CD001: A Resignation, a Land Grab, & a State of Emergency

Congress returns from vacation, Dennis Cardoza (CA-18) resigns, President Obama continues the 9/11 State of Emergency, FISA is reauthorized, veterans benefits are held hostage, mining companies get a gift from Congress, solar power is attacked, and more from this week in Congress…

Dennis Cardoza (CA-18) Resigns

Why he said he was resigning:

“In light of the fact that nothing is going to happen for the rest of the year, and in light of the fact that (my wife) and I are facing increasing parenting challenges, this seemed the right time to make this move,” Cardoza said in an interview published Tuesday by the Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert (8/14/2012)

The real reason he resigned:

“Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, today announced that U.S. Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) has joined the firm as a Managing Director in the firm’s rapidly growing federal government affairs and public policy practice. Cardoza, a former co-chair of the moderate Blue-Dog Coalition, key member of the House Agriculture and Foreign Affairs Committees, and former California State Assemblyman, will utilize his extensive federal and state government experience to advise and strategize with clients on agriculture, energy, foreign affairs and other legislative and regulatory matters. Cardoza will be based in Washington, D.C. but will advise clients facing issues in California and Washington.” (8/14/2012)

Manatt, Phelps, & Phillips, LLP is a lobbying firm. No special election will be held because resignation is so close to election 2012.

9/11 State of Emergency

Letter to both houses of Congress from President Obama:

“Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within the 90- day period prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date…”

“The emergency declared with respect to the terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, is to continue in effect for an additional year”

Because

“The crisis constituted by the grave acts of terrorism and threats of terrorism committed by foreign terrorists, including the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, in New York and Pennsylvania and against the Pentagon, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on United States nationals or the United States that led to the declaration of a national emergency on September 23, 2001, has not been resolved”

FISA Reauthorization

Brief History of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act)

Created in 1978- established secret courts for getting warrants for spying on foreign communications

  • Needed probable cause
  • Needed to show that foreign intelligence was main objective

FISA Reauthorization of 2008

  • No warrant needed anymore as long as they say a foreigner is involved

What is being done with warrentless wiretapping authority?

Building the Utah Data Center

  • “Utah Data Center” being built for NSA
  • Collects emails, phone calls, texts, internet searches, parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, etc.
  • Will be completed in September 2013
  • Costs 2 billion tax dollars
  • Introduced by Glenn Gaffney, spent most of his career at CIA

“The Program” by The New York Times. Watch this.

The FISA reauthorization was signed into law.

H.R. 4057: Veterans’ Jobs Bill

Good things
– States to give credit to job applicants for military training
– Online description of financial aid opportunities
– Online information about schools (see below)
– Burn pit registry
– No more than $1 million per year in VA executive “performance awards”

Passed the House. Blocked in Senate. Who killed it? Senate Republicans.

Attached random killers
– Keystone pipeline approval
– Elimination of public campaign financing
– Eliminated wealthy deductions: mortgage interest, rental expenses, gambling losses, electric plug in vehicles, etc.
– Rand Paul (KY): eliminated funds to Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, and Libya

Why did they kill it? My guess is because the clause requiring online information given to veterans about schools. They would have been given:

1) The school’s accreditation status.
2) If the school is public, non-profit, or for-profit.
3) Name of accrediting agency and their contact info for student complaints.
4) How much student loan debt is held by their students.
5) Enrollment rates, graduation rates, and retention rates of the school.
6) If they accept credits transferred from for-profit institutions.

Also, schools wouldn’t have been eligible for financial aid money if it awards commissions for enrolling people with financial aid.

Why do I think this was the killer?

February 2012: HR 2117 was a Republican bill that passed the House of Representatives. It removed regulations that prevent the over-charging of students with financial aid by for-profit schools.

Minnesota Mining Land Swap

H.R. 5544: “Minnesota Education Investment and Employment Act”

Minnesota’s Congress and Governor signed a bill swapping state land in the Federal Wilderness area for Federal land. No Congressional action is needed.

HR 5544 lets Minnesota decide the value of Federal lands, lets Minnesota draw the new map, and exempts the exchange from environmental reviews.

The sponsors openly admitted that this bill was written for the mining and timber industries.

The bill moved into the Senate, where it will probably not come up for a vote.

No More Solyndras

Eliminated the possibility of loans for the solar industry. Grandfathered in loan guarantees for the nuclear industry. The bill moved into the Senate, where it will probably not come up for a vote.

HR 4631: ‘‘Government Spending Accountability Act of 2012”

– Limits government conferences to $500,000.
– No limits to the amount private businesses/people can chip in.

Passed the House, moves into the Senate.

HR 538: ‘‘Government Customer Service Improvement Act”

– Creates customer service representatives in every agency.

Passed the House, moves into Senate.

HR 6028: “No Hassle Flying Act of 2012”

14 airports outside of USA do security like we do and people flying from there do not need to be rescreened. Their bags still do.

This bill allows the bags to also be considered screened in the United States.

Passed the House, moves into Senate.

S 710: Hazardous Waste Files
*Signed into law (October 2012)*
– Creates a digital hazardous waste manifest that anyone can use.
– In 2006, a fire erupted at a hazardous waste disposal facility in North Carolina. When first responders arrived on the scene, they could not access information about the hazardous chemicals inside of the facility because the paper mani-fests were inside the building that was burning.
– Made it discretionary spending, going back to the Senate.

Congress Cancelled October Work Days

Off for 5 full weeks in August
Back for 8 days in September
Off for 7 full weeks in October-November

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