Capitol Hill Update, 11 January, 2016
Thanks for reading the first formal Hill Update of 2016! This week in Congress will be dominated by President Obama’s final State of the Union Address, in which he will likely promise to flout the role of Congress by promising even more unilateral executive actions and regulations. Appropriately enough, one of the most significant votes in the House this week deal with reining in executive overreach.
House & Senate/Schedule: The House of Representatives is in session this week, but will recess Wednesday so congressional Republicans can hold their annual strategy retreat. The House will return to session on January 25th. The Senate is set to remain in session through February 12th.
Senate/Monetary Policy: On Tuesday, the Senate is set to (finally!) hold the first procedural vote on Senator Rand Paul’s Federal Reserve Transparency Act, S. 2232. This is Ron Paul’s classic bill to require a full audit of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, which currently does not fully disclose a large number of its most important transactions. In spite of bi-partisan support for auditing the Fed (an identical bill has passed twice by huge margins in the House, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has even supported the effort), it is not fully clear whether the bill has enough supporters to clear the Senate. FreedomWorks has issued a Key Vote: YES for this legislation.
House/Regulation: On Wednesday, the House will vote on a resolution of disapproval to halt the recent “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) regulation, which would give the federal government unprecedented control over even small privately owned waterways. This resolution, S.J.Res. 22, passed the Senate but will certainly be vetoed by the president, and is thus more about establishing that Congress and the people disagree with the president’s actions.
SCOTUS/Labor: Down the Hill from Congress, the Supreme Court of the United States is also back in session this week, and started off by hearing an enormously important case on Monday. Friedrichs v. California Teacher’s Association examines whether public sector unions can force non-members to pay union fees, as is current practice. At stake is freedom of association on the part of non-union members, as well as freedom of political speech, since unions tend to use these compulsory dues to advance political agendas that non-members may oppose. You can read more about this critical case HERE.