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This Week in Washington – February 6, 2012

The Obama Administration has to be in shock as a result of the Gallup poll released last week indicating that Obama would lose his re-election according to state-by-state approval ratings.  According to Conn Carroll of the Washington Examiner if the election were held today:

Obama would lose the 2012 election to the Republican nominee 323 electoral votes to 215.

Expect desperation from Senate liberals.  Senate Democrats will accelerate a highly partisan agenda to create the fallacy that Senate Republicans and a House controlled by Republicans are slowing economic growth by not rubber stamping President Obama’s big government agenda.  The first argument they will make is that the upcoming highway bill does not spend enough of your tax dollars.  Remember, liberals are married to the idea that only government can create jobs.

The House and Senate are expected to work on competing versions of a transportation bill this week.  The House is going to take up the Senate passed so called “insider trading” bill.  The House will also tackle the issue of line item veto authority for the President.

The House will be in later today for votes on three suspension bills:  H.R. 306, a wild horse protection bill; H.R. 1162, an Indian tribal bill; and, H.R. 2606, a natural gas bill.  The House also will begin consideration today of H.R. 1734, the “Civilian Property Realignment Act.” 

The remainder of the week, the Hosue will consider H.R. 3521, a line item veto bill sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and H.R. 3581, a budget and accountability bill.  The House will take up S.2038, the STOCK Act at some point this week.  The “Public Corruption Prosecution Improvement Act” was dropped into this bill as an amendment by Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT).  It does not seem as if Congress has had enough time to study this very important expansion of federal law to make sure the new proposed law is not overbroad and vague.

 The Senate is expected to take up H.R.658, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act.  This is a conference report that the House has already passed.  The remainder of the week is set aside to consider a two-year transportation bill.  Now that the Senate has voted to go back to their earmarking ways, the big question is how big can they make this bill and will they start earmarking again.

Last week, the House worked up a five year version of a transportation bill.  Also, last week, the Senate voted to go back to earmarking special home state projects.  This will be a competing measure to the Senate plan. 

Daniel Horowitz describes the House version as the highway to cave city.

Last week, several House committees favorably reported the $260 billion 5-year House GOP highway bill to the full body.  This 846-page behemoth is now headed to a floor vote sometime next week.  Simply put, conservatives oppose the House leadership’s highway bill (H.R. 7) because it continues the failed top-down federal approach to transportation spending, while precluding devolution to the states for at least another five years.  Moreover, it eschews the pay-as-you-go funding mechanism of the Highway Trust Fund (eerily similar to the Social Security Trust Fund!) by permanently authorizing a higher level of spending than the fund’s corresponding revenue source; the federal gas tax.

Conservatives need to watch the House and Senate to see if they will hold the line against earmarking and the big spending ways of the past.  This highway bill could become a bidding war between House and Senate proponents of federal highway spending.  This will be a good test of conservatives to see if they hold the line or if they will cave to pressure to go back to the big spending ways of the past.

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