March 13, 2007
Congress, March 5-11
By James Wilson
Congress at work, March 5-11, 2007: HOUSE: The House passed a couple of major bills and several “housekeeping” bills, all by voice vote except where indicated. The bills are listed below, most without comment. It should be noted that our page count is based on the current Government Printing Office’s pdf display which is in large print. Most bills when published in their final format will be less than half the number of pages listed here. H.R. 122 - To amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the Inland Empire regional recycling project and in the Cucamonga Valley Water District recycling project - 4 pages H.R. 467 - Southern Idaho Bureau of Reclamation Repayment Act of 2007 - 3 pages H.R. 276 - Piedras Blancas Historic Light Station Outstanding Natural Area Act of 2007 - 11 pages H.R. 903 - Colorado Northern Front Range Mountain Backdrop Protection Study Act - 5 pages H.R. 995 - To amend Public Law 106-348 to extend the authorization for establishing a memorial in the District of Columbia or its environs to honor veterans who became disabled while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States (Passed 390-0) - 3 pages H.R. 299 - Lowell National Historical Park Boundary Adjustment Act - 3 pages H.R. 1047 - To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study to determine the suitability and feasibility of designating the Soldiers` Memorial Military Museum located in St. Louis, Missouri, as a unit of the National Park System - 3 pages H.R. 376 - To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study to determine the suitability and feasibility of including the battlefields and related sites of the First and Second Battles of Newtonia, Missouri, during the Civil War as part of Wilson's Creek National Battlefield or designating the battlefields and related sites as a separate unit of the National Park System - 4 pages H.R. 807 - Columbia Space Shuttle Memorial Study Act - 3 pages H.R. 497-Brigadier General Francis Marion Memorial Act (Passed 390-0) - 6 pages H.R. 247 - Jim Weaver Forest Service Trail Designation Act - 6 pages H.R. 987 - NATO Freedom Consolidation Act - 18 pages Terrible, terrible, terrible idea! Might as well call it the “Unnecessarily Alienate and Cause Tension With Russia Act.” Should the U.S.A. be involved in every dispute that might come up in Eastern Europe, involving Russia and a former Soviet Republic? It makes no sense to sacrifice American blood and treasure in remote parts of the world. H.R. 710 - Living Kidney Organ Donation Act (Passed 422-0) - 6 pages This allows “kidney trading” to match willing donors to compatible persons who require transplants. This is laudable; unfortunately, section 3 of the bill is a spending measure committing $30 million to a Medicare Physician Assistance and Quality Initiative Fund; this will increase to $470 million in 2013. H.R. 584 - To designate the headquarters building of the Department of Education in Washington, DC, as the Lyndon Baines Johnson Federal Building - 2 pages H.R. 544 - To designate the United States courthouse at South Federal Place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as the "Santiago E. Campos United States Courthouse" - 2 pages H.R. 399 - To designate the United States Courthouse to be constructed in Jackson, Mississippi, as the "R. Jess Brown United States Courthouse" - 2 pages H.R. 569 - Water Quality Investment Act (passed 367-58) - 6 pages This bill authorizes funds for sewer overflow control grants. We do not believe this is something the Constitution authorizes the federal government to spend money on. H.R. 700 - Health Communities Water Supply Act (Passed 368-59) - 3 pages This bill spends $125 billion for a provision of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. H.R. 720 - Water Quality Financing Act (Passed 303-108) - 40 pages This will spend $14 billion on Federal Water Pollution Control Act programs. Considering how often Congress merges two unrelated items in the same bill, it is commendable that Congress passed three separate bills all pertaining to water. SENATE The Senate continued debating and offering amendments to the bill S.4, which would implement several recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Some of the recommendations and amendments raise concerns, but this Downsize DC feature mainly focuses on bills that were passed. Time permitting, we hope to address these concerns soon. CONCLUSION H.R.720 accounts for the largest share of your money that Congress spent last week. According to the Republican Study Committee, “bills passed by the House last week contained $17.9 billion in authorizations over five years, a $287.0 million decrease in mandatory spending over five years, and a $49.5 million decrease in revenue over five years.” Their “Money Monitor” can be found here. Our reference to this organization should not be viewed as an endorsement of the Republican Party; if some other group is providing this valuable information, we’d be glad to know about it. In total, the House passed 19 bills totaling 139 pages, each short enough for members of Congress to read, and each dealing with just “one subject at a time.” The several bills addressing national parks, memorials, and other Department of the Interior issues were dealt with one-by-one, not lumped together in one gigantic bill at the last minute. We would prefer more roll-call votes, especially on any bill that involves new spending, expands America’s security commitments, or imposes new laws and regulations on the American people. However, last week provides evidence that Congress can function with the Read the Bills Act. publishes this feature on weeks when Congress is in session. To see how your represenatives voted on particular bills, or to read the bills themselves, go here for the House and here for the Senate. You may also keep abreast of day-to-day activities in Congress by going to the Congressional Record Main Page and click for recent issues of the Daily Digest.
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