Tea Party Patriots Weekly Report from Washington for 4/24/1
The House will come back into session on Tuesday, and stay in session through Friday.
The Senate will come back into session on Monday, and stay in session through Friday.
LAST WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House came back into session last Monday and took up 15 bills on the Suspension Calendar. They wanted to be able to move to several bills targeting the IRS – because turnabout is fair play – on Tax Day, but they couldn’t get the timing down quite right, so the anti-IRS bills were spaced out throughout the week.
So on Tuesday, the House moved to the first of these anti-IRS bills, H. Res. 673, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Internal Revenue Service should provide printed copies of Internal Revenue Service Publication 17 to taxpayers in the United States free of charge.” For those who hand off their taxes to H&R Block, or use TurboTax, and haven’t had an IRS publication in their hands for years, Publication 17 is the IRS’s attempt at a user manual for taxpayers – it’s called “Tax Guide for 2015 for Individuals.” And the notion that it’s not already available for free, and that the House had to pass a resolution expressing the Sense of the House that the IRS should make it available for free, is sad, and funny, and outrageous, all at the same time. Not surprisingly, it passed by voice vote, because, I’m sure, no one wanted to be on record voting against it.
Later Tuesday, the House took up H.R. 4903, introduced by Rep. Rick Allen of GA, which prohibits the use of funds by the Internal Revenue Service to target citizens of the United States for exercising any right guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It, too, passed by voice vote, for the same reason.
On Wednesday, the House took up H.R. 4885, the IRS Oversight While Eliminating Spending (OWES) Act. The bill requires the IRS to deposit fees for services in the general fund of the U.S. Treasury, and prohibits the expenditure of such fees unless an appropriations bill provides for such expenditures. It passed by a vote of 245-179.
Then the House took up H.R. 1206. This bill prohibits any federal officer or employer from extending an offer of employment in the IRS to any individual until the IRS publicly issues a written certification that the IRS does not employ any individual who has a seriously delinquent tax debt. In other words, this is a hiring freeze at the IRS, until the IRS finds a way to fix all the tax delinquents at its own agency. It passed by a vote of 254-170.
On Thursday, the House went back to the IRS. First up was H.R. 3724, the Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act, introduced by Rep. Kristi Noem of SD. This bill simply amends the Internal Revenue Code to prohibit the IRS from rehiring any individual who was previously employed by the IRS but was removed for misconduct or whose employment was terminated for cause. The bill passed by a vote of 345-78, effectively cleaving the Democrats in the House – more Democrats voted for it than voted against it, the only anti-IRS bill in this series about which that can be said.
Then the House turned to H.R. 4890, introduced by Rep. Pat Meehan of PA, which would prohibit the Department of the Treasury from paying a bonus, award, or similar cash payment to an IRS employee until Treasury submits to Congress a comprehensive customer service strategy that has been reviewed and approved by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The bill passed by a vote of 260-158.
THIS WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House will begin its work Tuesday evening, with 15 bills to be considered under Suspension of the Rules. The first vote will be postponed until 6:30 PM.
On Wednesday, they’ve got four more bills on the Suspension Calendar.
Then, on Wednesday and Thursday, they’re scheduled to take up three bills under Rules:
- R. 4498, the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups Act (or the HALOS Act)
- R. 4901, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Reauthorization Act (or the SOAR Reauthorization Act)
- J. Res. 88, disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to the definition of the term “Fiduciary”
LAST WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate came back to work on Monday, and voted to invoke cloture on H.R. 636, the vehicle for the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization. Cloture was invoked by a vote of 89-5.
Then, on Tuesday, the Senate took up the underlying bill. The bill passed by a vote of 95-3, and will fund the FAA through the end of September 2017. FAA funding is currently set to expire on July 15.
On Wednesday, the Senate took up S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which had been delayed for months as Senators argued over an unrelated provision dealing with the poisoned water crisis in Flint, MI. The provision did not make it into the final version of the legislation. Instead, Senate Democrats introduced a stand-alone $70 billion package that would update water infrastructure across the nation. The bill passed by a vote of 85-12.
On Thursday, the Senate moved to consideration of H.R. 2028, the Energy and Water appropriations bill. Later that day, Senate Majority Leader McConnell began the Rule 14 process on H.R. 2666, No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access act. He also began the Rule 14 process on both H.R. 1206, the No Hires for the Delinquent IRS Act, and H.R. 4885, the IRS Oversight While Eliminating Spending (OWES) Act.
During consideration of the Energy and Water appropriations bill, the Senate voted on an amendment offered by Sen. John Hoeven of ND, which would have defunded the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the U.S.” Rule. The amendment failed by a vote of 56-42 – it needed 60 votes to pass.
THIS WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 2028, the Energy and Water appropriations bill. The first vote of the week will be held at 5:30 PM on Monday, on an amendment to the bill offered by Democrat Senator Patty Murray of WA.
Then, at 11 AM Tuesday, the Senate will conduct up to three roll call votes on amendments to the bill.
On Monday, speaking at an event organized by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, House Budget Chairman Tom Price of GA delivered a speech that was characterized as a “searing indictment” of the current federal budget process and called for fundamental process reforms that could be enacted in 2017.
Said Price, “The effect of the Budget Act has been, in essence, to spend more and to grow government. And I would suggest to you that that’s no longer the premise upon which we ought to budget. We ought to have a default that spends less and decreases the size of government if we don’t do our job.”
He called for bringing mandatory spending – that is, entitlement programs – “on budget” so that it is considered every year; pointed out problems with unauthorized spending; and went so far as to accuse the Congressional Budget Office of what he called “inherent biases” that prevent legislators from reaching “the right answer.”
Price doesn’t believe he can move the reforms this year because Barack Obama is still President, and will be until January of next year. But don’t tell that to Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi of WY – he’s planning on releasing budget reform draft legislation as early as next month. Contrary to Price, Enzi believes there’s a window for action this year, because no one knows who’ll be in charge after the November elections and everyone will want to wind up with a fair outcome.
(For what it’s worth, I disagree with Enzi’s analysis – I think Democrats think they’re sitting pretty. They think they’re going to hold onto the White House, and they’re very confident they’re going to recapture the Senate. And that kind of thinking is going to reduce their incentive to make concessions in any negotiation over budget process reform – or anything else, for that matter.)
Speaker Ryan has finally acknowledged what’s been obvious to anyone with an abacus – he doesn’t have the votes to move a GOP budget resolution through the House, because the overwhelming majority of his caucus does not support the spending levels he wants. He still clings to the fiction that he may succeed in passing a budget resolution later this year, but he’s acknowledged for now, at least, that’s just not in the cards. Consequently, the House will begin moving appropriations bill to the floor on May 15, the first day they’re allowed to do so.
Speaking Friday back home in Iowa at the Des Moines A.M Rotary Club, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley suggested that if Hillary Clinton is not indicted after the conclusion of the FBI’s investigation of her mishandling of classified information, the FBI could leak internal reports of its investigation.
On Monday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of United States v. Texas, et. al. the lawsuit brought by the state of Texas and 25 other states against the U.S. Government in opposition to the President’s executive actions providing effective amnesty for up to 5 million illegal immigrants. By all accounts, the justices appeared to be split 4-4. If that’s the way the Court votes, the lower court ruling would stand – and the lower court ruling, you’ll recall, sides with Texas and its co-plaintiffs, and prohibits the Administration from implementing its plan.
No movement to report on the Puerto Rico debt relief bill.
Senate Republicans met on Tuesday to discuss their views on how terms limits would or would not apply to leadership positions. They decided that a partial term would NOT count toward the three-term limit that currently applies to leadership and committee chairmanships. Consequently, all current members of the Senate GOP Leadership team will remain in office for another two years after the end of the current Congress, and there will be no vacancies until the start of 2019.
TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: