DownsizeDC.org
October 8, 2008
Spying on Children
By James Wilson

Quote of the Day:
"It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe in it".
-- George Carlin

Subject: Spying on Children

On Monday we made the case that had we passed the "Read the Bills Act" and the "One Subject at a Time Act" back in the 90s, the Big Bailout could not have passed last Friday.

If there had been a huge army of DC Downsizers back then, able to achieve universal visibility, and relentless, overwhelming pressure, the government laws, regulations, and programs that have led to the housing bubble and bust could also have been averted.

What was true then, remains true now. The seeds of future disasters are being sown even now, because this is what government does. It creates a crisis, and then exploits the resulting hysteria to gain new powers with which to create even larger disasters. But the cure for this disease also remains the same -- the big army, Operation Everywhere, and passage of "Read the Bills" and "One Subject at a Time."

Here's the latest reason to pass "Read the Bills" . . .

On September 17, the House passed the "School Safety Enhancements Act of 2008."

My first thought was, "The DC Upsizers are at it again!"

My second thought was that the Constitution gives Congress no authority over public safety, except on federal property. This power is left to the states.

But even aside from this, the bill implies something distressing -- that state and local governments are incapable of preserving public safety without Congressional help. But if the states really lack the will and competence to keep schoolchildren safe then they must also be incapable of governing at all. This would imply that, but for Congress, our country would be a nation of 50 Somalias.

This just isn't true.

But when you read the bill, you realize it isn't about school "safety" at all.

The bill expands an already-existing (and unnecessary) grant program for local governments to install metal detectors on school grounds. The bill increases the funding from $30 million to $50 million per year. Worse, it specifically expands the program to include funding for "surveillance equipment."

This, on top of Real ID, Animal ID, TWIC, warrantless spying . . . Perhaps if the younger generation are always being watched at school, they'll get used to it and won't mind the same on the streets, at their jobs, or in their homes.

Do you want to know how your Representitive voted for this atrocity? Too bad. Congress couldn't be bothered with a roll call vote; it passed under "suspension of the rules" by voice vote. (Somehow, though, they did find time for a roll call vote on whether to name a post office building after Theodore Roosevelt.)

Indeed, this "School Safety" bill contained just 8 of the 875 pages of legislation Congress has passed from September 8-20. (The Senate passed 1,185 pages over the same period; a list of the bills can be found below my signature in the blog version of this Dipsatch.)

A lot of them "upsize DC," just as this School "Safety" Act does.

Would it have passed if the Read the Bills Act was in force?

The Read the Bills Act requires that every bill considered by Congress must be publicly read before a quorum in Congress. 875 pages would take a long time to read. Congress would have to set priorities and consider only the most urgent and necessary bills.

The public reading serves another purpose. Thousands of bills are proposed each year, and it's difficult to keep track of which bill will get out of committee and go to the floor for a vote. The public reading of a bill would alert us that Congress is serious about passing a particular bill.

Moreover, the final version of the bill would have to be posted on the Internet for seven days before it comes to a vote, giving individuals and grassroots groups time to study the bill and provide feedback.

UNder the "Read the Bills Act" legislation like this "School Safety Act" might never have reached the floor in Congress, and if it did, groups like Downsize DC could have defeated it.

This is why we need the Read the Bills Act. Tell Congress to stop rushing through so many bills. Tell them you resent the "School Safety Enhancements Act" and that you don't want Congress spending your tax dollars to spy on children. Tell them to prevent bills like it from surfacing again by passing the Read the Bills Act. You can do so here.

Thank you for being part of our growing Downsize DC Army.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President
DownsizeDC.org

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.

 

SENTATE: 15 bills, 1, 185 pages

Department of State Authorities Extension: Committee on Foreign Relations was discharged from further consideration of H.R. 6456, to provide for extensions of certain authorities of the Department of State, and the bill was then passed, clearing the measure for the President. 2 pages

Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Herhige, Jr. Federal Courthouse: Senate concurred in the amendments of the House of Representatives to S. 2403, to designate the new Federal Courthouse located in the 700 block of East Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia, as the ``Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Merhige, Jr. Federal Courthouse'', clearing the measure for the President. 1 page

Highway Trust Fund: Committee on Finance was discharged from further consideration of H.R. 6532, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to restore the Highway Trust Fund balance, and the bill was then passed, 1 page

ADA Amendments Act: Senate passed S. 3406, to restore the intent and protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. 7 pages

Child Soldiers Accountability Act:  Senate concurred in the amendment of the House of Representatives to S. 2135, to prohibit the recruitment or use of child soldiers, to designate persons who recruit or use child soldiers as inadmissible aliens, to allow the deportation of persons who recruit or use child soldiers, clearing the measure for the President. 3 pages

Library of Congress Sound Recording and Film Preservation Programs Reauthorization Act: Committee on Rules and Administration was discharged from further consideration of H.R. 5893, to reauthorize the sound recording and film preservation programs of the Library of Congress, and the bill was then passed, clearing the measure for the President. 3 pages

District of Columbia Courts: Senate passed H.R. 5551, to amend title 11, District of Columbia Official Code, to implement the increase provided under the District of Columbia Appropriations Act, 2008, in the amount of funds made available for the compensation of attorneys representing indigent defendants in the District of Columbia courts, clearing the measure for the President. 2 pages

Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act: Senate passed S. 3023, to amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to prescribe regulations relating to the notice to be provided claimants with the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding the substantiation of claims, after agreeing to the committee amendment in the nature of a substitute. 54 pages

National Defense Authorization Act: By 88 yeas to 8 nays (Vote No. 201), Senate passed S. 3001, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, 490 pages

Department of Defense Authorization Act:  Senate passed S. 3002, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for military activities of the Department of Defense, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, after striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof Division A of S. 3001, National Defense Authorization, as amended. 400 pages

Military Construction Authorization Act: Senate passed S. 3003, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for military construction, after striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof Division B of S. 3001, National Defense Authorization, as amended. 76 pages

Department of Energy National Security Act: Senate passed S. 3004, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for defense activities of the Department of Energy, after striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof Division C of S. 3001, National Defense Authorization, as amended. 20 pages

Guaranteed Student Loans: Senate passed H.R. 6889, to extend the authority of the Secretary of Education to purchase guaranteed student loans for an additional year, clearing the measure for the President. 2 pages

Bennett Freeze:  Senate passed S. 531, to repeal section 10(f) of Public Law 93-531, commonly known as the ``Bennett Freeze''. 4 pages

United States Fire Administration Reauthorization Act: Senate passed S. 2606, to reauthorize the United States Fire Administration, after agreeing to the committee amendment in the nature of a substitute, 20 pages


HOUSE: 54 bills, 875 pages

Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Merhige, Jr. Federal Courthouse Designation Act: S. 2403, amended, to designate the new Federal Courthouse, located in the 700 block of East Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia, as the ``Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Merhige, Jr. Federal Courthouse'', by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 376 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 567; 1 page

Theodore Roosevelt United States Courthouse Designation Act: S. 2837, to designate the United States courthouse located at 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York, as the ``Theodore Roosevelt United States Courthouse'', by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 375 yeas to 1 nay, Roll No. 568--clearing the measure for the President; 1 page

Amending the Federal Rules of Evidence to address the waiver of the attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine: S. 2450, to amend the Federal Rules of Evidence to address the waiver of the attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine--clearing the measure for the President; 2 pages

Child Soldiers Accountability Act of 2008: S. 2135, amended, to prohibit the recruitment or use of child soldiers, to designate persons who recruit or use child soldiers as inadmissible aliens, and to allow the deportation of persons who recruit or use child soldiers, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 371 yeas with none voting ``nay'', 3 pages

Government Accountability Office Act of 2008: Agreed to the Senate amendment to H.R. 5683, to make certain reforms with respect to the Government Accountability Office--clearing the measure for the President; 10 pages

Lance Corporal Drew W. Weaver Post Office Building Designation Act:  H.R. 6168, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 112 South 5th Street in Saint Charles, Missouri, as the ``Lance Corporal Drew W. Weaver Post Office Building'', by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 403 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 574; 1 page

Over-Classification Reduction Act: H.R. 6575, amended, to require the Archivist of the United States to promulgate regulations to prevent the over-classification of information; 9 pages

Prohibiting the Secretary of Transportation from granting authority to a motor carrier domiciled in Mexico to operate beyond United States municipalities and commercial zones on the United States-Mexico border unless expressly authorized by Congress: H.R. 6630, amended, to prohibit the Secretary of Transportation from granting authority to a motor carrier domiciled in Mexico to operate beyond United States municipalities and commercial zones on the United States-Mexico border unless expressly authorized by Congress, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 395 yeas to 18 nays, Roll No. 575. 6 pages

Rural Veterans Access to Care Act:  H.R. 1527, amended, to amend title 38, United States Code, to allow highly rural veterans enrolled in the health system of the Department of Veterans Affairs to receive covered health services through providers other than those of the Department, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 417 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 578; 6 pages

Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2008: S. 2617, to amend title 38, United States Code, to codify increases in the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans that were effective as of December 1, 2007 and to provide for an increase in the rates of such compensation effective December 1, 2008, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 418 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 579--clearing the measure for the President; 4 pages

Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act of 2008: H.R. 4081, amended, to prevent tobacco smuggling and to ensure the collection of all tobacco taxes, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 379 yeas to 12 nays, Roll No. 584. 66 pages

Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and Scenic River Study Act of 2008: The House passed H.R. 3667, to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate a segment of the Missisquoi and Trout Rivers in the State of Vermont for study for potential addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, by a recorded vote of 299 ayes to 118 noes, Roll No. 583. 4 pages

Specialist Peter J. Navarro Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 6169, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 15455 Manchester Road in Ballwin, Missouri, as the ``Specialist Peter J. Navarro Post Office Building''; 1 page

Securities Act of 2008: H.R. 6513, amended, to amend the Federal securities laws to enhance the effectiveness of the Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement, corporation finance, trading and markets, investment management, and examination programs; 37 pages

Daniel Webster Congressional Clerkship Act of 2008: H.R. 6475, to establish the Daniel Webster Congressional Clerkship Program. 7 pages

Amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to restore the Highway Trust Fund balance: Agreed to the Senate amendment to H.R. 6532, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to restore the Highway Trust Fund balance, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 376 yeas to 29 nays, Roll No. 587--clearing the measure for the President. 1 page

House Reservists Pay Adjustment Act of 2008: H.R. 6608, 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; 8 pages
 
Veterans' Programs Extension and Construction Authorization Act of 2008: H.R. 6832, to authorize major medical facility projects and major medical facility leases for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2009 and to extend certain authorities of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. 18 pages

Former Vice President Protection Act of 2008: Agreed to the Senate amendments to H.R. 5938, to amend title 18, United States Code, to provide secret service protection to former Vice Presidents--clearing the measure for the President; 6 pages

Extending the authority of the Secretary of Education to purchase guaranteed student loans for an additional year: H.R. 6889, to extend the authority of the Secretary of Education to purchase guaranteed student loans for an additional year, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 368 yeas to 4 nays, Roll No. 591, 2 pages

Justice for Victims of Torture and Terrorism Act: H.R. 5167, amended, to amend the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 to remove the authority of the President to waive certain provisions. 14 pages

Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act: The House passed H.R. 6899, to advance the national security interests of the United States by reducing its dependency on oil through renewable and clean, alternative fuel technologies while building a bridge to the future through expanded access to Federal oil and natural gas resources, revising the relationship between the oil and gas industry and the consumers who own those resources and deserve a fair return from the development of publicly owned oil and gas, ending tax subsidies for large oil and gas companies, and facilitating energy efficiencies in the building, housing, and transportation sectors, by a recorded vote of 236 ayes to 189 noes, Roll No. 599. 292 pages

National Capital Security and Safety Act: The House passed H.R. 6842, to require the District of Columbia to revise its laws regarding the use and possession of firearms as necessary to comply with the requirements of the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, D1109in a manner that protects the security interests of the Federal government and the people who work in, reside in, or visit the District of Columbia and does not undermine the efforts of law enforcement, homeland security, and military officials to protect the Nation's capital from crime and terrorism, by a recorded vote of 266 yeas to 152 nays with 1 voting ``present'', Roll No. 601. Consideration of the measure began on Tuesday, September 16th. 14 pages

ADA Amendments Act of 2008: S. 3406, to restore the intent and protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990--clearing the measure for the President; 7 pages

SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act: Agreed to the Senate amendments to H.R. 2608, to amend section 402 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 to provide, in fiscal years 2009 through 2011, extensions of supplemental security income for refugees, asylees, and certain other humanitarian immigrants, and to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to collect unemployment compensation debts resulting from fraud--clearing the measure for the President; 7 pages

Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008: H.R. 6893, to amend parts B and E of title IV of the Social Security Act to connect and support relative caregivers, improve outcomes for children in foster care, provide for tribal foster care and adoption access, improve incentives for adoption; 33 pages

Amending title 49, United States Code, to expand passenger facility fee eligibility for certain noise compatibility projects: S. 996, to amend title 49, United States Code, to expand passenger facility fee eligibility for certain noise compatibility projects--clearing the measure for the President; 2 pages

Smithsonian Institution Facilities Authorization Act of 2008: H.R. 6627, to authorize the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution to carry out certain construction projects; 4 pages

Expand and Preserve Home Ownership Through Counseling Act: H.R. 3019, amended, to establish an Office of Housing Counseling to carry out and coordinate the responsibilities of the Department of Housing and Urban Development regarding counseling on homeownership and rental housing issues, to make grants to entities for providing such counseling, and to launch a national housing counseling advertising campaign; 28 pages

Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2008: H.R. 5772, amended, to amend section 811 of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act to improve the program under such section for supportive housing for persons with disabilities; 32 pages

National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act of 2008: H.R. 5611, amended, to reform the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers; 38 pages

Civil Rights History Project Act of 2008: H.R. 998, amended, 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; 10 pages

Veteran Voting Support Act: H.R. 6625, amended, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to permit facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs to be designated as voter registration agencies; 8 pages

Lieutenant Colonel Clement C. Van Wagoner Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic Designation Act: S. 2339, to designate the Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Alpena, Michigan, as the ``Lieutenant Colonel Clement C. Van Wagoner Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic,'' by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 412 yeas with none voting ``nay,'' Roll No. 603; 1 page

Michael A. Marzano Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic Designation Act: H.R. 1594, to designate the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, as the Michael A. Marzano Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 410 yeas with none voting ``nay,'' Roll No. 604. 1 page

Jacob M. Lowell Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 6681, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 300 Vine Street in New Lenox, Illinois, as the ``Jacob M. Lowell Post Office Building''; 1 page

Mayor William ``Bill'' Sandberg Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 6229, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2523 7th Avenue East in North Saint Paul, Minnesota, as the ``Mayor William `Bill' Sandberg Post Office Building''; 1 page

Army SPC Daniel Agami Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 6338, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 4233 West Hillsboro Boulevard in Coconut Creek, Florida, as the ``Army SPC Daniel Agami Post Office Building''; 1 page

Mickey Mantle Post Office Building Designation Act: S. 171, to designate the facility of the D1111United States Postal Service located at 301 Commerce Street in Commerce, Oklahoma, as the ``Mickey Mantle Post Office Building''; 1 page

CeeCee Ross Lyles Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 6772, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1717 Orange Avenue in Fort Pierce, Florida, as the ``CeeCee Ross Lyles Post Office Building''; 1 page

School Safety Enhancements Act of 2008:  H.R. 2352, amended, to enhance the safety of elementary schools, secondary schools, and institutions of higher education; 8 pages

Tule River Tribe Water Development Act: H.R. 2535, to direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study on the feasibility and suitability of constructing a storage reservoir, outlet works, and a delivery system for the Tule River Indian Tribe of California to provide a water supply for domestic, municipal, industrial, and agricultural purposes; 4 pages

Jackson Gulch Rehabilitation Act of 2008:  H.R. 3437, amended, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to carry out the Jackson Gulch rehabilitation project in the State of Colorado; 6 pages

Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation Water Rights Settlement Act: H.R. 5293, amended, to approve the settlement of the water rights claims of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada and to require the Secretary of the Interior to carry out the settlement; 28 pages

Authorizing the Secretary of Commerce to sell or exchange certain National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration property located in Norfolk, Virginia: H.R. 5350, amended, to authorize the Secretary of Commerce to sell or exchange certain National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration property located in Norfolk, Virginia; 6 pages

Colonel Ola Lee Mize Veterans Clinic Designation Act: H.R. 5736, to designate the Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Gadsden, Alabama, as the Colonel Ola Lee Mize Veterans Clinic; 1 page

National Silver Alert Act: H.R. 6064, amended, to encourage, enhance, and integrate Silver Alert plans throughout the United States; 20 pages

Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program Reauthorization of 2008:  H.R. 6503, to amend the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to reauthorize the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program; 4 pages

Extending the authority for the United States Supreme Court Police to protect court officials off the Supreme Court grounds: H.R. 6855, to extend the authority for the United States Supreme Court Police to protect court officials off the Supreme Court grounds. 4 pages

Commodity Markets Transparency and Accountability Act of 2008: The House passed H.R. 6604, to amend the Commodity Exchange Act to bring greater transparency and accountability to commodity markets, by a recorded vote of 283 ayes to 133 noes, Roll No. 608. 30 pages

No Child Left Inside Act of 2008: The House passed H.R. 3036, to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 regarding environmental education, by a yea-and-nay vote of 293 yeas to 109 nays, Roll No. 614. 22 pages

Great Lakes Legacy Reauthorization Act of 2008: H.R. 6460, amended, to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to provide for the remediation of sediment contamination in areas of concern, by a 2/3 recorded vote of 371 ayes to 20 noes, Roll No. 615. 10 pages

John F. Kennedy Center Reauthorization Act of 2008: Agreed to the Senate amendment to H.R. 3986, to amend the John F. Kennedy Center Act to authorize appropriations for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts--clearing the measure for the President; 4 pages

Amending Public Law 108-331 to provide for the construction and related activities in support of the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) project in Arizona: S. J. Res. 35, to amend Public Law 108-331 to provide for the construction and related activities in support of the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) project in Arizona--clearing the measure for the President. 1 page

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