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What’s Happening in Congress: The Top Ten Things You Need to Know This Week, 3/05/2012
This Week’s Legislative Highlight: On Tuesday, March 6th, the House will vote on H.R. 4105, sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp (MI-4). This bill would apply countervailing duties to imports from non-market economies. In layman’s terms, “countervailing duties” are taxes that are placed on certain imports from countries which grant government subsidies to certain industries to make their goods cheaper. In theory, these duties are meant to level the economic playing field by not allowing governments to undercut American industry by driving down their prices. In practice, the duties raise the price of cheap goods that American consumers want, driving up prices on those goods and increasing production costs for American businesses which use them. In other words, these duties are essentially a tax borne by the American people for the bad economic practices of other nations. FreedomWorks has issued a Key Vote notice against this bill.
House/Jobs: On Thursday, March 8th, Congress is expected to vote on the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, H.R. 3606. Introduced by Rep. Stephen Fincher (TN-8), this bill intends to assist small companies by removing some of the mountain of red tape, fees, and regulatory barriers that currently stand in their way of their growth. Portions of this bill have already passed the House in other bills, and the JOBS Act is expected to pass with strong bi-partisan support.
House/Ways and Means: This week, the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Health is holding a hearing on the Medical Decisions Accountability Act, H.R. 452, a bill introduced by Rep. Phil Roe (TN-1). This bill would repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the unelected, unaccountable board of bureaucrats, created by ObamaCare, whose cost-saving targets would lead to Medicare patients being denied care for procedures deemed to be uneconomical. The bill is expected to leave committee and come to the floor on Congress’ next full week, the 19th-23rd of March.
House/Regulation: This week, the House will also consider the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act, H.R. 2842. This bill, introduced by Rep. Scott Tipton (CO-3), would remove federal regulations on using existing irrigation canals or conduits to generate hydroelectric power. Using these existing sources could generate a large amount of clean, renewable energy, yet right now regulatory compliance costs are more expensive than actually installing the hydro-electric generators.
House/Regulation: Representatives Phil Gingrey (GA-11) and John Kline (MN-2) have introduced a resolution of disapproval, H.J.Res. 103, to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)’s recent regulations which allow a company’s employees to use “ambush elections” to unionize their workplace. These regulations make it far more difficult for employers to communicate with their workers about unionization by allowing union elections to take place in as little as 10 days after filing. Under the Congressional Review Act, passing this resolution through the House and Senate would overrule the NLRB and declare the “ambush election” regulations invalid.
House/Member Initiative: Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA-52) has introduced the Real Unemployment Calculation Act, H.R. 4128. Currently, the country’s official unemployment number as calculated by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, called “U3” merely counts those people who are currently on unemployment insurance. This bill would require that the official unemployment number should instead be the “U5” number, which also takes into account “discouraged workers” – those who have been laid off but have stopped looking for full-time employment due to a lack of jobs. The U5 number is considered by many to be the more accurate indicator of the national employment situation, and is currently at 10.5%.
Senate/Transportation: The Senate is continuing to work on transportation spending bill, S. 1813, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, and will likely remain on this bill for most if not all of this week. Senator Reid is introducing another new version of the bill’s text, but it is not expected to address the fundamental Conservative concerns with the bill – namely, that it uses ten years of offsets to pay for only two years of transportation funding, and that it still spends far more money than the gas tax brings in revenue. Reid may also try to invoke cloture (end of debate) on the bill on Tuesday, which Republicans will likely oppose because they want an opportunity to offer amendments to the bill.
Senate/Agenda: After the transportation bill is finally completed, either this week or next week the Senate will move on to either postal reform or cybersecurity. No decision has yet been made as to which issue will come to the floor first.
House & Senate Schedule: The House and Senate are both in session this week. Next week, the House will recess for a constituent work week, while the Senate will remain in session continuously until April.
Second Anniversary of ObamaCare: March 23rd marks the two-year anniversary of ObamaCare becoming law. Be sure to call your members of Congress and remind them to keep fighting for repeal! Also, make your voice heard and be sure to sign FreedomWorks’ petition to End ObamaCare Now!
Scheduled session days for the rest of the year: Both the House and the Senate will return on Monday, September 9. There are legislative days 13 legislative days scheduled in the House and 15 in the Senate between September 9 and September 30, which is the end of FY 2019. There are 45 legislative days scheduled in the House and 53 in the Senate between September 9 and the end of the calendar year.