DownsizeDC.org
April 24, 2007
Congress, April 16-21
By James Wilson
This is the legislation Congress passed last week: HOUSE H.R. 988 - To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 5757 Tilton Avenue in Riverside, California, as the "Lieutenant Todd Jason Bryant Post Office" - 1 page H.R. 886 - The Wild Sky Wilderness Act of 2007 - 8 pages H.R. 609 - To amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the Central Texas Water Recycling and Reuse Project, and for other purposes - 4 pages H.R. 786 - To amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the Los Angeles County Water Supply Augmentation Demonstration Project, and for other purposes - 4 pages H.R. 309 - To direct the Secretary of the Interior to establish a demonstration program to facilitate landscape restoration programs within certain units of the National Park System established by law to preserve and interpret resources associated with American history, and for other purposes - 6 pages H.R. 815 - To provide for the conveyance of certain land in Clark County, Nevada, for use by the Nevada National Guard - 4 pages H.R. 865 - Copper Valley Native Allotment Resolution Act of 2007 - 8 pages H.R. 1677-Taxpayer Protection Act - 20 pages This bill apparently provides for some identify theft protection for taxpayers and some tax simplification for family businesses. Only seven members voted against it, but they include at least two who are among the most anti-tax, pro-downsize members in Congress. This suggests there are some provisions of the bill that aren't so good after all. H.R. 1681 - American National Red Cross Governance Modernization Act of 2007 - 24 pages H.R. 1515 - To amend the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 to treat certain communities as metropolitan cities for purposes of the community development block grant program - 4 pages H.R. 1191--To authorize the National Park Service to pay for services rendered by subcontractors under a General Services Administration Indefinite Deliver/Indefinite Quantity Contract issued for work to be completed at the Grand Canyon National Park - 4 pages H.R. 1361 - RECOVER Act (To improve the disaster relief programs of the Small Business Administration, and for other purposes) - 34 pages H.R. 1257-Shareholder Vote on Executive Compensation Act - 6 pages This forces corporations to provide a non-binding shareholder vote on exectutive compensation. Now, Congress shouldn't determine how much people should get paid, and Congress shouldn't meddle in corporate governance at all. But since they do meddle, this law is all the more ridiculous. What's the point of requiring a non-binding vote, aside from wasting everybody's time? H.R. 1905 -District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act - 7 pages This would give the District of Columbia a Representative in Congress. I have no idea how this could be done without amending the Constitution. I'm not saying the people of D.C. should be denied represenatation, but it makes more sense to just have Maryland annex the area, and shrink the "federal district" to the Mall. (This would have the added benefit of preventing Congress from arrogantly overriding decisions made by the Washington City Council.) Particularly galling is Section 5, which is a wholly unrelated revision of the tax code, and which was also passed separately as the very next bill. H.R. 1906-To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to adjust the estimated tax payment safe harbor based on income for the preceding year in the case of individuals with adjusted gross income greater than $5 million - 2 pages This is exactly the same as section 5 of H.R. 1905 that I just mentioned above. This looks like a parliamentary stunt to make sure both of these unrelated bills would be considered in the Senate. This bill was added to H.R. 1905 in case it couldn't pass on its own, but then was also voted on separately. As it turns out, it did narrowly pass on its own: 216 yeas to 203 nays with 14 not voting. It is likely, then, that Section 5 of H.R. 1905 will be dropped from the Senate version and the two bills will be considered separately in the Senate. If you detest these stunts, support DownsizeDC.org so that we will have the resources necessary to launch our One Subject At a Time Act campaign. H.R. 1495-Water Resources Development Act - 432 pages Scores of projects, and from what I can tell, well over $2 billion in federal dollars to be spent. I doubt any member of Congress read the bill, but upon scanning the sections, it looks like everything in the bill did have something to do with water. I don't know how many of these projects fall under the federal government's Constitutional jurisdiction, though I doubt very many. Nor do I know how many are really necessary, and how many are just make-work projects for federal employees and contractors. SENATE H.R. 1003 - United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy Reauthorization - 1 page S. 378 - Court Security Improvement Act - 23 pages H.R. 1130 - Judicial Disclosure Responsibility Act - 2 pages CONCLUSION The House passed 16 bills and 568 pages of legislation. The Senate passed three bills and 26 pages of legislation. According to Congressional logic, this means the Senate has a lot of catching up to do. Expect them in the near future to rush through (perhaps literally) tons of bills without reading them. To prevent this, tell Congresss 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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