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This Week in Washington: FDR Would Be Proud of Republicans and Democrats

Politics

In 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Export-Import Bank as an idea to boost exports. The idea was to loan money to the old Soviet Union and other foreign entities so they would buy American products. This bank has proven to be a government backed offense against free market capitalism.

Congress has an opportunity to kill this vehicle for corporate welfare, yet they have decided to go in a different direction. The bill increases the loan authority of the bank by $40 billion and extends it’s life for three more years. Yes Tea Party, these politicians in Washington just don’t get it.

The House is out of session until Tuesday when they take up eleven suspension bills. Of note is a sense of the House bill regarding the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, H.Res. 568. One provision of the resolution “urges the President to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and opposition to any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.”  It will be interesting to see the final vote tally to see if there is any push back from anti-war Democrats.

Another issue coming up in the house on Wednesday is H.R. 4970, a Republican version of the Violence Against Women Act. This act is an affront to federalism and takes away States’ Rights in the realm of police powers. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) joined 31 Senators to oppose the Senate version of the act because violent crime is traditionally regulated and enforced by state governments. The House version has removed some expansions to existing law and Senate inserted poison pills. The idea of the federal government legislating on the issue of violence against women is constitutionally questionable.

The House is expected to spend the remaining portion of the week on the Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 4310.  The House Appropriations Committee will continue work on the Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations bills.

The Senate will commence the week working on the House passed Export-Import Bank, H.R. 2072Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) argued on the Senate floor last week that while ordinary Americans are struggling to pay home loans “Congress steadily dishes out billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidized loans to large profitable companies. Eighty percent of these loans, these export import loans, are given to companies in the Fortune 500.” This description sounds like a textbook case of corporate welfare and crony capitalism, yet many right-leaning Senators are expected to support this idea.

The Senate will vote on two judicial nominees on Monday, George L. Russell to be district judge in Maryland and John Tharp to be district judge for northern Illinois.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pledged last week to bring up repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) inserting the issue of gay marriage into the congressional agenda. The Justice Department has abandoned defense in the federal courts of this congressionally passed law and a bill, S. 598, is ready for Senate action.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Senate may take votes on competing budgets this week.  The House passed the Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget on March 29, 2012 on a 228-191 vote and rejected President Obama’s budget on a 0-414 vote. Senate Majority Leader Reid had promised earlier in the year to block consideration of any budget votes, yet the Senate’s rules grant members the power to bring up budgets for a vote.

Republicans can force a vote on the Obama budget under the rules and they may. According to the WSJ, votes are expected on budgets from “Sens. Mike Lee (R., Utah), Rand Paul (R., Ky.) and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) (that) would reduce federal spending even more than Mr. Ryan has proposed, reflecting the Tea Party-backed view that the size of the federal government must be substantially reduced.”  It is not clear whether the Senate Democrats will offer their own budget for consideration.

Members of Congress will debate crony capitalism and infringements on States’ Rights this week in Washington. They are expected to have some votes on a budget for the year with no expected final agreement between the House and Senate setting spending limits for the next fiscal year. Also, the Senate may bring the issue of gay marriage out onto the Senate floor very soon.

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