The Week Ahead in DC

The Week Ahead for the Senate

The Disaster Relief Appropriations Act (HR 152)
The House has already passed this bill, and the Senate seems ready to pass it this week. It lets the government spend $50.7 billion on various programs to help New York, New Jersey and Connecticut recover from Sandy. The Senate will vote on an Republican amendment to offset the cost of the bill with spending cuts.

The No Budget, No Pay Act (HR 325) … yes … that would be Sen. Heller’s “unconstitutional” bill which attempts to alter Congressional pay in direct violation of the 27th amendment to the United States Constitution …


No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

To get folks to overlook the unconstitutionality of the bill, they attached this little thing to it about the debt ceiling.  HR325 will suspend the debt ceiling until the middle of May.  But, it also requires the House and Senate to pass a budget by mid-April, under threat of withholding the pay of Members of Congress (that threat part, that’s the unconstitutional part). According to Hill Sources, Senate Democrats seem to favor this bill as a short-term way to avoid a debt ceiling fight. Democrats say they will pass the House bill and the Obama administration has indicated it would sign the bill. The Senate has not set a date for a vote on this bill as of the weekend, but debate and a vote could happen by the end of the week.  So, if and when this bill passes, both houses of Congress and President Obama are all complicit in passing into law, an unconstitutional bill.  Thus, I never again want to hear another Republican mouthing off about the U.S. Constitution and how each and every bill must cite the “constitutional authority” for being able to consider such a bill.

Find bills related to the debt ceiling and federal budget in PopVox’s Issue Spotlight

The Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization (S 47)
In the last Congress, both the House and Senate approved different versions of this bill, which were never reconciled into something that could pass both Houses and be signed into law by the President. According to our Hill Sources, Democrats have indicated they want to get to this bill in the near future, to ensure VAWA is reauthorized.

The Top Bills from Last Week: Jan. 18 – 24
Firearms and gun control continue to be on the top of POPVOX users’ minds. Not surprisingly, Congress keeps introducing new bills related to guns. (See the full list on PopVox.)  Here’s a quick look at the bills that POPVOX users prioritized last week.

The SAFER Streets Act (HR 226): To allow a credit against tax for surrendering to authorities certain assault weapons.
The Buyback Our Safety Act (HR 227):
To establish a gun buyback grant program. 
The Fire Sale Loophole Closing Act (HR 238):
To restrict the ability of a person whose Federal license to import, manufacture, or deal in firearms has been revoked, whose application to renew such a license has been denied, or who has received a license revocation or renewal denial notice, to transfer business inventory firearms.
The Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act (HR 138):
To prohibit the transfer or possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices. –
The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act (HR 142): To require face to face purchases of ammunition, to require licensing of ammunition dealers, and to require reporting regarding bulk purchases of ammunition.