Heritage Action Supports Olson’s Civil Rights Uniformity Act (H.R. 5812)

Background: On May 13, 2016, the Obama Administration’s Department of Education and Department of Justice issued a joint “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students, declaring that the agencies would “treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.”  This brash claim clearly ignores the letter and the spirit of the 1972 Civil Rights Act, which intended to protect against discrimination based on individual’s biological sex, not their subjective self-perceived gender identity.

Problem: In his article responding to the guidance, Obama Unilaterally Rewrites Law, Imposes Transgender Policy on Nation’s Schools, Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., the William E. Simon senior research fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation, points out three major problems with this sweeping and illegal executive overreach:

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Heritage Action Supports Lee-Jordan Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act (H.R. 5360/S. 3047)

Background: In 1996 President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, which became popularly known as “welfare reform,” into law. The legislation transformed the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) into Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a program intended to provide temporary financial assistance to low-income families while encouraging work and self-sufficiency. Most significantly, the 1996 welfare reform included mandatory federal work requirements, stipulating that welfare recipients must be engaged in work or some type of work activity in order to receive TANF benefits.

As Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield of the Heritage Foundation have written:

“Mandatory federal work requirements for recipients were at the heart of the change, which led to significant decreases in the program’s rolls, increased work among former recipients, and historic reductions in child poverty.”

Problem: Despite the success of the 1996 welfare reform, 20 years later there’s still much to be done to ensure that the welfare system moves people towards work and self-sufficiency rather than towards government dependency. According to Rector and Sheffield’s paper Setting Priorities for Welfare Reform:

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Key Vote Looming if Green Energy Subsidies Added to FAA Bill

 

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 98-0 to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 636, the vehicle for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act. Heritage Action will key vote against the bill if subsidies for fuel cells, geothermal and biomass are included.  Those subsidies — which were little more than corporate welfare — are expired and were not included in last December’s tax extenders package.  

In a letter sent to Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) 34% and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) 10% earlier this week, Heritage Action and 33 conservative organizations warned against including these provisions in the FAA bill:

Congress considered the matter of expiring tax provisions less than 4 months ago. The $680 billion package signed into law in December made some of these items permanent and allowed more than two dozen others to expire at the end of this past year, laying the groundwork for comprehensive tax reform. The $1.4 billion in expiring tax provisions currently under consideration — pertaining to wind power, geothermal heat pumps, fuel cell facilities and combined heat and power (CHP) properties — are a distortion of the tax laws for special interests in the renewable energy industry and were wisely left out of this package.

It should also be noted that Congress extended significantly favorable tax treatment to renewable energy in omnibus appropriation legislation that accompanied the aforementioned tax extender package. This bill included 5-year extensions of the main federal provisions for renewables, the wind production tax credit (PTC) and the solar investment tax credit (ITC), at a cost of $23.8 billion over the next decade.

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Conservatives to Ryan and McConnell: No Obamacare Bailout

Today, conservative leaders sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to continue the policy contained in recent appropriations bills restricting the use of Obamacare’s “Risk Corridor” program:

As you begin negotiations over legislation to continue government funding past December 11, 2015, we the undersigned individuals and organizations urge you to continue the policy contained in recent appropriations bills restricting the use of Obamacare’s “Risk Corridor” program.

Many of us signed on to a letter last year describing the Risk Corridor program (Sec. 1342 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare”) in detail and outlining why we believed it was important to restrict its ability to serve as a “taxpayer bailout” for Obamacare participating insurance companies. Fortunately, Congress was able to insert such language into the last omnibus appropriations act (specifically Division G, Title II, Sec. 227 of P.L. 113-235).

In last year’s letter, we pointed out that the experience of insurers in the new exchanges would likely lead to them demanding much more in returns from the program than they were putting into it. That prediction has turned out to be true. On October 1, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that they would only be able to pay out $362 million of the requested $2.9 billion, or just 12.6%, of funds that Obamacare-participating insurers had requested. Absent the Sec. 227 language mentioned above, HHS may very well have simply filtered the difference of $2.538 billion from hardworking taxpayers to bailout insurers for their poor business decisions.

You can read the full letter here.

 

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Coming Soon: No Child Left Behind Reauthorization

According to reports, lawmakers have reached an agreement to reauthorize the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law for four years.  In December 2014, The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke put forward four crucial benchmarks for any NCLB overhaul:

  • enable states to completely opt out of the programs that fall under No Child Left Behind;
  • eliminate programs and reduce spending;
  • eliminate all the burdensome federal mandates; and,
  • provide states the option of full Title 1 portability.

Those reports, confirmed by “a GOP aide who participated in the negotiations,” suggest the pre-conferenced agreement falls short on each and every requirement.  Additionally, Education Week reports the House’s testing opt-out language – a priority for many conservative lawmakers – was abandoned:

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