DownsizeDC.org
June 1, 2007
Congress, May 14-26
By James Wilson
A “double issue.” These are the bills Congress passed over the past two weeks. Descriptions of bills are lifted generally verbatim from Congressional Record Daily Digests: SENATE 6 federal building designation bills - 1 page each H.R. 1495 - Water Resources Development Act to provide for the conservation and development of water and related resources, to authorize the Secretary of the Army to construct various projects for improvements to rivers and harbors of the United States - 434 pages (!) H.R. 2206 - U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act making emergency supplemental appropriations and additional supplemental appropriations for agricultural and other emergency assistance for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007 - 107 pages S. Con. Res. 21 - Concurrent Budget Resolution Conference Report setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2008 and including the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2007 and 2009 through 2012 - 93 pages S. 254 - to award posthumously a Congressional gold medal to Constantino Brumidi - 5 pages S. 375 - Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act Waiver to waive application of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act to a specific parcel of real property transferred by the United States to 2 Indian tribes in the State of Oregon - 6 pages H.R. 2080 - District of Columbia Home Rule Act Amendment, to amend the District of Columbia Home Rule Act to conform the District charter to revisions made by the Council of the District of Columbia relating to public education, clearing the measure for the President - 1 page S. 33 - to redesignate the Office for Vocational and Adult Education as the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education - 1 page H.R. 1675 - Preservation Approval Process Improvement Act to suspend the requirements of the Department of Housing and Urban Development regarding electronic filing of previous participation certificates and regarding filing of such certificates with respect to certain low-income housing investors, clearing the measure for the President - 2 pages H.R. 1676 - Native American Home Ownership Opportunity Act to reauthorize the program of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for loan guarantees for Indian housing, clearing the measure for the President - 1 page S. 231 - Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program Authorization to authorize the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program at fiscal year 2006 levels through 2012 - 1 pages S. 398 - to amend the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act to identify and remove barriers to reducing child abuse - 22 pages S. 1532 - to extend tax relief to the residents and businesses of an area with respect to which a major disaster has been declared by the President under section 410 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (FEMA-1699-DR) by reason of severe storms and tornados beginning on May 4, 2007, and determined by the President to warrant individual or individual and public assistance from the Federal Government under such Act - 8 pages S. 1537 - to authorize the transfer of certain funds from the Senate Gift Shop Revolving Fund to the Senate Employee Child Care Center - 1 page HOUSE 7 federal building designation bills - 1 page each H.R. 634 - to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of veterans who became disabled for life while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States - 7 pages H.R. 692 - Army Specialist Joseph P. Micks Federal Flag Code Amendment Act of 2007 to authorize the Governor of a State, territory, or possession of the United States to order that the National flag be flown at half-staff in that State, territory, or possession in the event of the death of a member of the Armed Forces from that State, territory, or possession who dies while serving on active duty - 3 pages H.R. 916 - John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act of 2007 to provide for loan repayment for prosecutors and public defenders - 12 pages H.R. 1700 - COPS Improvements Act of 2007 to amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to enhance the COPS ON THE BEAT grant program - 16 pages H.R. 1773 - Safe American Roads Act of 2007 to limit the authority of the Secretary of Transportation to grant authority to motor carriers domiciled in Mexico to operate beyond United States municipalities and commercial zones on the United States-Mexico border - 10 pages H.R. 1036 - Authorizing the Administrator of General Services to convey a parcel of real property to the Alaska Railroad Corporation - 5 pages H.R. 1585 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 for military activities of the Department of Defense and to prescribe military personnel strengths for fiscal year 2008 - 870 pages (!) H.R. 2272 - to invest in innovation through research and development, and to improve the competitiveness of the United States - 134 pages H.R. 1525 - Internet Spyware (I-SPY) Prevention Act of 2007 to amend title 18, United States Code, to discourage spyware - 6 pages H.R. 1615 -Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act of 2007 to amend title 18, United States Code, to provide penalties for aiming laser pointers at airplanes - 4 pages S. 214 - Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007 to amend chapter 35 of title 28, United States Code, to preserve the independence of United States attorneys - 4 pages H.R. 2264 - Amending the Sherman Act to make oil-producing and exporting cartels illegal - 2 pages S. 1104 - Increasing the number of Iraqi and Afghani translators and interpreters who may be admitted to the United States as special immigrants - 8 pages H.R. 2399 - Amending the Immigration and Nationality Act and title 18, United States Code, to combat the crime of alien smuggling and related activities - 15 pages H.R. 1427 - Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2007 - 360 pages H.R. 1252 - Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act: H.R. 1252 to protect consumers from price-gouging of gasoline and other fuels - 11 pages H.R. 2429 - to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide an exception to the 60-day limit on Medicare reciprocal billing arrangements between two physicians during the period in which one of the physicians is ordered to active duty as a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces - 2 pages H.R. 67 - Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2007, to improve the outreach activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs - 10 pages H.R. 1660 - to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in the southern Colorado region - 5 pages H.R. 612 -Returning Servicemember VA Healthcare Insurance Act of 2007 to extend the period of eligibility for health care for combat service in the Persian Gulf War or future hostilities from two years to five years after discharge or release - 3 pages H.R. 1470 - Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act to require the provision of chiropractic care and services to veterans at all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers - 2 pages H.R. 2199 - Traumatic Brain Injury Health Enhancement and Long-Term Support Act of 2007 - 25 pages H.R. 2239 - Early Access to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits Act to expand eligibility for vocational rehabilitation benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs - 3 pages H.R. 1100 - Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site Boundary Revision Act of 2007 - 3 pages H.R. 2317 - Lobbying Transparency Act of 2007 to amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to require registered lobbyists to file quarterly reports on contributions bundled for certain recipients - 8 pages H.R. 2316 - Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 to provide more rigorous requirements with respect to disclosure and enforcement of lobbying laws and regulations - 40 pages H.R. 2206 - U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007: Concurred in the Senate amendment with an amendment to H.R. 2206, making emergency supplemental appropriations and additional supplemental appropriations for agricultural and other emergency assistance for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007. The House amendment was divided into two separate questions and voted on accordingly as House amendment No. 1 and House amendment No. 2, to the Senate amendment - 249 pages CONCLUSION The weeks of May 14 and May 21 were two of the busier and more controversial weeks of the 110th Congress. As there is so much to comment on, including bills relating to Downsize DC campaigns, I won’t comment on any of the bills for now and just give some numbers. Over the two-week period, and not even counting the federal building designation bills, the Senate passed 13 bills totaling a whopping 682 pages. And if my count is correct, the House passed an incredible 27 bills totaling an outrageous 1817 pages. It is impossible to believe these bills were actually read before they were passed. With so much to digest, it is no wonder members of Congress are easily manipulated by ideological legislative aids, power-hungry bureaucrats, local politicians begging for federal dollars and projects, and of course those big bad corporate lobbyists. It is clear that Congress has too much on its plate and, by not reading the bills, are not representing the people but serving rather as a rubber-stamp. To reduce the number of bills, shorten the bills, and restore actual representative government, tell Congress to pass the Read the Bills Act . DownsizeDC.org publishes this feature on weeks when Congress is in session. To see how your represenatives voted on particular bills, or to read the bills themselves, go here for the House and here for the Senate. You may also keep abreast of day-to-day activities in Congress by going to the Congressional Record Main Page and click for recent issues of the Daily Digest.
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