House of Representatives

House Passes Thomas Massie’s Amendment Blocking Military Aid to Egypt

As the nation patiently waited for the U.S. House to debate the amendment introduced by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) to the House’s $598 billion defense bill, another amendment cosponsored by Reps. Amash, Ted Yoho (R-FL) and introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was approved on voice votes.

According to Massie, “the Constitution prohibits the president from unilaterally spending American taxpayer dollars on military operations without congressional approval.” The bill was a response to concerns related to the Obama Administration’s difficulty to talk openly about the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi and use the term coup d’etat to describe it. Rep. Massie’s amendment passed with barely sufficient dissent to call it an objection, which demonstrates the House’s unanimous animosity towards President Obama’s unwillingness to abide by the law, which states that military or financial assistance to a country whose president was overthrown, should be suspended. While the law sustains that a coup is enough to halt assistance, it also stipulates that it’s up to the administration to recognize the veracity of the deposition.

Early on Thursday, the Obama administration notified Congress that it has not declared what happened to Egypt as a coup, which is by law, enough to preserve the annual $1.5 billion in aid the United States provides to Egypt.

House passes legislation to delay ObamaCare mandates

Despite a veto threat from the White House, the House of Representatives yesterday approved legislation to delay ObamaCare’s employer mandate and individual mandate.

The Treasury Department announced earlier this month that it would delay employer mandate penalties and reporting requirements until 2015. House Republicans have seized on this because it is an admission by the administration that the ObamaCare’s mandates are unworkable for businesses.

They also, however, note that any delay would have to be approved by Congress because the statutory effective date for the mandate is January 1, 2014. Basically, it’s illegal for the Obama Administration to unilaterally delay the mandate. But instead of acknowleding that congressional action is necessary, House Democrats spent the entire debate criticizing Republicans.

The Authority for Mandate Delay Act, sponsored by Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR), passed by a vote of 264 to 161. Thirty-five Democrats voted in favor of the measure while only one Republican voted against it.

Moments later, the House approved the Fairness for American Families Act, sponsored by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN). This legislation would, for one year, delay the individual mandate, which is one of the most controversial parts of ObamaCare.

House to vote to remove IRS authority from ObamaCare

The House of Representatives will vote in the next two weeks on H.R. 2009 — the Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act — legislation sponsored by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) that will prohibit the agency, which is under fire for wrongly targeting conservative groups, from enforcing ObamaCare.

In response to the IRS scandal, House Republicans are promising a series of votes on legislation to send a message to the embattled agency and to keep the Obama Administration playing defense as ObamaCare continues to collapse on itself.

“As we’ve seen in recent announcements from the White House, the Obama Administration is clearly unable to manage the implementation of its own health care law. We’ve also learned that the IRS is clearly unable to prudently and impartially enforce current law,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) in a press release from his office. “The Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act is essential in preventing further targeting, abuse and harassment, as well as in ensuring Americans have access to quality health care.”

“It is thanks to the American people who have voiced their support for our plan and the more than 100 members of Congress who have cosponsored H.R. 2009 that we have this opportunity to take action,” he added. “I urge more of our fellow citizens to get involved, so together, we can continue to keep the pressure on Washington to keep health care decisions in the hands of patients, families and doctors, instead of the government.”

House to vote on individual mandate delay

With the Obama Administration playing defense on ObamaCare due to its unpopularity and implementation problems, including the delay of the employer mandate and significant relaxation of eligibility verification for taxpayer-funded subsidies; House Republicans are preparing to up the ante.

During his weekly press conference yesterday, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters that the House of Representatives will vote next week on legislation to delay the individual mandate for one-year.

“ObamaCare is raising costs, it’s making it harder for small businesses to hire, and frankly, with last week’s announcement, it’s wide open to fraud and abuse.  In short, it’s a train wreck.  And even the administration knows that this law is unworkable,” said Boehner. “The President has delayed ObamaCare’s employer mandate, but hasn’t delayed the mandate on individuals or families. I think it’s unfair and indefensible.”

He noted that businesses will get a pass on ObamaCare for a year, but that young Americans struggling to pay off student loans, a reference to another ongoing legislative battle, or hardworking parents fighting to make ends meet will not get the same treatment.

“Listen, is it fair for the President to give American businesses an exemption from the health law’s mandates, without giving the same break to individuals and families across the country?” Boehner asked. “Hell no it isn’t.”

“Next week the House will vote to delay both the employer mandate and the individual mandate,” he added. “I believe it’s unfair to protect big businesses from ObamaCare, but not individuals and families.”

House Republicans to drop food stamps from Farm Bill

After an embarrassing defeat last month, House Republican leaders have decided to separate food stamp funding from the Farm Bill in hopes that they can appease special interest groups lobbying for more taxpayer money:

House Republican leaders have decided to drop food stamps from the farm bill and are whipping the farm-only portion of the bill for a vote that will likely come this week, according to a GOP leadership aide.

The nutrition portion of the bill would be dealt with later.
House Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas said Tuesday morning that he would support splitting the farm bill — as long as it can pass the House.

“I’m willing to do what it takes to get a farm bill done,” Lucas said as he exited a Republican Conference meeting Tuesday morning. “If that means doing it unconventionally, maybe we got to give it a try.”

Republican leadership has tried to blame everybody themselves, including Democrats and fiscal conservatives in the House, for the Farm Bill’s failure. Big spending, rank-and-file Republicans have also lashed out at fiscal conservatives for not voting for the bill.

House rejects wasteful, subsidy-filled Farm Bill

Farm Bill

Fiscal conservatives scored a big victory yesterday afternoon as the House of Representatives rejected the $940 billion Farm Bill by a vote of 195 to 234.

The Farm Bill was easily passed by the Democrat-controlled Senate earlier this month. But the cost of the bill, which is 56% higher than the $604 billion package passed in 2008, was too much for many fiscal conservatives in the House.

This legislation, which is usually passed by Congress every five years, is filled with subsidies for special interests and payments to farmers to not grow crops to keep prices artificially high. It also renews the SNAP food stamp program, consumes nearly 79% of the total cost of the bill.

Efforts were made by many members concerned about the cost of the bill to end farm subsidies to wealthy farmers and to members; however, The Hill notes that those and many other worthy amendments were ruled out-of-order by the House Rules Committee.

For example, Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) offered an amendment to separate food stamp funding from the rest of the Farm Bill. During testimony before the House Rules Committee, Stutzman explained that Congress has been passing welfare legislation under the guise of farm policy.

Republicans Fail to Rein in Wasteful Farm Bill Spending

The fact that outlandish misinformation flies around Capitol Hill as various groups fight to keep their subsidies is nothing new. But sometimes, the misinformation is so misleading and shocking that it’s important to stop and take note.

The prize for deception today goes to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., who yesterday found himself desperately fighting to keep the massive subsidy scheme known as federal crop insurance in place in the doomed Farm Bill, despite a rising tide of opposition among members of his own party.

A bipartisan amendment offered by Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Tom Petri, R-Wis., took strong steps toward placing a reasonable scope on the program, which has consistently come in above cost projections by encouraging farmers to over-insure. Provisions in the amendment include a means-test of $250,000, a payment limit of $50,000, a reduction in subsidies to the insurance industry and transparency of premium support recipients.

Each of these provisions is essential to make the program sustainable over the long term, but to hear Chairman Lucas tell it, the amendment would single-handedly destroy agriculture in America. In a letter sent out to congressmen today, the chairman alleges the following:

The amendment is backed by groups whose goal is to cut $100 billion out of the Farm Bill’s safety net and crop insurance which would zero out the safety net and gut crop insurance.

Some of the same groups say it is their goal to eliminate all federal support for crop insurance.

Majority of House co-sponsors ObamaCare tax repeal

 A Hard Pill to Swallow

Undeterred by President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats resistance to revisit healthcare reform, the House of Representatives is still pushing to make changes to ObamaCare that could help lower insurance premiums and costs for Americans.

The latest effort is legislation sponsored by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) to repeal the tax on health insurance plans, one of the 20 new taxes or tax hikes that were included in ObamaCare. The Hill notes that the legislation, H.R. 763, has received the backing of a majority of the House:

The bill would repeal a new tax on health insurance plans, which is expected to raise roughly $100 billion over the next 10 years. Insurers and small businesses strongly oppose the tax, saying it will drive up premiums.
It’s not especially surprising for a majority of the GOP-led House to support repealing the tax. The House has passed bills to repeal the entire healthcare law and to repeal or defund myriad individual provisions.

Still, hitting 218 cosponsors is a key benchmark for the law’s critics.

“This largely symbolic yet important benchmark for repealing the health insurer fee shows the level of bipartisan support in Congress to do away with this misguided policy,” said Joe Moser, interim executive director of the Medicaid Health Plans of America.

According to GovTrack, the legislation now has 221 co-sponsors, including six House Democrats.

Obama to Donors: Nancy Pelosi for Speaker

Nancy Pelosi

Here’s a reminder of what’s at stake in the 2014 mid-term election. During a fundraising event in Chicago on Wednesday, President Barack Obama told Democratic donors that he “could not be more anxious or eager” to have House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) hold the Speaker’s gavel once again:

Joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his former chief of staff, at a glitzy hotel in downtown Chicago, Obama cast his days of politicking as behind him — “I’ve run my last political race.” But he portrayed a renewed Democratic majority in Congress as the best insurance policy against a GOP determined to stand in his way.

“Washington is not broken,” Obama said. “It’s broken right now for a particular reason, but it’s not permanently broken. It can be fixed.”

That’s where Democratic donors and the candidates they support come in, Obama said.

About 150 supporters, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, attended the reception, where tickets started at $1,000 per person.
“I could not be more anxious or eager to have her back as Speaker of the House,” Obama said as the California congresswoman beamed.

Democrats need to gain 17 seats to recapture control of the House next year. It’s an ambitious goal, Democrats and Obama acknowledge, considering the president’s party typically loses seats during the sixth year in office.

Internet Sales Tax Could Lead to Higher Prices for Consumers

The House of Representatives is taking its time with the Internet sales tax, which is a good thing. They’re allowing it to go through the proper process, unlike the Senate, and that’s giving more time for opponents to make their case against the proposal.

What we already know about the Internet sales tax, absurdly named the “Marketplace Fairness Act,” is troubling. Not only is the proposal constitutionally questionable, it would turn Internet retailers into a tax collecting agents for 45 states and the District of Columbia and more than 9,600 taxing jurisdictions.

“[T]hat’s 46 returns (45 states with sales taxes plus the District of Columbia), which have to be filed monthly or quarterly, and 46 potential audits every year,” wrote Jacob Sullum earlier this month at Reason,not to mention all the misunderstandings, disputes, and hassles that fall short of an audit.”

That is a regulatory nightmare for business, and customers could feel the effects. The Heritage Foundation points to a recent interview by a small business owner who explained that compliances costs will lead to prices increases for consumers:

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