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Capitol Hill Update, 14 May, 2013

Capitol Hill Update, 13 May, 2013

House & Senate/Schedule: Both chambers are in session this week and next week.  Both chambers will recess for Memorial Day, the week of May 27th.
Legislative Highlight of the Week: This week’s highlight is a report issued on Monday by the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.  The Committee surveyed 17 of the nation’s largest health insurers, and found that the coming increases in health insurance premiums will be staggering, particularly for the young, healthy individuals who will be coerced into buying insurance by the individual mandate “tax”. The entire point of the “Affordable Care Act” was to make health insurance more affordable, yet this report shows premiums increasing by almost 100% for individuals, and 50% for small businesses, with some people seeing spikes as high as 400%.  The full report can be found HERE.

House/Health Care:  This Thursday, the House will hold a vote on H.R. 45, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Bachmann, which would fully repeal ObamaCare in its entirety.  This is largely a symbolic vote, being held to give the new GOP freshmen the ability to say they voted to repeal ObamaCare. Nevertheless, expect to see a FreedomWorks Key Vote: YES on this bill coming out shortly.

House/Financial Services: On Friday, the House will vote on H.R. 1062, the SEC Regulatory Accountability Act, sponsored by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ).  This bill would simply require the Securities and Exchange Commission to perform a cost-benefit analysis before enacting any new major regulations.  

House/Agriculture: On Wednesday, the House Committee on Agriculture will take up the Farm Bill.  This bill, which was last passed in 2008, contains a variety of handouts to big farm corporations and insurance companies, on top of outrageous carve-outs to certain industries such as corn, sugar, and cotton producers.  And 80% of the farm bill’s spending is actually on the food stamp program (SNAP), the enrollment in which has increased by 75% in just the past five years.  The only major improvement in this bill is that it does eliminate the direct payments to farmers, but the bill as a whole is still a fiscal disaster that spends almost $1 trillion over the next ten years.

Senate/Agriculture: On Tuesday, the Senate Agriculture Committee will consider its own version of the Farm Bill.  Since the Senate already marked up and passed their Farm Bill last year, there is a possibility that this year’s version will not spend much time in Committee, and could come to the floor for a vote as soon as next week.

Senate/Infrastructure:  This week, the Senate will resume consideration of the Water Resources Development Act, S. 601, and may vote on passage Thursday or Friday.  Sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), this bill is riddled with problems.  It guarantees billions in federal funds for projects that ought to be handled by individual states, such as harbor dredging and dam construction, essentially serving as a stimulus program.  It also uses the Army Corps of Engineers as a back-door earmark program by authorizing a nearly unlimited number of new contracts, despite the fact that the Corps already has a $60 billion project backlog.  FreedomWorks opposes this bill.

House & Senate/Energy: Last week, companion bills were released in the House and Senate which deal with the EPA’s war on the coal industry. S. 861, sponsored by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and H.R. 1829, sponsored by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) require that the EPA speed up its permitting process for coal mining projects.  Currently, the EPA is greatly delaying many of these permits, causing untold loss of productivity in the coal industry, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of our domestic energy.