This week in Congress: War on financial privacy, sanctions on Iran, and gun control?

The House of Representatives comes into session today. As of this writing there is no action scheduled on the Republicans gun control bill. However, behind-the scenes there is much work being done to advance a "compromise" on the bill and it would not be surprising to see momentum on this front later in the week.

Today, the House will consider a number of bills on suspension. Several of these bills raise serious civil liberties concerns.

For example, HR 5606, the Anti-Terrorism Information Sharing Is Strength Act. This bill amends federal "money laundering" laws to allow increased sharing of personal financial information among federal agencies. The bill allows sharing of information that is not related to terrorism and and it provides liability protection for financial institutions which share information with the government. Look for this to be used to ramp up the war on financial privacy.

For more info on the bill see here.

The House will also consider HR 5994, the National Strategy for Combating Terrorist, Underground, and Other Illicit Financing Act. This bill directs the federal government to develop a "national strategy" for combating terrorist financing.

HR 5607, the Enhancing Treasury’s Anti-Terror Tools Act requires the Treasury Department to study ways to better "track" international transactions in order to violate your privacy stop terrorism.

HR 5602 gives the Treasury department authority to include all funds, not just "coins and currency," when tracking of an individual's financial transactions.

Finally, HR 5469 directs the US Representative to the International Monetary Fund to strengthen the IMF's role in stopping  financial privacy money laundering.

In addition to the anti-privacy legislation, the House will also consider HR 3178 under suspension. This bill authorizes 1 million dollars for the Department of Education to develop a website providing information about college tuition and financing.

The House will also consider HR 5640 with authorizes the Department of Energy to spend $75,000 to create an Electricity Storage Basic Research Initiative. According to the bill's statement of Constitutional Authority, Congress gets it authority to do this from the necessary and proper clause. I don't think that means what they think it means...

HR 56238 also uses the necessary and proper clause as justification for authorizing the Department of Energy to spend another $75,000 to create a "solar fuels basic research initiative." Again, I don't think "necessary and proper" means Congress can pass any law they think is necessary and proper...

The House will also consider HR 4768, the Separation of Powers Act. The House was scheduled to consider this bill several weeks ago but postponed it because of the gun control temper tantrum. More information on the bill is available here.

The House will also consider the Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. There should be debate on amendments dealing with the use of federal funds to violate property rights and enforce environmental regulations.

Congress will also consider S. 304, the Conscience Protection Act. This act provides that medical professionals who refuse to perform abortions are still eligible to participate in federally-funded medical programs like Medicaid.

The House also considers several bills designed to heighten tensions between the US and Iran. First, the House considers HR 5119, which prohibits the purchasing of "heavy water" from Iran.

HR 4992 prohibits any transfer of funds to or from Iran or done to benefit an "Iranian person". The bill does not even make an exception for transfer to a group of Iranian libertarians working to change the Iranian government's policies.

The House will also consider HR 5631, which imposes new sanctions on Iran.

The House wraps up this week with S. 764, the Senate "compromise" legislation preempting state GMO labeling legislation. For more on the problems with this legislation see here.

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