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Capitol Hill Update, 9 June, 2014

Capitol Hill Update, 9 June, 2014

House & Senate/Schedule: Both chambers are back this week, and both will remain in session until June 27th. Legislative Highlight of the Week: The House is starting Monday on H.R. 4745, the appropriations for the Departments of Transportation and of Housing & Urban Development, collectively known as “T-HUD”. This bill will spend $105.5 billion total, $52 billion in discretionary funds, and the rest is considered automatic spending from the Highway Trust Fund. T-HUD contains massive funding for all sorts of unnecessary programs, including:

  • federally subsidizing Amtrak ($850 million)
  • the Essential Air Service program, subsidizing airports that are rarely used ($249 million)
  • Community Development Block Grants ($3 billion)

There will be a large quantity of amendment votes, and we’ll highlight the best ones as we get word of them.

House/Spending: On Wednesday, the House will take up H.R. 4800, the appropriations bill for the Department of Agriculture and the FDA. This bill would spend $20.9 billion in discretionary funds, and another $142.9 billion in automatic, “mandatory” spending. Most of this mandatory spending is to fund food welfare programs such as food stamps ($82 billion), as well as various crop insurance programs. Once again, there will be an indeterminate amount of amendment votes, and we’ll highlight the most important ones as they come out.

House/Taxes: The House will take up two bills this week on extending tax deductions for small employers, H.R. 4457 sponsored by Representative Tiberi (R-PA) and H.R. 4453 sponsored by Representative Reichert (R-WA). H.R. 4457 would make a deduction on $500,000 worth of equipment purchases by small businesses permanent. H.R. 4453 would make permanent a tax reduction for S-corporations. Both bill add a measure of predictability for the affected businesses by making permanent parts of the tax code that Congress has traditionally left as temporary.

House/Health Care: At 10 AM on Thursday, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, Subcommittee on Health, will hold a hearing entitled “The President’s Health Care Law Does Not Equal Health Care Access,” on the unintended consequences of ObamaCare, reducing people’s access to doctors and prescription drugs.

House/Email Privacy: Under the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the government is legally allowed to demand and read any email correspondence that is over 180 days old, no warrant required. Congressmen Kevin Yoder (R-KS) has a bill called the Email Privacy Act, H.R. 1852, which would make sure the government is required to obey the 4th Amendment and obtain a warrant to read ANY of your emails. The bill only needs four more co-sponsors to reach the crucial 218 – a majority of the House – which would pressure Leadership to bring it up for a vote. You can take action to support the bill and ask for more co-sponsors HERE.

Senate/Student Loans: The Senate is likely to vote this week on cloture to begin debate on Senator Warren’s student loans bill, S. 2432. This bill would allow student loan interest rates to be refinanced at a lower rate of 3.68%, costing taxpayers $51 billion. This is taking privately held loans and effectively paying them off, then transferring the money to a government-issued loan at a lower rate. To fund the changes, the bill includes the so-called “Buffett Tax”, which would apply a minimum gross income tax of 30% on high-earners. FreedomWorks will Key Vote NO on this bill because there is no justification for raising anyone’s taxes, and particularly not to finance a further federal takeover of student loans.