This Week in Congress: NDAA and Opioids

The big news in the Senate this week is consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Yesterday, cloture was invoked by a vote of  92-4. That vote is here. Since cloture was invoked it is possible that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will be successful in blocking Rand Paul and Mike Lee’s efforts to offer an amendment stopping the government from indefinitely detaining American citizens without due process.

Since it is unclear at this time if the Lee Amendment will get a vote or not, please call Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now and demand a vote. Call 202-224-2541 (DC office) or his Kentucky office at 502-582-6304.

Senator Tom Cotton may try to offer an amendment to increase defense spending above the sequester caps—even though Congress essentially killed the caps in all but name as part of the budget deal passed earlier this year.

Campaign for Liberty has signed the following letter in opposition to this deal:

June 12, 2018

Open Letter to the U.S. Senate:

Oppose Efforts to Retreat on Spending Restraint

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, representing millions of Americans, we strongly
urge all Senators to oppose Senator Cotton’s amendment #2321 to S. 2987, the John S.
McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.

This short-sighted amendment would eliminate the 2011 Budget Control Act’s (BCA) sequester
mechanism for all discretionary spending (both defense and non-defense ), rendering the
spending caps unenforceable and reneging on Congress’ promise to deliver $1 trillion in deficit reduction by 2021.

Despite repeated budget agreements that amended the BCA’s caps, the BCA has nonetheless
been an essential check on the congressional impulse to overspend. The BCA has generated
significant savings for taxpayers, established a lower budget baseline, and forced much-needed
waste reduction and prioritization of programmatic needs across federal agencies.

The annual Defense authorization act is an improper vehicle to unwind the BCA. Any discussion
of repealing or changing the caps ought to be done in the context of other significant reforms
that would generate real savings for taxpayers – both now AND in the future.

As the BCA has successfully demonstrated, even modest spending reductions now will
positively affect our fiscal outlook for years to come, particularly on the mandatory spending side of the ledger. These savings couldn’t be more urgent. The most recent Budget and Economic
Outlook report from the Congressional Budget Office estimates that deficits will once again
exceed $1 trillion beginning in FY19 as the national debt soars to historic levels.

Repealing the BCA in the absence of a comprehensive plan to restrain our out-of-control
spending would represent yet another failure of Congress to exercise the fiscal restraint that our economy urgently requires.


Brandon Arnold
Executive Vice President
National Taxpayers Union

Wm. Brent Gardner
Chief Government Affairs Officer
Americans for Prosperity

Norm Singleton
Campaign for Liberty

Andrew F. Quinlan
Center for Freedom & Prosperity

Jonathan Bydlak
Coalition to Reduce Spending

Dan Caldwell
Director of Policy
Concerned Veterans for America

Tom Schatz
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Richard A. Viguerie

Edward King
Defense Priorities Initiative

Nathan Nascimento
Vice President of Policy
Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce

Adam Brandon

David Barnes
Policy Director
Generation Opportunity

Heather R. Higgins
President and CEO
Independent Women's Voice

Jorge Lima
Executive Director
The Libre Initiative

Steve Ellis
Vice President
Taxpayers for Common Sense

David Williams
Taxpayers Protection Alliance


Before going on to the House schedule for this week, here is a quick wrap-up of what happened last week.

On Friday, the House passed H.R. 5895, which combined Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction/Veterans Affairs Appropriations bills.

H.R. 5895 repeals the Obama administration’s “navigable waters” rule, but it also increases spending on the Obama Administration’s “green energy” programs.

The vote was 235-179. Most Democrats opposed the bill claiming it does not spend enough while only 16 Republicans voted no:

Justin Amash (MI-03)
Andy Biggs (AZ-05)
Mo Brooks (AL-05)
Warren Davidson (OH-08)
John Duncan (TN-02)
Paul Gosar (AZ-04)
Trey Hollingsworth (IN-04)
Walter Jones (NC-03)
Jim Jordan (OH-04)
Raul Labrador (ID-01)
Thomas Massie (KY-04)
Tom McClintock (CA-04)
Scott Perry (PA-04)
Mark Sanford (SC-01)
David Schweikert (AZ-06)
James Sensenbrenner (WI-05)

Roll-Call vote here.

Out of 61 amendments “made in order” by the rules committee, the House only voted on 13.
Among those amendments are:

Representative Louie Gohmert (TX-01) presented an amendment forbidding the use of funds to prepare any regulations or guidance relating to the social cost of carbon. This amendment, which would have stopped federal bureaucrats from building a case for programs like cap-and-tax, passed by a vote of 210-201. See the roll-call here.

Representative Ralph Norman (SC-05) had an amendment to reduce appropriations by $1.5 billion to match the Fiscal Year 2018 spending level. Roll-Call here.

Representative Marsha Blackburn (TN-07) had an amendment to cut spending by one percent. That amendment failed by a vote of 155-262. That vote is here.

Representative Paul Gosar (AZ-04) introduced an amendment to reduce the salary of Western Area Power Administrator Mark Gabriel to $1 a year, because Gabriel has failed to address allegations of embezzlement, retaliated against whistleblowers, and ignored congressional requests for documents. Read more about the case here and see the vote on this amendment here.

Representative Gosar also had an amendment to eliminate funding for the Advanced Research Projects Energy Program. Even though this was recommended by the administration and was an Obama-era boondoggle that Republicans opposed, it only received the support of 123 Republicans, a majority of Republican house members. Roll-Call here.

This is “opioid week” in the House, as every recent bill appears to be fighting the “opioid epidemic.” For example, the House will consider H.R. 5788, which increases fees on international mail and requires electric processing of certain international shipments in order to fight the war on opioids.

The House will also consider H.R. 5735, which establishes a demonstration program to provide federally-funded housing for those recovering from opioid addiction.

Finally, the House will consider H.R. 2851, which increases government regulation and criminalization of synthetic “analogs” to criminalized drugs.

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