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Posted at 1:33 p.m. on May 3, 2013
The Keystone XL oil pipeline, Securities and Exchange Commission regulation, student loan rates and pediatric medical research will be among the first orders of legislative business in the House when Congress returns from a weeklong recess.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., issued a memo on Friday laying out the Republicans’ legislative agenda for May. Congress is expected to be busy during the three weeks it will be in session before members take another short recess the week of Memorial Day. Cantor also promised another vote to repeal Obamacare.
Though Cantor doesn’t mention it in his memo, an immigration overhaul will no doubt dominate lawmakers’ attention as it moves forward in both the House and Senate.
The memo from Cantor to members of the House Republican Conference can be viewed after the jump.
TO: House Republicans
FR: Eric Cantor
DT: Friday, May 3, 2013
RE: May Legislative Agenda
In line with our underlying principles for legislation and our goal of helping make life work for American families and businesses, I expect the House to have a full legislative agenda in May. We will push the administration to finally approve the Keystone pipeline delivering much needed jobs and lower energy prices for families. We will ensure that working moms and dads in the private sector have the same freedoms and flexibility currently offered government employees. We will reform our student loan process and hold the SEC accountable so that business can be assured of more certainty and less red tape. We will put pediatric disease research ahead of politics to focus on finding cures. And we will guarantee our debt obligations are met under any circumstance so as not to burden our kids with unpaid bills. While we have not locked in the timing, I expect that the House will vote on full repeal of ObamaCare in the near future.
Our conservative solutions to the challenges facing American families today are the right solutions, and the results will speak for themselves. Please find below an outline of the important legislation I expect the House to consider during the next three weeks.
Economic Growth and Jobs – Job Creation Must Be Our Priority
The Obama administration is preventing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a $7 billion infrastructure project estimated to produce at least 120,000 Jobs. Creating jobs and lowering energy prices is a top priority for House Republicans. H.R. 3, The Northern Route Approval Act, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Lee Terry, will ensure that the Keystone XL pipeline is built without any further delay. The federal government should not stand in the way of job creation or lower gas prices and I expect a strong vote of support in the House.
We must do everything we can to foster an environment of certainty so businesses can grow and create new jobs. Scott Garrett’s bill, H.R. 1062, The SEC Regulatory Accountability Act, requires the SEC to conduct cost-benefit analyses on any rulemaking to ensure that the benefits outweigh the cost. Businesses must know that any rulemaking stemming from Washington bureaucrats will help them produce more jobs and not more red tape.
Current law does not require the Treasury Secretary to prioritize debt service payments on the government’s existing debt in the event that we reach the debt ceiling. To address this, Tom McClintock, along with Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, Tom Price, and Jeb Hensarling, have authored H.R. 807, The Full Faith and Credit Act. Under this legislation if the statutory debt ceiling is reached, the Secretary of the Treasury is required to issue debt to the extent necessary and solely for the purpose of paying principal and interest on the debt obligations held by the public and the Social Security Trust Funds.
Supporting American Families and Upholding American Values
The Working Families Flexibility Act
In 1985 Congress permitted state and local governments to compensate their employees’ overtime hours with paid time away from work in lieu of overtime pay. However, this option has not been afforded to employees in the private sector. All too often working parents find there just isn’t enough time at home with their kids. Too many parents have to weigh whether they can afford to miss work even for half a day to see their child off on the first day of school or attend a parent-teacher conference. Time-off in lieu of overtime shouldn’t be a benefit reserved for government employees.
To address this disparity, we will consider H.R. 1406, The Working Families Flexibility Act, sponsored by Martha Roby. This bill will allow working parents and all other hourly employees the same opportunity government employees enjoy – to accrue paid time away from work without fear of lost wages.
Kids First Research Act
Republicans have long championed basic medical research. The recent news that one in 50 school children in American has autism was a reminder of the critical importance of funding research into cures for pediatric disorders and diseases. In the era of limited federal resources, it is critical that we set the right priorities and now more than ever our priority should be medical breakthroughs that help children who are suffering from diseases and disorders like cancer and autism.
H.R. 1724, The Kids First Research Act, sponsored by Gregg Harper and Tom Cole does just that by funding pediatric research at NIH and paying for it by eliminating taxpayer funding of presidential campaigns and party conventions.
As a result of legislation previously enacted during the Democrat majority, the student loan rate was set to increase from 3.4% to 6.8% last summer. Many of us argued at the time that interest rates should be set by the market, not legislative fiat. Because some were attempting to turn this into a political issue, the House ultimately took politics out if it and adopted a one-year year extension of the lower fixed rate. At the end of June that one-year extension is set to expire and the interest rate on new student loans will double to 6.8% from 3.4%. In light of this, Chairman Kline and the Education and Workforce Committee will produce a bill to replace the legislatively fixed interest rate with an interest rate tied to market rates for federal borrowing. In the near-term this is expected to provide an interest rate lower than the 6.8% fixed in law and over the long-term provide savings for taxpayers. This bill takes congress and politics out of setting interest rates and provides a long-term fix to the interest rate cliffs initiated in 2007.
Summer Look Ahead
I expect a heavy legislative workload in the summer months leading up to the August recess. In addition to the expected discussion and actions on the debt limit, Hal Rogers and the Appropriations Committee will begin the process of funding the government through an open appropriations process; we will ensure that our men and women in uniform are given the tools they need to defend and protect our freedoms by passing the Department of Defense authorization bill thanks to Buck McKeon and the Armed Services Committee; we will continue to bring legislation forward with the help of Fred Upton and Doc Hastings and their respective committees to address the high cost of energy; and we will consider a Farm bill produced by the Agriculture Committee and Frank Lucas. We have a busy legislative agenda planned this summer and our schedule will undoubtedly require further additions.
Thank you very much for all the hard work you do each and every day for all your constituents. I look forward to the next few months as we make life work in America.