Rep Allen West – Legislative Lowdown, Highlights of the Week and more

Legislative Lowdown:

– Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Authorization — On Tuesday, the House approved H.R. 2838, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2011, by voice vote. The bill would authorize funding for the Coast Guard in Fiscal Years 2012 through 2015. The bill would also authorize funds for the Federal Maritime Commission in each of the Fiscal Years 2012-2015, and would make changes to current law affecting marine safety, marine transportation systems, and the authorities of the Coast Guard. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), appropriating the amounts authorized by H.R. 2838 would result in discretionary spending of about $24.4 billion over the Fiscal Year 2012-2016 period.

Right-to-Carry — On Wednesday, the House approved H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, by a vote of 272-154, I VOTED YES. The bill would allow any person with a valid state-issued concealed firearm permit to carry a concealed firearm in any state that issues concealed firearm permits or that does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms. The bill would make no changes to any state’s laws on where concealed firearms may be carried within its borders; would not create a federal licensing system; and would not establish a minimum federal standard for a carry permit. Instead, it would require states to recognize each others’ carry permits, just as they recognize drivers’ licenses.

– 3 percent withholding — Also on Wednesday, the House approved the United States Senate amendment to H.R. 674. The bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the imposition of 3 percent withholding on certain payments made to vendors by government entities, by a vote of 422-0. The bill would also establish new job training programs for Armed Forces members separating from active duty, create additional requirements for veterans’ job training programs, and increase tax credits for employers to hire qualified members of the Armed Forces following their service. In addition, the bill would require all Social Security and Tier 1 Railroad Retirement benefits to be included as part of modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) for purposes of determining eligibility for certain Medicaid applicants and subsidies for health insurance purchased through the new health insurance exchanges to be established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

– Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations — On Thursday, the House approved the H.R. 2112 Conference Report, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012, by a vote of 298-121, I VOTED YES. The conference report on H.R. 2112 would provide a total of $128 billion in discretionary appropriations to provide funding for three Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bills: Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development. In addition, the legislation would provide short-term appropriated funding for discretionary government operations at current levels through December 16, 2011. Under a continuing resolution (CR) approved at the end of Fiscal Year 2011, discretionary appropriations are set to expire on November 18, 2011. Known as the “Mini-bus,” the conference report would provide $19.77 billion for Agriculture appropriations, $52.74 billion for Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS), and $55.55 billion for Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (THUD). In addition, the legislation includes $2.3 billion in emergency disaster relief funding which is not subject to statutory discretionary spending caps under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). The conference agreement for the three bills upholds the non-emergency base discretionary level of $1.043 trillion as agreed to in the BCA.

– Balanced Budget Amendment — On Friday, the House failed to approve H.J. Res. 2, proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, by a vote of 261-165, I VOTED YES. If approved by a two-thirds majority of each chamber of the United States Congress and ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures, H.J. Res. 2 would have amended the Constitution to prohibit federal spending in any fiscal year from exceeding receipts for that year. The balanced budget requirement could be waived in a given year if three-fifths of both chambers approve a law to allow spending to exceed revenues. In addition, the amendment would require a vote of three-fifths of both chambers to increase the statutory debt limit. The amendment would also require the president to submit a balanced budget to United States Congress each fiscal year and would require a majority vote of Congress to increase taxes. Under the amendment, the balanced budget requirement could be waived for any fiscal year in which a declaration of war is in effect or in any year that the United States is “engaged in military conflict which causes an imminent and serious military threat to national security and is so declared by a joint resolution, adopted by a majority of the whole number of each House, which becomes law.”

– Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act — On Friday, November 18, 2011, the House approved the rule for consideration of H.R. 3094, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act. The bill would pre-empt National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) proposed rulemaking that will significantly change procedures that govern union elections by providing employers just seven days to find legal counsel and prepare their entire case to be presented at a NLRB pre-election hearing. The bill would amend the National Labor Relations Act to require specified waiting periods before unionization hearings and elections can occur.

The bill would amend the National Labor Relations Act to require specified waiting periods before unionization hearings and elections can occur. The bill would also provide minimum and maximum time frames in which action should be taken in response to the filing of election petitions.

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Highlights of the Week:

– Tuesday, 15 Nov, Presided over House of Representatives Morning Hour for one- minute and five-minute speeches, participated in the Keystone XL press conference, participated in the Operation Fast and Furious press conference, met with former National Security Advisor Bud McFarlane on energy security, conducted an interview with WHUR, Howard University radio station.

– Wednesday, 16 Nov, attended House Armed Services Committee Classified briefing on Iraq withdrawal; big concern over release of detainees in United States custody to Iraq and the overall post-security situation with no credible America military presence. Just so you know, the plan is for 5,000-6,000 security contractors under United States Department of State control… budget savings? Met with the Israeli Missile Defense Minister to discuss missile defense cooperation in light of the Iranian, Hezbollah, and Hamas threat.

– Thursday, 17 Nov, guest speaker at the bi-partisan Member’s Prayer breakfast, attended House Armed Services Subcommittee classified briefing on Yemen and Somalia, addressed a Young Entrepreneur Leaders group on the future of entrepreneurship in America, met with three great Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) soldiers on the needs of the Army EOD community… needless to say the movie “Hurt Locker” was EODs boost similar to “Top Gun,” attended the Capitol Hill farewell reception for Army Vice Chief of Staff General Chiarelli, a stellar Army leader.

– Friday, 18 Nov, participated in the House Armed Services Panel on Business within the Defense Industry, flew back to South Florida… after a disheartening vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment.

– Saturday, 19 Nov, finally got back to a nine mile Ft. Lauderdale beach run, spoke to and attended the David Horowitz Freedom Center Restoration Weekend dinner.

– Sunday, 20 Nov, Participated in the Delray Beach Sixth Annual Project Holiday packing event to send care packages to our deployed men and women in uniform.




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