“NO” on Bennet-Isakson FHA Amendment to S. 2012

Heritage Action will key vote the following amendments to the to the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 (S. 2012):

Key Vote Alert: “NO” on Bennet-Isakson FHA Amendment

The Senate could vote on an amendment by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) 5% and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) 51% to S. 2012, Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015.  The Bennet-Isakson amendment would force the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) to further subsidize government-backed mortgage loans under the pretense of energy efficiency.

As Heritage analysts Norbert Michel and Nick Loris explain, this amendment “requires the ‘expected energy cost savings’ from conservation programs to be included in borrowers’ debt-to-income test. In other words, loan applicants will effectively have their income increased because underwriters will be required to reduce borrowers’ estimated future living expenses.”

This is problematic because it:

“NO” on Nomination of John King for Secretary of Education

On Monday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the nomination of John B. King, Jr. to be  Secretary of Education.

As head of the Department of Education, King would be in charge of implementing reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Former Secretary Arne Duncan made it clear that ESSA does nothing to actually reduce the federal government’s oversized involvement in and control over our nation’s elementary and secondary education systems.  During an interview with Politico, Duncan was asked “How do you respond to the notion that you’ve had your wings clipped on your way out the door?”.   Duncan replied:  

“NO” on Shaheen Amendment for $600 million in Emergency Spending

On Wednesday, the Senate will likely vote on Amendment #3345 offered by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) 2% to S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016. The amendment would provide $600 million in new emergency spending for the purpose of addressing opioid abuse.

Opioid abuse is a serious problem, but not every problem requires federal intervention or supplemental emergency spending outside of the agreed-upon budget caps. Under the current caps in place under the Budget Control Act (BCA) and subsequent Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA), Congress has $519 billion in FY17 to spend on domestic discretionary programs. If Congress determines that addressing opioid abuse is a federal budget priority, it should find funding within the budget caps to provide for it.

“NO” on Nomination of Wilhelmina Wright for US District Court for Minnesota

On Tuesday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Wilhelmina Wright for the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.

Wright, who currently serves on Minnesota’s Supreme Court, has a troubling track record, which includes racially-charged accusations against President Ronald Reagan and statements indicating previous opposition to the constitutional understanding of property rights. Justice Wright once wrote in a law review that:

“White people are running and hiding.  Their mad scramble is aided by a Chief Justice [Justice Rehnquist] who owned racially restrictive property and a Presidential administration [President Reagan] that believes bigotry, poverty, and poor educational opportunities for most public school students are the unavoidable fruits of a “thriving” free market economy.”

And later in the same review, she wrote “the sanctity of property and the belief in the hierarchy of races” undergirds racism in America. According to a recent Daily Signal article, when questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee about these statements, she qualified them by saying “the writing was ‘inartful’ and made without ‘all of the training and experience that I have now.’” The fact that her nomination has been guided through the process by two liberal Democrats, Senators Al Franken (D-MN) 7% and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) 5%, should also raise concerns.  

“NO” on $1.1 Trillion Omnibus Spending Bill

On Friday, the Senate will vote on the year-end omnibus spending bill. The omnibus should have been an opportunity for conservatives to reassert their prerogatives on a host of important issues, ranging from appropriate spending levels to substantive action on refugee resettlement, executive amnesty, Planned Parenthood, and many more.  Last year, one Republican leader explained a Republican-controlled appropriations process would “have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy” and that this would be “something [Obama] won’t like, but that will be done.”  Unfortunately, the omnibus spending bill falls far short of achieving substantive policy victories on the issues Americans care about.

Heritage Action recommends the following votes to senators opposed to the omnibus: NO on cloture; YES on the motion to table (i.e., kill) House amendment #1 (the $1.149 trillion omnibus spending bill) to the Senate amendment to H.R. 2029; and, NO on final passage.

Notably, the bill fails to achieve any significant victories on some of the key national security issues facing our nation, including refugee resettlement.  Less than one month ago, a veto-proof House majority passed a bill that would have set up a more stringent vetting system for Syrian refugees.  Many conservatives considered it to be merely a first step because it would have relied solely on President Obama’s appointees to carry out the new vetting process.  Indeed, some GOP leaders acknowledged the bill was “just a first step” and others suggested it would “likely” be addressed in the omnibus.  It was apparently neither. To be clear, tweaks to the Visa Waiver Program are just “feel good” measures that will do absolutely nothing to mitigate the serious national security risks posed by Obama administration’s current resettlement plans.