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May 18, 2018
The Hill
House rejects farm bill as conservatives revolt

House rejects farm bill as conservatives revolt
© Greg Nash

A five-year farm bill went down to defeat in the House on Friday in a stunning blow to GOP leaders brought about by conservative unrest about immigration.

In a 198-213 vote, GOP conservatives essentially joined Democrats in rejecting the measure, which would have introduced new requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP] that were a priority for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus opposed the farm bill after leadership failed to deliver on their demand to hold a vote on a conservative-backed immigration bill crafted by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) before the farm bill came to the floor.

Despite House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy‘s (R-Calif.) assurances that the Goodlatte bill would receive a vote in June, enough members of the powerful conservative group withheld their votes to ultimately tank the measure.

Ahead of the battle over immigration, GOP leadership heavily whipped the farm bill. A number of centrists also opposed the measure because of the SNAP changes, making the whipping effort more difficult.

But Ryan, McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) huddled with conservatives Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Leadership looked unhappy as they talked on the floor.

Leaders continued to work members while they voted on amendments.  Source

May 17, 2018
No Labels
Five Facts on the ‘Queen of the Hill Rule’

In a piece this week, New York Magazine called the U.S. House, “a graveyard for major immigration legislation.” While the Senate has debated and voted on several bills, House leaders have thus far failed to bring legislation to the floor. But that could change very soon.

A group of Republican lawmakers is working to force House leaders to address immigration and border security, using several obscure procedural tools. One is a discharge petition, which could require leadership to move a bill to a vote. These same lawmakers are also pushing to use a “queen of the hill ” rule, which would allow the House to vote on multiple bills to find a solution. Here’s what you need to know.

HOUSE RULES FOR FLOOR DEBATE ARE MALLEABLE

In the House, the rules for debate can change with each piece of legislation. When a bill leaves a House committee, it generally goes to the Rules Committee, which determines the procedures that will be used on the floor. These rules govern everything from the amendment process to the amount of time that lawmakers can speak. The Rules Committee generally sets terms that favor the legislative strategy set by the speaker of the House. For example, if House leadership is pushing a bill, the rules will generally favor passage.

‘QUEEN OF THE HILL’ IS A RARELY USED OPTION

In a Queen of the Hill rule, multiple bills are brought to the floor for a vote. The legislation that both draws a majority of votes (218 in the 435-member chamber) and that wins more votes than any other carries the day. The rule is rarely used because the outcome can be uncertain, and the debate often exposes the divisions within the House majority.

‘QUEEN OF THE HILL’ IS USED WHEN THERE’S NO CONSENSUS

In the past, House leadership has used the rule as a means to placate the majority when lawmakers are divided on an issue. For example, Speaker John Boehner used the rule to address a budget bill in 2015 when his majority was divided over spending priorities. In the current immigration and border security debate, it is Republican lawmakers pushing for a Queen of the Hill rule, rather than the speaker. Rep. Jeff Denham, a California Republican, has introduced a resolution to use the Queen of the Hill rule, which would require a majority vote to pass. A discharge petition is already underway to bring the resolution to a vote, which would prevent House leaders from blocking it.

 

‘QUEEN OF THE HILL’ STRIPS LEADERSHIP OF SOME CONTROL

One major feature of the Queen of the Hill rule is that it takes control of the outcome out of the hands of the speaker and his or her leadership team. Normally, House leaders offer a bill that they favor. Before a vote is held, negotiations have taken place and the outcome is often assured. Under a Queen of the Hill rule, multiple bills are offered and the outcome can be less certain.

‘QUEEN OF THE HILL’ COULD BREAK THE IMPASSE

With so much to decide on immigration and border security, multiple bills have been written and each offers different solutions. House Republicans are divided in their support of these bills. To date, House leaders have not backed any one piece of legislation, but Speaker Paul Ryan is under increasing pressure to address the issue. The Queen of the Hill rule could allow a House debate, give lawmakers a chance to argue their positions and give each bill a vote.
Source

April 26, 2018
The Hill
House chaplain forced out by Ryan

House Chaplain Patrick Conroy’s sudden resignation has sparked a furor on Capitol Hill, with sources in both parties saying he was pushed out by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Conroy’s own resignation announcement stated that it was done at Ryan’s request.

“As you have requested, I hereby offer my resignation as the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives,” the April 15 letter to Ryan, obtained by The Hill, states.Through his office, Conroy, who has served as chaplain since 2011, declined to comment on Thursday. His resignation is effective May 24.

Four different sources — two from each party — say Conroy was told that he must retire or that he would be dismissed.

The message from Ryan was delivered by his chief of staff, Jonathan Burks.

The issue has riled House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who broached the episode during the Democrats’ whip meeting in the Capitol Thursday morning.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are planning to send a letter to Ryan requesting additional information regarding Conroy’s dismissal; the group is currently circulating the letter among colleagues to collect more signatures.

The thinking among Democrats is that Ryan pushed Conroy out “because Republicans thought he was aligned with Democrats,” according to a senior Democratic aide familiar with the discussion.

House chaplains, who offer an opening prayer each day the House is in session, are supposed to be nonpartisan.

It’s unclear exactly what if any political dispute, however, led to the chaplain’s dismissal.

A Democratic lawmaker said that the Speaker took issue with a prayer on the House floor that could have been perceived as being critical of the GOP tax-cut bill.

On Nov. 6 — the first day of the markup on the GOP’s tax bill — Conroy in a prayer urged lawmakers to ensure the legislation did not exacerbate the nation’s gaping class disparities.

“May all Members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great Nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle,” Conroy said at the time. “May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”
A senior GOP aide said Conroy’s exit “was not because of any particular prayer.”
Ryan’s and Pelosi’s offices agree that Pelosi was told in advance that the chaplain was leaving.

AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, said it was Ryan’s decision, but declined to offer a reason for the move. She added that Pelosi and her office “were fully read in and did not object.”

“The speaker told Leader Pelosi that he would not move forward with the decision if she objected and she chose not to,” Strong said.

In a separate statement to media outlets late Thursday, Strong said, “The speaker consulted with the minority leader, but the decision was his. He remains grateful for Father Conroy’s service.”

Pelosi’s office disputed that the Democrat did not object.

“Leader Pelosi was given advance notice by Speaker Ryan,” said a Pelosi spokesman, but she “also made it clear to Speaker Ryan that she disagreed with this decision.”

A second Democratic aide said Conroy’s ouster was “largely driven by a speech on the tax bill that the Speaker didn’t like.” But the source also offered a second reason.

“Some of the more conservative evangelical Republicans didn’t like that the Father had invited a Muslim person to give the opening prayer,” the source said.

When Pelosi, who is Catholic, informed members of her whip team on Thursday morning that Conroy was pushed out against his will, it “shocked” the members, according to one lawmaker.

Catholic members on both sides of the aisle were furious to learn that Conroy’s retirement was not voluntary, according to multiple sources, including one Republican lawmaker and one Democratic member.

Ryan, who is also Catholic, has appointed Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), an Air Force Reserve chaplain, as well as Reps. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) and Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), both former pastors, to lead the search effort to find a replacement.

Conroy’s arrival on Capitol Hill was also marked with some controversy. The Jesuit priest was nominated by former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in May 2011, but Pelosi urged additional vetting of the pick after learning that Conroy was then working for a Catholic religious order — the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus — that had agreed just months earlier to pay $166 million to victims of sexual abuse going back decades.

There was no evidence that Conroy was involved in the scandal, nor did Pelosi suggest that was the case. After further questioning, she endorsed his nomination.

– Juliegrace Brufke and Scott Wong contributed to this report, which was updated at 8:23 p.m.
Source

Nov 10, 2017
dailybeast.com
GOP Donors To GOP Lawmakers: Yeah. We Will Cut You Off Absent Tax Reform

Congressional Republicans have warned in recent days that if the party fails to pass a massive package of tax cuts in the next year, their donors will desert them.

Such bluntness is rare in Washington D.C. — an instance of lawmakers saying the quiet part out loud. In this case, it has the added benefit of being true.

Several GOP donors contacted by The Daily Beast said that they would either stop writing checks to the party of divert their money elsewhere should tax cuts end up being stalled.

“If they don’t get tax relief done, as they promised they would, then we will support challengers who will do their jobs for them,” said Doug Deason, a Dallas investor and high-dollar Republican donor. “Donations will still flow, just to different politicians.”

The threat from GOP donors adds to the already massive amount of pressure that congressional Republicans are facing as the calendar year closes. After having failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, the party has few remaining opportunities to score a major legislative win.

Members have openly fretted the possibility that they won’t be able to move a $1.5 trillion tax cut package before Congress convenes for the holidays because of sharp disagreements over the impact it will have on the deficit, the pay-for provisions included within it, and the possibility that it is too beneficial to the rich. Should they end up in legislative paralysis, they warn, it could facilitate an electoral bloodbath.

“My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again,’” Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), said on Tuesday.
Read more

Nov 12, 2017
The Hill
Fight over paid leave heating up in Congress

A bitter fight is looming in Congress over the push for paid family leave despite broad backing for the idea from both parties and the White House.

Republicans and Democrats are divided over the details of a legislative proposal. Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump is pushing an alternative plan, leaving no clear path forward.

Republican Reps. Mimi Walters (Calif.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) offered legislation last week to create a voluntary program for employers to offer full- and part-time employees a guaranteed minimum level of paid leave to use and at least one flexible work arrangement.

But the National Partnership for Women & Families slammed the bill for blocking local sick leave laws — now on the books in eight states and 32 localities — and for allowing employers to deny the use of the paid leave when it disrupts business operations.

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) praised the bill, known as the Workflex in the 21st Century Act.

“What we’re trying to do is give employers who are operating across state lines a common set of rules, because when you’re having to comply with different laws in different states, it makes it very difficult for an employer to offer anything,” he said.

“I think in order to encourage employers to do this it’s good to have a common set of laws and policies across state lines.”

Democrats were initially excited to hear of the proposal, seeing it as potential breakthrough.

“I’m excited about this tsunami of support for women,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who offered a bill in February to provide six weeks of guaranteed paid leave for all federal employees following the birth, adoption or fostering of a child.

“I’ve never seen it before in my life … I’m glad to hear Republicans are stepping up.”

But Maloney’s enthusiasm sunk when told the bill would pre-empt state and local sick leave laws.

“I have questions about any legislation that puts a ceiling on the rights of women,” Maloney said. “Most Democrats don’t want to put a ceiling on what a city or state can do, or wants to do, for work-family balance.”

Democrats also object because the bill blocks state and local governments from requiring more paid leave days than the federal government.

“That’s terrible,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.).

“There are certain kinds of pre-emptions Democrats can support, but in general, when you talk about social welfare legislation or minimum wages, or anything helping working people, helping families, to pre-empt it is wrong.”

Sources familiar with the GOP bill, however, said Seattle is the only locality that now offers more sick leave than what would be offered under the bill, and only a small percentage of employees in the city now qualify for it.

Those sources noted the bill does not impact the 12 weeks of unpaid leave time employees can already take under the Family and Medical Leave Act for the birth, fostering or adoption of a child.

“It’s the not the holy grail to paid time off, but it’s a good step we think,” a source familiar with the bill said, adding that the goal was to provide some sort of paid leave without saddling businesses with new burdens.

The bill would require an employer to pay for the leave. The amount of time an employee could take would be determined by a formula that takes into account the size of the employer and the employee’s years of service.

A company with 50 to 249 employees, for example, would have to offer employees who have been with the company for five or more years 15 days, while employees who have worked five or fewer years would get 13 days.

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) said what he likes most about the bill is that it’s voluntary for both the employer and the employee.

“It basically says, we’re not worried what you use it for, you’re big people. If you need it to take care of your kids, take care of your elderly parents or go fly fishing, you can use it,” he said.

But sources familiar with the bill said only the flexible working arrangement is voluntarily. All employees would get the federal amount of paid time offered under the federal legislation if an employer opted into the program.

Ivanka Trump, meanwhile, is aggressively pushing her own plan, which was included in President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal. She is calling for states to be required to provide new parents and adopted parents six weeks of paid parental leave as part of unemployment benefits.

While a federal paid leave law is something Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) says he could potentially support, he said there are “caveats” for many Republicans.

“I don’t know that I want to litigate it right now in the press, but certainly on how do we make sure it doesn’t become a burdensome event for small businesses that can’t afford it and yet a norm that we all get to practice on a regular basis,” he said when asked what the conditions are.

Meadows said he has talked with Ivanka Trump about family leave at least two or three times and that she’s pushing Congress to pass a plan next year.

“Her family leave policy really has some merit, and we’re trying to show her the conservative pushbacks, as well as some of the other factors that would come into play,” he said.

“She makes a very compelling case and certainly she has been extremely tenacious in her reaching out to members both in the House and in the Senate.”

The White House, meanwhile, has suggested it is open to negotiating.

“We wanted to take the initiative, present a strong proposal in our budget as a stake in the ground,” a White House official said. “We will continue to talk and meet with Congress and leaders from outside the government on the ultimate paid leave proposal that will work for all working families.”

Though Republicans are now focused on tax reform, Byrne said paid leave is an emerging issue.

“I know we’re real focused on tax reform right now, but I think we’re going to be real focused on that as well,” he said.

The White House official said the administration is pleased with the progress it’s made in generating conversations around the issue, but is “realistic” about the congressional calendar.

“We know how hard it is going to be and that for all the talk on the issue, nobody has been able to get it done before, but we are committed to it and the priority now is to continue to build a coalition,” the official said.  Source

Nov 9, 2017
The Hill
Key differences between the Senate and House tax plans

Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled a tax reform bill that breaks with the House in a variety of significant ways, taking into account various objections from constituents and special interest groups to the House plan.

If the House Republican bill was a first draft of tax reform, the Senate bill is the first rewrite.

“I like it better than what I saw in the House version,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.). “The Senate was able to learn a lot from what the House found it.

The Senate bill attempts to mollify opposition from two important special interest groups, the National Association of Home Builders and the National Federation of Independent Business.

But it will likely draw strong opposition from moderate House Republicans in wealthy suburban districts whose constituents take big deductions for local taxes.

Here are the key differences between the Senate and House bills.

State and local taxes 

The Senate bill will entirely repeal the deduction for state and local taxes, making no exception for property taxes.

The House bill, in a bid to win support from moderate Republicans, would allow deductions up to $10,000 for property taxes.

Senate Republicans see little need to allow property tax deductions as they don’t have members in their conference from high-tax states such as California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) is trying to exploit the difference by calling on House GOP moderates to kill tax reform.

Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Erik Paulsen (R-Min.), Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) represent districts where a significant percentage of voters take big deductions for local taxes.

Roskam and Paulsen are both members of the House Ways and Means Committee and voted for the House bill. Roskam is also chairman of the panel’s tax-policy subcommittee.

The Senate would keep in place the deduction for newly purchased homes up to $1 million while the House plan would cut the threshold to $500,000.

The House Ways and Means Committee added the lower cap on mortgage interest deductions as a last-minute revenue raiser and it drew strong opposition from the National Association of Home Builders, a powerful special interest group.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), a member of the Finance Committee, pushed to raise the limit, arguing that homes priced between $500,000 and $1 million are average in high-income areas such as San Francisco, New York and the District of Columbia.

Popular tax credits and deductions

The Senate would keep in place a variety of popular tax credits and deductions that would have been eliminated by the House tax bill released last week.

It preserves tax credits and deductions for adoption, medical expense, teacher expenses, and student loan interest.

“We stayed kind of inside the big structural issues,” said a Senate Finance Committee aide.

The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday adopted an amendment to restore the adoption tax credit.

The Senate bill would also raise the income limit for the child credit.

Tax brackets

The House bill would condense the number of tax brackets to four: 12 percent for income up to $90,000; 25 percent for income up to $260,000; 35 percent for income up to $1 million; and 39.6 percent for income over $1 million.

The Senate bill would establish seven tax brackets at 10 percent, 12 percent, 22.5 percent, 25 percent, 32.5 percent, 35 percent and 38.5 percent for the nation’s highest income earners.

The top rate kicks in for individuals who earn $500,000 and couples who earn $1 million.

Senate Republicans said they were concerned about the optics of changing the 10 percent bracket to 12 percent while cutting the corporate tax rate, even though low-income earners would be covered by the doubling of the standard deduction in both bills.

Estate tax

The Senate bill would double the estate-tax exemption for wealthy estates from $11 million to $22 million per couple (or from $5.5 million to $11 million per individual) while the House bill would repeal the estate tax entirely.

Moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) last week said she opposed getting rid of the estate tax entirely.

Corporate tax rate

The Senate would cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, like the House would, but delay its implementation until 2019 to reduce the projected cost of the bill over ten years.

The House would cut the corporate tax rate next year.

Pass-through businesses

The Senate would establish a 17.4 percent deduction for pass-through businesses based on the Section 199 domestic manufacturing deduction that would lower the effective tax rate for small businesses in the top tax rate to slightly more than 30 percent, according to Senate Finance Committee aide.

It would apply to certain domestic non-service passthrough income, according to the committee.

The House bill, by contrast, would have established a 25 percent rate for pass-through companies but would only make 30 percent of their revenue eligible for that rate and tax the other 70 percent as wages under the individual tax rate. That would result in a blended rate for many small businesses between 35 percent and 38 percent.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) last week called the House formula “completely unacceptable.”

The National Federation of Independent Business, which contributes money overwhelming in favor of GOP candidates, complained the House bill “leaves too many small businesses behind.”

On Thursday the group said, “We are very encouraged by the plan introduced by [Senate Finance Committee] Chairman [Orrin] Hatch [R-Utah.].”

The House on Thursday adopted an amendment to provide additional relief to small businesses and won back the support of NFIB. It would create a new nine-percent tax rate for the first $75,000 of income of a married active owner who has less than $150,000 of pass-through income.

NFIB president Juanita Duggan said her group was “grateful” the House Ways and Means Committee listened to her group’s concerns.  Source

Nov 9, 2017
The Hill
Monopoly critics decry ‘Amazon amendment’

Lawmakers put the finishing touches this week on military funding legislation that contains a provision that stands to significantly benefit Amazon.

The amendment, Section 801 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), would help Amazon establish a tight grip on the lucrative, $53 billion government acquisitions market, experts say.

The provision, dubbed the “Amazon amendment” by experts, according to an article in The Intercept, would allow for the creation of an online portal that government employees could use to purchase everyday items such as office supplies or furniture.

This government-only version of Amazon, which could potentially include a few other websites, would give participating companies direct access to the $53 billion market for government acquisitions of commercial products.

“It hands an enormous amount of power over to Amazon,” said Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a research group that advocates for local businesses.

Mitchell said that the provision could allow Amazon to gain a monopoly or duopoly on the profitable world of commercial government purchases, leaving smaller businesses behind and further consolidating the behemoth tech firm’s power.

Amazon declined to comment to The Hill on Section 801.

The Seattle-based tech giant spent the second and third quarters of 2017 lobbying on the NDAA and “government procurement,” according to disclosures that the company filed this year.

Amazon has also recruited outside firms to help it influence policymakers on the matter. Disclosure filings made by lobbying firm TwinLogic Strategies, made on behalf of Amazon as its client, do not specify the exact legislation that they tried to influence, but note that they focused on the “modernization of the procurement process.”

The Internet Association, a trade group representing the political interests of major tech firms like Amazon, Google and Facebook, also pushed lawmakers on the matter.

“Dozens of acquisition reform proposals over the years have highlighted the need to inject greater innovation and disruption into federal procurement,” the group’s President Michael Beckerman wrote in an Oct. 12 letter addressed to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and ranking member Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

In his letter, Beckerman wrote that a government purchasing portal offers “just that opportunity.”

Despite the size of the potential windfall for Amazon, Section 801 has gone unnoticed by some lawmakers on the House and Senate Armed Services committees, which are responsible for drafting and finalizing the NDAA.

Many legislators in the House and Senate whom The Hill asked about the bill were not immediately familiar with the provision, though some expressed interest and commented later after reviewing Section 801.

Those who were familiar with the provision had mixed opinions, but many lawmakers leaned toward supporting it.

“I’m going to seriously scrutinize it and see if we’ll want to revise it in some way,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

The Connecticut senator said he was skeptical of criticisms that the provision would allow Amazon to dominate the government procurement market.

“My concern is that every company have a chance to participate in the procurement process — both online and traditional,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who represents Silicon Valley, told The Hill when questioned about the amendment.

Khanna said it was essential that the final version of the bill ensured “transparency in input pricing and also to make sure they have multiple bids from competitors.”

Another member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), offered a more pointed defense of Section 801.

“This isn’t about Amazon, although Amazon lobbied for it. It’s about trying to create online space for purchasing so that [the Department of Defense] can get something for value,” Larsen argued.

He explained that the provision was born out of trying to create a specific provision for Defense Department procurement only. But the committee realized that, to do that, “we’d have to set up a mini-[General Services Administration] inside the Defense Department.”

“So then it became more broad,” Larsen said.

In a briefing on Wednesday before the bill’s release, senior House and Senate Armed Services committee staffers explained that, in addition to Amazon and Walmart, Staples and industrial supply company Grainger would be eligible to also provide commercial items.

But Mitchell is skeptical, pointing to language in the current version of the bill that would appear to exclude Staples and Grainger.

“The way the language reads to me, it’s hard to imagine that there are any other companies who would fit the bill besides Amazon and perhaps Walmart,” she said. “Those are the only retailers who are operating online marketplaces who seem to be in a situation to create a government marketplace portal that this provision envisions.”

The House Armed Services Committee contests the idea that Section 801 will only benefit one or two companies, saying that multiple companies will have access to the government procurement market in the final version of the NDAA.

“[Amazon’s dominance of government procurement] is a myth that opponents of the provision have been shopping for a while, that we wrote the language in such a way as to exclude more specialized marketplaces,” a representative from the House Armed Services Committee told The Hill over email, adding that some of Section 801’s language had been changed in the latest version of the provision.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) has made a strong push for online marketplace reform. In addition to advocating for the amendment, he also introduced a standalone bill in May that shares similar goals with Section 801.

Mitchell and other experts believe that Section 801 could have harmful impacts.

“It’s incredibly dangerous,” said Matt Stoller, an economist at the Open Markets Institute, a think tank critical of Amazon’s growing power. “What it’s doing is concentrating the buying power of the country into the hands of Jeff Bezos.”    Source

Oct 23, 2017
Rachel Maddow: “While we are all sidetracked by Trump/Pence and the NFL, Trump vs. PuertoRico, Harvey Weinstein & the Sexual Predation of All Hollywood, the Russian Hacking of the election, or the MLB American League Division Playoffs this week, it’s worth noting that the following bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives”:
1. HR 861 to Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency (Like to breathe? This one is not for you.)
2. HR 610 – Vouchers for Public Education (which may end free public education as we know it)
3. HR 899 to Terminate the Department of Education (which may lead to greater disparity between states but nobody who uses public education ever moves so it’s all good)
4. HR 69 to Repeal the Rule Protecting Wildlife (nobody likes nature anyway, right?)
5. HR 370 to Repeal the Affordable Care Act (didn’t we already try this umpteen times?)
6. HR 354 to De-fund Planned Parenthood (because exactly none of your tax dollars go toward abortion services)
7. HR 785 – National “Right to Work” (this one is actually a ‘Right to fire you whenever your boss feels like it” law, and it would effectively end unions)
8. HR 83 – Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill (California should just secede now and take all its money)
9. HR 147 to Criminalize Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”) (because these private decisions should be made by your legislator and employer)
10. HR 808 to Impose Sanctions Against Iran (even though they are in compliance with the agreement according to those in the know)

Oct 2, 2017

Has your U.S. Congress person received donations from the NRA?

Pennsylvania

The NRA has donated $155,600 to Pennsylvania members of Congress who are currently in office.

  • 1.   Rep. Tim Murphy (R)$33,500
  • 2.   Rep. Bill Shuster (R)$29,400
  • 3.   Rep. Charlie Dent (R)$28,850
  • 4.   Rep. Ryan Costello (R)$9,900
  • 5.   Rep. Glenn Thompson (R)$9,500
  • 6.   Rep. Mike Kelly (R)$9,000
  • 7.   Rep. Scott Perry (R)$8,500
  • 8.   Rep. Tom Marino (R)$8,000
  • 9.   Rep. Lou Barletta (R)$7,500
  • 10.  Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R)$5,950
  • 11.  Rep. Keith J Rothfus (R)$5,500

Source

Oct 2, 2017
Splinter
Every Member of Congress Who Took Money From the NRA and Tweeted ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ to Las Vegas

Americans woke up on Monday morning to learn of yet another horrific act of gun violence in the United States—this time a mass shooting in Las Vegas that left at least 58 people dead and more than 500 injured. But it seems unlikely that the politicians in a position to actually change our gun laws will actually do something about it, because they never do.

So, in lieu of any substantive gun control, what do America’s senators and congresspeople have to offer? That tried and true chestnut of noncommittal national mourning: “Thoughts and prayers.” And just as in the past, those thoughts and prayers seem to have been paid for in part by the National Rifle Association, whose campaign donations and scare-mongering have effectively blocked any life-saving legislation which might prevent a person from getting their hands on a fully automatic machine gun they can then use to pump bullets into dozens of innocent people.

So who is sending their NRA-sponsored well wishes to the victims of the Las Vegas massacre today? Let’s take a look, with a little help from the campaign contribution database at opensecrets.org.  Read more

August 1, 2017
Washington Times
McConnell casts doubt on prospects for bipartisan tax overhaul

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that Republicans are prepared to go it alone on tax reform, saying the GOP and Democrats are too far apart on basic principles to even try for consensus.
He was responding hours after Democrats laid out their red lines, saying they want to cooperate but will work only on plans that don’t benefit the wealthy or increase the deficit.
Those are nonstarters for Republicans, who say that tax rates must be cut across the board to get the economy roaring and that trumps even the growing deficit.
“I don’t think this is going to be 1986, when you had a bipartisan effort to scrub the code,” said Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican.
The White House has set an aggressive timetable for getting a deal done this year, and Senate Republicans said that means turning to the same fast-track budget procedure that they tried to use for their failed Obamacare repeal and replace effort.
The reconciliation process allows bills to pass without facing a Democratic filibuster, but it would constrain the GOP’s ability to write a lasting overhaul that doesn’t deepen the deficit. Source

 

July 27, 2017
Washington Times
House GOP allocates $1.6 billion for Trump border wall in 2018

House Republicans said Tuesday they’ve included $1.6 billion in funding for President Trump’s border wall in their new homeland security spending bill, setting up fight with Democrats who have vowed to block any wall funding — even if it means sending the government into a partial shutdown.
GOP leaders said the $1.6 billion fully meets Mr. Trump’s request to begin wall construction, which includes 32 miles of new border fencing in Texas, 28 miles of levee wall along the Rio Grande Valley, also in Texas, and 14 miles of replacement fence in San Diego.
The bill also adds 500 new Border Patrol agents, 1,000 more agents and officers for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations in the interior, and provides enough money to maintain 44,000 detention beds. That’s a massive increase over the Obama years, and Trump officials said it will allow them to detain and deport illegal immigrants faster and with a higher success rate.
The GOP bill also calls for adding more than two dozen new jurisdictions to the 287(g) program which allows local police and sheriff’s deputies to be trained to enforce immigration laws. Read more

June 27, 2017
The Bradford Era
House adds security funding in wake of Scalise shooting

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has moved to provide lawmakers with a $25,000 allowance to take additional security steps in the wake of the shooting at a congressional baseball practice earlier this month.

The additional funding is intended to be used to beef up security, including at home-district offices and public appearances, and is available through the beginning of next year. Read more

May 24, 2017
The Hill
New CBO score triggers backlash
The Republican healthcare bill would result in 23 million fewer people with insurance over a decade, steep premium increases for older people and price hikes for many people with pre-existing conditions, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Wednesday.
The long-awaited analysis of the ObamaCare repeal bill found that a controversial amendment from Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) — added at the last minute to secure conservative votes — would have a significant effect despite Republican assurances to the contrary.
The amendment allows states to waive rules governing what an insurance plan must cover and lets insurers charge sick people more based on their health. Read more
April 25, 2017
The Hill
House GOP circulates new changes to health bill
House Republicans are circulating the text of an amendment to their ObamaCare replacement bill that they believe could bring many conservatives on board.
According to legislative text of the amendment obtained by The Hill, the measure would allow states to apply for waivers to repeal one of ObamaCare’s core protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Conservatives argue the provision drives up premiums for healthy people, but Democrats — and many more moderate Republicans — warn it would spark a return to the days when insurance companies could charge sick people exorbitantly high premiums.
Specifically, the amendment from Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) allows states to apply for a waiver from ObamaCare’s “community rating,” requirement. If that were repealed, insurers would be allowed to charge people with pre-existing conditions much higher premiums due to their illnesses, putting coverage out of reach for some.
The amendment also allows states to apply for a waiver to repeal ObamaCare’s essential health benefits, which mandate that insurance plans cover a range of services, such as mental health and prescription drug benefits. Read more
MilitaryTimes
APril 18,2017
There’s a plan in Congress to start charging troops for their GI BIll benefits
WASHINGTON — A congressional proposal to make service members buy into their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits surprised veterans groups on Tuesday, with advocates divided over whether it amounts to a long-term fix for the benefit or an unfair bill for veterans.
“This new tax on troops is absurd,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander Brian Duffy in a statement. “Ensuring veterans are able to successfully transition back to civilian life after military service is a cost of war, and not a fee that Congress can just pass along to our troops.
“Congress must stop nickeling and diming America’s service members and veterans.” Read more

 

April 2, 2017
post-gazette.com
Democrats looking to challendge solidly GOP seats
Tom Prigg has climbed Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. He’s scaled Mt. Blanc du Tacul in France. He even scaled a building in Pittsburgh as a stunt for a 2013 film. But the McCandless resident may be facing his steepest climb yet: challenging 12th district Republican Congressman Keith Rothfus in 2018.
“People I talk to are like, ‘This is really daunting.’ And it is,” said Mr. Prigg, a brain researcher at Carnegie Mellon University. But Mr. Prigg said that pundits who write off Democrats in the district “aren’t listening to the people. People want to earn a livable wage, better prospects for their children, equal opportunity for higher education and careers later on.” Read more
March 28, 2017
Resistancereport.com
Here’s how much Comcast paid members of Congress to sell your browser history
Our elected officials in Congress sell out to special interests for remarkably little money, according to campaign finance data.
Just over two months into the Trump administration, Republicans in Congress have undone numerous regulations put in place by former President Barack Obama. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill — along party lines — that would allow Americans’ internet histories to be bought and sold by large telecom companies like Comcast (Xfinity), Verizon and AT&T, without their knowledge or consent. The U.S. Senate did the same thing a week ago. Read the list here
March 28, 2017
Ibtimes.com
Internet Privacy Vote: Congress Decides To Kill Rules Preventing ISPs From Collecting, Selling Data
The United States House of Representatives voted Tuesday to approve House Vote 202, a “congressional disapproval” vote of broadband privacy rules that would have prevented internet service providers from collecting sensitive data from subscribers without permission.
The vote against the Broadband Consumer Privacy Rules was approved by a vote of 215-205 that fell primarily on party lines, with the Republican majority—save for 15 representatives—supporting the motion and the Democratic minority in opposition. Nine representatives—three Democrats and seven Republicans—chose not to vote. Read more

March 24, 2017
The Hill

The Memo: Winners and losers from the battle over health care

A week of high drama in Washington reached a stunning climax on Friday: Read more

March 10, 2017
Kaiser Family Foundation

How Tax Credits might shift – read more

Kaiser Family Foundation Interactive map – Tax Credits under TrumpCare vs. ObamaCare here

You will find CC Congressmen in the YES column

March 19, 2017
The Hill’s Whip List: Where Republicans stand on ObamaCare repeal
plan

Republican leaders are aiming to move quickly on legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare, with a vote by the full House slated for Thursday.

But the plan faces a difficult path. Conservatives were quick to criticize the legislation, saying it falls short of full repeal and would create new entitlements. Centrist Republicans and many from districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 have also balked at measures rolling back the Medicaid expansion or defunding Planned Parenthood. Read more

March 18, 2017
The Hill

Most of the Republicans who have called for President Trump to release his tax returns have declined to join efforts to use the power of Congress to make it happen.

Only two Republicans who think Trump should make his finances public have joined in Democratic-led attempts to demand the tax returns from the IRS.

At least 10 other GOP lawmakers have said Trump should release his tax returns during the 2016 campaign and recent interviews or town hall meetings with constituents. But they’ve declined to support measures to compel the release of the returns, including during three House floor votes forced by Democrats.  Read more

 

 

 

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