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Audit the Fed, repeal death tax, authorize Keystone Pipeline, end subsidized mobile phones, and cut spending by 1%


Check out these key votes made by elected officials in Congress during the current legislative session, and go to to signup and see how your elected officials voted on these and other issues that impact your daily life.


Senate Bill 2232, Audit the Federal Reserve: Failed 53 to 44 in the Senate on January 12, 2016.

To direct the Government Accountability Office to audit the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and report its findings to Congress. This was a vote on cloture, meaning the bill required 60 votes for passage.

House Bill 1105, Repeal federal estate tax: Passed 240 to 179 in the House on April 16, 2015.

To repeal the federal estate tax, which is a 40 rate on the value of an estate above $5.43 million, which the government seeks to collect upon the death of a taxpayer. The bill would also repeal a so-called "generation skipping" tax (an additional tax placed on money given to grandchildren or great-grandchildren directly), and cap the federal gift tax rate at 35 percent.

Senate Bill 1 Authorize Keystone Pipeline: Passed 62 to 36 in the Senate on January 29, 2015, and 270 to 152 in the Senate on February 11, 2015. Vetoed by the president on February 24, 2015.

To authorize construction of the Keystone oil pipeline, which will complete a network transporting crude oil from Canadian oilfields to existing U.S. pipelines ultimately connected to refineries in Texas. The bill "deems" that an environmental impact statement done previously by the Department of State (as part of the border crossing permit process) hereby satisfies all federal environmental law requirements, and past permits are still valid. The Senate added provisions amending and in some cases expanding various unrelated federal energy programs, standards and regulations.

House Bill 5525, End government-subsidized mobile phone service: Failed 207 to 143 in the House on June 21, 2016.

To end the program that provides a subsidy to mobile phone companies to give low-income customers a discount on mobile phone service. The measure was defeated, because the vote was on a motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, which requires a 2/3 super-majority.

Blackburn amendment U.S. House Bill 5538, Cut some agencies’ spending by 1%: Failed 171 to 258 in the House on July 13, 2016.

To cut proposed spending for the Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, and related agencies by 1% across-the-board.

Impeach the IRS Commissioner?

If some congressmen have their way, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen will be leaving office shortly.

There is a move in the House of Representatives to impeach the Commissioner Koskinen. Members of the House could force a vote on this in the near future. Members of the House Freedom Caucus want him disciplined for what they view as a failure to comply with the investigation into Lois Lerner’s activities regarding conservative nonprofits.

National Review sums up the case against Koskinen:

“Koskinen, who became commissioner after Lerner left, failed to disclose the disappearance of e-mails germane to a congressional investigation of IRS misbehavior. Under his leadership, the IRS failed to comply with a preservation order pertaining to an investigation. He did not testify accurately or keep promises made to Congress. Subpoenaed documents, including 422 tapes potentially containing 24,000 Lerner e-mails, were destroyed. He falsely testified that the Government Accountability Office’s report on IRS practices found ‘no examples of anyone who was improperly selected for an audit.’”

The editors of the Washington Post, on the other hand, say that impeachment would be an abuse of the process:

“The cumbersome and partisan Senate confirmation process has made it hard enough to fully staff the highest realms of government with competent people. Never-ending, partisan impeachment proceedings against executive officers would make it even harder to keep the essential mechanics of government working. The result would be more bureaucratic bungling, not less.”

Generally impeachment motions first go through the House Judiciary Committee. With the Judiciary Committee failing to act, however, some House Republicans want to use a procedural motion to force a vote on the House floor. That idea is meeting resistance from some House Republican leaders.

Impeachment is only the first step in the process of removal for office. If a majority of the House of Representatives votes in favor of impeachment, then it would be up to the Senate to have a trial and vote on whether to remove Koskinen from office. Senate leaders have said they will not conduct a trial if the House votes for impeachment.

Only one cabinet official has ever been impeached -- Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876.

Do you think that the House of Representatives should impeach Commissioner Koskinen? Or do you think that the impeachment proceedings are an abuse of the process?

What’s the Holdup for Zika Funding?


With 42 Floridians catching Zika, there is concern there and in neighboring states that the virus could spread. In Congress, both Democrats and Republicans say they want to provide federal funds to combat the virus. And yet, no funds have been approved.

The culprit, as is so often the case, can be blamed on partisan gridlock.

Funding for combatting Zika is contained in one of the thirteen appropriations, or spending, bills that Congress must pass every year to fund the government. This bill contains funding not only for Zika efforts, but also for other government functions.

The House of Representatives passed this legislation with a vote of 239-17 on June 23. Senate Democrats, however, are refusing to allow the bill come to a vote in that chamber. Although a majority of Senators voted to proceed with a final vote in late June by a vote of 52-48, that vote was not enough to reach the 60-vote threshold to overcome the Democrats’ filibuster.

Why are they blocking the bill?

It’s not because of the Zika funding, but because of the other items in the bill. Among their issues of concern:
• Defunding the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare – the legislation would remove $500 million in funding for this program
• Defunding Planned Parenthood
• Allowing wider use of pesticides to destroy mosquitoes
• Continuing to allow Confederate flags to fly in military cemeteries

Republicans contend that Democrats are so fixated on these unrelated issues that they will allow Zika to spread in order to protect Obamacare and Planned Parenthood. Democrats, on the other hand, say that Republicans are holding Zika funding hostage to get their way on these contentious social issues.

This situation is why Congress recessed for its summer break without coming to agreement on an issue that both Republicans and Democrats, in essence, agree on.

Should the Senate pass this legislation, even with these controversial provisions? Or should Senate Democrats insist that Republicans remove the contentious sections of the spending bill before Zika funding is approved?


House returns to resume a bitter fight over gun control

Congress will be taking up gun control this week. Do you support banning people placed on certain government lists, but who have not been arrested or even charged with a crime, from being able to purchase firearms?

The Supreme Court’s Conservative Run Is Over

With recent decisions upholding affirmative action and striking down abortion restrictions, some say the Supreme Court’s conservative era is over. Do you think it is proper to look at the court as having a “conservative” or “liberal” tendency? Is the court too politicized, or are political considerations inevitable on controversial questions?


Koch Group Pushes 2-Year ‘Stop, Cut, and Fix’ Spending Plan on Congress

One limited government group is urging Congress not to enact individual spending bills this year. Instead, it proposes funding the government at current spending levels for the next two years and working on a plan to cut spending in 2018. This would end the threat of a government shutdown and give Congress time to find ways to trim spending. What do you think?

Clinton calls for a new ban on assault weapons, 12 years after the last one expired

In the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and other politicians have called for reinstating the “assault weapons” ban first imposed during Bill Clinton’s term as president. This ban targeted guns based on certain cosmetic features of a firearm, such as a pistol grip or a folding stock. Do you think this type of law will have an effect on mass shootings in this country?

“Common Core” Curriculum Repeal Advances to Full Senate

The state Senate Education Committee has reported-out Senate Bill 826 to replace the “Common Core” curriculum in Michigan public schools with a model based on the one used by Massachusetts before Common Core was adopted there. Supporters say the Massachusetts curriculum is unique for having empirical evidence of effectiveness.

Common Core has been highly controversial in Michigan and elsewhere. It was adopted here by the state Board of Education, a move that was later grudgingly approved by the Legislature, which added conditions that the state’s statewide testing regime not be based on the model.
The legislation could be taken up by the full Senate at any time, at the discretion of the Senate Majority Leader.

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