Capitol Hill Update, 15 July, 2013
House & Senate/Schedule: Both chambers are in session this week, and will remain so until August 2nd.
Legislative Highlight of the Week: On Tuesday, Senator Harry Reid has announced his intention to use what is often referred to as the “nuclear option”, a parliamentary trick that would let him change the rules of the Senate to block filibusters against presidential nominees. The filibuster is a Senate tradition, over a century old, that has been a time-honored method for the minority party to exert greater influence upon debates of great import in that chamber. Senator Reid himself, while in the minority in 2005, called the filibuster the “last check we have against the abuse of power in Washington”, but now that he’s the one holding the reins, he wants to make it go away.
House/Health Care: On Thursday, the House will also consider H.R. 2668, the Fairness for American Families Act, a bill that will delay ObamaCare’s individual mandate until 2015. Sponsored by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN), this bill is proposed in response to President Obama recently choosing to suspend the employer mandate for a year. FreedomWorks has issued a Key Vote: YES in support of this bill.
House/Health Care: The House will also vote Wednesday on H.R. 2667, the Authority for Mandate Delay Act. Sponsored by Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR), this bill would delay the employer mandate in ObamaCare until 2015. The rationale behind this bill is to emphasize the fact that it was unconstitutional for the Obama administration to delay the employer mandate unilaterally; that he should have come to ask Congress to reopen the law and make the change.. FreedomWorks supports this bill.
House/Health Care: This week, House committees will be holding two interesting committee hearings about different aspects of ObamaCare:
- On Wednesday at 10 AM, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Health, will hold a hearing in which a senior Treasury official will be asked about how the Obama administration felt it had the authority to unilaterally delay the enforcement of ObamaCare’s employer mandate.
- On Thursday at 1:30 PM, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations, will hold a hearing on ObamaCare implementation.
House/Appropriations: There is a slight chance that the House may get to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, H.R. 2397. Sponsored by Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young (R-FL), this bill appropriates $513 billion for defense spending on top of $86 billion in emergency war spending. This amount ignores the sequester cuts, supposedly in exchange for those cuts being applied elsewhere in the budget. In addition, the House is advancing this bill under a rule that does not allow for the open amendment process that leadership had promised for all appropriations bills.
House/Education: On Friday, the House may vote on H.R. 5, the Student Success Act. Sponsored by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), this bill would substantially reform the No Child Left Behind and other educations standards. One particular section of the bill does deserve special praise – section 5521 forbids the federal government from using education funding to coerce states to adopt federal standards, such as Common Core. Unfortunately, the rest of the bill specifically fails to provide for school choice, choosing to tinker with federal standards instead of putting control back into the hands of states, localities, and the parents.
House/Judiciary: On Wednesday at 10 AM, the full House Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing concerning the oversight of the administration’s use of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) authorities. The recent unveiling of the massive scope of government digital surveillance has raised questions about what, if any, limitations the federal government has to its domestic spying power.