Thursday, January 6, 2011

And We're Off...112th Congress and 82nd Legislature

Legislative Happenings – January 2011
112th Congress

Yesterday, Wednesday, January 5th, Nancy Pelosi became the Former Speaker of the House.

Newly-sworn-in House Speaker John Boehner gave his first speech as the Republican Speaker, reminding Members that, “The people voted to end business as usual, and today we begin carrying out their instructions.” He added, “In the Catholic faith, we enter into a season of service by having ashes marked on our foreheads. The ashes remind us that life in all its forms is fragile – our time on this Earth, fleeting. As the ashes are delivered, we hear those humbling words “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Today Members of Congress began the session with the reading of the Constitution.

One of Boehner’s first priorities will be to push legislation to repeal ObamaCare. The proposed bill is entitled “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” and it is only two pages long. Republicans, and especially the newly elected freshmen, many of whom rode into office vowing to repeal government-controlled healthcare, plan an all-out assault on ObamaCare. The top five Democrat Senators: Reid, Durbin, Schumer, Murray and Stabenow, have vowed to block any attempts at repeal.

The House yesterday passed House Resolution 5 to adopt the Rules of the 111th Congress except as amended. These amendments include:

• All legislation must include a reference to specific language in the Constitution that authorizes the legislative proposal;
• Legislation cannot be considered unless it has been available for public viewing for three days;
• Members cannot consider legislation that has the net effect of spending more money over the span of one, five and 10 years — the "cut-as-you-go" provision, which replaces the "pay-as-you-go" concept.

The question of whether or not to raise the debt ceiling is another battle that is brewing in Congress. Senator Jim DeMint of SC believes the GOP should stand firm to avoid an increase in the debt ceiling, but congressional Republicans will likely end up voting to raise the ceiling as part of a larger deal to cut spending.

The Obama administration, unable to get Cap and Trade passed, is ramping up its radical environmental agenda through ever-increasing government regulations. The EPA has mandated new climate regulations for industrial plants and plans to set national emissions standards for power plants and refineries specifically in 2012. Incoming House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is weighing how best to attack EPA climate change rules. Stay tuned.

Congressmen Joe Barton and Michael Burgess, along with Marsha Blackburn, have introduced legislation to repeal the ban on incandescent light bulbs. The Better Use of Light Bulb Act (H.R. 6144) repeals the ban passed in 2007, which closed U.S. manufacturing plants in favor of more cheaply made compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, which are made in China.

82nd Texas Legislature Republicans, who now have a Super Majority in the Texas House, will caucus on Monday, January 10th. The purpose of the caucus is to elect a Republican speaker from among the Republicans and to avoid Democrat influence. The election of a new speaker will be the first battle in what promises to be an eventful session. The following are the major issues facing legislators:

Budget – with a multi-billion dollar shortfall, Republicans aim to balance the budget with no tax increase
Voter ID – this important initiative failed last time, but the GOP’s majority should have no problem passing a law which requires a photo ID proving eligibility in order to vote.
Redistricting- Texas gets four new congressional districts.

TFRW Legislative Day, a day to lobby your elected officials, is March 3, 2011.

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