DownsizeDC.org
August 6, 2009
Why the rush?
By Jim Babka

Quote of the Day: "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." -- Dwight Eisenhower

Subject: Why the rush?

Congress first heard it from DC Downsizers. Then the media and other groups joined the call. Congress now knows that citizens want them to read their bills.

How has Congress reacted to the growing Read the Bills movement? Consider this . . .

* Three mark-ups of HR 2749, the "Food Safety" bill, were filed the morning of July 29 -- the last at 10:50am
* Between 10am and 2pm Congress passed 6 bills and one resolution totaling 67 pages
* HR 2749 was then brought before Congress at 2pm under a "suspension of the rules," meaning no amendments, limited debate, and a two-thirds majority to pass. It failed 280-150.
* Another version of HR 2749 was then filed the next day.
* That day, July 30, Congress passed 3 bills totaling 168 pages, and two resolutions, including H. Res. 691, which dispensed with a reading of HR 2749, limited debate to just one hour, and granted only one opportunity to amend the bill, or send it back to committee.
* This time HR 2729 only required a simple majority to pass, which it got, 283 to 142

Republican Rep. Joe Barton, a supporter of the "Food Safety" bill, insists that the late changes were made to address concerns about the impact on small farmers. It's a credit to the Downsize DC Army, and other opponents of the bill, that it's less bad than it could have been. But this still raises the question . . .

Why the rush?

* The Senate won't consider HR 2749 until after the August recess, so the House could have waited too
* The version the House passed, at 160 pages, is 26 pages longer than the version originally reported out of committee
* Even members who may have been familiar with the bill had no opportunity to examine those 26 pages before voting
* The public also had no opportunity to read and provide feedback about the late changes
* Even so, 283 members of Congress voted to pass this bill, which they had not read

It's probable that . . .

* The House didn't want this to be a lingering issue, allowing time for more negative feedback from people like you
* House Democrats wanted a victory before the recess, to compensate for the delayed health care vote

We must tell Congress that they must not rush legislation for the sake of symbolic political victories. They must take the time to read their bills first, and the only way to make that happen is to pass DownsizeDC.org's Read the Bills Act.

Send another letter to your Congressional employees telling them to introduce and pass the Read the Bills Act.

Use your personal comments to tell them you're angry that HR 2749 was rushed to the floor unread.

You can also thank or spank your House Rep. for his or her vote if you want to. Check here to see how your Representative voted.

Tell your Senators to vote NO on the Senate version of HR 2749, which will add huge new regulatory costs to every phase of food production, without necessarily improving food safety.

To keep pace with the number of letters we sent last month, we must send 2,507 of them in response to this Dispatch.

The following are the bills the House and Senate passed July 21-31. 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 12 bill, 2,354 pages

New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal Act: Senate passed H.R. 2245, to authorize the President, in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the historic and first lunar landing by humans in 1969, to award gold medals on behalf of the United States Congress to Neil A. Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon; Edwin E. ``Buzz'' Aldrin, Jr., the pilot of the lunar module and second person to walk on the moon; Michael Collins, the pilot of their Apollo 11 mission's command module; and, the first American to orbit the Earth, John Herschel Glenn, Jr., clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages

National Defense Authorization Act: By 87 yeas to 7 nays (Vote No. 242), Senate passed S. 1390, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2010 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, 792 pages

Department of Defense Authorization Act:  Senate passed S. 1391, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2010 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. 1390, National Defense Authorization, as passed. 502 pages

Military Construction Authorization Act: Senate passed S. 1392, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2010 for military construction, after striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof Division B of S. 1390, National Defense Authorization, as passed. 68 pages

Department of Energy National Security Act: Senate passed S. 1393, to authorize appropriations D901for fiscal year 2010 for defense activities of the Department of Energy, after striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof Division C of S. 1390, National Defense Authorization, as passed. 32 pages

National Defense Authorization: Senate passed H.R. 2647, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2010 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, to provide special pays and allowances to certain members of the Armed Forces, expand concurrent receipt of military retirement and VA disability benefits to disabled military retirees, after striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the text of S. 1390, Senate companion measure, as passed by the Senate. 846 pages

Indian Arts and Crafts Amendments Act: Senate passed S. 151, to protect Indian arts and crafts through the improvement of applicable criminal proceedings. 12 pages

Korean War Veterans Recognition Act: Senate passed H.R. 2632, to amend title 4, United States Code, to encourage the display of the flag of the United States on National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages

Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act: Senate passed S. 1513, to provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958. 4 pages
 
Miami Dade College Land Conveyance Act: Committee on the Judiciary was discharged from further consideration of H.R. 838, to provide for the conveyance of a parcel of land held by the Bureau of Prisons of the Department of Justice in Miami Dade County, Florida, to facilitate the construction of a new educational facility that includes a secure parking area for the Bureau of Prisons, and the bill was then passed, clearing the measure for the President. 3 pages

Energy and Water Appropriations Act: By 85 yeas to 9 nays (Vote No. 248), Senate passed H.R. 3183, making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, as amended, 84 pages

Highway Trust Fund Act: By 79 yeas to 17 nays (Vote No. 254), Senate passed H.R. 3357, to restore sums to the Highway Trust Fund, after taking action on the following amendments proposed thereto, clearing the measure for the President: 3 pages

HOUSE 41 bills, 959 pages

New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal Act: H.R. 2245, to authorize the President, in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the historic and first lunar landing by humans in 1969, to award gold medals on behalf of the United States Congress to Neil A. Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon; Edwin E. ``Buzz'' Aldrin, Jr., the pilot of the lunar module and second person to walk on the moon; Michael Collins, the pilot of their Apollo 11 mission's command module; and, the first American to orbit the Earth, John Herschel Glenn, Jr., by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 390 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 595. 4 pages

Authorizing the designation of National Environmental Research Parks by the Secretary of Energy: H.R. 2729, amended, to authorize the designation of National Environmental Research Parks by the Secretary of Energy, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 330 yeas to 96 nays, Roll No. 597; 10 pages

Providing for a program of research, development, and demonstration on natural gas vehicles: H.R. 1622, amended, to provide for a program of research, development, and demonstration on natural gas vehicles, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 393 yeas to 35 nays, Roll No. 598; 6 pages

A Child Is Missing Alert and Recovery Center Act: H.R. 1933, to direct the Attorney General to make an annual grant to the A Child Is Missing Alert and Recovery Center to assist law enforcement agencies in the rapid recovery of missing children, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 417 yeas to 5 nays, Roll No. 603; 6 pages

Korean War Veterans Recognition Act: H.R. 2632, to amend title 4, United States Code, to encourage the display of the flag of the United States on National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 421 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 604. 4 pages

Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2009: H.R. 1675, 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, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 376 yeas to 51 nays, Roll No. 607. 32 pages

Extending the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project: H.R. 2938, to extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 418 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 608; 4 pages

Lim Poon Lee Post Office Designation Act: H.R. 3119, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 867 Stockton Street in San Francisco, California, as the ``Lim Poon Lee Post Office'', by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 426 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 613; 1 page

Conrad DeRouen, Jr. Post Office Designation Act: H.R. 2972, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 115 West Edward Street in Erath, Louisiana, as the ``Conrad DeRouen, Jr. Post Office'', by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 424 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 615. 1 page

Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2009: The House passed H.R. 2920, to reinstitute and update the Pay-As-You-Go requirement of budget neutrality on new tax and mandatory spending legislation, enforced by the threat of annual, automatic sequestration, by a recorded vote of 265 ayes to 166 noes, Roll No. 612. 42 pages

Torture Victims Relief Reauthorization Act of 2009: H.R. 1511, to amend the Torture Victims Relief Act of 1998 to authorize appropriations to provide assistance for domestic and foreign programs and centers for the treatment of victims of torture. 3 pages

Discharge Petition: Representative Blackburn moved to discharge the Committee on Energy and Commerce from the consideration of H.R. 391, to amend the Clean Air Act to provide that greenhouse gases are not subject to the Act, and for other purposes (Discharge Petition No. 5). 2 pages

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010: The House passed H.R. 3288, making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, by a yea-and-nay vote of 256 yeas to 168 nays, Roll No. 637. 162 pages

Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010: The House passed H.R. 3293, making appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, by a yea-and-nay vote of 264 yeas to 153 nays, Roll No. 646. 136 pages

Veterans' Insurance and Health Care Improvements Act of 2009: H.R. 3219, amended, to amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs relating to insurance and health care; 17 pages

Veterans Nonprofit Research and Education Corporations Enhancement Act of 2009: H.R. 2770, amended, to amend title 38, United States Code, to modify and update provisions of law relating to nonprofit research and education corporations; 16 pages

Caregiver Assistance and Resource Enhancement Act: H.R. 3155, amended, to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide certain caregivers of veterans with training, support, and medical care; 18 pages

Waco Mammoth National Monument Establishment Act of 2009: H.R. 1376, amended, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to establish the Waco Mammoth National Monument in the State of Texas, by a \2/3\ recorded vote of 308 ayes to 74 noes, Roll No. 648; 6 pages

Blue Ridge Parkway and Town of Blowing Rock Land Exchange Act of 2009: H.R. 1121, amended, to authorize a land exchange to acquire lands for the Blue Ridge Parkway from the Town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, by a \2/3\ recorded vote of 377 ayes with none voting ``no'', Roll No. 649; 6 pages

WIPA and PABSS Reauthorization Act of 2009: H.R. 3325, to amend title XI of the Social Security Act to reauthorize for 1 year the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance program and the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security program; 4 pages

Veterans Business Center Act of 2009: H.R. 1803, amended, to amend the Small Business Act to establish a Veterans Business Center program; 14 pages

Educating Entrepreneurs through Today's Technology Act: H.R. 1807, amended, to provide distance learning to potential and existing entrepreneurs. 6 pages

Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009:  H.R. 1293, to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the amount payable by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to veterans for improvements and structural alterations furnished as part of home health services, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 426 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 650; 4 pages

Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act: H.R. 556, amended, to establish a program of research, recovery, and other activities to provide for the recovery of the southern sea otter, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 316 yeas to 107 nays, Roll No. 651; 10 page

Marine Turtle Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2009: H.R. 509, amended, to reauthorize the Marine Turtle Conservation Act of 2004, by a \2/3\ recorded vote of 354 ayes to 72 noes, Roll No. 652; 4 pages

Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Amendments Act of 2009: H.R. 1035, to amend the Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental and Native American Public Policy Act of 1992 to honor the legacy of Stewart L. Udall; 10 pages

Improved Oversight by Financial Inspectors General Act of 2009: H.R. 3330, to amend the Federal Deposit Insurance Act and the Federal Credit Union Act to provide more effective reviews of losses in the Deposit Insurance Fund and the Share Insurance Fund by the Inspectors General of the several Federal banking agencies and the National Credit Union Administration Board; 38 pages

Rural Homeowners Protection Act of 2009: H.R. 2034, to permit refinancing of certain loans under the Rural Housing Service program for guaranteed loans for rural housing; 6 pages

Neighborhood Preservation Act: H.R. 2529, amended, to amend the Federal Deposit Insurance Act to authorize depository institutions and depository institution holding companies to lease foreclosed property held by such institutions and companies for up to 5 years; 8 pages

Extending the authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program: H.R. 3139, amended, to extend the authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program; 6 pages

Amending the Federal securities laws to clarify and expand the definition of certain persons under those laws: H.R. 2623, to amend the Federal securities laws to clarify and expand the definition of certain persons under those laws; 6 pages

Restoring sums to the Highway Trust Fund: H.R. 3357, amended, to restore sums to the Highway Trust Fund, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 363 yeas to 68 nays, Roll No. 659. 3 pages

Coach Jodie Bailey Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 3072, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 9810 Halls Ferry Road in St. Louis, Missouri, as the ``Coach Jodie Bailey Post Office Building' 4 pages

Judicial Survivors Protection Act of 2009: The House agreed to discharge and pass S. 1107, to amend title 28, United States Code, to provide for a limited 6-month period for Federal judges to opt into the Judicial Survivors' Annuities System and begin contributing toward an annuity for their spouse and dependent children upon their death. 6 pages

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010: The House passed H.R. 3326, making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, by a yea-and-nay vote of 400 yeas to 30 nays, Roll No. 675. Consideration of the measure began on Wednesday, July 29th. 150 pages

William Orton Law Library Improvement and Modernization Act:  H.R. 2728, amended, to provide financial support for the operation of the law library of the Library of Congress, by a \2/3\ recorded vote of 383 ayes to 44 noes, Roll No. 678; 10 pages

Absentee Ballot Track, Receive, and Confirm Act: H.R. 2510, to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to reimburse States for the costs incurred in establishing a program to track and confirm the receipt of voted absentee ballots in elections for Federal office and make information on the receipt of such ballots available by means of online access; 8 pages

Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009: The House passed H.R. 2749, to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to improve the safety of food in the global market, by a recorded vote of 283 ayes to 142 noes, Roll No. 680. 160 pages

Corporate and Financial Institution Compensation Fairness Act of 2009: The House passed H.R. 3269, to amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to provide shareholders with an advisory vote on executive compensation and to prevent perverse incentives in the compensation practices of financial institutions, by a recorded vote of 237 ayes to 185 noes, Roll No. 686. 20 pages

Making supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program: H.R. 3435, to make supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 316 yeas to 109 nays with 2 voting ``present'', Roll No. 682. 4 pages

Sidney M. Aronovitz United States Courthouse Designation Act: The House agreed by unanimous consent to H.R. 2913, to designate the United States courthouse located at 301 Simonton Street in Key West, Florida, as the ``Sidney M. Aronovitz United States Courthouse''. 4 pages

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer. To see the latest member of the RTBA Coalition and to see how we're growing, check out the Keeping Score section below my signature.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President
DownsizeDC.org

KEEPING SCORE REPORT

The newest member of the Read the Bills Act Coalition of blogs, talk shows, and websites is The Tax Abolitionist Chronicles.

We've grown by 109 net new members since Monday. This brings us to 3,375 net new members for the year. The Downsize DC Army now stands at 27,724 -- nearly 73% of the way from 27,000 to 28,000!

YOU can make the army grow even faster by following our quick and easy instructions for personalized recruiting.

We can also grow faster by spreading the word through the media. Please help us do this by starting a monthly credit card pledge -- it can be as low as $5 a month (which is just 17 cents per day). You can start your pledge using DownsizeDC.org's secure online contribution form.

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NEW MONTHLY PLEDGERS IN AUGUST: 2 unlisted -- 2 total  FROM JULY: Barbara Greenhouse, Henry Wood, Donald B. Fox, Mickey Adams, Mary E Sullivan, Raul A., Michael Jones, Alan Farrar, Emma Flores, Michael S Gerlica, John C Matthews, Cheston E Unnewehr, Val Grayson, Arlene Aquino, Susan Varey, Chris Sengenberger, John DiLiberto, 3 unlisted -- 20 total.

Or, you could make a one-time donation. Please let us know on our secure contribution form if its okay to advertise your support here:

NEW ONE TIME DONORS IN AUGUST: Edward J. Krieger, Lynnette Thompson -- 2 total  FROM JULY: Robert Lonaberger, Lucy Cole, Donald E Forward, Steven J Lavelle, Karen Glasgow, Brian Keith, Susan Thomas, Chelsea Moller, Michael Herman, Bonnie Hofer, Anita Binns, Brian O'Neill, Richard E Camp, Travis Walston, Donald Grahn, Sonja Thompson, 16 unlisted -- 32 total.

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