Weekly Review

December 10, 2016

December 5

House Approves National Defense Funding: On Friday, the House voted on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2017, which authorizes defense spending for next year, and it passed by a vote of 375 to 34. I voted for it because I think funding our national defense is one of the most important roles of government...and in this case, that outweighed the flaws I found in this particular bill.

It did a lot of good. Though hardly an exhaustive list, they include the following…. It contains provisions designed to reform the military’s acquisition process to make it more efficient and put better technology in our troop’s hands. It reigns in the National Security Council by capping its staff at 200 people. The bill is moving away from using budget gimmickry to pay for regular military expenses. While an older version of the bill would have used $23.1 billion of $58.8 in war funds for normal expenses, today’s bill would only use $8.3 billion of $67.8 billion in war funds for normal military expenses. Not perfect, but a big step in the right direction. Continue reading here.

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December 6:

Update on IRS Commissioner Impeachment: I am writing to give you an important update on the effort to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. At about 5pm tonight, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) formally requested that the House vote on a resolution to impeach.This vote was blocked before we could even get to it by a procedural vote...but long story short, the resolution has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee. What happens next there is yet to be determined.

I am in favor of impeaching Koskinen and, accordingly, voted to force an impeachment vote tonight. That vote failed by 180 to 235, but given the significance of impeaching an appointed official, I would like to explain my vote. The IRS began targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny in March of 2010. The applications of organizations for tax-exempt status with the words “Tea Party” or “Patriots” in their names were placed on hold for the next two years. During the same period, the agency approved around two dozen liberal leaning groups’ applications. The overall effect of these actions was to create a partisan advantage in the 2012 election.

After the targeting of conservatives came to light, Lois Lerner, the head of the unit responsible, took the Fifth Amendment, and refused to testify in her own defense. Under a subpoena, and legally required to produce all documents, the IRS deleted as many as 24,000 of Lois Lerner’s emails. With the full knowledge that the emails had been deleted, Commissioner Koskinen lied under oath to Congress when he said, “since the start of the investigation, every email has been preserved. Nothing has been lost. Nothing has been destroyed.”

To me, the political targeting, perjury, and obstruction of justice we see here meets the definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Accordingly, I believe John Koskinen should be removed from his position as IRS Commissioner. The larger issue here is one of unaccountable federal agencies. The frustration and anger I hear back home from many comes from this sort of thing.

December 7:

Remembering Pearl Harbor: The flags over the capitol dome here in Washington fly at half staff today as we pause to remember the day that lives in infamy. It was 75 years ago that we lost 25 South Carolinians and nearly 2,400 Americans in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

A friend forwarded me some photos from that day, and, accordingly, I wanted to share them with you here. I think it serves as a good reminder of the real cost of liberty as well as the pure devastation experienced by those who thought they were stationed in paradise far away from the battlefields of World War II. I’d ask you take a moment to remember their sacrifice, and thank a member of the Greatest Generation...

Visiting with a Cadet from the Citadel Republican Society

December 8:

House Passes Continuing ResolutionToday, the House voted on the Further Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act of 2017...the so-called continuing resolution. This bill would keep the federal government running through April, and it passed by a vote of 326 to 96 and I voted yes.

It represented but what one thing, a bridge that funded government until the new Trump administration is in town and settled. Its other redeeming qualities were few, but of significance was the fact that the bill stayed within the overall spending caps for the 2017 fiscal year. Federal law requires that the federal government spend no more than $1.070 trillion on base discretionary programs, and held to this spending level.

Sadly the simple fact that the House passed a continuing resolution, rather than an omnibus proved to be a significant victory. In this case leadership listened to our concerns that a lame duck omnibus would be riddled with even more spending.

This measure takes the ability to oversee sequester-mandated spending cuts away from the Obama administration and gives it to the Trump administration by delaying any possible sequester until after President-elect Trump has taken office. This means that if cuts must be made, it's the hope that conservative priorities will be respected. Read more here.


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