas of the country. Instead, for years it has served as “backdoor earmark” program used by lawmakers to bring pork-barrel spending projects back to their districts. Eliminating the EDA would save taxpayers $300 million annually.

House/Member Initiative: Rep. Phil Gingrey (GA-11) is seeking further co-sponsors for H.R. 1173, the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act, which was introduced by Rep. Boustany (LA-7). This bill would repeal the CLASS program, an Obamacare provision which would establish a long-term care insurance program that the CBO has said is unsustainable and will cost the government billions in further annual deficits.

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