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This Week in Washington – Constitutional Conservatism Under Fire

Politics

Congress has returned from a recess and has several challenges to address right off the bat. The issues facing the House and Senate this week will challenge members' commitment to the Constitution and limited government.

Sadly, most members will fail that challenge.

The House will meet today at 2pm for seven votes on non-controversial bills on the suspension requiring a supermajority to pass. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the House will meet to vote on two more issues on suspension.  The United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, H.R. 4133, and a bill to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States, H.R. 2072. The second bill shall be controversial and is an affront to free market capitalism.

Crony capitalism and corporate welfare are not consistent with free markets, therefore reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank would “meddle in markets” according to Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC).  According to The Hill, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) are poised to unveil a tentative agreement for reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. The draft deal extends the life of the bank by three years and raises its overall lending capacity to $140 billion from $100 billion, sources said.”

This vote will test members to see if they have a strong commitment to free market capitalism, or if they have a stronger commitment to lobbyists who want American’s tax dollars to be used to back loans for the purposes of encouraging the purchase of government favored companies. Expect a strong vote against this bill increasing loan authority and extending the life for the FDR created Export-Import bank from members who despise corporate welfare.

The House will also take up one bill to replace the debt limit deal sequester, an unnumbered bill, and the Sequester Replacement Act. This legislation would remove the budget cuts to defense, the Sequester, and replace cuts with cuts to some domestic programs over the next ten years. The House will roll out the first appropriations bill of the year the Commerce, Justice, Science bill, H.R. 5326 for an extended debate.

The House Judiciary Committee will mark up the so called “Violence Against Women Act,” H.R. 4970.  The left wants to characterize opposition to this bill as evidence of a Republican "War on Women," yet this bill is evidence of Congress chipping away at States’ Rights. The legislation contains money for states to dole out for federally favored domestic violence programs and increases the authority of tribal courts to prosecute crimes. States have traditionally have exercised police powers to deal with violence and this legislation infringes on an area traditionally handled by states.

A version of this bill passed the Senate on a 68-31 vote. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) explained the case against this legislation when he argued that “violent crimes are regulated and enforced almost exclusively by state governments.” Republicans and Democrats might want to read the Constitution again so they can understand that the Commerce Clause in the Constitution does not authorize this legislation. Both the Republican and Democratic drafted Violence Against Women Acts raise constitutional concerns.

The Senate will be debating a motion to proceed to the “Stop Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act,” S.2343.  The legislation would continue a temporary reduction in Stafford student loan rates from 6.8% to 3.4% that would cost taxpayers $6 billion according to the Congressional Budget Office. The House passed an extension that used an ObamaCare slush fund to pay for the extension on a 215-195 vote on April 27, 2012.

The Senate is using a tax increase to pay for the student loan cut. The Senate is not supposed to initiate tax bills according to, Article 1, Section 7 that states, “all bills raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives,” yet that shall not stop the Senate from voting on the issue. The Senate will vote on the motion to proceed this week. The Senate also has three judges on the schedule.

Members of Congress will be challenged to fight against the big government ideas of crony capitalism, infringing on States’ Rights and hiking taxes to pay for student loans. All of these ideas are bad, yet legislation touching on these issues is expected to pass in Congress this week.

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