Much attention has been paid to Trump’s antics and the latest attempt to take health care away from over 20 million Americans, but there a many harmful Republican bills currently being considered. A few have already by signed into law and many more are still in committee.
Now, I can’t go over them all in this post (or can I?) but I would at least like to highlight a bunch of that I have already read about. Let this be a simple guide to the horrible laws we might live under.
Bills & Rules Pertaining to the Environment
There is an ongoing assault on the environment, whether it be on public lands or overall regulations.
In January, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) reintroduced a bill that would allow the government to sell off 3.3 million acres of public land. That led to a backlash in states such as Montana and New Mexico. Over a 1,000 sportsmen, outdoor business owners, and public supporters protested in Montana later that month.
Chaffetz soon withdrew the bill, but he has another way to try to privatize public lands. Near the anniversary of the Clive Bundy group’s “armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge,” the congressman introduced another bill; this one was aimed at eliminating federal law enforcement over public lands. This would leave local sheriffs and police departments to look over the lands, but many states do not have the capability to police public lands.
Chaffetz has been introducing bills like this in the previous Congress. He also cosponsored legislation to weaken the Antiquities Act in order to privatized public lands.
H. RES. 5
Americans have a fight on their hands since Republicans have changed the rules regarding how the House of Representatives can sell or give public lands. Before, the House would have to allow the Congressional Budget Office to determine the cost before giving or selling off public lands.
The House can now value all the lands in question, including national parks and nation forests, at zero. That will make it easier for people (and corporations) to purchase public land.
Basically, anti-government folks and anti-environmentalists would like to see these lands go to the states. However, the states might not have to resources to take care of these lands, including carrying costs to put out wildfires. As a result, the states might be compelled to sell the lands to private interests.
This can have a devastating effect on the outdoor recreation industry, which brings in $646 billion a year and serves 6.1 million people.
Ryan Zinke is the new Secretary of the Interior. He was a Republican Representative from Montana and when in the House. While in Congress, he resigned from a committee that supported the disposal of public lands. However, he supported the rule change.
Regulatory Accountability Act
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has introduced the Senate Regulatory Accountability Act (S.951), which has been reintroduced for years. This bill, which is co-sponsored by Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), would require government agencies to make “all studies, models, scientific literature, and other information” used to make regulations publically available.
The bill seeks to slow down or halt environmental regulations because such a request is impossible to comply with due to the sensitive nature of some information. Some information is proprietary, meaning some methodologies belong to the scientists who use them. Other information includes the identities of people taking part in the studies.
Another requirement of the bill would be for regulatory agencies to provide a cost-benefit analysis for all “major” studies, or those which cost at least $100 million.
A companion bill in the House, introduced in January 2017 by Bob Goodlatte as part of H.R.5, is still in committee.
Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act
The Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act (H.R.1030) was introduced during the 114th Congress by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) as the “Secret Science Reform Act,” but it is still up for consideration. If put into law, the measure would hamper the EPA by forbidding it from using science that is “not transparent or reproducible.” This is an impossible request because some science is based off one-off events, like some natural disasters or oil spills.
S.452 was introduced by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on February 27, 2017. If made into law, this legislation would increase the window for EPA investigations into greenhouse and other polluting gases from 5 to 10 years. Basically, this would drastically slow down EPA activities for fighting against smog.
The bill was moved to committee on May 23, 2017.
Listing Reform Act
H.R.717, introduced by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) on January 27, 2017, amends the Endangered Species Act of 1973. If passed, this legislation would allow the Department of the Interior or the Department of Commerce to determine which petitions (whether to remove or include species to the Threatened or Endangered Lists) can be approved other than the order in which those petitions were received.
Basically, the departments can make decisions based on the economic impact of putting certain species on the endangered or threatened lists. Furthermore, petitions to add species to the list that were rejected due to economic reasons are not allowed to be reconsidered unless the departments determine that a species is in danger of going extinct or a new petition which includes the possible economic impacts is submitted.
Public Water Supply Invasive Species Compliance Act
S.798 was introduced in the Senate on March 30, 2017 by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. If made into law, this legislation would amend the Lacey Act and the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981.
Under the old legislation, states are prohibited from bringing in water from other state municipalities and states are prohibited from taking from water sources which contain protected species. If amended, states like Texas can bring in water across state lines, outside of a damn system like the Hoover Dam.
A corresponding bill in the House, H.R. 1807, was introduced on the same day as Cruz’s Senate bill on March 30. The House Bill passed through committee on April 27.
Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act
S.168 was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Roger F. Wicker (R-MS) on January 17, 2017. If passed, the legislation would weaken “state laws and federal regulations issued under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (commonly known as the Clean Water Act).” Instead, the Coast Guard would be allowed to determine standards for discharges from shipping vessels, including the use of ballast water.
According to the EPA Victoria website:
Ballast water is water carried in ships’ ballast tanks to improve stability, balance and trim. It is taken up or discharged when cargo is unloaded or loaded, or when a ship needs extra stability in foul weather.
When ships take on ballast water, plants and animals that live in the ocean are also picked up. Discharging this ballast water releases these organisms into new areas where they can become marine pests.
A corresponding House Bill, H.R. 1154, was introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) a month later.
H.R. 861: Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency Act
This bill, introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) would terminate the EPA by the end of 2018.
It’s funny (but not in a good way, of course) that Republicans want to get rid of a Republican president’s (Nixon) good accomplishment.
The EPA is already hampered as it is and this will endanger far more people. We need an agency that is there to enforce clean air and water laws. We need an agency to develop and enforce regulations that protect public lands and species.
For example: If you know about the Flint Water Crisis, you would know that an underlying problem is the lack of regulation. In fact, there are over 2,000 contaminated water systems in the United States in part due to the lack of consistent regulation.
(H/T to Suze)
Immigration & Law Enforcement Bills
Bills introduced in the House of Representatives include those to give more power to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), states, and municipalities.
Bills Introduced by Bob Goodlatte
Rep. Bob Goodlatte introduced to bills to authorize Immigration and Customs Enforcement:
- The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Authorization Act of 2017 (R. 2406) would increase ICE’s ability to arrest and deport illegal immigrants.
- The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Reauthorization Act (R. 2407) would authorize ICE to revoke visas.
H.R.2431 – Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act
H.R. 2431, introduced by Rep. Raul R. Labrador, is named after two police officers killed by illegal immigrants. It would provide wide latitude to state and local jurisdictions to create their own immigrations laws. In addition, the bill, if passed, would punish “sanctuary cities” and increase penalties on illegal immigrants.
Although Republicans might say they are against big government, they love to use it when it comes to regulating women’s hoo-hahs.
H.R. 354: Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2017
On January 25, Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) introduced legislation to withhold federal funding from Planned Parenthood and related facilities for up to one year until they can certify that no federal funds are used to perform abortions.
Like Suze pointed out, it should not matter what one thinks about abortion, but this action is potentially harmful to people who visit PP for other services. Abortions only account for 3% of PP’s services, and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards has assured Americans that abortion funds are basically subsidized through donations. Here’s a breakdown of the other 97% of services Planned Parenthood provides:
- STI/STD Testing Treatment: 42%
- Contraception: 34%
- Other Women’s Health Services: 11%
- Cancer Screening and Prevention: 9%
- Abortion Services: 3%
- Other Services: 1%
(Stats come from Resistance Report)
Additionally, a small percentage of the services help men.
H.R.147 – Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2017
This bill, introduced by Trent Franks (R-AZ) on January 3, prohibits abortions performed via “any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance, device,” or any other means on the basis of the unborn child’s gender, or face or the race of a parent.
Anyone who knowingly or unknowingly performs this type of abortion, transports a minor, coerces the mother, or solicits payment for an abortion under these circumstances may be punished. Any health professionals who refused to report such an abortion may be punished. However, the mother is not to be punished under any circumstances.
Punishment includes fines to be paid to the maternal grandparents of a minor, the father of the unborn child, the mother, or the Department of Justice.
Exceptions are made for the following types of abortions:
- Those to save the life of the mother.
- Those to remove dead fetuses
- And those to end ectopic pregnancies.
Various Republican Bills & Rule Changes
From the education department to, the GOP is on the warpath to weaken the federal government’s oversight yet enforce right-wing ideals.
H.R. 21: Midnight Rules Relief Act
California Rep. Darrell Issa (R) introduced H.R. 21 to amend the Congressional Review Act. If passed, Congress would be able to automatically review regulations made “within the last 60 legislative days of a session of Congress during the final year of a President’s term.”
H.R. 998: SCRUB Act
Jason Smith (R-MO) introduced H.R. 998 would create a commission to review any new regulations and according to costs but the commission would not be required to assess benefits. Any regulation passed would require another regulation of equal or greater cost to the new regulation to be eliminated. Additionally, new protections could be restricted regardless of the scientific reasoning.
H.R. 899: To Terminate the Department of Education
If passed, H.R. 899, introduced Thomas Massie (R-KY), would contract the Department of Education by December 31, 2018. Like the bill to eliminate the EPA, this bill is only one sentence long.
Act Suze pointed out in her post, this would have disastrous effects on our schools and on students. The Department of Education is needed to oversee schools, accredit them, and to distribute funds like grants to students and educational institutions.
We currently have an embarrassment as Education Secretary and she wants to give federal funds to private schools. How would that work if her department, which she would like to see be contracted, is eliminated?
Messing with Social Security
I’m not sure if there has been new legislation to cut social security benefits yet, but it might just come under threat this year. From what I’ve read, Trump wants to take social Security — which is financed by payroll taxes — and place it under the regular budget. This would allow the federal government to treat it normal as a budget item and reduce its funding.
Watch out for that.