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This Week in Washington: Tax Votes, Food Stamps and Gun Control


The House and Senate will be on recess for a month after this week’s business is complete. Before they leave, both chambers have a packed schedule.

The House is moving forward on a short term farm bill and legislation to set the table for tax reform in 2013. The Senate will debate a cyber-security bill and possibly have a vote on a gun control amendment to that bill. Conservatives need to keep a close eye on Washington this week.

No votes in the House today.  On Tuesday, there will be twenty votes on the suspension calendar. Legislation on the House suspension calendar requires a two-thirds vote of the House to pass, yet they are shielded from amendments.

House leadership decided to put S. 679, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act on the calendar. This legislation sponsored by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reduces the numbers of presidential appointments that require a Senate vote. This will empower the executive branch to load up with new czars and more extreme appointments, because there will be more executive branch high level appointments that will not require a Senate confirmation vote.

The District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803) is also on the Tuesday schedule.  One finding in the bill declares that “by 8 weeks after fertilization, the unborn child reacts to touch. After 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human.” This legislation sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) is an effort to forbid abortions of “pain-capable” unborn children in the District of Columbia.

Rep. Lamer Smith (R-TX) has H.R. 6063 on the Tuesday schedule titled the “Child Protection Act.” This legislation enhances criminal penalties for the possession of child pornography and the protection of child witnesses in prosecutions.

On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to take up 11 more suspension votes.  After dispensing with the suspension calendar, the House will take up a one year extension of a food stamp and farm bill. The Senate has already passed a farm bill, but the House can’t come to a consensus on a long term bill.  The House legislation would kick the can into next year for a debate on farm policy and a wholesale extension of a bloated food stamp program.

The House will also enter the tax debate by voting on Rep. Dave Camp’s (R-MI) H.R. 8, the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act.  This legislation would extend the 2001 and 2003 reductions in tax rates for all.  The House will also consider a bill to create fast track procedures to embark on tax reform, H.R. 6169.  This legislation would set up a procedure for the House and Senate to take up tax reform next year.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Robert Bacharach to be Circuit Court Judge for the Tenth Circuit late on Monday.  Consideration by the Senate of this nomination violates the so called “Thurmond Rule” that shuts down the nominations process for judicial nominees during a period of time before an election.  The late Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was reported to declare a complete shutdown of all judicial nominations by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 at the July Republican Convention. In the passing years, the shutdown of judicial nominees has come earlier and earlier.

The Senate is also scheduled to proceed to S. 3414, a cyber-security bill.  This bill was drafted in the name of protecting America’s critical infrastructure.  The legislation caused a battle between Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and the Chamber of Commerce.  According to The Hill, the Chamber supports a rival bill drafted by Senator John McCain (R-AZ), the Secure It Act.  This bill improved information sharing about cyber threats between businesses and the federal government.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) caused a stir when he filed an amendment to commence a debate on gun control late last week. According to The Hill; “Democratic senators have offered an amendment to the cyber security bill that would limit the purchase of high capacity gun magazines for some consumers.”  Another report of The Hill indicates that this amendment may not get a vote this week.  “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that he does not plan any action on gun control despite calls to pass an assault weapons ban and other measures.”

The House and Senate will commence a long August recess after this week. They will be back after the Republican and Democrat party conventions. They will be faced with a debate on funding the federal government after the expiration of the current appropriations on September 30.  Expect the appropriations bills to be front and center when Congress comes back into session in early September.


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