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Freedom Fridays

November 2, 2018 – Congress’ Legislative Frenzy

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Would you be surprised if you knew that Congress passes bills without an actual roll call vote? Over the course of the 115th Congress, the House of Representatives has passed hundreds of bills by voice vote.  You would think bills considered this way, when debate is limited and only a handful of members are present on the House floor, would involve mundane things, like minor tweaks to a law or the renaming of a post office. 

To my surprise—and I’m guessing yours too—many of the bills passed by voice vote this year cost the U.S. taxpayer hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars.  In other words: more wasteful spending and more big government.

Here are just a few examples from this year:

The Department of Homeland Security, Morale, Recognition, Learning and Engagement Act, H.R.2283 – Can you believe we’re spending $1 million on efforts to raise employee morale at the Department of Homeland Security by creating a new “engagement committee”?  Neither can I. But that’s exactly what this bill aims to do. Let’s hope it works….

The Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act, H.R.3249 – This bill would spend $130 million on efforts to make neighborhoods safer. Now, I agree that every American deserves to live in a safe community, but these efforts should be funded by state and local governments. Arizonans shouldn’t be forced to fund safer neighborhoods in New York City or L.A.

Innovations in Mentoring, Training, and Apprenticeships Act, H.R. 5509 – Several months ago, I highlighted waste at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF was providing funding for research on such pressing topics as women’s cell phone usage in Tanzania and why English has no single word for “light blue.” H.R.5509 would direct NSF funding towards “new approaches” to incorporating science and technology into education and the workforce…. Given our nation’s massive federal debt, should we really be spending $29 million on research that could be done by the private sector?

The Fort Ontario Study Act, H.R.4202 – The federal government currently owns about 28 percent of all land in the United States. As if that isn’t enough, H.R.4202 requires the Secretary of the Interior to evaluate adding Fort Ontario, a military installation in New York, to the National Park System. These evaluations typically cost $250,000.