Another Exercise in Wasting One’s Time

Quite some time ago now, I sat down at my computer and composed a letter to my Representative in Congress. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV2).  I have no clue why I continue to waste my time, as (1) I don’t believe Mr. Amodei ever bothers to read what I write, (2) some staffer who clearly hasn’t read nor understand what I’ve written selects some canned statement that in no way speaks to the concern I’ve taken MY precious time to communicate, and (3) whoever sends the response must believe females are incapable of writing a letter (even though I check  the “MS.” box on his email my office webform) because they almost always get my gender wrong (today’s email just used M. as though I must have no gender whatsoever) ….. but then, I digress …..

As I started to say, I took the time to write to Mr. Amodei asking him to support the new FCC rules designed to protect the net neutrality of ordinary consumers of the internet.  Those rules are designed to ensure that the relatively few big telecom corporations are not allowed to create fast lanes for their favored few, slow lanes for most others and relatively no lanes whatsoever for even others.

NetNeutrality

Video Explanation:
https://static01.nyt.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000003569336

Since I wrote my letter, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit,  in a 2-to-1 decision from a three-judge panel on June 14,  upheld the F.C.C. rules declaring broadband as a utility.  Clearly, Rep. Mark Amodei’s staff must not have read that New York Times article announcing the ruling, because today, I got this email from his office which clearly indicates HE thinks the FCC rules of regulatory overreach.

NetNeutrality

I’d love to be able to “connect” with my Congressman on Facebook or Twitter, but that’s NOT possible as he’s blocked me from being able to follow him on Twitter and block me from commenting on his Facebook content.  I guess we’ll have to just disagree yet again, just as we disagree regarding the collection of sales taxes on internet sales. Sales taxes support our local community infrastructure. Failure to have a mechanism in place, to ensure they’re collected on all internet sales, means local merchants are left at competitive disadvantage and our community infrastructure suffers when those taxes aren’t collected and remitted. But that was another letter, on a previous day, where we achieved no meeting of the minds, and Rep. Amodei sided with his corporate benefactors, and not his  constituents.

There is, however, hope on the horizon. We have a strong Democratic candidate on the ticket this fall — Chip Evans. He could use our help. I’ve “chipped in” to help Chip become the first Democrat to ever hold the CD2 seat. I certainly hope you’ll do the same so we can bring a progressive candidate to the US House from Nevada’s Congressional District 2.


On April 16, Rep. Amodei voted “AYE” for passage of H.Res 672 dealing with this issue:

Resolved, That at any time after adoption of this resolution the Speaker may, pursuant to clause 2(b) of rule XVIII, declare the House resolved into the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union for consideration of the bill (H.R. 2666) to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from regulating the rates charged for broadband Internet access service. The first reading of the bill shall be dispensed with. All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived. General debate shall be confined to the bill and shall not exceed one hour equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. After general debate the bill shall be considered for amendment under the five-minute rule. It shall be in order to consider as an original bill for the purpose of amendment under the five-minute rule the amendment in the nature of a substitute recommended by the Committee on Energy and Commerce now printed in the bill. The committee amendment in the nature of a substitute shall be considered as read. All points of order against the committee amendment in the nature of a substitute are waived. No amendment to the committee amendment in the nature of a substitute shall be in order except those printed in the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution. Each such amendment may be offered only in the order printed in the report, may be offered only by a Member designated in the report, shall be considered as read, shall be debatable for the time specified in the report equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent, shall not be subject to amendment, and shall not be subject to a demand for division of the question in the House or in the Committee of the Whole. All points of order against such amendments are waived. At the conclusion of consideration of the bill for amendment the Committee shall rise and report the bill to the House with such amendments as may have been adopted. Any Member may demand a separate vote in the House on any amendment adopted in the Committee of the Whole to the bill or to the committee amendment in the nature of a substitute. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill and amendments thereto to final passage without intervening motion except one motion to recommit with or without instructions.


On 4/15/2016. Rep. Amodei voted “AYE” for passage of HR 2666.  While this bill has been passed by the U.S. House, it has not yet been set for a vote in the U.S. Senate.

Summary of HR 2666:

No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act

(Sec. 2) This bill prohibits the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from regulating the rates charged for broadband Internet access service.

(Sec. 3) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect the FCC’s authority to: (1) condition receipt of universal service support by a provider of broadband Internet access service on the regulation of the rates charged by such provider for the supported service, or (2) enforce regulations relating to truth-in-billing requirements or paid prioritization.

(Sec. 4) Broadband Internet access service shall not be construed to include data roaming or interconnection for purposes of this Act.

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Republimen Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Bars on Discrimination

DiscriminationRus

On Thursday, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney [D-NY] offered an amendment to the military construction and veterans affairs spending bill that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT individuals in hiring and employment activities. It was very similar to an amendment that was offered last year by Rep. Scott Peters [D-CA] which upheld President Obama’s 2014 executive order banning federal contractors from making hiring decisions that discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 60 Republicans voted forRep Peters’ bill which was adopted 241-184 [HR2577, Roll Call 326, 6-9-15]. However, Rep. Maloney’s amendment by a single vote, 212-213 [HR 4974, Roll Call 226, 5-19-16], after seven Republicans switched their votes at the last minute.

Rep. Mark Amodei [NV2] and Rep. Cresant Hardy [NV4] voted against passage of BOTH amendments (last year’s and this year’s). It should, therefore, be noted that BOTH are in favor of allowing discrimination to take place.

Although the identities of the seven vote-switchers were not publicly recorded on the House floor, here’s the names of those Reps who switched there votes and deserve your shaming:

  1. Rep. Darrell Issa [R-CA]
  2. Rep. Jeff Denham [R-CA]
  3. Rep. David Valadao [R-CA]
  4. Rep. Mimi Walters [R-CA]
  5. Rep. Greg Walden [R-OR]
  6. Rep. David Young [R-IA]
  7. Rep. Bruce Poliquin [R-ME]

“House Republicans are so committed to discriminating against LGBT Americans, that they broke regular order to force their members to reverse their votes and support Republicans’ bigotry,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi [D-CA] said in a statement.

On the other side, Speaker Ryan had this to say: “This is federalism. The states should do this. The federal government shouldn’t stick its nose in this business.” UH … Hello? This had to do with FEDERAL contracts for which States hold NO responsibility for issuance, nor enforcement.

Here are the names of 30 Republicans who voted for the Peters amendment but against the Maloney amendment:

HR4974-30R

On the latest Newsletter from Rep. Mark Amodei

This week, I got the latest version of Rep. Mark Amodei’s News from the Hill newsletter in which he boasts of activity he and other GOP colleagues worked on to pass this week:

“It is unacceptable that after years of problems at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), our veterans are still not receiving the care they need. While the Administration has failed to hold the VA accountable, the House remains committed to fixing the problems at the VA by passing meaningful reforms. With my support this week, the House passed the VA Medical Center Recovery Act (H.R. 3234), the VA Provider Equity Act (H.R. 3016), the Female Veterans Suicide Prevention Act (H.R. 2915), the Construction Reform Act (H.R. 3106), and the American Heroes COLA Act (H.R. 677).

These bills will implement necessary reforms to ensure our Nevada veterans receive the prompt and proper care that they deserve. It is important that we fulfill our commitments.”

Hmmm — he’s awfully proud of his actions and how they’ll definitely provide the support our Nevada veterans deserve.  What do you say we start with the bill he calls, the VA Medical Center Recovery Act. Actually HR3234 is fully titled: the “Failed” VA Medical Center Recovery Act. It basically amounts to the equivalent to a VA version of Michigan’s disastrous “emergency manager” act. Don’t believe me? Here, read the summary from Congress.gov:

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I don’t know about you, but that looks like an “emergency manager” act that could most likely put the care of our veterans at risk when they decide it’s more important to “cut costs” than to “care for” those who put their lives at risk for the sake of the rest of us.

The next bill he mentioned was the VA Provider Equity Act (H.R. 3016).  Does Rep. Amodei have some kind of foot fetish, a foot problem or a relative who’s a podiatrist?  The only thing this particular bill does is to include podiatrists within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) definition of “physician,” and to increase their pay grade.  He’s been doing everything he can since a member of the NV Assembly and Senate back as far as 2001 to ensure that podiatrists are classified as eligible doctors and paid accordingly.

Bill number 3, the Female Veterans Suicide Prevention Act (H.R. 2915), covers only a limited scope of female veterans who might see suicide as a means of resolving the issues they’re facing:

“Covered veteran” means a veteran who: (1) is enrolled in the VA health care system; (2) is seeking mental health treatment; and (3) in the course of serving in the Armed Forces participated in a sensitive (classified) mission or served in a sensitive unit primarily involved in training for the conduct of, or conducting, special activities or classified missions.

So, if you weren’t involved in some special, classified mission, well, this bill certainly won’t cover the mental health help you might need.

Bill number 4, the Construction Reform Act (H.R. 3106), almost reads like preparations are being made for “charter” hospitals run by “non-VA entities.”  That could be my bias working into the reading of that summary, so you might want to read that summary for yourself to see if you get the same vibes.

The last bill he boasted about passing out of the house was the American Heroes COLA Act (H.R. 677).  That title kinda makes it sound like their ensuring our “American Heroes” will be provided with a needed cost of living allowance.  Well, maybe, sometimes I guess.  It basically says:

“Requires that, whenever there is an increase in benefit amounts payable under title II (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance) of the Social Security Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall increase by the same percentage the amounts payable as veterans’ disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled adult children, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children.”

So much for any COLA this year.  Since Social Security recipients won’t be receiving a COLA adjustment this year, neither will any veterans or their dependents

Wow.  I guess those really are some meaningful and necessary reforms for our nation’s vets. (snark)

The classic line at the end of his epistle reads: “To receive updates on what I am doing in Washington and in Nevada’s 2nd District follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.  YEAH RIGHT, unless of course, you’re a Democrat who might express a differing view, and then he’ll block you from being able to follow his right wing agenda.

Personally, I’m looking forward to voting for the first ever Democrat to represent us in NV-CD2 on the upcoming November ballot.

Veto Message from the President to the Republiban re: HR3762 ACA Repeal

— by Vickie Rock, Humboldt Democrats

After the 62nd vote to repeal “Obamacare” (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) which has now been upheld by the Supreme Court TWICE, the Republiban members of Congress finally managed to pass HR 3762. Inaptly named, the bill that would have done the exact opposite of its title: “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015.”  Restoring “Americans'” freedom?  Nope!  More like restoring the freedom for Insurance Corporations to give Americans the short shrift related to any hope of accessing healthcare insurance and thus health care itself.

And just so you know, each and every Nevada Republican in the House of Representatives, Rep. Mark Amodei (CD2), Rep. Joe Heck (CD3), and Rep. Cresant Hardy (CD4) voted FOR passage of HR 3762 (as well as a large number of previous bills) which would not just repeal the Affordable Care Act for millions of Americans who can barely afford health insurance as it is, but would have also revoked any and all funding received by Planned Parenthood by folks who not only can’t afford health insurance, but can’t afford health care either.  Senator Dean Heller also voted FOR passage (repeal) in the Senate in December preceding the vote in the House.

Today, at the stroke of his pen, President Obama showed us exactly HOW important it is that we have a Democratic President in the oval office as he promptly and unceremoniously vetoed their wasted efforts.  Here’s his message back to Congress:

TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

I am returning herewith without my approval H.R. 3762, which provides for reconciliation pursuant to section 2002 of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2016, herein referred to as the Reconciliation Act.  This legislation would not only repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, but would reverse the significant progress we have made in improving health care in America.  The Affordable Care Act includes a set of fairer rules and stronger consumer protections that have made health care coverage more affordable, more attainable, and more patient centered.  And it is working.  About 17.6 million Americans have gained health care coverage as the law’s coverage provisions have taken effect.  The Nation’s uninsured rate now stands at its lowest level ever, and demand for Marketplace coverage during December 2015 was at an all-time high.  Health care costs are lower than expected when the law was passed, and health care quality is higher — with improvements in patient safety saving an estimated 87,000 lives.  Health care has changed for the better, setting this country on a smarter, stronger course. 

The Reconciliation Act would reverse that course.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the legislation would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 22 million after 2017.  The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that this reduction in health care coverage could mean, each year, more than 900,000 fewer people getting all their needed care, more than 1.2 million additional people having trouble paying other bills due to higher medical costs, and potentially more than 10,000 additional deaths.  This legislation would cost millions of hard-working middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage they deserve.  Reliable health care coverage  would no longer be a right for everyone:  it would return to being a privilege for a few.

The legislation’s implications extend far beyond those who would become uninsured.  For example, about 150 million Americans with employer-based insurance would be at risk of higher premiums and lower wages.  And it would cause the cost of health coverage for people buying it on their own to skyrocket.  

The Reconciliation Act would also effectively defund Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood uses both Federal and non-federal funds to provide a range of important preventive care and health services, including health screenings, vaccinations, and check-ups to millions of men and women who visit their health centers annually.  Longstanding Federal policy already prohibits the use of Federal funds for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the woman would be endangered.  By eliminating Federal Medicaid funding for a major provider of health care, H.R. 3762 would limit access to health care for men, women, and families across the Nation, and would disproportionately impact low-income individuals.

Republicans in the Congress have attempted to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act over 50 times.  Rather than refighting old political battles by once again voting to repeal basic protections that provide security for the middle class, Members of Congress should be working together to grow the economy, strengthen middle-class families, and create new jobs.  Because of the harm this bill would cause to the health and financial security of millions of Americans, it has earned my veto.

The Republiban may have used procedural shenanigans to enable them to pass HR 3762, but to override President Obama’s veto, the Republiban would need a two-thirds affirmative vote on repeal bill.  The don’t have that.  This was all for show for the rabid GOP base heading into the November election.  But more than that, it’s a serious red-flag warning to Democrats that if we don’t overwhelm the polls this November to begin taking back Congress, and instead all the Republiban to hold onto Congress plus, take the White House, you can kiss the American Dream goodbye and buy the coffin as it will truly be dead.

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What’s next? Dismantling Lady Liberty?

CAKyOt4UgAAfIzLOur three Teapublican congressmen from Nevada, Mark Amodei, Joe Heck and Cresant Hardy locked arms in antipathy and voted to deny Syrian refugees entrance to American shores (Roll Call Vote 643: HR 4038) just as their ancestors denied access to German Jewish refugees during WWII, half of whom died during the Holocaust.  Surprisingly, they didn’t amend the bill so they could dismantle Lady Liberty as well.

Lady Liberty was officially presented to America in 1886 as a gift of the French to the American people.  Her French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi had originally drawn up plans to create a monumental statue in the form of an Egyptian fellah, or a peasant women, which means she would have been a “Muslim” woman. He wanted to place her at the Suez Canal’s Port, but couldn’t find the financing.  Instead, he reworked everything and she was presented to us instead.  I’m sure if the cowardly Republimen realized this, they’d be more than happy to completely dismantle her and send her packing as it’s clear that they no longer believe in the motto inbscribed at her base:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It was an egregious American President and his Administration that created this mess, by lying us into starting a pre-emptive war in Iraq, that destabilized the entirety of the middle east, spawning ISIS and the carnage they’ve created.  Still, the Republimen in Congress feel absolutely NO ownership of their savage carnage nor for the resultant refugees fleeing for native country for their lives.  And now, Republican despots are touting how terrified they are of widows and 3-5 year old orphaned Syrian Refugees.

Personally, I’m ashamed of the action our representatives in the Congress took today.  It’s their jobs to lead this nation and to make things work.  Instead, all they can do is cast doubt on anything and everything, vote to do nothing, and then crawl back under their favorite rock in fear.

A is for August and Advocacy … in support of the #IranDeal

August is when members of Congress are supposed to be meeting with their constituents to discuss issues before them.  If you get a chance to attend such a meeting, please express your support for the Iran Deal and ask for your Senator’s and Congressman’s support.

As of the date of this post, there are 32 days remaining before Congress must take action on the Iran Deal before them.  Even if you don’t get a chance to attend a meeting, you can always pick up your phone and call their offices:

Senator Harry ReidTwitter
202-224-3542 (DC) / 702-388-5020 (LV) /
775-686-5750 (Reno) / 775-882-7343 (Carson)

Senator Dean HellerTwitter
202-224-6244 (DC) / 702-388-6605 (LV) /
775-686-5770 (Reno) / 775-738-2001 (Elko)

Representative Dina Titus (CD1) … Twitter
202-225-5965 (DC) / 702-220-9823 (LV)

Representative Mark Amodei (CD2) … Twitter
202-225-6155 (DC) / 775-686-5760 (Reno)

Representative Joe Heck (CD3) … Twitter
202-225-3252 (DC) / 702-387-4941 (LV)

Representative Cresent Hardy (CD4) … Twitter
(202) 225-9894 (DC)

The U.S. + Five world powers have reached a deal with Iran to stop its potential path to a nuclear weapon. The deal is supported by over 60 nuclear security experts, more than 100 American ambassadors, 75% of Democrats, and 54% of all Americans.But the architects of the Iraq War are fighting to kill the deal. John Bolton says, 'Preemptive military action is now inescapable' and Bill Kristol says, 'Airstrikes to set back the Iranian nuclear weapons program are preferable to this deal.'Opponents are pressuring Congress by spending over $40 million to put the U.S. on a path to war with Iran. But millions of dollars can't drown out millions of voices.Americans have added more than 700,000 petition signatures and more than 100,000 calls to Congress to defend the deal. Members of Congress have less than 60 days to decide whether or not to veto the deal. Now is the time to flood their offices and town hall meetings.

Visit 60daystostopawar.com to find events near you or to call your member of Congress. Tell them: A vote against the Iran deal is a vote for war.

Resources:

And Just Exactly HOW Retroactive Would That Be?

govt01d.fwToday, the House voted on immigration. But it wasn’t on an effort to reform our broken system, or on the bipartisan bill the Senate passed more than 500 days ago.  Nope. Instead, House leaders held a vote t​hat would make our broken immigration system worse, not better. ​

Unproductive doesn’t begin to describe it. It’s all part of the Republican House’s pattern of payback politics — lawsuits,​ talks​ of impeachment​ and shutting down the government​, all because the President took common-sense action in the face of congressional gridlock ​to make our nation and families stronger.

The bill they voted on? That would be HR5759.  Roll Call Vote 550:

BILL TITLE: To establish a rule of construction clarifying the limitations on executive authority to provide certain forms of immigration relief

No provision of the Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act (of 1965), or other federal law shall be interpreted or applied to authorize the executive branch of the government to exempt, by executive order, regulation, or any other means, categories of persons unlawfully present in the United States from removal under the immigration laws.

Declares any action by the executive branch with the purpose of circumventing the objectives of this statute null and void and without legal effect.

Makes this Act EFFECTIVE RETROACTIVELY, applying to any such exemption made AT ANY TIME. (emphasis added)

The vote was 219-197 with 3 Democrats (Barrow, McIntyre and Peterson) voting FOR passage, and only 7 Republicans (Coffman, Denham, Diaz-Belart, Gohmert, Ros-Lehtinen, Stutzman and Valadio) voting against it. And yes of course, our illustrious representative from Nevada Congressional District 2, Mr. Mark Amodei was thrilled to cast his AYE vote as a “symbolic message” that, “that black guy in the oval office has no business doing what every President since ‘Ike’ has done via ‘executive action’.”

ImmigrationEOs

So, they want to retroactively nullify executive action of the President. Really? Did they bother to read the bill they just passed?  What are they nullifying? Actions just this President? Or, for curiosity’s sake, is their intent to nullify immigration-related actions taken by each and every President since 1956?  It does after all say, that it applies RETROACTIVELY, to ANY such exemption made at ANY time.

Talk about hypocrisy.  Apparently, if it’s intent is to apply ONLY to actions by President Obama, it’s okay for them to be ambiguous in bill that they themselves choose to pass, but how dare those heathenish Democrats pass a bill the Republicans claim is ambiguous as to healthcare subsidies! That just cannot be and they’ll make sure it can’t be, by wasting taxpayer money to take >50 votes to kill it, by suing the President for not implementing on a timely bases that same bill they’re trying to kill, and by goading their benefactor buddies into pursuing nullification of various provisions of that bill through all levels of the judiciary up to and including, the Supreme Corporate (oops, I mean Supreme Court).

The outright blatant hypocrisy of their ambiguous actions is immoral, unethical and UNchristian.

 

“Noble” Bill Is Nothing But Another RW Attempt to Hobble the EPA

LamarSmith
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-TX, one sponsor of the “Secret Science” bill. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/DREW ANGERER

If you can say anything about activities in the U.S. House during the 2014 lame duck session, it would begin with the word “Hobbling.”  First up in the house was HR1422, a bill to stuff “for profit” industry experts on the “scientific” board that advises the EPA and then prohibit the deposed scientific experts from saying ANYTHING regarding the results of their experience and research.  But that wasn’t enough.  Next up was HR4012, the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014.

According to the Summary on Thomas.gov:

Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 – Amends the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such action is specifically identified and publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results. Includes as a covered action a risk, exposure, or hazard assessment, criteria document, standard, limitation, regulation, regulatory impact analysis, or guidance.

If that isn’t a classic definition of “hobbling” the EPA into a state of inability to perform their legislative responsibilities, I don’t know what is.  This bill intentionally prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing regulations.  This bill mandates that unless they release any and all information they reviewed in arriving at any need for regulation, they are prohibited from issuing said regulations.

You might think that is reasonable, but would you want your medical records published for the world to peruse and discuss publicly?  How about their Corporate master’s records, trade secrets and various other sundry industry data?  We know they’re not going to allow that to become publicly searchable data for anybody and everybody to peruse.  Thus, if they can’t publish the research data, they can’t issue any regulation that just might keep us from getting cancer from some industrial discharge, nor would they be able to ensure the water we bathe in and drink is uncontaminated by industrial toxins.

But if that isn’t enough to prevent the issuance of ANY new regulations, reliance on fewer studies and less data (since they can’t release sensitive medical data, trade secrets, etc.), litigation and Congressional hearing costs will rise, potentially exponentially.

Once again, Republicans are spitting in the wind and looking to breed fear and hatred of a regulatory agency that they themselves created during the Nixon Administration.  Sadly, they’re claiming to fix something, but in reality, they’re disingenuously hobbling EPA’s effectiveness in protecting the environment and the population at large, ALL while they worship at the alter of the almighty dollar beside their corporate masters.

OH, and did I mention they still intend to dismantle all opportunity average Americans can actually purchase affordable health care should any of them just happen to get sick from unregulated pollution and corporate toxic waste they’d be able to dump at will?

I doubt they’d be able to ram it through the Senate during the lame duck session, but if they did,  President Obama will be dusting off another VETO pen upon it’s arrival at his desk

Note: Representative Mark Amodei NV-CD2 proudly stood up and voted AYE for this shame.

Related Posts — 

“Antithesis” — Time to Send a Dictionary to Rep. Amodei

Yesterday, while the Keystone Extremely Lethal (KXL) pipeline was failing passage in the Senate, the US House was passing, HR1422, The EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act. 225 Republicans and 4 Republicans sporting Democratic credentials [Barrow (GA), Matheson (UT), Peterson (MN), and Rahall (WV)] voted AYE.  Only ONE Republican broke from the rightwing pack and voted against this first of three bills [Gibson (NY19)] which are aimed at thumbing their noses at Scientists and preventing the EPA from being able to issue ANY new regulations.

It’s not enough that the GOP House believes that 3% of Climate Scientists constitutes a MAJORITY, or that 33% of Americans who either deny or have no clue whether Climate Change is a reality. Now, they’re claiming they’ll be restoring “accountability” to the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board by erecting roadblocks and muzzling them, basically making it harder for Scientific experts to serve on the Board and instead making it easier to pack the Board with “industry experts.”  But worse—those excluded Scientific Experts would be prohibited from talking about their research with Administrators of the EPA.  In making these changes (demanded by their corporate masters), the GOP claims enactment of this bill would increase the Board’s “effectiveness and transparency.”  HUH?  I do believe it will accomplish the antithesis of all three: accountability, effectiveness AND transparency.

Thomas.gov summarizes the bill’s provisions as follows:

Environmental_Protection_Agency_logoEPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2013 – Amends the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 to revise the process of selecting members of the Science Advisory Board, guidelines for participation in Board advisory activities, and terms of office. (The Board provides scientific advice to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA].) Prohibits federally registered lobbyists from being appointed to the Board.

Revises the procedures for providing advice and comments to the Administrator by: (1) including risk or hazard assessments in the regulatory proposals and documents made available to the Board, and (2) requiring advice and comments to be included in the record regarding any such proposal and published in the Federal Register.

Revises the operation of Board member committees and investigative panels to: (1) require that they operate in accordance with the membership, participation, and policy requirements (including new requirements for public participation in advisory activities of the Board) contained in this Act; (2) deny them authority to make decisions on behalf of the Board; and (3) prohibit direct reporting to EPA.

Adds guidelines for the conduct of Board advisory activities, including concerning: (1) avoidance of making policy determinations or recommendations, (2) communication of uncertainties, (3) dissenting members’ views, and (4) periodic reviews to ensure that such activities address the most important scientific issues affecting EPA.

Prohibits this Act from being construed as supplanting the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act or the Ethics in Government Act of 1978.

As I read the bill, it looks to me like they’re planning to mitigate any real scientific expertise on the board by packing the advisory committees (the hen house) with those whom the EPA regulates (the foxes), in other words, “industry experts” with profit motives.  The White House, which threatened to veto the bill, said it would “negatively affect the appointment of experts and would weaken the scientific independence and integrity of the EPA Science Advisory Board .” Sadly, “academic scientists who know the most about a subject under review can’t weigh in, but experts paid by corporations who want to block regulations can” — Union of Concerned Scientists director Andrew A. Rosenberg in an editorial for RollCall.

Rep. Mark Amodei, who supposedly represents ALL constituents of Nevada’s congressional district 2, voted FOR passage.  Should this bill become law, which I seriously doubt it would, there is a large cadre of his constituents throughout this district engaged in agriculture-related activities.  They depend on ample supplies of clean water and lands to graze their animals.  As water becomes scarcer, and as climate effects begin curtailing their grazing rights and impacting their wallets, maybe then  folks across the district will finally have to re-evaluate the wisdom of voting for the Republicans, who serve only as minions of their Corporate masters.

Related Articles —

If This is What it Means to be “Conservative” — I’m Proudly a Bleeding Heart Liberal

Clearly, members of the GOP in the House are all about looking for ways to handicap ANY organization tasked with performing regulatory actions that might impede their ideological plans for the future of the United States of Republica.  A case in point is this recent  press release from Representative Amodei’s office.  My comments are in blue italics at various points throughout his release.  Some original text has been highlight in RED for emphasis.

Amodei: Appropriations Financial Services bill reins in IRS, ACA and Dodd Frank

Wednesday June 18, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 Contact:    Brian Baluta, 202-225-6155

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee today passed its fiscal year 2015 bill, which would provide annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission and several other agencies.

The bill totals $21.3 billion in funding for these agencies, which is $566 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $2.3 billion below the president’s request for these programs.The legislation prioritizes programs critical to enforcing laws, maintaining an effective judiciary system and helping small businesses, while targeting lower-priority or poor-performing programs – such as the Internal Revenue Service – for reductions.

Well now, that makes just a ton of sense.  IRS is tasked with collecting revenue necessary for the operation of various government operations … so let’s under fund them so we can then make a scapegoat of them when they can no longer effectively perform their regulatory and tax-collecting functions.

“Every day, I am asked, ‘Why don’t you do something?’ This bill ‘does something’ by removing funding from executive agencies that have become political tools of the administration,” said Amodei.   

Bill highlights:

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)– Included in the bill is $10.95 billion for the IRS – a cut of $341 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $1.5 billion below the President’s budget request. This will bring the agency’s budget below the sequester level and below the level that was in place in fiscal year 2008. This funding level is sufficient for the IRS to perform its core duties, including taxpayer services and the proper collection of funds, but will require the agency to streamline and make better use of its budget.

Interesting! They continually carp about the IRS not providing for an EMAIL BACKUP strategy as part of their business plan. Server BACKUPs are NOT FREE!  How much more will they stop BACKING UP because they no longer have sufficient funding to do their tax collection duties, let alone ancillary functions like BACKUPS, SYSTEM UPDATES, SOFTWARE IMPROVEMENTS, etc.?

In addition, due to the inappropriate actions by the IRS in targeting groups that hold certain political beliefs, as well as its previous improper use of taxpayer funds, the bill includes the following provisions:

Here we go again, perpetuating the falsehood that ONLY right-wing political groups were scrutinized, when it was actually liberal groups that were denied with some that had already been given tax-exempt status seeing that status revoked (e.g., EmergeAmerica affiliated groups).  NO politically-focused groups should be receiving TAX-EXEMPT 501(c)(4) status, PERIOD!

A prohibition on a proposed regulation related to political activities and the tax-exempt status of 501(c)(4) organizations. The proposed regulation could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of many non-profit organizations and inhibit citizens from exercising their right to freedom of speech, simply because they may be involved in political activity.

Sorry, but I don’t get to deduct my “freedom of speech” contributions to political endeavors.  Thus, NO politically-focused organizations should be able to have a free of tax right to free speech at the American Taxpayer’s expense!

A prohibition on funds for bonuses or awards unless employee conduct and tax compliance are given consideration.

A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs.

Congress passed a law that clearly states that to be considered 501(c)(4) organization, your activities must be EXCLUSIVELY-FOCUSED on “Social Welfare” activities.  Politically-focused activities are NOT social-welfare activities and thus, it IS the IRS’s responsibility to scrutinize and deny tax-exempt status to ANY organization (conservative, liberal or otherwise) not meeting that exclusivity provision.

A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights.

More BS related to the previous proviso — the IRS is NOT prohibiting ANYONE from exercising their free speech.  The IRS is merely and rightfully determining whether a group is a group exclusively devoted to providing SOCIAL-WELFARE opportunities/activities and thus, whether that group is entitled to TAX-EXEMPT status!

A prohibition on funding for the production of inappropriate videos and conferences.

Really?  Oh, please, pray tell, what “inappropriate videos” might it be that the IRS is producing?

A prohibition on funding for the White House to order the IRS to determine the tax-exempt status of an organization.

Again, if you want to allow any organization wanting to conduct EXCLUSIVELY politically focused activities to never have to pay taxes, well then, you need to REPEAL the law that PROHIBITS them from being tax exempt!  You cannot have a LAW on the books that says one thing and then prohibit the IRS, which is responsible for administering that section of the law, from enforcing it!

A requirement for extensive reporting on IRS spending.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) –The bill also includes provisions to stop the IRS from further implementing ObamaCare, including a prohibition on any transfers of funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to the IRS for ObamaCare uses, and a prohibition on funding for the IRS to implement an individual insurance mandate on the American people.

Well, let’s see.  We elected President Obama and a Democratic Congress to get health care reform. Then, the Republican propaganda machine bought a Republican House.  Despite their efforts to gerry-rig the system, we still re-elected President Obama. Health care reform is one of the hardest things we’ve ever worked on. But no matter, they just keep trying to either LIE ABOUT REPEAL or DEFUND access to healthcare for the American People despite its need or popularity.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)– Included in the bill is $1.4 billion for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is $50 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $300 million below the President’s budget request. The increase in funds is targeted specifically toward critical information technology initiatives. The legislation also includes a prohibition on the SEC spending any money out of its “reserve fund” – essentially a slush fund for the SEC to use without any congressional oversight.

In addition, the legislation contains requirements for the Administration to report to Congress on the cost and regulatory burdens of the Dodd-Frank Act, and a prohibition on funding to require political donation information in SEC filings.

My my, lookie here — looks like an increase in funding.  But wait, isn’t this the organization that’s supposed to regulate Wall Street?  It’s a shame that the increase in funding is just for a bit of information technology so they can determine how their GOP-Donor base is affected by any sort of regulation.  It’s also despicable that they’ve included a proviso that PROHIBITS any reporting of information as to Corporate political donations.  If you and I donate, our freedom of speech is broadcast for all to see … but the Republican Donor-base has a special privileged secreted freedom of speech.  Apparently the Republicans believe their Donors are free to speak with their Dollars, but the general American public is underserving of being able to speak with their dollars in response.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)– The bill includes a provision to change the funding source for the CFPB from the Federal Reserve to the congressional appropriations process, starting in fiscal year 2016. Currently, funding for this agency is provided by mandatory spending and is not subject to annual congressional review. This change will allow for increased accountability and transparency of the agency’s activities and use of tax dollars. The legislation also requires extensive reporting on CFPB activities.

The Republicans have done EVERYTHING conceivably possible to handicap, repeal, defund and decapitate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  This is yet their latest attempt to defund and cripple any and all Consumer financial protection at the behest of their Donor-base.