|Congress returned after a very short weekend Monday afternoon for another relatively light legislative week. The big news revolves around the Senate where Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has finally proposed his health care reform legislation. This is what everyone in Washington has been waiting for. The so called “Gang of Six” (the bipartisan group of 6 Senators working on the bill) quickly became the Gang of Three as the three Republican negotiators are not happy with the bill. The Republicans, Senator’s Charles Grassley (R-IA), Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are currently opposing the legislation to varying degrees. The proposal was unveiled yesterday with a collective thud and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is trying to fast track the legislation and has promised to have the bill on the Senate floor in two weeks. You can view some preliminary articles on the bill here and some talking points here.
Meanwhile, last week’s speech by President Obama before a joint session of Congress has not seemed to generate any momentum for health reform. The President failed to offer any new specifics and his rhetoric sharply contrasted the reality that is H.R. 3200. Here are some very interesting Myth vs. Fact documents highlighting the President’s inaccuracies and more press on the speech here.
The Republican Address following the speech was given by Dr. Charles Boustany (R-LA). You can view the address here. And for the first time, the Republican Address was also given in Spanish. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart gave the address and you can view it here. In the week since the President’s speech, House Democrats and the media have chosen to focus almost exclusively on Rep. Joe Wilson and his outburst during the address, instead of focusing on the speech’s inaccuracies and fixing the many problems with the bill. We’ll see what next week holds.
In other news, after nearly a year long fight, the Obama Administration has finally ended all ties between the corrupt group, ACORN and the 2010 Census. House Republicans, led by Rep’s. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and Lynn Westmorland (R-GA) have been fighting this issue since early in the year. Republican Leader John Boehner has also sent a letter to President Obama calling on Congress and the President to end all federal funding of ACORN. You can view the letter, signed by 130 House Republicans, here and more information on this issue here.
In a stunning admission, the Obama Administration released a study this week that says their Cap and Trade Energy Bill (also known as a National Energy Tax) will cost the American taxpayers up to $200 billion a year, the equivalent of raising personal income taxes by 15%. See the article here. I wonder how they will spin this one?
Finally, it’s not just health care they are trying to take over. Now it’s the studeant loan industry. See below in Legislation to be Voted On for more information.
Legislation to be Voted On:
1. H.R. 3246 - Advanced Vehicle Technology Act of 2009 – would authorize appropriations totaling $2.85 billion over the 2010-2014 period for the Department of Energy to support research to reduce the number of vehicles fuels that generate high emissions. CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would cost $2.43 billion over the 2010-2014 period and $423 million after 2014. Enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues. This bill passed on Wednesday by a vote of 312-114.
Republicans offered a Motion to Recommit that would have amended the bill to prevent double dipping and duplicative funding for vehicle technologies at the Department of Energy. This legislation has already been included in numerous other legislative measures. The MTR failed by a vote of 180-245.
2. H.R. 3221 - Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 – Another day, another government takeover. The “Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act” would abolish the longstanding privately-run Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) and replace it with taxpayer-financed lending from the U.S. Treasury.. By giving the federal government a monopoly over student lending, this plan will eliminate choice, competition, and innovation in our student loan system. Moreover, in an environment where job security is already a concern for most American families, this bill will lead to job loss for those involved with the FFEL program. With this government intrusion, the 4,400 college and universities that currently are in the FFEL program are being told by Democrats: “if you like your plan, get ready to lose it.” This bill will be completed on Thursday. You can view an op-ed by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), the Ranking Republican on the Education & Labor Committee, here.
Items of Interest:
1. The Whip Office released a new video press release entitled, “Required.” In the video we see the Majority (Democrat) Staff Director for the Health Subcommittee for the Committee of Ways and Means is testifying on the impacts of the Democrats’ health care legislation. Her testimony and analysis included the word “require” eighty-four times, as she outlined a litany of mandates the bill would place on the American public. See it Here.
2. No Game-Changer – An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Monday shows that President Obama’s address last week to a joint-session of Congress on the issue of health reform failed to sway public opinion in his favor.
3. GOP Member Comments – RSC Chairman Dr. Tom Price (R-GA) makes a passionate statement in the Education & Labor Committee on the Health Care Bill here and Rep.. Mike Rogers (R-MI) comments in Energy & Commerce here.
4. Weekly Waste Watch – Please check out the latest Weekly Waste Watch from the Republican Whip website.
5. Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee have expanded their web presence. You can view their new website here.
Articles of the Week:
To shorten this email, I’m going to start putting article summaries and links here instead of the whole article.
1. Politico – The Great myth: bipartisanship – Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen: President Barack Obama is on the warpath over myths and distortions about health care reform, but he’s spreading one of his own: that there’s any chance of genuinely bipartisan health care legislation reaching his desk this fall. See the rest of the article here.
2. Politico – Conservatives score string of scoops – Michael Calderone and Mike Allen: The right-wing media’s single-minded focus on a handful of targets over the past months and its success in pushing those stories into the mainstream have underscored the sharp divide between traditional news organizations and the bloggers and talk show hosts aggressively pursuing an ideological agenda on-line and on TV and radio. See the rest of the article here.