Today, Congressman Jim Bridenstine voted to disapprove EPA’s “Waters of the United States” rule (WOTUS).
“Time and time again, this administration has used the regulatory process to increase the federal government’s authority, bypass Congressional intent, and trample on states’ rights,” Bridenstine said. “WOTUS amounts to a land grab by the Environmental Protection Agency.”
Under this proposed rule, self-contained ponds, wetlands, and ditches would be considered “navigable waters,” and thus subject to EPA regulation.
“This rule goes far beyond the scope of the Clean Water Act,” Bridenstine added. “It works against the interests of farmers, energy producers, and land owners across this country.
“Unfortunately, today’s vote will not prevent the EPA from enforcing the WOTUS rule. Even though the Senate and House have both passed this resolution, President Obama will veto it. Our opportunity to stop WOTUS was through the appropriations process. The House included a provision defunding implementation of WOTUS in the Fiscal Year 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations Act.
“But House Republicans failed to fight to keep this provision in the Omnibus -- yet another example of Congressional capitulation. In fact, Nancy Pelosi highlighted this omission as a reason for Democrats to support the 2,000 page Omnibus spending bill.”
Bridenstine concluded: “I am pleased the House expressed its disapproval of WOTUS, but today’s action was futile. The House must reassert its Constitutional authority, using the power of the purse to defund the Obama Administration’s bad policies and overreaching regulations. We surrendered that power for FY16 by using the Omnibus in place of the regular appropriations process.”
Today Congressman Jim Bridenstine joined a bipartisan effort to allow imposition of sanctions on Iran in response to violations of international law in supporting terrorism or developing ballistic missiles.
“President Obama promised his nuclear deal with Iran would not undermine separate, non-nuclear sanctions on terrorism, human rights violations, and ballistic missiles. Thus far, the Administration has not responded to clear Iranian transgressions including their test of a long-range nuclear-capable missile,” said Congressman Bridenstine. “Along with my colleagues, Congressmen Kennedy and Deutch, I’m proud to support the Zero Tolerance for Terror Act, bipartisan legislation which provides a legislative fast-track for new congressional sanctions. This bill also confirms that Congress can pass new sanctions legislation without waiting for the White House.”
The press release from Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) follows:
For Immediate Release: January 7, 2016
Contact: Dan Black (Kennedy) - (202) 225-5931
Ashley Mushnick (Deutch) – (202) 225-3001
KENNEDY, DEUTCH INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN BILL TO EXPEDITE TERROR AND BALLISTIC MISSILE SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN
Legislation follows two Iranian missile launches in violation of existing international resolutions
Washington, D.C. – Following a letter sent to the President expressing concern about last year’s Iranian ballistic missile tests, Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) today introduced the bipartisan Zero Tolerance for Terror Act which would allow Congress to quickly impose sanctions if the Iranian government commits an act of terror, provides support for terrorist organizations or violates international law by acquiring ballistic missile technology. While the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will scale back nuclear sanctions, it does not limit the ability of Congress to enact new sanctions related to acts of terror or development of ballistic missiles.
Kennedy and Deutch are joined by five cosponsors, a mix of Democrats and Republicans who both supported and opposed the nuclear agreement, in introducing the legislation in response to Iran illegally launching two ballistic missiles in October and November 2015. After investigating the October 10th launch, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) found that the launch violated UNSC Resolution 1929, but the Council did not take action against Iran.
“By giving Congress the ability to quickly respond to Iranian violations of international law, this bill sends a clear message that we will hold their government accountable for continued illegal ballistic missile development or support for terror organizations,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III. “As we move closer to implementation of the JCPOA, that message must be clear, not only to Iran, but also to Israel and our allies around the world."
"Iran's recent ballistic missile tests and this week's unveiling of a new underground missile depot are powerful reminders of this regime's blatant disregard for international law," said Congressman Ted Deutch, who serves as Ranking Democrat on the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee. "With Iran set to receive billions of dollars in sanctions relief and no indication that it plans to suspend its illegal missile development, support for terrorism, or egregious human rights abuses, Congress must be prepared to act swiftly and decisively. This legislation enhances our ability to hold Iran accountable at a moment's notice while sending the regime the message that it cannot continue to violate international law without consequence."
In addition to Kennedy and Deutch, original cosponsors for The Zero Tolerance for Terror Act include Congressman Juan Vargas (D-CA), Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC), and Congressman John Delaney (D-MD).
From the Gang of 8, to Obamacare, to the Omnibus spending bill, Americans are fed up with lengthy bills rammed quickly through Congress.
The 2,000 page, $1.1 trillion Omnibus signed into law before Christmas fully funds Planned Parenthood, Obamacare, illegal executive amnesty, EPA overreach and the Syrian refugee program among other horrible organizations and programs. In response, I have introduced legislation to hit the brakes on runaway legislation: the Read the Bill Act. At a minimum, our constituents expect Members of Congress to read and understand legislation before taking a vote. The public also needs sufficient time to in order to communicate with their representatives.
The justifiable backlash from conservatives against the Omnibus has reinvigorated calls for House GOP leadership to restore “regular order” to funding the government: twelve spending bills brought forward one-by-one under open-amendment rules. Regular order is a first step toward restoring legislative sanity, but real process reform requires a “safety valve” which prevents leadership from jamming through massive bills at the last minute.
Currently, the House operates under the so-called “Three Day Rule.” This rule supposedly prevents a bill from being brought to the floor and voted on in the same day.
The public mistakenly thinks the Three Day Rule gives Members a minimum of 72 hours to review bills. House Leadership, however, often “complies” by introducing controversial legislation late Tuesday night and holding votes Thursday morning. Even so, sometimes Leadership overrides the fake Three Day Rule by passing a so-called “Martial Law” rule to allow same-day consideration of any bill. Only in Washington D.C. can politicians write a new rule to override another rule which they (temporarily) don’t want to follow.
We saw the fake Three Day Rule in operation with the Omnibus.
House Leadership introduced the Omnibus at 2:00 AM on Wednesday, December 16 and we voted that Friday at 10:00 AM. In other words, we had only 56 hours to review 2,000 pages of legislation. My bill would stop this madness first by requiring 24 hours review time for every 100 pages of legislative text with a guaranteed minimum of 72 hours for every bill.
It also clarifies that “hours” means “working” hours so Leadership can’t run the clock during weekends and days when Congress is out of session. The longer the bill, the more time Members and the public would have to understand what’s in it. These time requirements would have forced House Leadership to wait a calendar month between dropping the 2,000 page Omnibus and scheduling the final passage vote. I have no doubt the Omnibus would have died if the public had a full week to rally against it, let alone 30 days.
To ensure Leadership’s compliance, the Read the Bill Act includes an enforcement procedure which would invalidate any law passed using fast-track procedures. It creates a cause of action for Members – or even taxpayers – to sue and make sure such laws have no force or effect.
Reading 100 pages a day doesn’t seem like much.
However, actually understanding legislative text is equivalent to deciphering hieroglyphics. It’s not just the length of bills, but also their sheer complexity – riddled with mind-numbing jargon, legalese, and bureaucratic gobbledygook – which keeps everybody in the dark.
For example, two seemingly innocuous short provisions in the Omnibus (Sections 601 and 602) give a partial bailout for Puerto Rico. Of course, these two sections don’t say: “U.S. mainland taxpayers shall provide an $865 million bailout to Puerto Rico.” Instead, the Omnibus legislative text amends eight paragraphs, subparagraphs, clauses and sub-clauses in a completely different bill – the (amended) Social Security Act of 1935 – and three other obscure provisions in the 2009 Obama stimulus bill to achieve the same purpose.
Analyzing half-page provisions shouldn’t take hours and a law degree. We don’t just need more time; we need bills that are readable. Members cannot do their jobs without readable legislation, nor can our constituents hold us accountable.
The Read the Bill Act requires that all bills include a comparative print which shows changes made to all other laws. Comparative prints are similar to the “track changes” functions used in everyday word processing programs. The House is already moving toward mandating more readable legislation. In fact, new House Rules already require comparative print appendices, but only for bills passed out of committees. The Read the Bill Act expands the existing readable legislation requirement to all legislation considered on the floor – even 2,000 page bills drafted in secret with zero committee involvement.
I encourage my House colleagues to join with me to start a better process which would, in turn, lead to better legislation: short, readable, and with plenty of time to digest it.
Today, President Obama once again usurped the legislative power of Congress by executive overreach. The President’s gun control executive actions will infringe on the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans, but do nothing to prevent gun crime and mass shootings. I am confident that his proposals will be challenged in court and ultimately vacated.
Obama’s new executive actions on gun control would have not prevented mass shooting tragedies from Columbine to San Bernardino.
The executive actions broaden guidance on who must obtain a firearms license while being deliberately vague in defining who will be considered a gun dealer. This will give federal agents undue power and make people reluctant to engage in gun transactions for fear of being selected for politically-motivated prosecution. The actions not only violate 2nd Amendment rights to keep and bear arms but also 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Additionally, the President plans to prohibit certain Social Security recipients from legally owning firearms. In response, I will co-sponsor legislation (H.R. 3126) to prohibit the Social Security Commissioner from turning over social security numbers to the Justice Department-run gun background check system.
Today, Congressman Jim Bridenstine voted against a trillion dollar "Omnibus" spending bill.
By filibustering annual appropriations bills, Harry Reid and Senate Democrats forced another crisis with a government shutdown looming. The Omnibus was negotiated behind closed doors by small number of Members of Congress and the White House. Members were given less than 60 hours to digest over 2,000 pages and had to take an up or down vote with no amendments permitted.
Congressman Bridenstine said:
"I cannot support a bill which funds Planned Parenthood, Obamacare, illegal executive amnesty, onerous EPA and Department of Labor regulations, and the Syrian refugee resettlement program, among other inappropriate government programs. The Omnibus also increases funding for the IRS and quadruples the number of low-wage ‘guest worker’ visas.”
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider and harvests and sells baby parts. Federal funding for Planned Parenthood should stop. Congress can and should defund Planned Parenthood in the pending “Omnibus” spending bill.
Rather than confront Sen. Harry Reid and President Obama, some Republicans in Congress have asserted that defunding Planned Parenthood is impossible. In October, I asked the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) to examine Congress’ ability to defund Planned Parenthood. The CRS reportunequivocally shows that Congress can indeed stop federal funding to Planned Parenthood and its affiliates should it choose to do so. It’s a question of will and commitment to principle.
Federal spending falls into three categories: discretionary, mandatory, and interest payments on the national debt. The vast majority of federal funding for Planned Parenthood comes from Medicaid reimbursements (mandatory spending) and grants authorized by Title X of the Public Health Service Act (discretionary spending).
Congress sets discretionary spending annually by passing twelve appropriations bills covering everything from national defense to education to transportation.
Mandatory spending funds entitlement programs – notably Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. If you qualify for the programs, then you receive the money. There is no annual appropriation. Some Republicans in Congress incorrectly contend that mandatory spending is on “autopilot” and cannot be changed in appropriations bills. That’s true for Medicare and Social Security, but not Medicaid. Medicaid is an “appropriated entitlement” which does not bypass the annual appropriations process: the level of Medicaid spending is determined by statute, but funding is provided through the annual appropriations bills. As CRS explains:
The fact that Medicaid is subject to the annual appropriations process provides an opportunity for Congress to place funding limitations on specified activities in Medicaid, including the circumstances under which federal funds can be used to pay for abortions.
Medicaid is not on autopilot: Congress can and does direct and limit Medicaid funding through annual appropriations bills, including spending bills like the pending Omnibus. In fact, Congress has banned Medicaid funding for abortion by attaching the so-called Hyde Amendment to annual appropriations bills for forty years.
Title X grants are “discretionary” spending. Congress can use limitation provisions to restrict funding for specific purposes, even when the spending is authorized. The CRS report I requested confirmed: “Limitations are allowable under the rules of the House and Senate under the principle that while Congress may authorize an activity, it is under no obligation to fund it.”
In the Federalist papers, James Madison described Congress’s constitutional control over all federal spending – the power over the purse – as “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.” It is clear that Congress can use the appropriations process to stop the flow of federal funding to Planned Parenthood and its affiliates by attaching a simple provision to the Omnibus.
The question is: why won’t Republicans in Congress use the power over the purse – this “most complete and effectual weapon” – to defund America’s number one abortion provider and trafficker of baby parts? The unfortunate answer is that they are unwilling to face down Senate Democrats and President Obama, who will block or veto any Omnibus with defunding language attached. Obama and the Democrats are willing to shut down the government to keep taxpayer money flowing into Planned Parenthood.
Republicans should remember that we have the majority in both chambers. It’s time for Republicans to exercise the power of the purse, defund Planned Parenthood, and let Harry Reid and President Obama tell the American people they are willing to shut down the government to compel our constituents to pay for an abortion mill.
Today, Congressman Bridenstine voted for H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act. The bill passed 249 to 174.
“Secure, reliable, and affordable energy is crucial to our economy and national security,” said Bridenstine. “I am pleased the House of Representatives passed legislation to expand markets for American energy while eliminating several barriers to production.
Bridenstine continued, “H.R. 8 includes a significant provision drawn directly from the Cruz-Bridenstine American Energy Renaissance Act, a comprehensive energy bill I introduced in both the 113th and 114th Congresses. The Gosar/Bridenstine amendment to H.R. 8 which included this provision was unanimously approved, limiting frivolous and costly environmental lawsuits that block energy development.”
In addition, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act:
Lifts the ban on exporting crude oil
Expedites the process for exporting natural gas
Simplifies permitting for new pipelines
Limits duplicative studies that delay energy projects
Establishes a Strategic Transformer Reserve to increase the United States’ ability to protect the electric grid
“The biggest obstacle to the American energy renaissance is Washington, DC. This legislation will cut regulatory red tape and allow energy development to expand. I urge the Senate to swiftly pass this legislation and send it to the President.”
Today, Congressman Jim Bridenstine voted against the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which would replace No Child Left Behind. The bill passed 359 to 64.
Bridenstine said, “ESSA expands the role of the federal government by creating a program for pre-school managed by the Department of Health and Human Services and expanding after school programs.
“No Child Left Behind was a seriously flawed law that greatly increased federal control of education. I was disappointed that the Every Student Succeeds Act missed the opportunity to return control of our children’s education to where it belongs: states, local school districts, and ultimately, parents.”
ESSA also maintains several troublesome aspects of current law:
Maintains the federal testing burden
Requires states to intervene in schools underperforming by federal metrics
Allows federal education spending to continue to grow
Forces states to develop standards that conform with federal guidelines
“I voted for the House version of this bill because that legislation, while not perfect, moved education policy in the right direction by allowing funding to follow students to the school of their parents’ choice (“portability”), allowing parents to opt their students out of federally mandated testing, and shortening the timeframe in which Congress must next examine education policy. ESSA strips these crucial provisions,” the Congressman explained.
“I believe that the best education for our children is not one dictated by politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, DC. We should return control of education to those who know the needs of students the best. Therefore, I opposed ESSA.”
Today, Rep. Bridenstine submitted an omnibus rider to defund the Office of Refugee Resettlement, an agency which is unaccountable to Congress and helps resettle illegal aliens. We are under no obligation to import possible terrorists to replay the Paris attacks in America.
Text of letter to Rep. Hal Rogers and Rep Nita Lowey below:
The Honorable Hal Rogers
Committee on Appropriations
H-305, The Capitol
The Honorable Nita Lowey
Committee on Appropriations
1016 Longworth House Office Building
Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey:
We write to express our strong support for prohibiting funds made available by an upcoming omnibus spending bill from being used by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (hereinafter ORR) for purposes of resettling, integrating, and providing other services for refugees, asylum seekers, or aliens not lawfully admitted and approved for lawful status for a period of six months.
The Administration recently announced its intent to resettle an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. in FY2016. Given the recent terror attacks in Paris and threats from the Islamic State (hereinafter ISIS), we suspect terrorists are actively trying to exploit our refugee program in order to infiltrate the United States. More importantly, "The FBI, intelligence community, and Homeland Security officials have all testified to the House Committee that they "don't know who these people are (referring to Syrian refugees)" according to Chairman McCaul of the Homeland Security Committee. 1 Senators Sessions and Shelby just released a list of twelve refugees (not exclusive to Syria) released into the U.S. in 2015 who were publicly implicated in terrorism. It would be irresponsible to continue resettling refugees given the clear and present danger posed by terrorists to the homeland.
In addition, we submit that no funding should be provided for other ORR resettlement services. ORR has been directly involved in the unlawful resettlement of thousands of illegal aliens crossing our Southern border over the past few years, another vulnerability ISIS has pledged to exploit. The Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety was recently asked whether Islamic State terrorists had infiltrated the Southern border. He responded , "Individuals that come across the Texas/Mexican border from countries with a known terrorism presence and the answer to that is yes."2 In April, a Judicial Watch report cited a Mexican Army officer and police inspector who asserted that ISIS was operating training bases in close proximity of the U.S. Southern border.3 Another report from August 2014 advised that social media traffic indicated ISIS was planning to "infiltrate" the Southern border in order to carry out a terrorist attack.4 Further, the Homeland Security Department recently confirmed that eight Syrians, traveling in two family units, were taken into custody at the border in the Laredo sector. Six Syrians with fake passports were also arrested in Honduras.
The direct threat posed by ISIS is compounded by ORR's lack of transparency and competence. Section 413(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to submit an annual report to Congress regarding the activities of ORR "no later than the January 31 following the end of each fiscal year..." ORR's FY2014 report is still outstanding. The annual reports contain important information about "refugee placement' , "ORR refugee health initiatives", and "discretionary grants ..."
ORR's resettlement services must be temporarily suspended. This will allow our government to develop sufficient vetting protocols for overseas refugees, illegal aliens or asylum seekers crossing our Southern border. Moreover, ORR must produce its FY2014 Annual Report to Congress, as required by law, and take other steps to assure Members of this body that it will operate with transparency moving forward. ORR's activities are costing hardworking American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and potentially endangering the security of our country.
Thank you for your consideration of our views on these matters.