This week in Congress

Congress returns for the lame duck this week. While they work behind the scenes on spending bill and other issues, the House will consider normal floor activity.

The House will consider two rules bills this week. One, HR 5982, allows Congress to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn "midnight regulations" in a group instead of one at a time. This would put a check on attempts by the Obama administration to ram through a bunch of new regulations before they leave office.

Campaign for Liberty members should call their Representatives and tell them to support HR 5982.

The second bill HR 5711, continues the saber rattling at Iran by prohibiting US financial institutions to finance any transactions involving the export of commercial aircraft to Iran.

The House will also consider a number of bills under suspension of the rules including:

1. HR 2713-- makes clinical nurse leaders eligible for advanced nursing grants, which may be a reasonable step, however, should it be the government's business to fund any grants for any professions? Also how much will this add to the program's budget?

2. HR 4365-- This bill recognizes how the war on drugs can interfere with the provision of effective medial care. Unfortunately, instead of repealing the drug war, this bill sets up a special system for emergency medial personnel to use controlled substances to treat patients. Still, this bill will save lives so it's worth supporting.

3. HR 985-- Creates a new board to study ways to promote concrete masonry products. The board is funded by assessments on concrete masonry owners, so it is similar to the agriculture marketing programs that are funded by every farmer even though it primarily benefits the big producers.

4.HR 4665--  This bill "directs the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Department of Commerce to assess and analyze the outdoor recreation economy of the United States and the effects attributable to it on the overall U.S. economy. In conducting the assessment, the Bureau may consider employment, sales, contributions to travel and tourism, and other appropriate contributing components of the outdoor recreation economy."

This will no doubt be used to justify more government subsidies to promote the outdoor recreation economy.

HR 4665 and HR 985 are perfect illustrations of how pro-business is not necessarily the same as pro-freedom.

5. HR 2566-- Imposes new federal regulations and mandates on "intermediate providers" of phone services in order to assure all areas of the country have access to the the same level of services, regardless of any difficulties companies may have in delivering those services to some areas.

6. HR 2699-- expands federal anti-spoofing laws (where con artists use fake numbers) to apply to calls from outside the US and to text messages. While fraud should be prosecuted, this law does exceed the federal government's constitutional authority. I also wonder how they will enforce the law overseas.

7.HR 5732-- Authorizes a whole range of new US sanctions on Syria, including new sanctions on the Syrian Central Bank. Also requires an assessment of the "potential effectiveness and requirements" for establishing a no-fly zone in Syria. Congress banging the war drums is bad enough, but doing so with only forty minutes of debate in the lame duck is disgusting.

8. HR 5332-- Calls on the US to take a leadership role in "promoting the meaningful participation of women in conflict prevention, management, and resolution and post-conflict relief and recovery efforts." In order to achieve these goals, the bill requires:

The President, not later than October 1 of 2017, 2022, and 2027, shall submit to Congress and make public a Women, Peace, and Security Strategy, which shall:

  • be aligned with other nations' plans to improve the participation of women in peace and security processes, conflict prevention, peace building, and decision-making institutions in conflict-affected environments; and
  • include goals and evaluation plans to ensure strategy effectiveness.

The Foreign Service Act of 1980 is amended to direct the Department of State to ensure that personnel responsible for, or deploying to, countries or regions considered to be at risk of undergoing, or emerging from, violent conflict obtain training in the following areas, each of which shall include a focus on ensuring participation by women:

  • conflict prevention, mitigation, and resolution;
  • protecting civilians from violence, exploitation, and trafficking in persons; and
  • international human rights law.

The Department of Defense shall ensure that personnel responsible for, or deploying to, countries or regions considered to be at risk of undergoing, or emerging from, violent conflict obtain training in:

  • conflict prevention, peace processes, mitigation, resolution, and security initiatives that addresses the importance of participation by women; and
  • gender considerations and meaningful participation by women, including training regarding international human rights law and protecting civilians from violence, exploitation, and trafficking in persons.

The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development shall establish guidelines for overseas U.S. personnel to consult with stakeholders regarding U.S. efforts to:

  • prevent, mitigate, or resolve violent conflict; and
  • enhance the success of mediation and negotiation processes by ensuring the meaningful participation of women.

9.H.Res. 780-- Calls for new US sanctions on government officials in the Congo unless they recognize the results of the recent elections.

Finally, the House will consider a bill extending Iran sanctions. The bill could include other provisions, but we have no way of knowing since the text has not yet been made available!


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