Tea Party Patriots Weekly Report from Washington for 7/17/16
The House and Senate are both in recess, and will not return until Tuesday, September 6.
LAST WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
On Tuesday, the House took up and passed H.R. 4768, the Separation of Powers Restoration Act (SOPRA), by a vote of 240-171. The bill, introduced by Rep. John Ratcliffe of TX, fixes a problem we’ve seen in recent years, as the Supreme Court regularly and consistently has been deferring to federal agencies when it comes to challenging regulations in court. The new law would overturn bad case law, and require courts to review de novo all pure questions of law involving the interpretations of laws and their related agency-driven regulations.
On Wednesday, the House took up and passed S. 304, the Conscience Protection Act, which ensures that the government cannot take any punitive measures against those who want nothing to do with abortion – funding it, providing it, including it in the health care plans they offer their employees, etc. The bill passed by a vote of 245-182.
Later, the House took up H.R. 5538, the FY2017 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. They voted on a slew of amendments through the course of the day Wednesday and into Thursday.
Also on Wednesday, the House took up and passed H.R. 5119, Rep. Mike Pompeo’s “No 2H2O from Iran” act, which would prevent the Administration from purchasing heavy water from Iran. The bill passed by a vote of 249-176. The House also passed two other bills on the anniversary of the Iran nuclear deal’s passage – H.R. 5631, the Iran Accountability Act, passed by a vote of 246-179, and H.R. 4992, the United States Financial System Protection Act, passed by a vote of 246-181.
On Thursday, the House finished up with H.R. 5538, the FY 2017 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, and passed it by a vote of 231-196. The bill reduces spending from last year’s discretionary number and adds a host of riders targeting the EPA’s more radical regulations:
- It’s $64 million less than FY16 funding level, and $1 billion below the president’s request.
- Maintains the lowest EPA staffing levels since 1989.
- Prohibits the EPA from implementing its new Waters of the US rule.
- Prohibits the EPA from implementing its new greenhouse gas regulations for new or existing power plants.
- Prevents an increase in fees on oil and gas inspections and grazing on federal lands.
- Preserves recreational hunting and recreational shooting on public land.
THIS WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House is in recess for the next seven weeks.
LAST WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate came back to work on Monday, and took up H.R. 5293, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act.
On Tuesday, the Senate resumed consideration of S. 524, the Conference Report on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. That conference report passed the House last week by a vote of 405-7.
In the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday, the Senate voted by 84-3 to invoke cloture on S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted by 90-2 to invoke cloture on S. 524, the CARA Conference Report. The Senate also voted Wednesday by 89-4 to pass H.R. 636, the vehicle for the FAA reauthorization. And then they voted to pass S. 524, the CARA Conference Report.
Finally, on Thursday, before leaving town for seven weeks, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the motion to go to conference on S. 2943, the National Defense Authorization Act, by a vote of 90-7. The Senate also voted NOT to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 5293, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act. The cloture motion failed by a vote of 55-42. And the Senate also failed to invoke cloture on H.R. 2577, the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs-Zika conference report. That cloture motion failed by a vote of 52-44.
When they return on Tuesday, September 6, the Senate will conduct a stack of up to two cloture votes on H.R. 2577, the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs-Zika conference report, followed by the motion to proceed to H.R. 5293, the Department of Defense Appropriations bill.
And, anticipating your questions, the Senate will convene for pro forma sessions, with no business conducted, every Friday and Tuesday for the duration of the Summer Recess. That will prevent the President from making any recess appointments, including a recess appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
THIS WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate is in recess for the next seven weeks.
Our friends in the House Freedom Caucus made good on their promise to Speaker Paul Ryan – if he would not give them a date certain for a vote on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, they said, they would take matters into their own hands and file a privileged resolution to do so. On Thursday, the last day the House was in session before breaking for its seven-week Summer Recess, U.S. Reps. John Fleming of LA and Tim Huelskamp of KS introduced just such a privileged resolution, H.Res.828, “Impeaching John Andrew Koskinen, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, for High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
House leaders now will have to decide whether or not the resolution is in fact a privileged motion, which would require the full House to vote on it within two legislative days. And it’s also true that a pro forma session counts as a “legislative day,” so this particular resolution will expire while the House is in recess. But that won’t deter the Freedom Caucus, whose members say they will simply reintroduce a privileged resolution upon their return in September.