Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 4, 2015

October 2, 2015

Defense Bill Critical to Maintaining America’s Global Response Force

By Sens. Richard M. Burr and Thom Tillis

Today, the United States faces unparalleled threats to our homeland, the likes of which we have not seen since the dawn of 9/11. The Islamic State terror group has quickly emerged as a murderous and destabilizing terrorist force, far from the “JV” organization it was once labeled. The Iranian regime has never been closer to developing a nuclear weapon capability. An emboldened Russia continues to fill the existing leadership vacuum across the globe, now coordinating with Iran and the Assad-led Syrian regime to spread their sphere of influence to the Middle East.

While those of us in Congress may have differences in how our nation should confront these threats, we can all agree that we must work together toward common sense solutions to mitigate risk and prioritize the safety and security of all Americans. Cutting apart our nation’s defense budget at the expense of our military readiness, training, and capability is not a common sense solution.

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October 1, 2015

The ‘Try-Nothing’ Congress | Commentary

By Rep. David Jolly

The recent resignation of the speaker of the House presents the nation and Congress with the opportunity to restore leadership to a body defined today not by what it accomplishes, but by its failure to act in the face of our most pressing challenges.

That is why today’s Congress must change, and why it is right that our leadership now change. We must restore direction to a body that has become listless, a body that governs only by crisis, a body that remains consumed more by palace intrigue than by governing.

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Congress Must Act to Reverse NLRB Overreach, Allow Franchising to Move Forward | Commentary

By Robert Cresanti

Hundreds of small-business owners from across the U.S. will descend on Capitol Hill this week to talk about how decisions made in Washington are impacting their daily lives. All small-business owners are feeling the weight of higher taxes, increased regulations and the continuing implementation of the Affordable Care Act. These burdens are part of a sadly persistent drumbeat of anti-business policies that has made it harder for them to operate and create jobs. The franchising industry has felt the brunt of this onslaught. Now, thankfully, several lawmakers have introduced bipartisan legislation to help franchise small businesses push back against these obstacles to success.

The Protecting Local Business Opportunity Act, introduced by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the Senate, and Reps. John Kline, R-Minn., and Phil Roe, R-Texas, in the House, will provide franchise businesses much needed certainty in the face of an unrelenting barrage of regulatory action. The bill would reset an imbalance created by the National Labor Relations Board when it released a major decision earlier last month. The NLRB declared Browning-Ferris Industries, a California-based recycling company, to be a “joint employer” with Leadpoint, a staffing services company. This decision ignored more than 50 years of regulatory and legal precedent and retroactively adopted a far broader definition of “joint employer” than had ever been contemplated. The fallout from the decision will not be limited to Browning-Ferris. It will hurt franchise small businesses throughout the U.S., leaving 780,000 franchise businesses and the nearly 9 million jobs they create at risk. Full story

September 30, 2015

Iran Review Moves Recall ‘Duck-and-Cover’ Days | Procedural Politics

Last May, in a rare display of bipartisanship, the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved a congressional review process for the Iran nuclear agreement — a process President Barack Obama initially said he didn’t want and didn’t need.

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September 29, 2015

Kirk, Manchin: Make Washington Work | Commentary

By Sens. Mark S. Kirk and Joe Manchin III

Congress’ current approval rating is at a dismal 14 percent, and it’s no wonder why — governing by crisis and subjecting our constituents to partisan bickering is not what we were elected to do. Instead of offering viable solutions to the issues our nation faces, many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have merely dug in their heels and refused to budge. When the government shut down in 2013, Standard & Poor’s estimated it cost our economy $24 billion. Across the country federal workers, small businesses and our nation’s tourism industry struggled financially for more than two weeks because Congress refused to compromise.

The most basic function of serving the American people is to run the federal government, avoid crisis and find solutions to the issues dividing us. Whether Americans support or oppose Planned Parenthood, there is no solution in a government shutdown, and the threat is unacceptable to both of us.

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Iran Terrorism Bill Won’t Help U.S. Hostages | Commentary

By Sarah Shourd

During the year I spent in solitary confinement as a political hostage in Iranian prison, I had a lot of time to sit with the uncertainty of my future, and how it might be tied up with the much larger uncertainty of U.S-Iranian relations.

I was imprisoned in 2009, at a time when the movement for democracy and human rights inside Iran was erupting in protest across the country. The government was scrambling desperately to maintain its legitimacy, and blaming outsiders for “fomenting dissent” was an easy, tried-and-true narrative with ample history to draw from.

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September 28, 2015

Seeing Through the Politics of EB-5 Reform | Commentary

By Jeff Carr

Only in America could we find a way for politics to interfere with a program that has generated more than $5 billion in investment, creating thousands of jobs and long lasting infrastructure for communities at no cost to taxpayers. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening now to the EB-5 investor visa program as the clock ticks down to the September 30 reauthorization deadline for a fundamental component of the program.

Created in the early 1990’s as a means of bringing private investment into the U.S. and encouraging job creation, the EB-5 program drives economic growth and creates opportunities for Americans from coast to coast. I’ve worked with nearly 200 EB-5 projects spanning 48 states and U.S. territories to provide the necessary independent economic analysis—required by the federal government—to ensure each project generates its intended economic impact. In the process, I have seen first-hand the program’s capacity to create thousands of good jobs across a broad range of industries. And those observations have been well documented by others: the Brookings Institution estimates that the program has directly created at least 85,500 jobs since its creation.

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September 25, 2015

Include Poland In the Visa Waiver Program | Commentary

Poland is America’s strongest ally in Central Europe. Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, and its aggressive stance towards the region generally, makes America’s alliance relationships in the region more important than ever. To strengthen it’s relationship with Poland at this crucial time, America should include it in the Visa Waiver Program.

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) was created in 1986 to allow visa-free travel to the United States for up to 90 days. Right now, the VWP has 38 members, including most of US major European allies and many NATO member countries. Poland, a NATO member since 1999 and staunch U.S. ally and partner in U.S. defense initiatives in Europe, is not a VWP member. It should be.

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September 24, 2015

Honor the ‘Golden Rule’ for Our School Children and Keep Nutritious Food | Commentary

By Paul Slack,  Steven Delzer, Marcus Lohrmann and Brant Copeland

As religious leaders, we teach that it is our duty as a community to love one another as God loves us. God proclaims, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Yet, the “Golden Rule,” central to America’s family and faith values, is fading from our political consciousness as intolerable inequities play out across our country. Among the most egregious of these is the hunger disparity between white children and children of color.

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Our Chance to Reach Every Mother and Child | Commentary

By Joanne Carter

The number of children dying every year has been driven down by more than half since 1990, UNICEF announced this month. But there’s a long way left to go: 11 children under age 5 still die every single minute from mostly preventable causes. Now Congress has an unprecedented opportunity to help end these needless child deaths once and for all.

The science shows that for the first time in human history, the end of preventable deaths is within reach. Using tools we already have — vaccines, inexpensive antibiotics, vitamin A supplements and more — by 2035 a child born in one of the world’s poorest settings could have nearly the same chance of reaching her fifth birthday as one born in the richest. The new, bipartisan Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015 will make sure the U.S. does its part to get there.

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September 23, 2015

Another Fiscal Year, Another Financial Hole | Commentary

By Sheila Weinberg

On Sept.30, the federal fiscal year will end and we will yet again be reminded of our increasing national debt. However, the national debt is not the only thing rising at an alarming rate. There is nearly $1.3 trillion of debt at the state level, which is a huge financial burden for current and future taxpayers.

At Truth in Accounting, we are dedicated to educating and empowering citizens with understandable, reliable and transparent government financial information. Annually, we release our Financial State of the States report, a comprehensive ranking of all 50 U.S. states by Taxpayer Burden.

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September 22, 2015

Right Moves on Bahrain | Commentary

By Brian Dooley

The 19th Century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard had it right when he said, “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”

When it comes to Bahrain, the State Department can’t seem to accept what’s plain for everyone else to see — that the ruling family isn’t introducing real reforms, shouldn’t be rewarded for continuing attacks on human rights and is driving the country deeper into crisis.

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The Pope Gives Me Climate Hope | Commentary

By William Snape

He’s the world’s most powerful climate activist. And when it comes to protecting our planet’s poorest people and fragile web of life from global warming, Pope Francis does not seem willing to accept denial or half measures.

“Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility, above all on the part of those countries which are more powerful and pollute the most,” the pope wrote in his landmark encyclical on the environment earlier this year.

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September 21, 2015

Time to Drain the Patent Troll Swamp in East Texas | Commentary

By Chuck Muth

In case you missed the memo, trolls are real … and a certain species of them lives in Texas.

According to Lise Lunge-Larsen, author of “The Troll with No Heart in His Body,” “trolls are some of lore’s most fascinating and varied creatures.”

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September 18, 2015

It’s Time to Build Up HUD’s HOME Program, Not Tear It Down | Commentary

By Christopher S. “Kit” Bond and Henry Cisneros

Over the past two decades, the HOME Investment Partnerships program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development has played an indispensable role in supporting the affordable housing needs of hundreds of thousands of low-income families in both urban and rural America. Unfortunately, the program finds itself on the congressional chopping block, a victim of budget politics and sequestration.

Unlike many federal programs with a “Washington-knows-best” approach, HOME is driven by local needs and demands. It is highly flexible, allowing communities throughout the country to use program dollars in ways that respond directly to their own unique housing conditions.

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