House of Representatives

House Approves Keystone XL Pipeline

Keystone XL cartoon

After months of waiting President Barack Obama to stop sitting on his hands, the House passed a resolution last night in a 241 to 175 vote to bypass the White House and approve the northern leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline:

The House passed a bill Wednesday that would approve the northern leg of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline by an act of law, and take the decision out of the hands of President Obama.

Members voted 241-175 in favor of H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act. Republican supporters were joined by 19 Democrats, much less than the level of Democratic support in the last Congress.
The House also accepted a lone Republican amendment from Rep. Randy Weber (Texas), which highlights State Department findings that say the Keystone pipeline is environmentally sound. Weber’s language passed 246-168.

President Obama has promised to veto the measure. That generally means that the Senate won’t even bother taking up the measure. But the upper chamber did pass an amendment to its budget back in March that approved Keystone XL.

Rep. Thomas Massie to Lead Charge Against Internet Sales Tax


Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), one of the most consistent voices for Liberty in the House, will give a 30-minute special order speech today against the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act,” legislation that would turn online retailers into tax collecting agents for 45 states and more than 9,600 taxing jurisdictions.

“The Marketplace Fairness Act is not fair, and is essentially a National Internet Tax Mandate,” Massie said in announcement on his Facebook page. “The Internet has been an enormous boon to our entire economy. Let’s keep it that way.”

The graphic below was posted with the announcement. As you can see below, Massie is pushing a Twitter hashtag — #NoNetTax — to correspond with his speech. There was no announcement of the exact time, though Massie said he would speak after votes for the day, which will end around 6pm.

The Senate passed the online sales tax measure, which is being being pushed by mostly traditional brick-and-mortor retailers and tax-hungry state government, earlier this month. Most conservative groups oppose the measure because they correctly view it as a tax hike and a burdensome new regulation that could put small, mom-and-pop retailers out of business.

House Passes Debt Prioritization Measure

Treasury Department

With another debt ceiling fight potentially brewing, the House of Representatives passed the Full Faith and Credit Act, sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), which would require the Treasury Department to prioritize debt service and Social Security payments to keep the United States’ credit rating intact:

The House on Thursday passed legislation that would allow the government to borrow money above the debt ceiling, but only to service U.S. bondholders and make payments related to the Social Security Trust Fund.

The Full Faith and Credit Act, H.R. 807, was passed in a 221-207 vote that saw all but eight Republicans favor the bill, and every Democrat oppose it.

Republicans said the bill creates a necessary option for the government to extend its borrowing ability in the event that it bumps up against the debt ceiling. Republicans and Democrats are expected to begin talks this month on increasing the debt limit.

You can view the roll call vote here.

President Obama, who has pledged a veto should it pass the Senate, Democrats have attacked the measure because it would take one of their favorite talking points off the table. President Obama has frequently claimed during debt ceiling fights that Social Security checks could be held up if the statutory national debt limit is not raised.

Sanford’s Strong Fiscal Conservative Views Worry Boehner

Mark Sanford

Speaker John Boehner and Republican leaders in the House are apparently worried about Rep.-elect Mark Sanford (R-SC):

Boehner on Tuesday morning suggested that he was less than thrilled about Sanford’s potential return to the House. And while the Speaker tweeted out a quick “congrats” to Sanford with the hash-tag jobs, a comment from his spokesman following the results was less than a bear-hug.
“He could be an added voice to the opposition — to those who like to make trouble for the Republican leadership,” GOP strategist Ron Bonjean, a former top House leadership aide, told The Hill. “It’ll definitely be a leadership management issue.”

Sanford made it clear in Tuesday night’s victory speech that he wasn’t returning to Washington to make friends — the same approach he took when he was a thorn in the side of GOP leadership during his first stint in Congress in the 1990s, and when he fought tooth-and-nail with the Republican-controlled statehouse during his governorship.

The newly elected congressman said voters had sent a “message to Washington, D.C., and a messenger to Washington, D.C., on the importance on changing things in that fair city.”

House to Take Its Time with the Online Sales Tax

Online Sales Tax

On Monday, the Senate passed the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act,” legislation that would allow states to force businesses into serving as tax collectors. While it cleared the chamber by a large margin, the House of Representatives appears to be cool to the proposal, at least for now:

“Call me a conservative, but I believe the right approach to tax fairness is to reduce rates — not force higher rates onto others,” said Tom Graves, a House Republican from Georgia.

House Speaker John Boehner plans to send the bill to the House Judiciary Committee, a senior Republican aide said. That will mean hearings ahead. The Senate uncharacteristically bypassed this step.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte, a Republican, has reservations about the legislation, including its complexity and potential impact on small businesses, a spokeswoman said.

Goodlatte has yet to schedule any hearings on it, she said.

Goodlatte’s statement on the online sales tax proposal was more encouraging than what his spokeswoman has told the media. Specifically, Goodlatte says that the scheme “attempts to make tax collection simpler, [but] it still has a long way to go.”

Senate Approves Online Sales Tax

online sales tax

Early yesterday evening, the United States Senate passed the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act,” otherwise known as the Internet sales tax, which will turn small businesses and Internet-based retailers into tax collecting agents for 45 states and more than 9,600 local jurisdictions:

The Senate on Monday approved legislation that would for the first time allow states to collect billions of dollars in online sales tax revenue from out-of-state purchases.

The 69-27 vote is a major victory for retail groups and state governments, who for years have fought to close what they see as a loophole that allows as much as $23 billion in annual taxes from online sales to go uncollected.
Supporters said the overwhelming vote in the Senate will give the bill momentum as it heads to the House. They hope to get a bill to President Obama’s desk by the end of 2013.

Opponents, including some well-known conservative groups and the online retailer eBay, have vowed to keep up the fight in the House, where the path forward is less clear. They argue forcing small businesses to play tax collector for other states would be a huge burden, and that the bill would open retailers up to increased audits and compliance costs.

You can see how your Senators voted here. As you’ll see, Senate Republicans were split almost evenly on the tax, with opponents just barely edging out supporters. Only five Senate Democrats voted against the tax.

Cantor: House to Vote on ObamaCare Repeal, Keystone XL Approval

The House of Representatives will vote on repeal of ObamaCare “in the near future,” according to a memo from Major Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). The memo, which was obtained by The Hill, outlines several policy measures — including ObamaCare repeal,  approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and debt prioritization — that will be taken up by House Republicans over the next few weeks.

“In line with our underlying principles for legislation and our goal of helping make life work for American families and businesses, I expect the House to have a full legislative agenda in May,” wrote Cantor to the House Republican Conference (PDF). “We will push the administration to finally approve the Keystone pipeline delivering much needed jobs and lower energy prices for families. We will ensure that working moms and dads in the private sector have the same freedoms and flexibility currently offered government employees.”

“We will reform our student loan process and hold the SEC accountable so that business can be assured of more certainty and less red tape. We will put pediatric disease research ahead of politics to focus on finding cures,” he added. “And we will guarantee our debt obligations are met under any circumstance so as not to burden our kids with unpaid bills. While we have not locked in the timing, I expect that the House will vote on full repeal of ObamaCare in the near future.”

No other specifics were offered on ObamaCare repeal, but Cantor did outline the case for the other legislative matters that House Republicans will pursue before Congress adjourns for a district work period at the end of the month.

Congress Passes FAA Furlough Fix


After a few days worth of flight delays, Congress has bypassed the Obama Administration on FAA furloughs for air traffic controllers. The Senate acted last night, unanimously passing a resolution that requires the Department of Transportation to move funds to the FAA to prevent the furloughs. In a 361 to 41 vote earlier this afternoon, the House followed suit:

Congress approved a bill ordering the Transportation Department to move money to the Federal Aviation Administration in order to put air traffic controllers back on the job — and requiring Mr. Obama’s team to make cuts elsewhere in the department.

“I think we all agree the FAA and the administration has handled the sequester poorly,” said Rep. Tom Latham, Iowa Republican. “The administration has played shameful politics with sequestration at the expense of hardworking families.”

The bill passed the House 361-41, and the Senate had already pre-approved the bill unanimously late Thursday night.

It now goes to Mr. Obama, who signaled he will sign it — though the White House was not happy about it.

Despite concocting the sequester and signing it into law, President Obama has done everything he can to avoid responsibility for it by trying to shift blame on Republicans. That rhetoric has backfired on the White House and Senate Democrats, and Leftist pundits like Ezra Klein are whining that they’ve given up their only leverage on the issue.

CISPA Passes the House


Despite a veto threat from the White House, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a bill that puts Internet privacy at risk:

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), H.R. 624, was approved in a 288-127 vote despite ongoing fears from some lawmakers and privacy advocates that the measure could give the government access to private information about consumers.

Ninety-two Democrats voted with Republicans in favor of the bill and just 29 Republicans opposed it. The bill secured enough votes to override a veto.

That’s greater support than last year, when a similar bill passed 248-168 with the support of 42 Democrats. Twenty-eight Republicans opposed that bill.

Click here to see how the representatives from your state voted.

While most agree that more needs to be done to protect the United States from hackers and other cyber threat, it needs to be done in a way that ensures Internet privacy. The bill, as currently, simply doesn’t go far enough to that end. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently noted that CISPA gives immunity to companies that improperly share data with the government.

White House Issues Veto Threat Over CISPA


It looks like President Barack Obama may finally come down on the right side of an issue. According to a statement released yesterday from the White House, President Obama has issued a veto threat over H.R. 624 — the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which is more commonly known as CISPA.

“The Administration recognizes and appreciates that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) adopted several amendments to H.R. 624 in an effort to incorporate the Administration’s important substantive concerns,” read the statement from the White House. “However, the Administration still seeks additional improvements and if the bill, as currently crafted, were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

The “improvements” mentioned in the statement are the need for greater privacy protections than the bill currently provides for Internet users.

“H.R. 624 appropriately requires the Federal Government to protect privacy when handling cybersecurity information,” noted the statement. “Importantly, the Committee removed the broad national security exemption, which significantly weakened the restrictions on how this information could be used by the government.”

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