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This bill would require a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve Bank. Currently, several of the Fed's economically significant activities are shielded from their annual audit. Given that the Fed's policies have a dramatic effect on interest rates and the value of our money, it is crucial that their practices be subject to public and Congressional scrutiny.
This amendment, S.Amdt. 4685, offered by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), to the Senate version of the Commerce, Justice, Science spending bill would greatly expand the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) surveillance powers, giving the agency the ability to collect sensitive, personal information about American citizens’ online activities. The Fourth Amendment is an important protection against government intrusions into our lives, and we should be wary of any legislation that threatens such a fundamental right. The amendment would allow the FBI to collect Electronic Communications Transactional Records (ECTRs) which includes information about web browsing history, the to/from lines of emails, and location information from IP addresses with only an administrative subpoena, also known as a National Security Letter. In addition to not requiring a warrant, national security letters also include a gag order, so companies cannot even inform their customers that their data is being turned over to federal law enforcement officials.
This resolution, S.J. Res. 28, offered by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) would roll back an unnecessary, expensive, and duplicative federal regulation on catfish at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The resolution would save taxpayers $14.4 million. Federal regulations like this one are part of the regulatory state that burdens individuals and the economy with complex and expensive rules.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund provides money for states and the federal government to purchase land for "conservation" purposes. This fund has been used to purchase millions of acres of private property, further increasing the massive quantity of government-owned property in the United States. Taxpayers should not be subsidizing the government takeover of ever-greater swaths of property, yet this amendment would make this land-purchase fund permanent.
H.R. 2 is a bill to permanently prevent a scheduled cut in payments to doctors under Medicare, as well as to reauthorize S-CHIP - the federal health insurance program for children. Aside from numerous other policy issues, this bill also adds over $140 billion to the deficit over ten years. This amendment by Senator Mike Lee would invoke the statutory pay-as-you-go requirement so that Congress would be forced to find savings to erase the deficits created by this bill.
This amendment, by Senator Flake, would strike the extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program from the bill to create fast-track trade authority. TAA is an ineffective and duplicative program that gives financial assistance to workers and companies that have been negatively affected by free trade. TAA has been shown to be ineffective and even harmful to those it is supposed to benefit, and should be allowed to expire.
This amendment by Senator Lee would allow parents to opt their children out of having to take federally mandated standardized tests, while ensuring that schools are not penalized for these students not being tested.
This amendment by Senator Cruz would prohibit the Department of Education from forcing states to adhere to any federal testing standards, allowing states to determine their own assessment plans for public schools.
The Export-Import Bank is an 80-year-old corporate welfare program that ought to be allowed to expire. That Republican leaders prioritize Ex-Im instead of conservative priorities confirms that they fail to address the expansion...
This amendment by Senator Ron Wyden would address one of the most glaring issues with the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), by requiring that companies sharing cyber threat data with the government first scrub non-essential personally identifiable information (PII) from the reports first. Without this amendment, CISA creates a perverse incentive for companies to be less careful about the sharing of their customers' personal data - which would be shared in real times across many government agencies, including the NSA.
This bill was the vehicle for the budget agreement that will spend $80 billion beyond the Budget Control Act caps over two years, along with $16 billion in new defense spending that doesn't count towards the caps. The supposed offsets to this spending are mostly either gimmicks or long-term, while the new deficit spending is immediate. The bill also suspends the debt ceiling through March of 2017, effectively giving the government a blank check for that period.
This resolution invokes the Congressional Act to disapprove of the recent EPA rule that greatly increases emissions restrictions on existing coal-fired power plants. This tremendously destructive regulation would greatly increase energy costs in the many states which rely heavily upon coal-fired power plants for their electricity. These cost increases damage overall economic growth, and in particular lower the standard of living of lower-income earners.
This resolution invokes the Congressional Act to disapprove of the recent EPA rule that greatly increases emissions restrictions on any future coal-fired power plants. This rule tightens emissions standards to the point where it will likely not be economically feasible to build new coal-fired electric plants, crippling one of the most abundant and cost-effective sources of energy in America.
This amendment by Senator Sherrod Brown would make permanent the 100 percent federal match rate for Medicaid enrollees under the ObamaCare expansion of that program. This would completely remove the incentive for states to resist expanding Medicaid because it would be largely free for them. This increase in permanent federal entitlement spending would be paid for by a tax increase on higher income earners.
This bill uses the budget reconciliation process to repeal all of the parts of ObamaCare that have a budgetary impact, which would eliminate nearly all of ObamaCare's core functions. Among the programs repealed are the Medicaid expansion, the insurance premium subsidies, the insurance mandates, several grant programs, and all of the new taxes. Because of the reconciliation procedure, this bill only requires 50 votes to pass.
This bill would renew federal highway funding to states for a period of five years. However, it does not solve the structural deficit within the Highway Trust Fund, doesn't eliminate the wasteful spending that takes away from funding roads, and doesn't offset that spending in any real way. Furthermore, this bill contains a reauthorization of the expired Export-Import Bank, in order to prevent having a standalone vote on renewing such a direct corporate welfare fund.
This omnibus appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2016 funds former Speaker Boehner's budget-busting deal to the tune of $50 billion above the budget caps for 2016. It contains several very troubling legislative riders a well, including more funding for the IMF, and a massive new cybersecurity information sharing program that violates consumers' privacy and due process. It also fails to include most of the amendments from the appropriations process that would have defunded key, harmful federal regulations.
This bill funds the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year (through September, 2014). It spends $45 billion more than the budget caps established in 2011, and perpetuates a vast amount of wasteful spending from previous years. Lawmakers were also given almost no time to read this 1,500 page spending bill.
This final version of the Farm Bill, reconciled between the House and Senate, actually undoes some of the already modest reforms to crop insurance and food stamps that were previously in the bill. This five-year reauthorization of the Farm Bill will spend nearly a trillion dollars over ten years, and remains loaded with corporate welfare and special carve-outs for well-connected agricultural corporations.
This bill suspends the debt limit until March 15th of 2015, allowing the president to potentially run up as much debt as he pleases during that time period. The debt is already projected to increase by about $1 trillion over that period, to over $18 trillion. Meanwhile, this debt ceiling suspension contains no reforms to curb spending whatsoever.
This amendment replaced an unrelated bill with a bill to extend federal unemployment insurance benefits by a further six months, starting retroactively in January 2014. Federal unemployment assistance was meant to be temporary, as states already have their own safety nets for the unemployed. Extending this program is an unnecessary cost to taxpayers, and creates perverse incentives than can cause job-seekers more difficulty in finding work.
This bipartisan energy bill further subsidizes state projects to make buildings more energy efficient, among various green subsidies. Many of the provisions of this bill are duplicative, and all would be better handled by states themselves. The projects and the accompanying regulations are theoretically voluntary, but with 'incentives' and studies aimed at coercing states to accept them.
David Jeremiah Barron is a troubling judicial nominee due to his explicit advocacy of judicial activism. He was also the White House legal counsel who approved the extralegal killing of a non-combatant American citizen in Yemen - an unprecedented violation of Constitutional rights to due process and trial.
This was the crucial vote for the nomination of Sylvia Burwell to replace the retiring Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). During her tenure as Chair of the Office of Management and Budget, Burwell oversaw the Obama Administration's attempts to make the partial government shutdown of 2013 as visibly inconvenient as possible, including famously shutting WWII veterans out of their own (open-air) memorial. Thus, it appears unlikely that Burwell would be willing to change the opaque and uncooperative practices of HHS, which is overseeing the implementation of ObamaCare.
This bill would allow students to refinance their private loans into a lower-interest government loan. To pay for this, the bill also contains the so-called "Buffett Tax", a new alternative minimum tax rate that would greatly increase tax rates for higher-income individuals and small businesses.
This amendment by Sen. Mike Lee would stop the cycle of mismanagement and bankruptcy in the Highway Trust Fund by devolving that funding directly to the states over a period of 5 years. Cutting out the federal middleman for highway infrastructure projects will allow states to more accurately address their own needs, and at a lower cost than under the current system.
This bill bails out the nearly depleted Highway Trust Fund through May of 2015, using revenue gimmicks to supposedly offset most of the cost. The Highway Trust Fund desperately needs reform instead of merely continuing to receive periodic taxpayer bailouts.
This constitutional amendment would allow the government broad power to legally define what constitutes political speech for the purposes of regulating expenditures on behalf of candidates. This means that anything from books, movies, billboards, or any other funded public expression that is deemed "political" could be regulated and potentially limited. Effectively, this amendment would place constitutional limits on free speech, stripping away many First Amendment freedoms.
This bill purports to ban unequal pay on account of gender. But by making unequal pay illegal, it exposes employers to expensive and time-consuming frivolous lawsuits for any perceived inequality. The "wage gap" that this policy is supposed to address has been shown by repeated studies to be diminishing on its own, and is in fact non-existent in most industries.
This trillion-plus dollar spending bill was crafted behind closed doors and was packed with dozens of policy riders that Congress never had a chance to vote on individually. It continues to fund the federal government fully, with zero reforms to the government's out-of-control spending.
This change to the rules of the Senate weakens the minority party's ability to filibuster legislation by imposing much tighter restrictions on debate time on bills. The ability of either party to slow down consideration of a bill or nomination was a feature granted to the Senate intentionally by our founders, providing the opportunity for legislation to be exhaustively debated before being passed into law. This rules change is a major blow to that important tradition.
This amendment, sponsored by Senator Mike Lee (UT), would offset the cost of the emergency spending in the Disaster Relief Act over time by making a .49% across-the board cut to discretionary spending. Such a minor spending cut in order to offset a large amount of deficit spending should be an easy call given the current $16.4 trillion national debt.
This bill is an "emergency" appropriations bill that contains $50.1 billion in spending that is supposed to aid those affected by Hurricane Sandy. In reality, however, most of the spending will not provide acute disaster relief, and much of it is not even scheduled to be spent until 2014 or later. Thus, the bill functions more like a stimulus than true disaster relief and its spending should be appropriated through the budget process instead of as emergency spending that adds to the federal deficit.
This amendment would require that, upon reaching the debt limit, the Treasury would prioritize military pay, Social Security obligations, and payments of interest on the national debt. This would prevent the executive branch from making the claim that reaching the debt ceiling would prevent Social Security checks from being sent, since the government incurs enough revenue to meet these obligations without borrowing.
This bill raises the statutory limit on the public debt (the "debt ceiling") by whatever amount is necessary to reach May 19th, 2013. Although the bill theoretically contains a "no budget, no pay" provision conditional upon the Senate passing a budget resolution, in reality the provision has no teeth. FreedomWorks insists that further increases in the debt ceiling by accompanied by proportional decreases in federal spending in order to address the ever-increasing federal debt, which at the time of this bill stood at $16.4 trillion. Instead, this bill amounts to a "clean" debt ceiling hike, accompanied by the unenforceable promise of spending reforms at a later date.
This amendment would effectively defund ObamaCare by tying its funding to economic growth reaching historical average levels. Defunding ObamaCare would reduce ten-year spending by over $1 trillion and would go a long way towards reducing our government's massive annual deficits.
This is the amended version of the bill containing the Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year. The bill still funds ObamaCare, and continues to institutionalize current levels of deficit spending. In addition, the House and Senate each added several departmental appropriation bills into the C.R., bypassing regular order and the amendment process that ought to accompany each of these spending bills individually.
This budget amendment was a proxy vote for the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow states to band together to collect taxes on internet sales from citizens of other states. This type of internet sales tax scheme violates the physical presence standard of tax collection and would place an undue compliance burden upon online retailers.
This amendment would make federal education dollars under No Child Left Behind portable so that lower-income parents could use that money towards sending their child to another school. This would be a good first step towards offering parents true choice in their children's education.
This amendment to the Senate's budget resolution would call for the outright elimination of the estate tax (better known as the "death tax"). The death tax is absolutely unjust because it taxes assets that have already been taxed before, and it punishes those who have saved their money over a lifetime to pass on to the next generation. This tax is particularly devastating to small businesses and family farms.
This is Senator Rand Paul's budget plan, which would balance in five years, eliminate four Cabinet departments, replace the current tax code with a flat tax, and fundamentally reform all major entitlement programs.
This amendment would prevent taxpayer resources from being used to automatically deduct union dues from the paychecks of unionized federal employees. Federal workers, most of whom have never had the opportunity to vote on whether or not they wish to be unionized, ought to be able to decide if they wish to pay dues to their unions. Much of the collected dues are used for union political activities, which a given employee may or may not agree with.
This is the Senate Democrats' budget plan, which raises taxes by nearly $1 trillion while using budget gimmicks to claim $1.8 trillion in spending cuts. In reality, the budget never achieves balance and actually increases spending in the first year, while failing to address the primary drivers of government spending - entitlements - at all.
This bill allows states to collect taxes on internet sales from businesses in other states. This violates the physical presence standard that has governed tax collection since our founding, and raises constitutional issues about businesses being forced to bear the expense of complying with tax collection for states in which they have no representation.
The so-called "Farm Bill" is actually a combination of agricultural policy and welfare, with food stamps accounting for 80 percent of the bill's nearly trillion dollars in projected spending. Aside from failing to contain the multitude of faults within the rapidly-expanding food welfare programs, the agricultural portion of the bill is an amalgam of direct corporate welfare for insurance companies and farm corporations and special carve-outs and price supports for the specific industries with the best lobbyists.
This bill would fund the Departments of Transportation and Housing & Urban Development (and related agencies) for Fiscal Year 2014. Besides doing nothing to reform the large amount of wasteful spending contained in both departments to begin with, this bill actually increases spending for the departments to pre-sequestration levels. This is part of the broader Democratic strategy to eliminate the only real spending cuts that have been achieved since 2010.
Senator Mike Lee solicited signers on a letter to Senator Harry Reid, which declared that the signers would not vote for any appropriations bill, including a Continuing Resolution (CR), that contained further funding for ObamaCare's implementation or enforcement. The letter put senators on the record committing to actually defunding ObamaCare using a must-pass bill (the CR), rather than just taking another symbolic vote on an amendment that the Democrats could easily defeat.
This is the crucial vote to end debate on the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government while ending funding for ObamaCare. Voting for cloture would allow Senate Democrats to resume funding ObamaCare with a straight party-line vote, meaning that a 'yea' vote here is a vote to fund ObamaCare, with the law's first starting date just days away.
H.R. 2775 was used as the vehicle for the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government. This bill funds the government fully (including ObamaCare) through January 15th of 2014, suspends the debt ceiling until February of 2014, and obliges both chambers of Congress to go to conference on a full-year budget. In other words, this CR allows for more uncontrolled spending and debt, with no reforms to either, does nothing to address ObamaCare, and potentially promises more future spending if a budget agreement is reached.
This is the final vote of a complicated Senate parliamentary procedure often referred to as the "Nuclear Option", used the allow the Senate's rules to be changed using only a simple majority vote. Majority Leader Harry Reid used this procedure to allow all executive nominations (except Supreme Court nominees) to pass without a cloture vote, meaning that he only needs 51 votes instead of 60. This is a massive blow to the rights of the minority party in the Senate, and sets a dangerous precedent of tyrannical majority rule in a Senate that has traditionally prized the rights of every Senator and party to have their full say.
This is the vote to end debate on the budget deal negotiated by Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray. The deal breaks the budget caps established in 2011 by $63 billion over two years, while claiming to contain a net deficit reduction over ten years by raising fees and making other minor cuts. With no guarantee that future congresses will obey the scheduled spending cuts, this bill delivers increases in both spending and taxes in exchange for no meaningful reforms. Voting for cloture allowed the bill to be passed by a simple majority vote.