March 29, 2007
Congress, March 19-24
By James Wilson
Congress passed the following bills last week: HOUSE H.R. 902 - More Water and More Energy Act of 2007 - 7 pages This authorizes a study on the feasibility of using water brought to the surface in the exploration of oil, natural gas, or some other underground energy source. I don’t know why energy companies themselves wouldn’t want to do this research for themselves. H.R. 1021- Taunton, Massachusetts Special Resources Study Act - 6 pages H.R. 658 - Natural Resource Protection Cooperative Agreement Act - 4 pages H.R. 838 - To provide for the conveyance of the Bureau of Land Management parcels known as the White Acre and Gambel Oak properties and related real property to Park City, Utah, and for other purposes 5 pages H.R. 839 - Arthur V. Watkins Dam Enlargement Act - 3 pages H.R. 1006 - Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Amendments of 2007 - 7 pages H.R. 759 - To redesignate the Ellis Island Library on the third floor of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, located on Ellis Island in New York Harbor, as the "Bob Hope Memorial Library." - 2 pages H.R. 1227-Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act - 54 pages One wonders how much faster the Gulf Coast would recover just through tax and regulatory breaks. Federal aid adds to the culture of dependency which will again render the area helpless the next time a hurricane strikes. H.R. 1130 - Judicial Disclosure Responsibility Act 3 pages According to the Library of Congress, this restricts “disclosure of personal information about family members of judges whose revelation might endanger them.” H.R. 327 - Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act - 8 pages H.R. 1284 - Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act - 4 pages The above two bills are probably the least objectionable increases in federal spending one can imagine. H.R. 545 - Native American Methamphetamine Enforcement and Treatment - 6 pages Because the War on Drugs doesn’t have enough victims already, it will be waged on the reservations as well. H.R. 740 - Preventing Harassment through Outbound Number Enforcement (PHONE) Act - 6 pages According to the Library of Congress summary, this bill “amends the federal criminal code to prohibit: (1) using or providing false caller ID information with intent to defraud or using or providing such information without authorization and with intent to deceive the recipient of a phone call about the identity of the caller; or (2) attempts or conspiracies to do so. Imposes a fine and/or prison term of up to one year for violations and up to five years for violations for commercial gain.” This bill may be overkill, but it is unlikely Downsize DC will campaign against it. H.R. 1591- U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007 - 168 pages This bill wastes more money and lives in a futile war, and makes a phony “statement” about Congress's opinion of the war with some toothless provisions supposedly holding the President accountable for its progress. It also has provisions that reveal the necessity of Downsize DC’s forthcoming Single Subject Act. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 was tacked on to this bill, as was the Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2007. This is an end-around to the normal legislative process, where differences between House and Senate versions of these bills are worked out in conference committee. Members of Congress, if they want to “support the troops” will also have to support a minimum wage hike and small business tax cuts. This makes no sense. SENATE: S. 214 - Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act - 4 pages This bill is a reaction to the current U.S. Attorney firing scandal and repeals a provision snuck into the Patriot Act renewal bill over a year ago - a provision that passed because Congress didn’t read it before voting for it. S. Con. Res. 21 -Congressional Budget Resolution - 64 pages The "Senate agreed to S. Con. Res. 21, setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2008 and including the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2007 and 2009 through 2012." 50 Amendments passed, many of which increased funding; 13 Amendments that reduced the deficit and cut the death tax were defeated. CONCLUSION The House passed 278 pages of legislation spread over 14 bills. The Senate passed just one bill of 4 pages and a budget resolution of 64 pages. The House’s Iraq War funding bill was the most egregious as a matter of policy, in the way unrelated bills were tacked on, and in its 168-page length. It is further evidence of the need for legislative reform beginning 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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