Saturday, September 17, 2022

In Context: Integrity vs. Corruption

This week did not turn out to be the week the U.S. Senate voted on same-sex marriage. Democratic Majority Leader Schumer wants to give negotiators more time, specifically until after the election, to win more Republican votes.

Leader Schumer is framing the issue as preserving “marriage equality” and describing everything before the 2015 Obergefell decision as “marriage discrimination.”

Weekly Congress Update

Daily Digests HouseSenatePrayersCommittee Reports

Bill eliminating statute of limitations for child sex abuse civil suits heads to Biden's desk (S. 3103)

SenateDaily Leader Remarks • Actions begun, passed, declined

Sanders blocks proposal to force rail unions to accept labor deal (S.J.Res. 61, Debate)

Biden court nominee fails to win confirmation as two Democrats miss vote (47-50)

Senate confirms 2nd Circuit judge; panel advances five other nominees

Biden beats Obama's record for putting public defenders on federal bench

Senate confirms first-ever cyber ambassador

Cruz Slams Senate Democrat for Blocking School Safety Bills; Murphy reports Lankford approached him and already began negotiations about the same bill (S. 4586, Debate)

HouseWeekly Leader ColloquyBills • Actions passed

House passes resolution honoring Queen Elizabeth II (H.Res. 1341)

House swears in three new lawmakers, including Alaska’s Mary Peltola

House passes bill strengthening whistleblower protections for federal employees (H.R. 2988) • House passes bill seeking to protect federal civil service employees from TrumpHouse Democrats Pass Bill Blocking Trump-Era Order to Hold Federal Employees Accountable

Census bill to prevent political interference passes House (H.R. 8326) • After Botched Census, Democrats Push Less Accountability for Bureau

Saturday, September 3, 2022

In Context: Existential Freedom

Thursday night, without much build-up or explanation, President Biden proclaimed, "Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic."

The President first claimed, "They refuse to accept the results of a free election." Senate Republican Leader McConnell on the Senate floor has debunked claims about state election laws.

For several minutes, President Biden decried violence: "this is a nation that rejects violence as a political tool. We do not encourage violence. … We hear — you've heard it — more and more talk about violence as an acceptable political tool in this country. It's not. It could never be an acceptable tool. … There is no place for political violence in America. Period. None. Ever. … We can't allow violence to be normalized in this country."

In his conclusion, he claimed, "The soul of America is defined by the sacred proposition that all are created equal and the image of God."

Weekly Congress Update

Saturday, August 13, 2022

In Context: Prices and Power

President Biden summarized the intended effects of the Inflation Reduction Act as, “families will see lower prescription drug prices, lower health care costs, and lower energy costs.”

Prices, at the most basic level, are the meeting points of agreement between sellers and buyers. Sellers try to earn as much money as possible, and buyers try to spend as little as possible. The range of where those two factors overlap is where one finds successful prices.

High prices are a symptom of low competition for products or services. Supply is low and/or demand is high. High prices of established products like insulin are, more specifically, symptoms of competition suppression. Market suppression can be caused by both government policy and private parties manipulating the system for protecting intellectual property.

Weekly Congress Update

Daily Digests HouseSenatePrayersCommittee Reports

SenateDaily Leader Remarks • Actions begun, passed

Dems' climate, tax and health care bill survives all-night GOP onslaughtDemocrats fail to overrule parliamentarian on insulin price cap, These seven GOP senators voted to keep $35 insulin cap in reconciliation bill (57-43) • Every Senate Democrat votes against defining pregnancy as unique to biological femalesSenate passes Inflation Reduction Act after all-night vote series, Harris breaks tie

Biden cheers, hails'We are elated:' Chuck Schumer revelsSenate Democrats celebrate • 'Now I can look my kids in the eye:' Senate Democrat breaks down in happy tears over climate victorysends to House: Five takeawaysSinema, Manchin and the anatomy of a dealSenate Republicans object

Senators Young and Braun of Indiana remembered Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana and the Senate agreed to S.Res. 748, a resolution honoring and celebrating the life and legacy of Representative Jackie Walorski.

HouseBill (H.R. 5376)

Pausing recess — Dems' big bill hits the House • House approves sweeping climate, tax, health care packageBiden praises

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Pro-Life analysis of Senate-passed H.R. 5376, the Inflation Reduction Act

Today, by a party-line vote of 51-50, the Senate passed H.R. 5376, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The bill expands taxpayer funding for abortion through ACA, and supercharges the IRS, which could potentially target pro-life organizations and donors.

The Schumer-Manchin-Sinema reconciliation bill extends for three years (through 2025) the temporary expansion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) premium tax credits that was made by the American Rescue Plan Act and currently expires at the end of this year (see subtitle C, on pg. 245).

Saturday, July 30, 2022

In Context: The Justice of Forgetting

Believers in Jesus understand that justice-impacted individuals are not limited to those who have been to prison. We're all guilty before God. It is by the justice of God that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

We do well to have more compassion and less condemnation for those who are returning to society. They need to work. Finding a job isn't easy, and it's harder still for those with a criminal past. The pattern against them in our culture is so strong that many turn to entrepreneurship to create work for themselves.

One study, discussed with the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee this week, found that returning citizens start businesses at a higher rate than Americans who have never been incarcerated, and as entrepreneurs they earn more and have lower recidivism rates than employees.

Weekly Congress Update

Daily Digests HouseSenatePrayersCommittee Reports

Senate passes $280B semiconductor and science bill aimed at China (H.R. 4346) • Biden cheers • House GOP moved to oppose in rebuke to Manchin dealMcCarthy rails against chips bill, Democrats in extensive floor speech (Full Speech) • House passesbill on way to Biden’s desk24 House Republicans supported, WhyHow the ‘chips-plus’ bill grew by nearly 1,000 pages, chips away at America’s economic freedom, Serves Up Pork to Semiconductor Manufacturers

SenateDaily Leader Remarks • Actions begun, passed, declined

Veterans toxic exposure bill delayed as cloture attempt rejected (S. 3373) • Veterans’ groups lash outVets stage sit-in at Capitolopposition delays, but likely won’t thwart, veterans' healthcare bill

HouseWeekly Leader ColloquyBills • Actions passed

House passes bill awarding Congressional Gold Medal to Americans who died in Benghazi attack (H.R. 310)

House passes bill to research cognitive effects of coronavirus (H.R. 7180)

Gaetz among 20 House Republicans who voted against anti-human trafficking bill (H.R. 6552)

Congress’ vote on Delphi pensions bailout shows problem with putting unions above law (H.R. 6929)

House passes cyber bill aimed to protect energy sectors (H.R. 7569)

House passes bill to expand COVID-era telehealth services (H.R. 4040)

House passes bill to ban assault weapons (H.R. 1808) • These are the House lawmakers who bucked their parties on assault weapons ban

Bill restricting Big Cat ownership, made famous by ‘Tiger King,’ passes House (H.R. 263) • has shot at becoming law

House passes 48-bill wildfire-protection package (H.R. 5118)

Saturday, July 23, 2022

In Context: Data Collection

It has been a heated Congressional work period this month, especially with reaction to Supreme Court opinions. It's important to remember while bills become law in sprints, laws are applied over much longer periods of time.

An underlying theme emerging this week was data collection.

Weekly Congress Update

Daily Digests HouseSenatePrayersCommittee Reports

SenateDaily Leader Remarks • Actions begun, passed, declined

Senate confirms Childs, possible future Supreme Court pick, to DC Circuit (64-34)

Senate votes to proceed to bill to help semi-conductor industry (H.R. 4346)

HouseWeekly Leader ColloquyBills • Actions passed

House approves resolution supporting Finland, Sweden joining NATO; 18 Republicans vote ‘no’ (H.Res. 1130)

House passes bill codifying same-sex marriage (H.R. 8404) in wake of abortion rulingBiden backs billWhite House urges Senate to passHouse-Passed ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ About Complying With WokenessFreedom Caucus lobbies against same-sex marriage bill despite chair voting for it

House approves Missouri’s Gateway Arch to be illuminated in colors of Ukrainian flag (H.R. 7002)

House approves over $400 billion of government funding in ‘minibus’ package (H.R. 8294)

House passes bill to protect access to contraceptives (H.R. 8373) • Bill Text, Floor Debatebill could include abortion, denies conscience rights, and enshrines abortion funding

Friday, July 22, 2022

The Right to Contraception Act (H.R. 8373) could include abortion, denies conscience rights, and enshrines abortion funding

Thursday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 8373, the Right to Contraception Act, 228-195.

This bill exceeds contraception.

In Section 5(a)(1), this bill states that it supersedes and applies to federal and state law “whether adopted before or after this Act.” It would be used to promote chemical abortion, further entrench taxpayer funding of abortion providers, and erode conscience protections for health care providers.

Vague, Broad Definition of Contraception May Include Chemical Abortion Drugs
Vague definitions could easily be interpreted to include the chemical abortion drug mifepristone. (While contraception is marketed to prevent pregnancy, chemical abortion drugs like mifepristone are intended to kill the child of a woman known to be pregnant).

In Section 2(2) of the manager’s amendment, the definition of “contraceptive” means “any drug, device, or biological product intended for use in the prevention of pregnancy, whether specifically intended to prevent pregnancy or for other health needs, that is legally marketed under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act…”

This definition does not require that the medication must be officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States as a method of contraception. It creates a right to any drug or device that prevents pregnancy, explicitly not limited to FDA-approved forms of contraception.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Congress This Week

This week
  • Primetime Jan. 6 hearing
  • House to vote on bill protecting access to contraceptives (H.R. 8373)
  • Senate to vote on bill to bolster semiconductor industry
  • Talks continue on budget reconciliation bill

House set to vote on proposal that would codify same-sex marriage into federal law (H.R. 8404) • The legislation, named the Respect for Marriage Act, was introduced by a group of mostly Democratic lawmakers on Monday. If enacted, the bill would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that defined marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman. The bill would also alter the federal definition of marriage to include same-sex unions. 

Ukraine’s first lady to address Congress this week • She met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday. • On Tuesday, Zelenska will deliver remarks at the Victims of Communism Museum in Washington and accept the Dissident Human Rights Award on behalf of the people of Ukraine. • Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska will address Congress on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced on Monday. The first lady will deliver remarks in the congressional auditorium of the Capitol Visitor Center and all members of the House and Senate are invited.

Republicans ready grenades against Democrats’ dwindling dream bill • “Senate Republicans will raise their own objections this week as Democrats scramble to address the West Virginia Democrat’s further narrowing of their party-line bill. The GOP is readying arguments before the Senate’s nonpartisan rules arbiter in a bid to eject more items from the ever-slimmer package Democrats once called Build Back Better. … This week’s wonky faceoff before the Senate parliamentarian is likely to be substantially quicker and less painful for the majority party now that Manchin has sworn off tax hikes, which Republicans were ready to protest as unworkable under the chamber’s rules. But even the central piece that remains after Manchin’s latest ultimatum — policy to lower prescription drug prices — is at risk of dwindling further under the Republican onslaught.”

Saturday, July 16, 2022

In Context: Identifying Tentacles

The first full week Congress was in session after the Dobbs decision overturning Roe has been unusually full of material ripe for commentary. A few notes have been added on three items in the weekly update. For this space, there is a larger trend emerging that is worth noting.

Committees held multiple post-Roe hearings this week. One of the more viral moments came between UC Berkeley School of Law Professor Khiara M. Bridges and Senator Hawley of Missouri. 

A more substantive policy point came later in her written testimony:

Weekly Congress Update

Daily Digests HouseSenatePrayers

Date and Issue No.DigestSenateHouseExtensionsEntire Issue
July 15, 2022 - No. 117D786-788 H6627-6681 E739-745 1 MB PDF
July 14, 2022 - No. 116D757-784 S3285-3318 H6511-6625 E729-737 3 MB PDF
July 13, 2022 - No. 115D742-756 S3245-3284 H5979-6509 E721-728 1—6 MB PDF  2—3 MB PDF
July 12, 2022 - No. 114D733-740 S3217-3244 H5947-5977 E711-719 2 MB PDF
July 11, 2022 - No. 113D725-732
S3187-3215 H5943-5946 E705-709 1 MB PDF

SenateDaily Leader Remarks • Actions begun, passed, declined

Senate confirms Steve Dettelbach to head ATF, first Senate-confirmed ATF director since 2015Why Did Two Republicans Just Save Biden’s ATF Nominee?

Michael Barr confirmed as Fed vice chairman for supervision in bipartisan vote

GOP senator blocks bill to protect interstate travel for abortion (S. 4504) • Democratic Senators attempt unanimous consent passage of S. 4504, Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act, a bill related to abortion and traveling across state lines • Senator Daines spoke in opposition • Senator Lankford objected, noting “there is another bill that is actually being discussed that would literally—if you are a pregnancy resource center dealing with crisis pregnancies, if you don't perform abortions, they would call that misinformation. In the other bill that is being discussed right now, they would fine you $100,000. I can't even begin to explain my emotion when I think, if you take the life of a child, there is pressure to say: We want Federal funding to take the life of a child. If you protect the life of a child, we are going to fine you $100,000. … So while there is conversation about how to put a piece of legislation out that may very well protect individuals who are being trafficked to go to other States to get an abortion or all kinds of other issues that are there, I come back to the most basic thing: There is a child in this conversation”

HouseWeekly Leader ColloquyBills • Actions passed

House passes bill expanding care for vets exposed to toxins, Compromise veterans bill heads back to Senate (S. 3373)

House passes active shooter alert system following failed vote last month (H.R. 6538) • one Democrat voted against

House passes annual defense policy bill, $839 billion, more than Biden's request (H.R. 7900) • Defense bill becomes battleground for culture warsagrees to measure to identify, monitor white supremacy in military, law enforcement (H.Amdt. 262) • adopts amendment giving DC mayor authority over city’s national guard (H.Amdt. 260) • approves amendment to create system for reporting UFOs (Amendment No. 156 in H.Rept. 117-405)

House passes bills enforcing abortion access following Roe reversal (H.R. 8296Floor Debate; H.R. 8297Floor Debate) • On the latter, House Republicans offered a motion to recommit that would have brought to the floor for a vote the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (H.R. 2223, S. 109), a bill to create new federal crimes related to transporting a minor across state lines for an abortion. The motion failed 209-219. As passed, H.R. 8297 • Fails to protect vulnerable individuals transported across state lines by abusers to receive abortions: Section 2(a)(4) • Preempts state laws restricting the use of chemical abortion drugs: Section 2(a)(5) • Protects late-term abortionists evading pro-life state laws and pro-patient regulations: Section 2(a)(1)

House passes bill to temporarily suspend tariffs on baby formula imports (H.R. 8351)

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