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Memo: Path to Ex-Im Reauthorization Rapidly Closing

To:                   Interested Parties
From:              Heritage Action for America
Date:                May 18, 2015
Subject:          Path to Ex-Im Reauthorization Rapidly Closing

Because the House appears poised to allow the Export-Import Bank to expire on June 30th without taking any action, proponents of reauthorizing the bank are staking their hopes on the Senate jamming the House.  That path seems to be increasingly difficult to walk. While it is conventional wisdom to believe the Senate can “jam the House” the reality is that doing so is extremely difficult. There are two general scenarios in which Senate action could spur House action, but those situations are unlikely to materialize into significant threats.

Read the entire memo.

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Memo: Republican Budgets Should Achieve Additional Conservative Gains

To:                    Interested Parties
From:              Heritage Action for America
Date:                March 16, 2015
Subject:           Republican Budgets Should Achieve Additional Conservative Gains

In 2011, the new Republican-controlled House passed a bold budget that demonstrated the party was serious about confronting the policy challenges facing our nation.  With an obstinate and obstructionist Democrat Party in control of the Senate, House Republicans used subsequent budgets to lock in and consolidate their policy gains into a coherent platform.  Empowered by a historic House majority and control of the Senate, Republicans must do more than regurgitate previous policies.

Repealing Obamacare.  Republicans owe their majorities to their unwavering opposition to Obamacare, a reality that must be reflected in the budget.  A throwaway line that the budget “repeals Obamacare in its entirety” is not enough.  The claim must be backed up by words and deeds.

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NCLB Reauthorization Proposals: Missed Opportunities for Conservatives

To:              Interested Parties
From:        Heritage Action for America
Date:          February 11, 2015
Subject:     NCLB Reauthorization Proposals: Missed Opportunities for Conservatives

As the House and Senate consider a reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, lawmakers should not let the opportunity pass to advance a bold conservative vision for education policy. For far too long, the federal government’s expansive reach into education has gone unchecked. Now is the time for Congress to restore federalism in education, empower parents and students instead of bureaucrats and unions, and remove archaic obstacles that have prevented true opportunity for all.

Moving forward, there are five principled criteria that Congress should meet in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). These include the following:

Read the entire memo.

 

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Don’t Blink on Fight to Stop Obama’s Executive Amnesty

To:               Interested Parties
From:         Heritage Action for America
Date:           February 11, 2015
Subject:      Don’t Blink on Fight to Stop Obama’s Executive Amnesty

Three times this month, Senate Democrats filibustered the motion to proceed to the House-passed Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill (H.R. 240). It has been an impressive display of unity by the Democrats considering at least seven expressed concern over President Obama’s wideranging executive amnesty. With just 17 days before DHS funding expires, House and Senate Republicans must deliver a single, unified message:

President Obama and Senate Democrats are willing to deny border patrol agents their paychecks to ensure illegal immigrants get Social Security numbers.

Inexplicably, the ability to deliver such a message has been diluted because Republicans allowed Senate Democrats to hijack the legislative process and President Obama to exercise a de facto veto over congressional action.

Dangerous Precedent

Senate Democrats had their obstructionism validated on Tuesday when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters the Senate was “stuck” and “the next step is obviously up to the House.” By refusing to participate in the process at crucial junctures, Senate Democrats are trying to leverage their minority status to exert control over the debate and dictate policy outcomes in the Republican-controlled Congress. Allowing these obstructionist tactics to succeed will reduce the role Senate Republicans play in future debates as it allows the minority in one chamber to dictate terms to both.

Read the entire memo.

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Why America needs the Transportation Empowerment Act

The Transportation Empowerment Act would empower states by allowing them to keep and control their gasoline tax revenues, set their infrastructure priorities, control their transportation decisions, and partner with the private sector to meet local needs.

Currently, American motorists and truckers pay a federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon at the pump; the money is funneled into the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and funneled back to the states via complex congressional formulas, and billions are diverted each year to programs that do not improve congestion.  The current system increases the cost of projects — Davis-Bacon, for example, increases the cost of construction projects by ten percent — and subjects what should be local decisions to the whims of Washington bureaucrats or influential lobbyists.

Put another way, the federal government serves as little more than an expensive pass through for the remainder of transportation funding – one could compare it to a skimming scheme that enriches and empowers folks in Washington to the detriment of those in state capitals across the country.  The states and private sector have proven more efficient users of taxpayer money, while the federal government through the Highway Trust Fund has wasted an unjustifiable amount of money through inefficiency, burdensome regulations, and distracting politicization—not to mention paying for the pet projects of lawmakers and special interests.

Not only is this legislation necessary if lawmakers want to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of transportation spending, but it is also timely.  The original purpose of the HTF was to construct the interstate highway system, which was considered complete in the early 1990s.  But since then, Congresses—lobbied by special interests—have broadened its mission to cover “transit, environmental mitigation, ferry boats, bicycle paths, and nature trails,” which do not benefit those who pay for the program.  The Heritage Foundation also notes:

“The combination of overspending, inflation, increased vehicle fuel efficiency, and effects of the recession on gasoline consumption in recent years have caused funding shortfalls in the HTF. Rather than address its overspending problem, Congress chose to shore up the HTF with tens of billions of dollars in general fund cash transfers—an imprudent and unsustainable quick fix that worsens federal deficits.” 

This is an unsustainable course of action, which is why Congress is considering yet another bailout of the Highway Trust Fund.  What’s more, the Congressional Budget Office estimates another $167 billion in bailouts will be necessary over the next decade.  As a result, many states are “responding to the fiscal uncertainties in Washington,” transportation export Ken Orski recently noted:

“Surveys by the American Road and Builders Association (ARTBA), the National Council of State Legislatures and AASHTO and  have documented transportation-related revenue initiatives in 27 states.

“In turning to long-term credit to finance costly construction projects, states are following in the footsteps of  the private sector. All of the nation’s privately owned infrastructure— railroads, pipelines, telecommunications networks, power plants and refineries— are funded with loaned capital.” 

The Transportation Empowerment Act would allow each state to keep this so-called “federal money — which represents just one-quarter of all highway and transit spending — in their states and use them in ways they deem appropriate.  It would also provide states relief from federal regulations, allowing the money to go further so that they could put local priorities first and fund projects that provide congestion relief, capacity expansion, and enhanced mobility.

Heritage Action supports the Transportation Empowerment Act.

 

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