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What Will Happen in the House in 2017?

Post-election update: Democrats gained seats in the House of Representatives, but not enough to end the GOP majority. Working with President Trump, House Republicans will likely pass legislation to repeal Obamacare (in whole or part) early in 2017. They could also move quickly to enact Trump’s tax policies and pass legislation to deal with immigration. Due to Paul Ryan’s lukewarm support of Trump, there will likely be efforts to replace him as Speaker of the House. These efforts probably do not have enough support to have any effect.

 

With Election Day quickly approaching, it seems likely that Republicans will retain control of the House of Representatives. Even though this is a continuation of the situation that exists currently, that does not mean that all will remain the same in the lower body of Congress.

 

Even if Republicans keep control, for instance, that does not mean that House Speaker Paul Ryan is guaranteed to keep his job. Some House members are dissatisfied at Ryan’s lackluster support of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. When the new session of Congress convenes in January, there will likely be some effort to replace Ryan as speaker. It is unlikely that a majority of the House members would support such an effort, however.

 

Under a Clinton presidency, a Republican-led House would act similar to what it has done under the Obama Administration. There would be major fights over the yearly appropriations bills, with the possibility of more partial-government shutdowns if the White House and Congress cannot agree. The House would also pass legislation, such as eliminating Obamacare, which members know will not survive the Senate or the president’s veto. Any major initiatives that President Clinton would propose would likely be stopped or scaled back by a Republican House. House Republicans would also be very likely to open numerous investigations into Hillary Clinton’s activities.

 

President Trump would find it easier to work with a Republican House. The House members would not be a stumbling block to his major initiatives. Of course, Trump could face issues from the group of Republicans who did not support him or who only offered tepid support. It is unlikely that a Republican-majority House would act as a rubber stamp for President Trump, but it is also unlikely that they would frustrate him the way they would try to do President Clinton.

 

In the event that the Democrats took the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi would probably retake the gavel as speaker. She would use that power to support President Clinton’s initiatives or to thwart whatever President Trump sent to Capitol Hill. Under Democratic control, any major investigations of Clinton would be few, if any.

 

In the House of Representatives, whoever controls the majority of seats controls the agenda in a way that is unlike the Senate. There are few procedural checks on the majority’s power in the House, and there is nothing like the Senate filibuster. The Speaker of the House has vast powers to determine what the body does and what legislation will pass. That makes having a friendly House majority very important for whichever candidate wins the White House.

 

What do you think the House agenda should be for 2017?

 

All about Iran: payments, assets, financial transactions, heavy water, and compensating terror attack victims

 

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

 

House Bill 5931, Prohibit prisoner release payments to Iran: Passed 254 to 163 in the House on September 22, 2016

To prohibit the U.S. government from making payments to Iran to release U.S. citizens held as prisoners.

 

House Bill 5461, Require report on Iranian officials’ assets: Passed 282 to 143 in the House on September 21, 2016

To require the Treasury Department to compile a report on the assets held by certain Iranian officials and disclose this report to the public. Opponents of the measure contend it is a way to undermine the recent nuclear deal with Iran.

 

House Bill 4992, Restrict financial transactions with Iran: Passed 246 to 181 in the House on July 14, 2016

To authorize regulations that prohibit financial institutions from directly or indirectly transferring dollars to Iran until the president certifies it is not supporting acts of international terrorism or developing weapons of mass destruction.

 

House Bill 5119, Prohibit the purchase of heavy water from Iran: Passed 249 to 176 in the House on July 13, 2016

To prohibit any federal agencies from purchasing heavy water from Iran, which is a substance used to produce nuclear bombs. This would block part of the Obama Administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

 

House Bill 3457, Keep Iran sanctions until it compensates terror attack victims: Passed 251 to 173 in the House on October 13, 2015

To bar the White House from removing economic sanctions against Iran unless Iran compensates U.S. victims of terror attacks financed by the Iranian regime. Lifting economic sanctions is part of the deal the President negotiated with Iran on its nuclear bomb program. American courts have awarded $46 billion to over 1,300 victims of terrorist attacks sponsored by Iran. The White House says the bill would "obstruct implementation" of the Iran deal.

 

Keep Guantanamo Bay prisoners locked up, close Guantanamo Bay, terror lawsuits, and Middle East war funding

 

 

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

 

House Bill 5351, Prevent transfer or release of Guantanamo Bay detainees: Passed 244 to 174 in the House on September 15, 2016

To prohibit any federal funding from being used to transfer or release individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay.

 

Lamborn amendment to House Bill 5293, Stop transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees: Passed 245 to 175 in the House on June 16, 2016

To prohibit funds from being spent to survey, assess, or review potential detention locations in the United States for detainees currently held in Guantanamo Bay.

 

Nadler amendment to House Bill 4909, Allow closure of Guantanamo Bay: Failed 163 to 259 in the House on May 18, 2016

To remove the prohibition on spending funds to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

 

Override veto of Senate Bill 2040, Allow terrorism lawsuits: Passed 348 to 77 in the House and 97 to 1 in the Senate on September 28, 2016

To override President Obama's veto of legislation that would allow civil lawsuits to be brought against foreign states for injuries, death, or damages as a result of an action of terrorism.

 

Lee amendment to House Bill 5293, Prohibit spending on war in Iraq and Syria: Failed 146 to 274 in the House on June 16, 2016

To prohibit funds from being used to carry out the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which authorized military action against terrorism. The current military action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria are being undertaken under this 2001 authorization.

 

Watch list gun control, ammo regulation, Amtrak funding, ban transactions with Iran

 

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

 

McConnell Amendment to House Bill 2578, Screen gun transfers to suspected terrorists: Failed 53 to 47 in the Senate on June 20, 2016

To establish a procedure that lets a judge review and deny gun sales to someone who has been investigated as a known or suspected terrorist. An individual could dispute the charges, but if there is probable cause that the person has or will commit an act of terrorism, he or she could be arrested. This was a vote for cloture, or to bring debate to an end, and required 60 votes to succeed.

 

Feinstein amendment to House Bill 2578, Deny gun transfers to suspected terrorists: Failed 47 to 53 in the Senate on June 20, 2016

To give the Attorney General authority to ban firearm sales to someone Attorney General concludes is engaged in or preparing for terrorism. This was a vote for cloture, or to bring debate to an end, and required 60 votes to succeed.

 

Massie Amendment to House Bill 2578, Prohibit agencies from defining rifle ammunition as armor-piercing: Passed 250 to 171 in the House on June 3, 2015

To prevent federal agencies from defining ammunition as “armor-piercing” unless that ammunition is intended to be used in handguns. Many types of standard rifle ammunition in wide use could be restricted under rules recently proposed by the Obama administration, because possession of armor-piercing ammunition is subject to stringent regulations.

 

House Bill 749, Appropriate $1.88 billion for Amtrak: Passed 316 to 101 in the House on March 4, 2015

To authorize $1.88 billion in federal subsidies for Amtrak passenger rail service through 2019.

 

House Bill 4992, Restrict financial transactions with Iran: Passed 246 to 181 in the House on July 14, 2016

To authorize regulations that prohibit financial institutions from directly or indirectly transferring dollars to Iran until the president certifies it is not supporting acts of international terrorism or developing weapons of mass destruction.

 

Carbon restrictions, water rules, fossil fuel speech, offshore drilling, and cutting the EPA budget

 

 

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

 

House Bill 2042, Delay EPA carbon dioxide emission regulations: Passed 247 to 180 in the House on June 24, 2015

To extend the deadline for states to comply with new restrictions imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency on carbon dioxide releases from existing power plants, and let state governors refuse to comply if the regulations would significantly raise electricity rates or reduce reliability.

 

Senate Joint Resolution 22, Reject expanded regulation of U.S. waters: Passed 53 to 44 in the Senate on November 4, 2015, and 253 to 166 in the House on January 13, 2016. Vetoed by the president on January 20, 2016.

To reject the Environmental Protection Agency's Waters of the United States rule that would expand the authority of the federal government to regulate all rivers, streams, and creeks regardless of whether they are navigable.

 

Amendment to Senate Bill 2012, Impose political speech restrictions on persons connected to fossil fuels: Failed 43 to 52 in the Senate on February 2, 2016

To prohibit any person or entity that earns or receives more than $1 million from “fossil fuel activities” from spending more than $10,000 communicating information or viewpoints on this issue to the public, unless the person files a special report with the federal government explaining their activity. This amendment required 60 votes for passage.

 

Amendment to House Bill 5538, Prevent oil exploration in the Atlantic: Failed 192 to 236 in the House on July 13, 2016

To prevent the federal government from spending funds to conduct geological activities that would support oil and natural gas exploration in the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Amendment to House Bill 5538, Reduce EPA budget by 17%: Failed 188 to 239 in the House on July 13, 2016

To reduce the amount of money appropriated for the Environmental Protection Agency by 17%.

 

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 www.votespotter.com 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?

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/07/04/house-returns-resume-bitter-fight-over-gun-control-republicans-ryan-democrats/86669656/

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?

://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/06/supreme-court-abortion-decision-rightward-run-over-213996

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?

http://dailysignal.com/2016/06/21/koch-brothers-push-2-year-stop-cut-and-fix-spending-plan-on-congress/

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?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/06/13/clinton-calls-for-a-new-assault-weapons-ban-12-years-after-the-last-one-expired/

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