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October 24, 2007

No Strings Attached

State, county, and municipal governments were not intended to be administrative districts of a powerful national government. They are supposed to be self-governing and accountable to the people.

We don’t see that today. Where the federal government does not have direct control, it provides grants to state and local governments. And the grants come with strings attached. To receive the money, governments must comply with federal requirements.

Two recent episodes of the crime drama “The Closer” illustrate this. In the first, a Los Angeles Police Department homicide unit must undergo WMD training, spending the entire day in HazMat suits while they’re trying to investigate a murder. They had to do this in order for the Department to receive federal funds. In the second, a Homeland Security auditor was murdered. One LADP accountant did not mourn her death, saying that he spent most of his time complying with federal requirements even though federal dollars funded just a tiny portion of their budget. Federal funding = more bureaucracy.

Unfortunately, state and local governments are addicted to federal funds, even if it must be spent on things they don’t need. So they jump through the hoops to receive it. Without federal funding, local politicians must make the difficult decision of cutting spending or raising taxes. Federal funding discourages fiscal discipline, mis-allocates resources, creates waste, and makes government bigger at all levels. Federal funding also makes state and local government accountable to the federal government, not to the people.

Downsize DC’s Read the Bills Act will help put an end to this undemocratic way of governing. The RTBA forces members of Congress to read and understand the bills they pass. This brings openness and accountability to the legislative process. The RTBA also slows Congress down; they won’t have time to do so much. Forced to prioritize, Congress will have to focus on issues only the federal government can handle. Congress wouldn’t want to blindly distribute taxpayer money to state and local governments, but wouldn’t have time to write the rules and requirements for funding. Cut off from the federal teat, but also liberated from federal requirements and mandates, state and local governments will make decisions for themselves, and be accountable only to the people. The Read the Bills Act will restore democratic integrity not only to the federal government, but to state and local governments as well.

If you are unfamiliar with the Read the Bills Act, you may learn more at our website.

And please tell your Representative and Senators to introduce the Read the Bills Act.

You can also help spread the word by joining the Read The Bills Act Coalition. Advertise the RTBA on your website or blog, and it will be included in our blogroll. Click here for details.

This week, we welcome one new member to the Coalition:

Don’t Tread on Mike

Finally, last week the Senate passed five bills coming to 259 pages of legislation. The House passed 12 bills coming to 168 pages. These bills are listed and described at the bottom of the blog version of this Dispatch.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President, Inc.

The following are the bills the House and Senate passed last week. The bills were passed by voice vote except where indicated. Roll call votes for the House are found here, and for the Senate here. The descriptions of bills are essentially taken verbatim from the Congressional Record Daily Digest. Page numbers of bills are based on the pdf display of the latest version from the Government Printing Office.

HOUSE 11 bills, 168 pages

Louisiana Armed Services Veterans Post Office Designation Act: H.R. 2089, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 701 Loyola Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana, as the “Louisiana Armed Services Veterans Post Office”, by a 2/3 yea-and nay vote of 383 yeas with none voting “nay”, Roll No. 962; 1 page

Nate DeTample Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 3297, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 950 West Trenton Avenue in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, as the “Nate DeTample Post Office Building”; 1 page

Wallace S. Hartsfield Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 3572, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 4320 Blue Parkway in Kansas City, Missouri, as the “Wallace S. Hartsfield Post Office Building”; 1 page

Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act: H.R. 20, amended, to provide for research on, and services for individuals with, postpartum depression and psychosis, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 382 yeas to 3 nays, Roll No. 963; 11 pages

Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act: H.R. 1727, amended, to enhance and further research into paralysis and to improve rehabilitation and the quality of life for persons living with paralysis and other physical disabilities; 11 pages

Dextromethorphan Distribution Act of 2007: H.R. 970, amended, to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to the distribution of the drug dextromethorphan; 3 pages

Vision Care for Kids Act of 2007: H.R. 507, amended, to establish a grant program to provide vision care to children. 8 pages.

Internet Tax Freedom Act Amendments Act of 2007: H.R. 3678, amended, to amend the Internet Tax Freedom Act to extend the moratorium on certain taxes relating to the Internet and to electronic commerce, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 405 yeas to 2 nays, Roll No. 968. 10 pages

ALS Registry Act: H.R. 2295, amended, to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for the establishment of an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Registry, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 411 yeas to 3 nays, Roll No. 970; 14 pages

Free Flow of Information Act of 2007: The House passed H.R. 2102, to maintain the free flow of information to the public by providing conditions for the federally compelled disclosure of information by certain persons connected with the news media, by a recorded vote of 398 ayes to 21 noes, Roll No. 973. 12 pages

Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007: The House passed H.R. 2095, to amend title 49, United States Code, to prevent railroad fatalities, injuries, and hazardous materials releases and to authorize the Federal Railroad Safety Administration, by a yea-and-nay vote of 377 yeas to 38 nays, Roll No. 980. 96 pages

SENATE 5 bills, 259 pages

Commerce and Justice, and Science Appropriations Act: By 75 yeas to 19 nays (Vote No. 372), Senate passed H.R. 3093, making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, and Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, 248 pages

Technical Corrections: Senate passed S. 2206, to provide technical corrections to Public Law 109-116 (2 U.S.C. 2131a note) to extend the time period for the Joint Committee on the Library to enter into an agreement to obtain a statue of Rosa Parks. 2 pages

Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs was discharged from further consideration of H.R. 1284, to increase, effective as of December 1, 2007, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans, and the bill was then passed, clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages

Government of Libya: Senate passed S. 1839, to require periodic reports on claims related to acts of terrorism against Americans perpetrated or supported by the Government of Libya. 4 pages

Laurence C. and Grace M. Jones Post Office Building: Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs was discharged from further consideration of H.R. 3233, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at Highway 49 South in Piney Woods, Mississippi, as the “Laurence C. and Grace M. Jones Post Office Building”, and the bill was then passed, clearing the measure for the President. 1 page

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