New to the art form? This Wall Street Journal article will get you orientated. Also, for more information on how some of these titles mislead lawmakers and the citizenry, find some academic commentary from Brian Christopher Jones here:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Faithful Execution of the Law?

Today the House debated Rep. DeSantis's (R., FL) Faithful Execution of the Law Act of 2014. According to a House committee report the bill "require[s] the Attorney General of the United States to report to Congress any time a  Federal official establishes or implements a formal or informal  policy to refrain from enforcing any provision of Federal law.  It further requires the Attorney General to report on the  reason for the establishment or implementation of such a  policy."

The White House has released a veto threat statement against the measure: 
The Administration strongly opposes passage of H.R. 3973. The bill would inordinately expand current law, which already requires reports to Congress when non-enforcement of Federal law is based on constitutional grounds. H.R. 3973 would further require reporting to Congress each time any Federal officer establishes or implements a formal or informal policy to refrain from enforcing or administering any provision of a Federal law, rule, regulation, program, or policy on any grounds.
Federal agencies are continually engaged in the process of determining how to concentrate limited enforcement resources most effectively. The vastly expanded reporting scheme required by the bill would be unduly burdensome and would place the Attorney General in the unprecedented position of having to be kept informed of and report on enforcement decisions made by every other Federal agency.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

FAST America?

Sen. Christopher Coons (D., DE) has introduced S.85, the Fair, Accurate, Secure, and Timely (FAST) Voting Act of 2013, and is scheduled to give testimony about it on Wednesday to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. The measure would provide grants to states to use innovative technologies to speed up their voting and make it more accurate. According to the official summary, the bill would: 
Directs the Attorney General to award grants, on a competitive basis, to enable states to: (1) invest in practices and technology designed to expedite voting at the polls, and (2) simplify voter registration.
Requires the grant application to include a comprehensive and coherent plan for using funds to improve the applicant's performance on specified measures with respect to: (1) flexible registration opportunities, (2) early voting, (3) assistance to non-English speaking voters, and (4) other related matters.
Requires each grantee to establish performance measures and targets, approved by the Attorney General, that track its progress in implementing its plan and expediting voting at the polls or simplifying voter registration, as applicable.

Monday, March 10, 2014

ENFORCE[ing] Congressional Rights (Updated)

On Wednesday the House will take up Rep. Trey Gowdy's (R., SC) ENFORCE (Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments) the Law Act of 2014. The official summary of the bill states the following: 
Authorizes either chamber of Congress, upon adoption of a resolution declaring that the President or any officer or employee of the United States has established or implemented a policy, practice, or procedure to refrain from enforcing, applying, following, or administering any federal statute, rule, regulation, program, policy, or other law in violation of the constitutional requirement that the President faithfully execute the laws of the United States, to bring a civil action for a declaratory judgment to that effect.
The bill passed the House on March 12th, and currently sits with the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rep. Darrell Issa (R., CA) has recently introduced three House resolutions that relate to the Affordable Care Act, welfare, and immigration. A press release from his office notes the following: 
Congressman Darrell Issa has introduced three ENFORCE Act resolutions, to grant an expedited judicial hearing to compel the President of the United States to faithfully execute our laws as written under the U.S. Constitution.  These three resolutions focus on the President’s lack of enforcement in the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate tax, the unilateral removal of the work requirement for welfare recipients, and unlawful suspension of immigration enforcement through his announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals “DACA” program. The ENFORCE Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 12th, 2014 and if passed by Senate would allow Congressman Issa’s resolutions to go before a three judge panel of a U.S. District court.
The first resolution seeks to prohibit the President from unilaterally changing the employer mandate tax within the Affordable Care Act.  The second resolution requires the President to drop his administrations’ waiver of the bipartisan 1996 welfare reform ‘work’ requirement in order to receive assistance. The third resolution requires the President to abandon his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program since the DACA program was not created with the consent of Congress as required by the Constitution’s plenary powers doctrine.

EACH One Counts!

The House is set to take up Rep. Aaron Shrock's (R., IL) EACH (Equitable Access to Care and Health) Act. According to the official summary, the bill: 
Amends the Internal Revenue Code, with respect to minimum essential health care coverage requirements added by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, to allow an additional religious exemption from such requirements for individuals whose sincerely held religious beliefs would cause them to object to medical health care provided under such coverage.

Administrative FUELS Bill

Rep. Eric A. Crawford (R., AR) has introduced the FUELS (Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship) Act. According to the official summary of the bill, it: 
Requires the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in implementing the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure rule with respect to any farm, to require certification of compliance with such rule by: (1) a professional engineer for a farm with an individual tank with an above ground storage capacity greater than 10,000 gallons, an aggregate above ground storage capacity of at least 42,000 gallons, or a history that includes a spill, as determined by the Administrator; or (2) the owner or operator of the farm (via self-certification) for a farm with an aggregate above ground storage capacity greater than 10,000 gallons but less than 42,000 gallons and no history of spills. Directs the Administrator to exempt from all requirements of such rule any farm with an aggregate aboveground storage capacity of 10,000 gallons or less and no history of spills.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

RAPID Alternate Acronymification

The House will soon be considering Rep. Tom Marino's  (R., PA) RAPID (Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development) Act of 2013. The bill is designed to "establish procedures to streamline, increase the efficiency of, and enhance coordination of agency administration of the regulatory review, environmental decision making, and permitting process for major actions that are construction activities undertaken, reviewed, or funded by federal agencies." The measure, however, seems somewhat similar to the ALERT Act this blog covered last week. 

The proposal has also been subject to alternate acronymification of its name by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, who today mentioned that the House is likely to take up the "Regrettably Another Partisan Ideological Distraction (RAPID) Act."

Alternate acronymification has recently been on the rise in Congress, and this blog has noted other instances of such title modifications, or 'reframing' as some linguists and political scientists would call it. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

So SIMPLE, It's Difficult

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R., KS) has introduced the SIMPLE (Suspending the Individual Mandate Penalty Law Equals) Fairness Act, which, perhaps unsurprisingly, is probably the most difficult thing to accomplish on Capitol Hill these days: suspension of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. 

It didn't take long for the Obama Administration to issue a statement against the bill, which included a veto threat. It also noted the following: 
The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 4118, the Suspending the Individual Mandate Penalty Equals Fairness Act, because the bill would increase health insurance premiums, decrease tax credits, increase the number of uninsured, and shift costs to businesses, workers, and health care providers. Rather than attempting once again to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the House has tried to do approximately 50 times, it is time for the Congress to stop fighting old political battles and join the President in an agenda focused on providing greater economic opportunity and security for middle class families and all those working to get into the middle class. ...


Rep. Bill Schuster (R., PA) has introduced the HHEATT (Home Heating Emergency Assistance Through Transportation) Act of 2014, which would provide emergency relief to those in need of propane and other heating fuels, especially for those in Pennsylvania. 

Partial press release is given below the jump. 


Shuster Introduces Legislation to Speed Propane Supplies to Pennsylvania Families

Washington, DC – Yesterday, Congressman Bill Shuster introduced legislation to help provide emergency relief to the ongoing propane and home heating fuels shortage throughout Pennsylvania. H.R. 4076, the Home Heating Emergency Assistance Through Transportation (HHEATT) Act of 2014 will help ensure that propane and fuel supplies are being delivered to consumers as fast as possible throughout the rest of the winter.

In the 9th District, over 9,000 homes directly rely on propane for home heating, but this winter's extreme cold has resulted in such a high level of demand that it has already outpaced supply. While an emergency declaration allowed the Department of Transportation to suspend certain Federal rules, including Hours of Service, this is only a temporary measure since each declaration can only last 30 days at a time.

“With supplies short and prices high, people are struggling to deal with the burden of such a major propane shortage. They need relief, and they need it now,” said Shuster. “This is why I am introducing H.R. 4076, the Home Heating Emergency Assistance Through Transportation Act of 2014. This bill guarantees an extension of the longer driving hours for tank truck operators carrying propane and other home heating fuels through May 31st, bringing immediate certainty that these emergency measures will last through this already brutal winter.” ...