Sept. 17, 2008
Congress can sometimes be likened to when your young children try to make you breakfast. There is a flurry of activity trying to obtain the objective but by the time they are finished all you are left with is an unpalatable mess that you (the taxpayer) are left to clean up. At least in the case of your children you can admire their good intentions, not as much with Congress.
In the Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank brought up a new bill (the eighth this Congress) to undermine the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) that was passed overwhelmingly in the 109th Congress. Chairman Franks, working closely with the foreign based Internet gambling industry, crafted his legislation to allow all forms of Internet gambling, except for sports betting, until an Administrative Law Judge with the Federal Reserve Board decides what the definition of "unlawful Internet gambling" should be. Needless to say, that could take years and this is meant to totally gut the effect of the law just passed last Congress. Chairman Frank unsuccessfully sought to divide and conquer the unique coalition of national and state family groups, religious organizations, every major sports association, many major financial organizations and the National Association of Attorneys by granting numerous exemptions. However, the bill still holds the same destructive goal of overruling state laws and opening the door for destructive Internet gambling into people's homes. Representative Franks' claimed he was trying to "clarify" the original UIGEA, however considering the time and effort he has put into overturning current law in relation to Internet gambling, his true motives are pretty clear. Chairman Frank's bill was voted out by the Democratically-controlled Committee and Members of the full House of Representatives need to know to vote against this bill if it reaches the House floor.
Meanwhile in the full House the Democratic Leadership agreed to a vote on energy however avoided the bipartisan H.R. 6566, "American Energy Act," and instead passed legislation, H.R. 6899, which does nothing to advance America's energy concerns. The Democrat's plan allows for offshore drilling, but only more then fifty miles offshore, where very few oil reserves are known to exist! The drill makes permanent any ban on drilling closer to shore, and also calls for higher taxes on energy producing companies. The Senate is expected to take up either this bill or a similar one, though President Bush has threatened to veto the House bill.
Talking of the Senate, the Defense Authorization bill passed cloture yesterday, meaning the vote will be forthcoming. Hate crimes wasn't even an issue this time around - clearly the Democrats seeing it too hot a political issue to push right before an election. A number of Republicans (including Senators Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) voted against cloture because Senator Reid refused to allow Senator DeMint's amendment that would strike Section 1002, and restore the effect of the President's executive order to ensure all earmarks in committee reports are subjected to a competitive, merit-based review. This would allow agencies to continue funding worthy projects, while stopping wasteful earmarks and directing the tax dollars to real priorities. With the right amount of pressure, Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) might allow for a vote on Senator DeMint's amendment.
This brings us to the Queen of Tabloid Television, Ms. Oprah Winfrey. This is the first year Ms. Winfrey has dipped her foot into the political arena by endorsing a Presidential candidate, and she must have liked the feel of it for she is now working to pass legislation she supports. Earlier this week Oprah did a show on S. 1738, "The PROTECT Our Children Act" which she says is being held up by "partisan politics" and she is urging people to call Senators to pass the bill now.
We did some digging for Ms. Winfrey and found out that "The PROTECT Our Children Act" is one of the over 30 bills that Senator Reid combined into one large "Omnibus Bill" in an effort to get passed legislation that while not allowing for ample floor debate on the issues that are within the multitude of bills. If "The PROTECT Our Children Act" alone was brought up today, with no other bills attached to it, there would be no opposition to it and it would be allowed a straight up or down vote. However since it is attached to all these other bills, many of which good people oppose on being wasteful or unnecessary, is why it is controversial.
FRC's position on the legislation is currently neutral, however if constituents want to support the bill they need to call Senator Reid's office at 202-224-5556 or e-mail his office here and not the full Congress as Ms. Winfrey suggests, and tell Senator Reid to cut out the partisan games and allow "The PROTECT Our Children Act" passed as a stand alone bill.
If you are wondering what big issues Oprah is tackling today it is "Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow reveals how she got her body in fabulous shape! Then, Iron Chef Mario Batali and the 15-minute meal you can make at home!"