Commuting to Congress: Episode 13

The weekly round up for the weeks of June 16th and June 23rd include insights into the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, North American Energy Infrastructure Act, Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, Lowing Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act of 2014, and the Customer Protection and End User Relief Act.



This is Congressman Sarbanes, I’m going to change things up a bit, going forward I’m going to talk less about a laundry list of things that we’ve done in Washington in a give week. Because frankly a lot of the stuff we are doing is of very little consequence because it’s not going anywhere, because we are in a campaign year and we have a Senate and a House that are fighting with each other and we have Republications in the House who are just messaging.

So I figured it was getting a bit boring for the listeners of these podcasts to just listen to me go through a laundry list. So I’m going to go real quick over the weekly round up for the weeks of June 16th and June 23rd; then start to talk more about what is the most important thing that I do in any given week. I’ll pick one thing, talk about, kind of give you my views on it and so that’s how we will handle it going forward.

In the week of June 16th we passed one bill of consequence which was the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, I voted for it, we are basically going through the various appropriations bills. The House will probably get ours done, most of them, the Senate will not get them done. We will probably need to do an omnibus bill at the end of the year, when we get to September, October, November, December, we are going to have continuing appropriations. Nothing will really happen on this until we hit crunch time. But you know it’s a way of beginning to pull together the ingredients of these different appropriations efforts and let people know where the government is headed with its spending. So that’s essentially what happened in that week.

Moving on to the week of June 23rd, there were a fair amount of things that happened that week. We had on the floor the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, sounds good but I opposed it because it was basically gut the review process for approving the cross boarder pipeline applications and exempt projects from the National Environmental Policy Act. Which is the way you determine whether something is going to be good for the environment or harm the environment.

We also had on the floor of the House the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, which sounds great, I opposed that because it would get in the way of the Department of Energy’s approval process for the export of liquefied natural gas, which currently is a process for determining whether is makes for the consumer.

We also had on the floor Lowing Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act of 2014, sound terrific, I voted against it because it would reward big oil and does nothing to help consumers at the pump. It would just expand on shore drilling on public lands and expand off short drilling including off the coast of Virginia. Mind you the oil and gas industry has plenty of leases on public lands that they haven’t event used, but it’s a messaging thing the Republicans want to argue to expand that event though the industry isn’t using the leases that it already has.

So those were some terrific pieces of legislation, I’m saying that facetiously of course, but they have great titles, they have great names.

The last one I just wanted to mention from the week of June 23rd is the Customer Protection and End User Relief Act, and this was the reauthorization of the Commodities Future Trading Commission, which was an attempt to water down some of the protections that are included in the Dodd-Frank reform that was trying to address some of these misguided financial products that torpedoed the country back in 2009.  And I not only oppose this bill because I think that it is crazy to be watering down those protections; I went to the floor of the House and I gave a statement, and you can find that on my website, among other things, I said that the Congress must be suffering from collective amnesia. That would be the only way we would pass legislation watering down the protections of Dodd-Frank and I think we need to wake up and fight for the interests of everyday Americans not the moneyed interested on Wall Street. Unfortunately that’s what we seem to be doing a far amount of the time is kowtowing to Wall Street’s concerns and really not on what Main Street needs to do. Anytime a bill is put on the House floor that is not in the interest of Main Street or American consumer that is promoting the interests of Wall Street and the banking industry in ways that they don’t need I’m going to vote against it. Because I think that every day Americans out there expect us to push back on the heavy influence that the financial industry has in Washington.

So those were the things we did during those two weeks, and I will come back in my next podcast and focus on the most important thing that I do in each week.