“YES” on Separation of Powers Restoration Act (H.R. 4768)

This week, the House is expected to vote on H.R. 4768, the Separation of Powers Restoration Act (SOPRA), sponsored by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) 96%.  

As one of the legislative proposals in the Constitution Task Force, SOPRA would end decades of excessive judicial deference to executive branch agencies when interpreting statutes, a practice known as Chevron Deference. Established by a 1984 Supreme Court decision, Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., Chevron deference has created a dangerous precedence of having the court defer to the agency when reviewing interpretation of an ambiguous law, as long as the agency’s interpretation is not “unreasonable.”  But by doing so, the courts have made the executive branch stronger at the expense of Congress.

Amendments to Financial Services Appropriations (H.R. 5485)

Heritage Action will key vote the following six amendments to H.R. 5485, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act:

Key Vote Alert: “YES” Davidson “Draft Our Daughters” Prohibition

This week, the House will vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) 97% to H.R. 5485, the Financial Services Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2017. His amendment would prohibit the use of funds to change the Selective Service System registration requirements to force young women between the ages of 18 and 26 to sign up for the Selective Service. This amendment would confirm the previous House opposition to this policy during consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Amendments to Defense Appropriations (H.R. 5293)

Heritage Action will key vote the following amendments to H.R. 5293,  Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2017:

Key Vote Alert: “YES” Gosar Anti-DACA Amendment (#4)

This week, the House will vote on an amendment by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) 93% to H.R. 5293, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2017. The amendment would prohibit funds from being used to extend the expiration of, or reissue a new expiration date to, the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program.

“NO” on Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (H.R. 5278)

On Thursday, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), which attempts to address Puerto Rico’s current debt crisis.

Since June 2015, The Heritage Foundation has written over 20 reports and commentary pieces analyzing the situation in Puerto Rico, proposing needed reforms, and analyzing Congressional proposals. In March 2016, Heritage Action laid out what a conservative response to Puerto Rico’s debt crisis would look like. To summarize those efforts:

  1. Pro-growth reforms are essential, particularly exemptions from the Jones Act and federal minimum wage
  2. No direct cash bailouts or indirect bailouts of any kind
  3. No coercive debt restructuring or other violation of creditors’ legal claims

Unfortunately, PROMESA falls woefully short on pro-growth reforms. The legislation does nothing to limit the Jones Act’s restrictions on Puerto Rico’s ability to openly trade with the U.S. mainland, and its minimum wage provision is extremely limited, even if Puerto Rico’s governor decides to implement it. In fact, Puerto Rico’s non-voting member of Congress Pedro R. Pierluisi told CQ “that in his interpretation it was mostly ‘meaningless’ in that it will never be implemented.” Without these measures, Puerto Rico has little chance to grow, making it more likely that Puerto Rico will be back again soon asking for a bailout.

“NO” on House’s FY17 Energy & Water Appropriations Bill (H.R. 5055)

Today, the House is scheduled to vote on H.R. 5055 the FY 2017 Energy & Water Appropriations bill. The bill spends a total of $37.4 billion, which is $259 million above FY16 enacted levels and $168 million above the President’s request. Furthermore, it aligns with the higher spending caps enacted as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) last fall, which was opposed by an overwhelming majority of House Republicans. As a result, H.R. 5055 is $2.8 billion above the last E&W bill crafted during Nancy Pelosi’s reign as Speaker. To make matters worse, the bill now contains an amendment by Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY) 17%. Even as modified, the inclusion of the Maloney amendment further ratifies an overreaching executive order issued by President Obama in 2014, which threatens religious liberty and personal privacy for private institutions who may contract with the federal government.  

Each individual appropriations measure should be evaluated on the following three criteria: 1) level of spending; 2) funding of bad programs; and 3) exclusion of conservative policy riders. On the first two counts the House’s version of the FY17 Energy & Water Appropriations bill certainly falls short. On the third, the bill includes some of the key riders conservatives demand. That said, few are likely to become law — as last year’s House-passed E&W demonstrated when important riders were ultimately left out of the December omnibus — while the elevated spending levels appear on track. In this environment, with the Senate seemingly even less interested in policy riders, it is more incumbent than ever for the House to put forward as conservative a bill as possible.

First, on spending, this year’s bill is in stark contrast to the House passed FY 2016 bill, which came in at $35.4 billion ($2 billion below the bill before the House now). Even worse, this bill is $7 billion above the House passed FY 2014 bill that served as the low spending point for the House Republicans.