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Capitol Hill Update, 19 May, 2014
House & Senate/Schedule: Both chambers are back this week – the House will take a five-day weekend for Memorial Day and come back on the 28th, while the Senate will be off all of next week.
Legislative Highlight of the Week: On Tuesday, the Senate is likely to vote on ending debate for the nomination of David Barron to be a judge for the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. While serving in the Department of Justice, Barron authored confidential memos that authorized the administration to kill a U.S. citizen via drone strike overseas, even though said citizen (Anwar al-Awlaki) was a non-combatant. A judge who is able to find the killing of a US. Citizen without trial to be constitutional should certainly not be allowed to serve in a higher judicial post. FreedomWorks will Key Vote NO on cloture for Barron’s nomination.
Senate/Taxes: Last week, the Senate attempted to pass the bill to extend expiring tax provisions as a substitute amendment to an existing bill, S.Amdt. 3060. Although Republicans were split on whether the tax extenders themselves were worth supporting, they all agreed that Senator Harry Reid's continued unwillingness to allow any Republican amendments to receive a vote was unacceptable.
House/ NDAA: The House will vote this week on the National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 4435. This bill authorizes funding for both regular defense spending, as well as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending. Spending amounts for Fiscal year 2015 under this bill would be $521 billion in base defense spending, and $79 billion for OCO. There will be a number of votes on amendments to NDAA as well.
House/NSA Spying: The House may take up the USA FREEDOM Act, H.R. 3361. Sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), this bill attempts to revise the USA PATRIOT Act (which Sensenbrenner sponsored in 2001) in order to stop the NSA from being able to collect data an Americans in bulk. The bill does not fully realize that goal, but it would curtail some of the NSA’s worst abuses of our privacy. FreedomWorks and many other organizations from across the political spectrum have signed a letter to the Hill detailing several improvements that could be made to the bill in the House to more specifically stop protect our 4th Amendment rights from the NSA.
House/Natural Resources: The House will vote this week on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), H.R. 3080. Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), this bill does make some reforms to the old WRDA bill, especially getting rid of many of the wasteful earmarks that had been a hallmark for previous versions. However, it fails to account to a massive backlog of already-authorized programs for the Army Corps of Engineers that would cost over $60 billion. FreedomWorks will Key Vote: NO on this bill.