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This Week in Washington — March 12, 2012

The House is out of session this week. Tthe Senate will be in session to finish work on a bloated two year $109 billion highway bill. 

Big fight this week on judicial nominations with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) expected to file cloture on about seventeen nominees today.

Also, expect a fight when the Senate tries to use a House passed Small-Business bill to pass the big business Export-Import Bank reauthorization bill.

The Senate will spend most of the week on a highway bill, but will commence a fight over the filibuster later in the week.  The Surface Transportation Act, S, 1813, has become an opportunity for for Senators to load up this bill with pet projects over the past week and a half.  Expect this bill to be burdened with items unrelated to transportation before the Senate passes the bill mid week.  

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today announced his intention on filing cloture on seventeen judicial nominees.  This will be an attempt by Senate Democrats to paint Senate Republicans as “obstructionists.”  Ironically, this comes in the wake of President Obama’s unconstitutional recess appointments of  Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Richard Griffin, Sharon Block and Terence Flynn to be on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  Republicans probably should be obstructionists in the face of the President’s unconstitutional actions, yet they have rolled over and allowed Reid to confirm nominees at a rapid pace over the past few weeks. 

Cloture is a mechanism to stop a filibuster.  A filibuster is when a Senator, or a couple of Senators, take to the floor to talk long enough to prevent a vote on an nominee.  On these seventeen nominees, there has been no debate and no filibuster.  The seventeen nominees expected to be the subject of Reid’s cloture petitions will be the subject of a Republicans filibuster in the Democrats eyes, even thought there are no Senators on the Senate floor blocking a final vote on any of these nominees.  Don’t believe the false claim that Republicans are filibustering these nominations.

It is also important to note that Democrats engaged in whole scale filibusters in 2005 to block Bush Administration nominees.  There was nothing wrong with that then and there is nothing wrong with conservatives in the Senate slowing the process of approving nominees now.  The President does not have the right to appoint nominees without the “consent” of Senators, unless if the Senate is an an extended recess.  There is nothing wrong with a filibuster and conservatives should not be afraid to use it and it.  Abolishing the filibuster would be unwise for Democrats and some conservatives worry that Reid may be setting the table for a procedural strong arm tactic to abolish the filibuster.

The Export-Import bank may come up in the Senate later this week.  Many conservatives lament the unfair lending processes used by the federally chartered Export-Import Bank.  Erick Erickson wrote on March 5 that this Export-Import Bank is the functional equivalent of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The Export-Import Bank is a federal agency whose sole reason for existence is to use your tax dollars to subsidize sales of American manufactured goods to foreign buyers. It is nothing short of corporate welfare, and its business model (providing loans and loan guarantees at below market rates) is virtually identical to that of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In Human Events today, I wrote that “Conservatives Stalk Congress.”  Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio of the House Republican Study Committee and Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina of the Steering Committee are fighting for limited government, free markets, traditional values and a strong national defense.

Today, the RSC is lead by Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). The Senate also has a similar group of conservatives who fight the big-government ideas of both parties: the Senate Steering Committee. The Steering Committee was also founded in the early 1970s as a non-partisan place for conservatives to network. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has led the Steering Committee since January 2007.

We need more Jordan’s and DeMint’s in the House and Senate.

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