Tea Party Patriots Weekly Legislative Update for 06/07/15

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CALENDAR:

The House will come back on Tuesday, with no votes scheduled before 6:30 PM. They’ll stay in until Friday, when the last vote will take place no later than 3 PM.

The Senate will come back tomorrow at 3 PM, but there will be no votes until Tuesday, around lunchtime. They’ll also stay in until Friday.

 

LAST WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:

The House started the week on Monday, considering eight bills on the Suspension Calendar. They included:

  • R. 1493, Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act, as amended
  • 802, Girls Count Act
  • R. 944, To reauthorize the National Estuary Program, and for other purposes
  • R. 336, To direct the Administrator of General Services, on behalf of the Archivist of the United States, to convey certain Federal property located in the State of Alaska to the Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska
  • R. 404, To authorize repayment of obligations to the Bureau of Reclamation within the Northport Irrigation District in the State of Nebraska
  • R. 533, To revoke the charter of incorporation of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma at the request of the tribe, and for other purposes
  • R. 1168, Native American Children’s Safety Act
  • R. 979, To designate a mountain in the John Muir Wilderness of the Sierra National Forrest as “Sky Point”

They were all passed by voice vote, so the House could get to the serious business of the week – appropriating money.

But before they could do that, there was a reauthorization bill up – H.R. 1335, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, known to those in our major commercial fishing states as the Magnuson-Stevens Act after Senators Warren Magnuson and Ted Stevens. After Democrats offered two amendments that failed, and a Motion To Recommit that also failed (as they almost always do), the bill passed by a vote of 225-152, with no fewer than 55 Members (21 Republicans and 34 Democrats) missing the vote.

Then it was time to spend more money. Beginning on Tuesday, the House took up H.R. 2578, the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. Over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday, the House debated 25 amendments, and adopted 14 of them. On Wednesday evening, the House passed the bill by a vote of 242-183.

On Thursday, the House took up H.R. 2577, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. They debated and voted on two amendments, then broke for the week and will pick up the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development bill when they return Tuesday.

 

THIS WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:

MONDAY, JUNE 8TH
On Monday, no votes are expected in the House.

TUESDAY, JUNE 9TH
On Tuesday, the House will meet at meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.

Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:

 

1) H.R. 2088 – United States Grain Standards Act Reauthorization Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Conaway / Agriculture Committee) 

 

2) H.R. 2051 – Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Conaway / Agriculture Committee) 

 

3) H.R. 2394 – National Forest Foundation Reauthorization Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Glenn Thompson / Agriculture Committee)

 

4) H.R. 235 – Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte / Judiciary Committee) 

 

5) H.R. 889 – Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot / Judiciary Committee) 

 

6) H. Res. 295 – Supporting local law enforcement agencies in their continued work to serve our communities, and supporting their use of body worn cameras to promote transparency to protect both citizens and officers alike (Sponsored by Rep. Al Green / Judiciary Committee)

 

H.R. 2289 – Commodity End-User Relief Act, Rules Committee Print (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Conaway / Agriculture Committee)

 

The Rule provides for one hour of general debate and makes in order the following amendments:

Rep. Mike Conaway Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Ruben Gallego Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Reps. Mark Takai Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Reps. Moore / Huizenga / Sean Patrick Maloney / Crawford Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Jackie Walorski Amendment (10 minutes of debate)

Complete Consideration of H.R. 2577 – Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Modified Open Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart / Appropriations Committee)

The Rule provides for no further general debate and makes in order any amendment offered that complies with the House rules. Additionally, the Rule provides for 10 minutes of debate per amendment equally divided between the proponent and an opponent and up to 10 pro forma amendments for the purpose of debate offered by the Chair and Ranking Member or their designee.

Postponed Amendment Votes:

Rep. Marsha Blackburn Amendment
Rep. Paul Gosar Amendment #1
Rep. Paul Gosar Amendment #2 
Rep. Bill Posey Amendment #1
Rep. Pete Sessions Amendment #1
Rep. Pete Sessions Amendment #2
Rep. Adam Schiff Amendment
Rep. Bill Posey Amendment #2
Rep. Bill Posey Amendment #3

 

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10TH AND THE BALANCE OF THE WEEK
On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.

On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m

H.R. 2393 – Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Conaway / Agriculture Committee)

H.R. 2685 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2016 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen / Appropriations Committee)

Possible Consideration of H.R. 2596 – Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016

Possible Consideration of Legislation related to Trade

As usual, the House will launch its legislative week by taking up a number of non-controversial bills on the Suspension Calendar, meaning they require a 2/3 vote in the affirmative to pass.

The House has a few big-ticket items on its agenda for this week – on Tuesday, the House will complete its consideration of H.R. 2577, the FY 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act; on Wednesday and Thursday, they’ll consider H.R. 2685, the FY2016 Department of Defense Appropriations Act.

If they get through their work in a timely fashion, they’ll try to take up H.R. 2596, the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2016, and the moment the House GOP Leadership thinks it’s got 217 votes locked down to vote in favor of Trade Promotion Authority, they’ll bring that bill to the floor.

 

LAST WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:

As you’ll recall, the Senate began its work last week on Sunday, a very rare occurrence. That Sunday session had been necessitated by Majority Leader McConnell’s decision to try to use the upcoming Memorial Day recess to jam the Senate on reauthorizing the expiring portions of the Patriot Act, which expired at midnight last Sunday. The Senate refused to buckle under the pressure, and broke for a week without knowing how the drama would conclude.

So last Sunday, the Senate returned to work at 4 PM. After an hour of general debate on the topic, the Senate recessed for an hour so each Party could huddle in its respective caucus to discuss matters. This was going to be Mitch McConnell’s last chance to rally his troops against Rand Paul, but Rand Paul didn’t even bother to show up for the meeting. McConnell counted heads, and concluded he didn’t have the votes needed to defeat Paul on the floor.

At 6 PM, the Senate resumed its session, with McConnell conceding defeat on the matter. The offensive provisions of the Patriot Act would expire in a matter of hours. At that point, he decided that Sen. Mike Lee’s bill – H.R. 2048, which we had been pushing – was a far better fallback position than doing nothing, which was, essentially, Rand Paul’s position.

So they held a vote to invoke cloture on H.R. 2048, and it passed by a vote of 77-17. The 30-hour clock started ticking. Sen. Paul made a short speech, then left the floor and handed off to his Democratic partner, Sen. Ron Wyden. Not too much later, after just about everyone had gone home for the night, Sen. McConnell took the floor to announce he had just filed several amendments to the USA FREEDOM Act, and argued that these amendments would strengthen the bill. In fact, they were poison pills – if any single one of them had passed, it would have required the bill to be sent back to the House, where the bipartisan coalition might have cracked.

So on Tuesday, when the amendments were lined up for votes, it was important that each be defeated. And they were, one after another. On the final amendment, Sen. Ted Cruz’s staff was obviously watching the vote tally very closely – they held his vote until 50 votes had been cast against the amendment, and then let him vote. That made his vote the 51st vote against, thereby killing the last amendment and saving the bill. It was a smart play, and it did not go unnoticed.

The rest of the Senate’s week was spent debating H.R. 1735, the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.

 

THIS WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:

The Senate will come back into session Monday at 3 PM, but there will be no votes until lunchtime Tuesday. They’ll take up where they left off, with H.R. 1735, the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act on the floor. There are eight amendments currently pending to the bill.

 

BENGHAZI: 

Remember Sidney Blumenthal? If you don’t, Google him. He was one of Hillary Clinton’s fixers back in the 1990s, and it turns she was using him as a counselor while she was running the State Department. Based on the few released emails we’ve seen, he appears to have been the first Hillary adviser to suggest that the proximate cause of the attack on the Benghazi compound was the anti-Muslim video; but a day later, he was changing his tune.

It turns out we’ll get a chance to get reacquainted with him – he’s being called to testify in private before Trey Gowdy’s special Benghazi committee on June 16.

On a related front, I take delight in pointing out that the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the State Department and Foreign Operations on Tuesday unveiled its annual spending bill for the next fiscal year, and it contains a 15 percent hedge – that is, it withholds 15 percent of State’s operational funds until the State Department hands over all the Benghazi (and other) emails the House wants.

 

EXPORT-IMPORT BANK:

Our friends at Freedom Partners began an ad campaign early last week, targeting Hillary Clinton for her support for the Export-Import Bank. Taken from a 2010 congressional hearing, the video clip shows Clinton testifying before Congress that she wanted to “put the Ex-Im Bank on steroids.”

During a campaign stop in New Hampshire last month, she reiterated her support for the bank, calling GOP opposition to reauthorizing the bank “embarrassing.” That’s like being called “ugly” by a frog.

 

IRS TARGETING SCANDAL:

Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee have asked the new Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, for an update on whether or not the Justice Department will pursue criminal charges against Lois Lerner. Committee Chairman Paul Ryan sent a letter signed by himself and 22 other committee Republicans pointing out to Lynch that the committee had, in the last Congress, forwarded to Justice referrals for no fewer than three different criminal charges against Lerner, in addition to her citation for Contempt of Congress.

Over at the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, meanwhile, Chairman Jason Chaffetz and committee member Jim Jordan are digging further. Their latest target? The so-called “special projects team” at the IRS, devoted to responding to information requests about Lois Lerner.

As the two pointed out in a letter they sent to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Friday, it’s been more than two years, and they still haven’t received all of Lerner’s emails. And they want to know why the agency’s Commissioner and Chief Counsel – the only two political appointees out of the entire agency of more than 90,000 employees – are the ones responsible for requests about Lerner.

 

NSA SURVEILLANCE: 

See above.

 

TRANSPACIFIC PARTNERSHIP/TPA:

See above.

 

SUGGESTED READING:

 

JENNY BETH MARTIN/TPP:

 

Visalia Times-Delta: End NSA Dragnet

 

AGENDA:

 

Hill: House To Take Up Defense Spending Next Week

 

NJ: Outlook: Defense in the Senate, Approps in the House

 

BENGHAZI:

 

Hill: House Panel Moves To Block State Funding Over Benghazi Emails

 

Politico: Clinton Aide Blumenthal To Testify Before Benghazi House Panel

 

EXPORT-IMPORT BANK:

 

Reuters: Way Forward For US Export Lender Unclear As Clock Ticks To Expiry

 

Hill: Tea Party Hits Clinton For Support Of Ex-Im Bank

 

Hill: Boehner Caught in Ex-Im Crossfire

 

IRS TARGETING SCANDAL:

 

WE: Loretta Lynch Has A Lois Lerner Decision To Make

 

Hill: GOP Wants More Information On IRS Special Projects Team

 

NSA SURVEILLANCE:

 

Reuters: Rollback Of US Spy Programs Would Make Post-9/11 Watershed

 

DM: NSA’s Bulk Collection Of Phone Records To End As Paul Vows Reform Of Patriot Act

 

Hill: McConnell’s NSA Gambit Fails

 

My Way: NSA Winds Down Once-Secret Phone-Records Collection Program

 

WaPo: Paul, McConnell Relationship Starts To Fray

 

Hill: Patriot Act’s Fate Now In Rand Paul’s Hands

 

Hill: Senate Votes To End NSA Debate

 

Hill: Senate Approves NSA Reforms

 

Roll Call: Senate Clears USA Freedom Act After Paul Filibuster

 

Politico: Senate Bucks McConnell, Breaks Surveillance Logjam

 

Politico: USA Freedom Act vs. USA Patriot Act

 

RCP: Jeb Bush: No Evidence NSA Metadata Program Has Violated Civil Liberties

 

Hill: Paul Blocks Senate From Speeding Up NSA Vote

 

Breitbart: NSA Loses Authority To Collect Phone Records As Senate Adjourns

 

IB Times: Senate Overwhelmingly Votes To Proceed With Patriot Act

 

OBAMACARE:

 

NM: Impatient Presidents Don’t Get To Change The Law

 

Politico: Senate GOP Prepared To Replace ObamaCare Subsidies

 

IBJ: Fallout From Supreme Court Case On ObamaCare Could Be Ugly

 

WSJ: Four Words That Imperil Health Care Law Were All A Mistake, Writers Now Say

 

NRO: Crucial Omission In ObamaCare Story

 

NRO: New York Times Inadvertently Makes A Strict Constructionist Case For Halberg/King

 

Hill: States Consider ObamaCare Mergers

 

Politico: GOP Hits Another Roadblock In ObamaCare Repeal

 

Conservative Review: What Should Replace ObamaCare

 

WSJ: State Officials Had Secret Huddle On Health Law Subsidies

 

House Ways & Means Committee: Opening Statement Markup Of Important Health Care Legislation

 

Politico: Experts See Big Price Hikes For ObamaCare

 

Breitbart: No ObamaCare Exemptions For DC

 

Washington Times: GOP Offers Another ObamaCare Alternative

 

WSJ: House GOP Group Unveils Plan For Replacing ObamaCare

 

Hill: Health Plan From House Conservatives Ignores Obamacare Court Case

 

Hill: McConnell: Obama Will Veto Any ObamaCare Backup Plan We Pass

 

Washington Times: Senate Formally Begins Process To Repeal ObamaCare

 

Forbes: ObamaCare’s Double Digit Rate Hikes For 2016 Disclosed

 

NM: Lawmakers Engaged In ‘Fraud ‘ To Skirt ObamaCare

 

Politico: GOP Hits Another Roadblock In Effort To Repeal ObamaCare

 

WSJ: Representative McCarthy: No ObamaCare Bill Until After Supreme Court Ruling

 

Hill: Full Text Of House ObamaCare Backup Plan To Come After Supreme Court Ruling

 

NM: White House Says New Healthcare Legislation Is Unlikely If ObamaCare Subsidies Fail

 

TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY/TRANSPACIFIC PARTNERSHIP:

 

Hill: GOP Turns To Tea Party To Win Trade Powers For Obama

 

Hill: Democrats In Pressure Cooker On Trade

 

Politico: Obama Goes Into Overdrive On Trade Push

 

Fox News: Obama’s Trade Agenda Faces Tougher Odds Heading Into House

 

Roll Call: TPA Fast Track Vote In Flux

 

WaPo: Obama And GOP Allies Launch Big Effort To Win Trade Fight In House

 

Breitbart: CBS/NYT Poll Shows Majority Oppose Obama’s Trade Proposal

 

Breitbart: Senator Sessions Asks Why Obama Is Keeping Global Trade Governance Secret

 

TAXES/SPENDING:

 

Hill: Senate Sends Short Term Highway Bill To Obama

 

Hill: Congress Sets New Deadline On Highways

 

Politico: Senate Democrats To Block Spending Bills

 

MISC:

 

The Oklahoman: Journalist, Lawmakers Complain Obama Administration Disregards US Law On Open Records

 

Hill: House Rejects Easing Cuba Travel Restrictions