DownsizeDC.org
May 7, 2009
Congress could mess up a train wreck
By James Wilson

Quote of the Day: "I've come to expect that even nobly conceived laws will be manipulated and distorted for private ends. But once in a while I hear a story that gives me the queasy feeling that I'm nowhere near cynical enough." -- Christopher Hayes, The Nation

Subject: Congress could mess up a train wreck

One intent of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was to reduce the use of fossil fuels. But now, because of this law, the paper industry is using more fossil fuels than before.

Prior to Congress deciding it could use tax policy to re-engineer America's energy use from on-high, the paper industry had been 70% fueled by something called black liquor, a natural by-product of the paper making process. In other words, the paper industry was inherently energy efficient, until Congress got involved.
 
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized a 50-cent per gallon tax credit for mixing gasoline or diesel with an alternative fuel. To get the credit, paper companies began to mix diesel with their black liquor. In other words . . .

  • The government is paying the paper industry to use a less efficient, environmentally-destructive fuel!
  • The cost of this scam could reach $8 billion this year. [Source: The Nation]

Congress could mess up a train wreck.

At first glance, this appears to be an example of "unintended consequences," but this assumes we really know what Congress intended . . .

  • The Energy Policy Act of 2005 was 1,273 pages.
  • The House passed the bill just one day after it was filed.
  • The Senate passed it one day after that.

It's impossible to believe that any member of Congress had the chance to read and completely understand the bill. This means that those who voted for it didn't really know what the intention was. Someone could have wanted the paper industry to have a hidden subsidy. But if the Read the Bills Act had been in force, the Energy Policy Act would have been . . .

  • Read before a quorum in both chambers, giving all members a chance to review it thoroughly
  • Posted on the Internet for seven days before a vote, so the public could review it too

Someone might have seen that this legislation had the potential to cause the reverse of its supposed purpose.

Without the Read the Bills Act, messed up train wrecks like this are bound to continue. In the past two weeks, the House passed 23 bills totaling 209 pages, while the Senate passed 5 bills and 99 pages.

  • We won't know until it's too late how many messed up train wrecks are hidden in these bills,
  • And this will continue to be the case until we pass the Read the Bills Act.

Please use our quick and easy Educate the Powerful System to tell your Congressional employees to introduce and pass DownsizeDC.org's Read the Bills Act.

Use your personal comments to complain about . . .

  • The 1,273 Energy Policy Act that no member of Congress had the time to read or understand
  • The multi-billion dollar subsidy to the paper industry that rewards them for using more fossil fuels

To beat the 31,730 messages to Congress the Downsize DC Army sent in April, we need Downsizers to send 1,570 messages today. Send your message at DownsizeDC.org's Read the Bills campaign page.

Please also add your website or blog to the Read the Bills Act Coalition. In return, we'll link to your site and mention it in a Dispatch like this one, reaching over 25,000 subscribers. Here are the instructions.

Thank you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army. To see how much we're growing please check out the Keeping Score report below my signature.

 James Wilson
Assistant to the President
DownsizeDC.org

P.S. The list of bills Congress passed April 20-May 1 can be found below the Keeping Score section.

Keeping Score

You can't change the government by yourself. You'll need a huge "army" to help you. That means these numbers must grow constantly . . .

The Downsize DC Army now stands at 25,159. It's grown by 810 net new members so far this year, and 54 net new members yesterday. YOU can make the army grow even faster by following our quick and easy instructions for personalized recruiting.

We can also grow faster by mailing recruitment letters to potential DC Downsizers. If you want to start a monthly credit card pledge to help make this happen please let us know on the secure contribution form if its okay to publish your name here . . .

NEW MONTHLY PLEDGERS IN MAY: Nancy Kovar, Ryan Ackroyd, WM Michael O'Brien, 1 unlisted APRIL: Mark J Wilson MARCH: Franklin L. Webber, Scott Boeff, Darryl W. Perry, Raul Torres, Alex Vournas, James E. Sopher, Vincent B Grubb

Or, if you'd prefer to make a one-time donation please let us know if its okay to publish your name here . . .

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Bills Passed in Congress

 The following are the bills the House and Senate passed last week. The bills were passed by voice vote except where indicated. Roll call votes for the House are found here, and for the Senate here. The descriptions of bills are essentially taken verbatim from the Congressional Record Daily Digest.

Page numbers of bills are based on the pdf display of the latest version from the Government Printing Office. 

SENATE 5 bills, 99 pages


Civil Rights History Project Act: Senate passed H.R. 586, to direct the Librarian of Congress and the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution to carry out a joint project at the Library of Congress and the National Museum of African American History and Culture to collect video and audio recordings of personal histories and testimonials of individuals who participated in the Civil Rights movement, clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages

Statutory Time-Periods Technical Amendments Act: Senate passed H.R. 1626, to make technical amendments to laws containing time periods affecting judicial proceedings, clearing the measure for the President. 3 pages

Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act: By 92 yeas to 4 nays (Vote No. 171), Senate passed S. 386, to improve enforcement of mortgage fraud, securities fraud, financial institution fraud, and other frauds related to federal assistance and relief programs, for the recovery of funds lost to these frauds, as amended. 42 pages

Budget Resolution: By 53 yeas to 43 nays (Vote No. 173), Senate agreed to the conference report to accompany S. Con. Res. 13, setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2010, revising the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal year 2009, and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2011 through 2014. 46 pages

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction: Senate passed S. 615, to provide additional personnel authorities for the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. 4 pages



HOUSE 23 bills, 209 pages


Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act: H.R. 1694, amended, to amend the American Battlefield Protection Act of 1996 to establish a battlefield acquisition grant program for the acquisition and protection of nationally significant battlefields and associated sites of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812; 4 pages

Crane Conservation Act of 2009: H.R. 388, to assist in the conservation of cranes by supporting and providing, through projects of persons and organizations with expertise in crane conservation, financial resources for the conservation programs of countries the activities of which directly or indirectly affect cranes and the ecosystems of cranes, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 288 yeas to 116 nays, Roll No. 193; 13 pages

Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2009: H.R. 411, amended, to assist in the conservation of rare felids and rare canids by supporting and providing financial resources for the conservation programs of nations within the range of rare felid and rare canid populations and projects of persons with demonstrated expertise in the conservation of rare felid and rare canid populations, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 290 yeas to 118 nays, Roll No. 194; 14 pages

Lake Hodges Surface Water Improvement and Reclamation Act of 2009: H.R. 1219, to make amendments to the Reclamation Projects Authorization and Adjustment Act of 1992, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 362 yeas to 43 nays, Roll No. 195; 3 pages

Repealing section 10(f) of Public Law 93-531, commonly known as the ``Bennett Freeze'': S. 39, to repeal section 10(f) of Public Law 93-531, commonly known as the ``Bennett Freeze''; 1 page

Sergeant Marcus Mathes Post Office Designation Act: H.R. 1516, to designate the facility of the U.S. Postal Service located at 37926 Church Street in Dade City, FL, as the ``Sergeant Marcus Mathes Post Office''. 1 page

Amending the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to permit candidates for election for Federal office to designate an individual who will be authorized to disburse funds of the authorized campaign committees of the candidate in the event of the death of the candidate: H.R. 749, to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to permit candidates for election for Federal office to designate an individual who will be authorized to disburse funds of the authorized campaign committees of the candidate in the event of the death of the candidate; 5 page

House Reservists Pay Adjustment Act of 2009: H.R. 1679, to provide for the replacement of lost income for employees of the House of Representatives who are members of a reserve component of the armed forces who are on active duty for a period of more than 30 days, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 423 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 196; 6 pages

Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009: H.R. 586, to direct the Librarian of Congress and the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution to carry out a joint project at the Library of Congress and the National Museum of African American History and Culture to collect video and audio recordings of personal histories and testimonials of individuals who participated in the Civil Rights movement, by a \2/3\ recorded vote of 422 ayes with none voting ``no'', Roll No. 197; 4 pages

Electronic Waste Research and Development Act: H.R. 1580, amended, to authorize the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to award grants for electronic waste reduction research, development, and demonstration projects; 15 pages

Green Energy Education Act of 2009: H.R. 957, to authorize higher education curriculum development and graduate training in advanced energy and green building technologies, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 411 yeas to 6 nays, Roll No. 199; 4 pages

Best Buddies Empowerment for People with Intellectual Disabilities Act of 2009: H.R. 1824, to provide assistance to Best Buddies to support the expansion and development of mentoring programs; 6 pages

Statutory Time-Periods Technical Amendments Act of 2009: H.R. 1626, to make technical amendments to laws containing time periods affecting judicial proceedings. 3 pages

National Water Research and Development Initiative Act of 2009: The House passed H.R. 1145, to implement a National Water Research and Development Initiative, by a yea-and-nay vote of 413 yeas to 10 nays, Roll No. 205. 20 pages

COPS Improvements Act of 2009:  H.R. 1139, amended, to amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to enhance the COPS ON THE BEAT grant program, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 342 yeas to 78 nays, Roll No. 206 16 pages

Pre-Disaster Mitigation Act of 2009: H.R. 1746, to amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to reauthorize the pre-disaster mitigation program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 339 yeas to 56 nays, Roll No. 208; 6 pages

Great Lakes Icebreaker Replacement Act: H.R. 1747, to authorize appropriations for the design, acquisition, and construction of a combined buoy tender-icebreaker to replace icebreaking capacity on the Great Lakes. 4 pages

Brian K. Schramm Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 1595, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 3245 Latta Road in Rochester, New York, as the ``Brian K. Schramm Post Office Building'', by a \2/3\ recorded vote of 420 ayes with none voting ``no'', Roll No. 215; 1 pages

Providing for the award of a gold medal on behalf of Congress to Arnold Palmer: H.R. 1243, to provide for the award of a gold medal on behalf of Congress to Arnold Palmer in recognition of his service to the Nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship in golf, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 422 yeas to 1 nay with 1 voting ``present'', Roll No. 210; 6 pages

Family Self-Sufficiency Act of 2009: H.R. 46, to provide for payment of an administrative fee to public housing agencies to cover the costs of administering family self-sufficiency programs in connection with the housing choice voucher program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, by a \2/3\ recorded vote of 397 ayes to 19 noes, Roll No. 221. 8 pages

Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009: The House passed H.R. 1913, to provide Federal assistance to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes, by a recorded vote of 249 ayes to 175 noes, Roll No. 223. 16 pages

Protecting Incentives for the Adoption of Children with Special Needs Act of 2009: S. 735, to ensure States receive adoption incentive payments for fiscal year 2008 in accordance with the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. 1 page

Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2009: The House passed H.R. 627, to amend the Truth in Lending Act to establish fair and transparent practices relating to the extension of credit under an open end consumer credit plan, by a recorded vote of 357 ayes to 70 noes, Roll No. 228. Consideration of the measure began on Wednesday, April 29th. 52 pages

 

 

 

 

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