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Capitol Hill Update, 1 June, 2015

Capitol Hill Update, 1 June, 2015

House & Senate/Schedule: The House and Senate are both back in town for another four-week session. Both will recess next for the 4th of July week (29 June-3 July).

Legislative Highlight of the Week: As you’ve likely seen in the news, the Senate came to town for a rare Sunday session to debate the reauthorization of government surveillance authorities under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. Due to Senator Rand Paul’s stand for greater 4th Amendment protections, Section 215 was allowed to expire Sunday night, temporarily stopping the NSA from issuing any new general warrants to collect the telephone data of millions of Americans.

However, the USA Freedom Act, which would revive Section 215 after making some reforms, appears likely to pass the Senate when it comes up for a final vote on Tuesday. It remains unclear what amendments, if any, Senator McConnell will allow to come to a vote, but on top of several praiseworthy pro-reform amendments filed by Senators Paul and Wyden, there are a number of very questionable amendments filed by Senator McConnell which would greatly weaken the USA Freedom Act.

If a weakened USA Freedom Act is passed by the Senate, look for a fierce debate in the House later this week. FreedomWorks will strongly oppose any version of USA Freedom Act which is significantly weakened.

House/Spending: The House will vote this week on the appropriations bill for Commerce, Justice , Science, and Related Programs (CJS). The bill, H.R. 2578, would spend $51.4 billion during Fiscal Year 2016, an increase of $1.3 billion from last year. There will certainly be several amendments to restructure or cut spending in the CJS bill that are worthy of conservative support – stay tuned for details.

House/Spending: Depending upon whether there is sufficient time this week, the House will also attempt to vote on the appropriations bill for the Departments of Transportation and Housing & Urban Development (the T-HUD bill, for short). This bill, H.R. 2577, would spend $55.3 billion for Fiscal Year 2016. Once again, there should be several good amendments that come up for a vote.

Senate/Corporate Welfare: Senate Majority Leader said last week that he would allow a Senate vote on reauthorizing the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which is set to expire on June 30th. FreedomWorks strongly supports allowing the Ex-Im Bank to expire. The Senate Banking Committee will hold two hearings on the fate of the 80-year-old New Deal program this week:

  • On Tuesday, June 2nd, the committee will hold a hearing soliciting expert opinions for and against the bank’s reauthorization, which will include representatives from the Mercatus Center, The Cato Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
  • On Thursday, June 4th, the committee will hold a hearing on the oversight of Ex-Im in which the Bank’s Chairman, Fred Hochberg, is expected to testify.

House/Corporate Welfare: Similarly, on Wednesday, June 3rd, the House Committee on Financial Services will hold a hearing on Ex-Im, at which Chairman Hochberg will also be present to testify.