Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bills Introduced – 10-5-13

Both the House and Senate were in session in a relatively rare Saturday session yesterday, but not much was achieved. I was surprised to see that 25 bills had been introduced in the House; all were spending related, but none did anything to resolve the current standoff. Twenty-four of them are worth mentioning for their particularly innovative level of political silliness.

HR 3247 thru HR 3258 Latest Title: Making continuing appropriations for all departments and agencies of the Federal Government, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Grayson, Alan  (D,FL)

HR 3259 thru HR 2370 Latest Title: Eliminating the debt ceiling for a period defined, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Grayson, Alan (D,FL)

The CR Bills

For brevity’s sake I’m going to refer to these as the CR bills and the Debt Limit bills. The CR Bills are 12 nearly identical bills offering really ‘clean’ CRs as an option for getting the government re-started. Each is two sections long and provides spending authority based upon 2013 spending levels with sequestration. The only difference between the two bills is that the first is for 30 days and the last is 365 days with the ones in between being for a period 30 days longer than the earlier bill in the series.

These are not nearly written in the ‘proper’ format for a CR and miss a lot of the legislative gobbledy-goop that covers all of the appropriate programs and loopholes. For instance the CFATS authorization extension language is missing.

Various lawyers have made the argument to me that providing funding for the program {which these bills would under the ‘each project or activity for which budget authority was provided‘ language in§2(1)} is sufficient authorization to keep CFATS running, but legitimate arguments could be made that it would not necessarily include all of the limitations on that authority provided in the §550 language. Significant changes would still require regulation changes with the publish and comment requirements, but that might be the only restriction on such changes. Remember though, legitimate arguments are the stuff that civil suits are made of.

The Debt Limit Bills

I don’t spend too much time in this blog talking about the debt limit because it doesn’t usually have any direct impact on chemical safety, security or cybersecurity, so I’ll just touch briefly on this last series of bills introduced yesterday, the debt limit bills. These bills are not yet available from the GPO (or Thomas for that matter) so we can’t be sure that they are a similar set up to those that Rep. Grayson proposed for the CR bills, but titles and the number certainly suggest that they are.

Moving Forward

Grayson is not a member of the Appropriations Committee or the Ways and Means Committee (that considers Debt Limit matters) and is a Democrat so there is no chance that any of these bills will receive any consideration in Committee or make it to the floor of the House. This will be the last mention that these political grandstanding bills will get.

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