|What Did Congress Do in 1999?
|What happened to our tax cut? Although taxpayers’ money is rolling into the U.S. Treasury at an unprecedented rate, we didn’t get the tax cut Republicans promised. Bill Clinton vetoed the small tax cut passed by Congress in 1999 because, as he said in Buffalo in Jan. 1999, the people might not “spend it right.” From both parties, we only hear talk about “targeted” cuts, which means small tax cuts provided we spend the savings for government-designated purposes. (PSR: 2/98, p.1-2)
Can the President wage unconstitutional war? When the truth is finally known, the big majority of House Republicans will be able to take pride in their foresight in going on record against Clinton’s war in Yugoslavia: 91% voted to require Congressional approval before sending in ground troops (H.R.1569, 4/28/99), 84% voted against the bombing (S.Con.Res.21, 4/28/99), 78% voted against sending in peacekeeping troops (H.Con.Res.42, 3/11/99), and 57% voted to withdraw the troops Clinton had already sent in (H.Con.Res.82, 4/28/99). (PSR: 12/99, p.3; 7/99, p.2&4; 5/99, p.2-4; 3/99, p.1-2)
But then the Republican House leadership pushed through an appropriation giving Clinton double the funds he requested to pay for the war he had already waged. This was called spending for “defense” but it was actually spending for Clinton’s offensive war (H.R.1141, 5/18/99), and he signed the bill 5/21/99.
In a big defeat for Clinton, the Republican Senate killed the dangerous Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty which Clinton signed in 1996. It would have crippled our nuclear defense by forbidding even underground nuclear tests while we would not be able to verify other countries’ compliance. (PSR: 12/99, p.2)
Congress halted Clinton’s plans to implement the unratified Global Warming (Hot Air) Treaty, which has never even been submitted to the Senate. The Consolidated Appropriations Act included a provision to forbid Clinton from proposing or issuing “rules, regulations, decrees, or orders for the purpose of implementation, or in preparation for implementation, of the Kyoto Protocol.” (PSR: 1/98, p.4)
The American Land Sovereignty Protection Act (ALSPA), H.R.883, passed the House in May. ALSPA reaffirms that U.S. lands are under the authority of Congress — not the UN — and states that the UN will no longer be able to designate U.S. lands as “World Heritage Sites” or “biosphere reserves” without congressional approval. This bill would protect U.S. sovereignty against attacks made possible by a treaty ratified in 1972 called the World Heritage Convention. No action has yet been taken on the Senate companion bill, S.510.
In the Commerce/Justice/State Appropriations bill, Rep. J.D. Hayworth’s (R-AZ) H.Amdt.412 to H.R.2670 added language (adopted Aug. 5 by 217-209) that prohibits the State Department from spending funds in support of “adding or maintaining any World Heritage Site in the United States” pursuant to this same treaty. However, without ALSPA, the UN can still designate “heritage sites” in the U.S.
Goodbye U.S. Canal in Panama! December 31, 1999 was the historic date when the United States turned over our magnificent Canal to Panama under terms of the Jimmy Carter-Torrijos Panama Treaties ratified in 1978 by a margin of one vote, despite the overwhelming opposition of the American people. Clinton’s friends, the Communist Chinese, will now be the gatekeeper of the Canal we built because a Hong Kong firm has acquired 50-year leases to occupy a strategic port at each end of the Canal: Balboa on the Pacific and Cristobal on the Atlantic. Panama has no army even to defend the Canal against the drug terrorists coming from Columbia.
Although he has traveled to more countries than any U.S. President in history, Clinton didn’t go to Panama for the lowering of the U.S. Flag because photos would have been too politically damaging, especially after he admitted on Nov. 30 that the Chinese will be “running the Canal.” Why is he sending U.S. troops all over the world to places where we have no national security interest but won’t negotiate for a single U.S. soldier to be stationed at the world’s most strategically significant waterway?
Despite the illegalities of the Panama Treaty (the U.S. Senate and Panama ratified different “reservations”) and corruption in the bidding process for the ports, Congress is not disposed to try to retain the Canal. However, bills have been introduced to partially safeguard U.S. interests. Sen. Jeff Sessions’ S.Con.Res.6 and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s H.Con.Res.186 demand a continued U.S. defense presence in Panama and a review of the bidding process for the ports. Sen. Bob Smith’s S.Con.Res.59 urges the President to negotiate a new agreement with Panama to station U.S. Armed Forces in Panama to defend the Canal. (PSR: 11/99, p.1-2; 7/99, p.3)
Will we ever get SDI — and do we need it? Back in 1983, Ronald Reagan urged us to build an anti-missile defense, but we still don’t have it even though Russia has 10 of its most sophisticated ICBMs on “combat alert” and Communist China has 13 ICBMs targeted on U.S. cities. We need SDI more than ever. On Mar. 18 by 317-105 the House passed the National Missile Defense Act, H.R.4, stating that “it is the policy of the United States to deploy a national missile defense.” The Senate passed it unanimously on May 18. However, when Clinton signed it on July 22, making it Public Law No. 106-38, he said it was not the intention of his Administration to deploy a missile defense system anytime in the near future. (PSR: 4/99, p.3-4)
Congress has yet to face up to the national security threat to American lives, property and interests posed by the growing Chinese military and nuclear arsenal. Where does China get the funds and the know-how to build a modern military machine? The Cox Report released May 25 exposed China’s strategy and success in obtaining U.S. military technology through espionage, transfers of technology as part of all commercial transactions, and illegal political donations especially to Clinton’s reelection. This strategy has given China’s nuclear program a ten-year leap. (PSR: 7/99, p.1; 4/99, p.2)
China gets the funds to finance its military-industrial complex from its extraordinary favorable balance of trade with the U.S. Every month, China sells us $6 billion in goods but buys only $1 billion, meaning that China’s People’s Liberation Army pockets $5 billion in hard U.S. cash every month.
Yet despite this military threat, despite the revelations in the Cox Report, despite China’s blatant theft of U.S. intellectual property, despite the escalating human rights violations, and despite China’s refusal to admit U.S. goods on the same basis and at the same low tariff we give their goods, the House on July 27 renewed Most Favored Nation (now called “Normal”) Trading Relations with China. This issue will come up again in 2000, but Congress seems afraid even to discuss the China issue in terms of unfair trade, military threat, espionage, or human rights. (PSR: 6/98, p.1-3)
Goals 2000 was due to expire Sept. 30, 1999, but Congress extended it until Sept. 30, 2000, at which time Titles III and IV (but not I, II and V) will be automatically repealed. Meanwhile, at a Feb. 20, 1999 meeting, recognizing that the goals were not reached by the deadline, the National Education Goals Panel passed a resolution suggesting to Congress that it be renamed “America’s Education Goals” and the goals extended “beyond the year 2000 without a specific deadline for their achievement.” We will have to work hard to keep Goals 2000 from getting more funding. (PSR: 4/97, p.1-4)
The $11 billion Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) contains the bulk of federal spending in education. Numerous studies show that the results of this 34-year-old program are pitiful, but Congress has no political will to end this boondoggle. House Republicans tried to change the education debate by promoting the Straight A’s bill, H.R.2300, to allow states to take the federal cash but opt out of the federal strings in exchange for setting and meeting academic test goals. Last-minute whining from Education Subcommittee Chairman Mike Castle (R-DE) changed this plan from a 50-state program to a 10-state pilot program.
The Women’s Educational Equity Act (WEEA), which gives federal grants to feminist organizations to promote “gender equity,” was stripped out in committee but added back on the House floor. The House on Oct. 20 passed the Mink-Woolsey-Sanchez-Morella amendment 311-111 to authorize $5 million a year to continue this “feminist pork.”
The Education Budget bill, H.R. 3424, contained Sec. 303: “No funds appropriated under this Act may be used to prevent the implementation of programs of voluntary prayer and meditation in the public schools.”
The House passed 248-180 Rep. Robert Aderholt’s (R-AL) amendment to the Juvenile Justice/Gun Control bill, H.R. 1501, on June 17 to allow states to publicly display the Ten Commandments on publicly owned property (which would include schools).
Will Republicans address the big issue of Health Care? We heard posturing from both sides of the aisle about plans to impose more regulations and controls on health care and health insurance, but no serious move to address the real reason why health insurance is expensive and why so many millions don’t have it. The fundamental problem is that the system is rigged so that, unless you have a job with an employer offering a good health plan, health insurance is difficult or sometimes impossible to obtain. (PSR: 6/96, p.1-4)
An essential part of Clinton’s original plan for national health care was to control all treatment through the use of a medical ID card, called a “unique health identifier,” for every American. A temporary moratorium on the medical ID card “until legislation is enacted specifically approving the standard” was passed in the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
When Congress failed to meet a deadline of Aug. 21, 1999 to enact legislation regarding the privacy of electronic medical information, the authority to write regulations passed to HHS Secretary Donna Shalala. She has published a proposed 400+ page regulation on medical privacy and the public can send comments until Feb. 17, 2000 to: US Dept. of HHS, Asst Secy for Planning and Evaluation, Attn: Privacy-P, Room G-322A, Hubert Humphrey Bldg., 200 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20201. (sample letter)
Congress took another step toward a government cradle-to-grave healthcare tracking system by requiring “all babies” born in hospitals to get a “hearing screening before leaving the birthing facility.” Under Title VI of H.R.3424, the Labor/Health & Human Services/Education Appropriations bill, states are “to collect data” for “research, program evaluation and policy development,” and the Centers for Disease Control is instructed to “promote the sharing of data” with other “monitoring programs.” The real purposes of this law are to get all Americans on a government medical-records database and to implement Hillary Clinton’s plan for children to be raised by the “village” instead of their parents. (PSR: 9/99, p.4)
The House Government Reform Committee held hearings on federal vaccine policy and injuries. Most children get at least 21 vaccines before starting school including 3 Hepatitis B, 5 DPT, 3 Hib, 4 polio, and 2 measles-mumps-rubella. Embarrassed federal health officials suspended use of the rotavirus (infant diarrhea) vaccine on Oct. 23 because of the “causal connection” with a life-threatening bowel obstruction called intussusception. Until the day before, the government’s official position was that all infants should get 3 doses of this vaccine. (PSR: 9/99, p.2-3; 2/99, p.1-4)
Congress in 1999 repealed the section of the 1996 Illegal Immigration and Welfare Reform laws which would have federalized driver’s licenses into a national ID card by requiring them to contain “machine-readable” Social Security numbers. The repeal was part of the FY2000 Transportation Appropriations bill, H.R.2084. Driver’s licenses should be under state, not federal, jurisdiction. Unfortunately, some states are already requiring Social Security numbers and even fingerprinting on driver’s licenses.
Thanks to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), this same law included a provision prohibiting the selling of driver’s license information without your permission.
Sen. Shelby tried to amend the big banking bill to prohibit banks from selling personal financial information without the customers’ consent. But these secret sales by banks are so profitable that the banking lobby was able to prevent passage of the Shelby amendment. This was one of the many evidences we saw in the current Congress of the powerful influence of corporate “soft money.” (For information about how corporate money lobbied the banking bill, see “Hooray for Soft Money,” Wall Street Journal, 10/27/99, reporting that the banks spent $145 million in political money and $163 million for lobbying during 1997 and 1998. For how corporate money lobbied the Copyright Term Extension bill for Disney, see PSR, 12/98, p.4. For information on how weapons manufacturers spent $51 million to lobby for the NATO Expansion Treaty, see PSR, 4/98, p.3.)
Can’t we cut off tax dollars from controversial agencies?
Getting rid of the federal agency that continues to fund obscene “art” with taxpayers’ money should have been a no-brainer for the Republican Congress. Despite the latest outrage at the Brooklyn Museum (which received $500,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts over the past three years), where a current exhibit shows the Virgin Mary spattered with elephant dung and pornographic pictures, we got brave words from Congress but no cuts. (PS column on “Hate Art,” 10/13/99)
The Senate passed Sen. Bob Smith’s (R-NH) denunciation of this “religious bigotry,” but then on Aug. 8 upped the NEA’s budget by $5 million. On Oct. 4 the House approved Rep. Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) amendment to condemn this “sacrilegious” exhibit. On July 14 a House amendment to increase the NEA funding by $10 million was narrowly defeated 217-207. The Republican House leadership stood firm against any increase and kept NEA funding at “only” $98 million.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) was embarrassed by the scandal that this taxpayer financed agency was sharing its donor lists with Democratic fundraisers and pro-abortion groups. Congress wasn’t embarrassed, however, and by H.Amdt.391 to H.R.2670 rewarded CPB with an additional $10 million, bringing its budget to $350,000,000.
Congress gave the Legal Services Corporation a $5 million raise over its FY1999 budget, despite a 1999 General Accounting Office report that some LSC offices inflated their caseloads as much as 70%. Started as a federal program to help the poor, LSC is today a lawyers’ playground for leftwing lobbying and class-action lawsuits.
Where does the pro-life agenda stand?
The Senate passed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, S.1692, by a vote of 63-34. Since 2 pro-life Senators were absent, we are now just 2 votes shy of a veto-proof majority. Clinton will veto the bill after its expected House passage in 2000. Unfortunately, the Senate in a 51-47 vote agreed to a non-binding “Sense of Congress” amendment that Roe v. Wade “should not be overturned.” This should be deleted in Conference.
Because of the globalists’ demand that the U.S. pay alleged “back UN dues,” Clinton was forced to agree to a UN-abortion-funding deal. Pro-life language known as the “Mexico City Policy” was attached to the $385 million appropriation for international family planning so that 96% ($370 million) cannot be spent to perform abortions or to lobby foreign governments on their abortion laws. Language was also added to the law to prevent the UN from directly taxing U.S. citizens, and the U.S. contribution to the UN budget was reduced to 22% from 25%.
All new attempts to force taxpayers to pay for more abortions for federal employees, military personnel, federal prisoners, and DC residents and employees were defeated or withdrawn in the House and Senate.
The House passed a resolution, H.Res.350 on Nov. 9 sponsored by Reps. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) calling for hearings to investigate the trafficking in body parts from babies killed by abortion. Current federal law prohibits the transfer of aborted babies or their parts for “valuable consideration,” but at least two companies appear to be selling body parts and even intact bodies of dead babies to researchers for profit. The Senate also considered this issue on Oct. 21 but defeated 46-51 Sen. Bob Smith’s (R-NH) amendment to require certain disclosures and impose regulations on this trafficking in baby body parts.
The House passed the Child Custody Protection Act (CCPA) by 270-159 on June 30. Authored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), this would make it a federal crime to take a minor across state lines for an abortion without the consent or notification of a parent if her residing state has parental involvement laws. CCPA thus upholds states’ rights by not allowing a minor to evade her state law. The Senate is expected to take up H.R. 1218 or the Senate companion bill, S.661, in 2000.
The House passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, H.R.2436, on Sept. 30 by 254-172. Authored by Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), an individual who commits a violent federal crime can also be prosecuted for a separate offense if he kills or injures an unborn child. The Senate is expected to consider H.R. 2436 or its companion bill, S.1673, in 2000.
The House passed the Pain Relief Promotion Act, H.R. 2260, by 271-156 on Oct. 27, amending the federal Controlled Substances Act, in order to promote pain management and end-of-life care while reaffirming that assisted suicide and euthanasia are not permitted. The Senate is expected to act on either H.R. 2260 or its Senate companion, S.1272, in 2000.
More attempts to have the ‘village’ raise children.
The Treasury/Postal Appropriations bill included a Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD) amendment to allow federal agencies to help employees pay for child care, but only if the children are cared for in a daycare facility, not in the home. Daycare as a middle-class entitlement is a longtime feminist goal. (PSR: 12/97, p.1-2)
Due to the legislative perseverance of Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK), the House initially froze Title X funding at FY1999 levels and earmarked $2 million for abstinence-only in the FY2000 budget and another $20 million in FY2001. Title X is the source of controversial “family planning” services which distribute contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs, such as the morning-after pill, to teens without their parents’ knowledge or consent. However, the pro-abortion budget negotiators, Rep. John Porter (R-IL) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), were successful in increasing Title X from $214.9 million to $238.9 million, an 11.2% increase over FY1999.
The phony Patent ‘reform’ bill passed, after all. Congress ignored powerful criticisms from American inventors and Nobel Laureates that the Patent Reform bill, H.R. 1907, would allow foreign and multinational corporations to reduce the constitutional patent rights of American inventors by legislating the deal made by the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown with the Japanese Ambassador on Aug. 16, 1994. The House passed the Patent bill anyway, after many last-minute revisions, on Aug. 3 under a steamroller process that allowed the advocates of the bill to control both sides of a mere one-hour debate. The fight against the bill was nobly led in the Senate by Kit Bond (R-MO) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), but Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) maneuvered so that the Senate was never permitted to debate or even vote on the Patent bill. He then slipped the entire House-passed bill into the final budget bill so that the Patent bill could not be rejected without shutting down the government. Clinton signed the Patent bill into law as part of the budget bill. The bill is a gift to the Japanese, the Chinese and the multinational corporations at the expense of independent inventors and the innovation and entrepreneurial advantages they bring to America. Score another victory for corporate “soft money” politics. (PSR: 3/98, p.1-4)
Did Congress deserve a pay raise? Over the strenuous objections of conservative Republican Members, the House on July 15, voted itself a 3.4% cost-of-living raise, from $136,700 to $141,300 a year (plus medical and pension benefits and travel budgets). A parliamentary maneuver prevented a roll-call vote.