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House Passes American Health Care Act

Congress - Senate, Doug LaMalfa Congressman CA

May 4, 2017

(Washington, DC) – Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after the House passed an amended version of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act.

LaMalfa said: “Here’s what we know: Obamacare is collapsing. Insurance providers are pulling out of the exchanges, premiums are continuing to skyrocket, and choices for Americans are dwindling – and it will only get worse. Unfortunately, the reality is that too many young and healthy individuals are deciding they’d rather pay the penalty than sign up for care, citing financial barriers and lack of choice. A 28 year old making $45,000 a year with no major health concerns is not going to pay upwards of $400 a month for a plan that does not even work for them. And they are not alone. In fact, in 2015, 7.5 million people chose to pay the penalty rather than purchase coverage. That same year, over 12 million filed for hardship exemptions. That’s nearly 20 million people that actively are not in the market today. This causes premiums in the individual market to continue to rise, leaving middle income families struggling to afford their monthly payments, while providers continue to drop out, citing costs, and leaving residents with even fewer choices. Premiums are up 25% nationally and predicted to continue to rise, while one third of counties will have just one insurer this year.

From my very first day in Congress, the constituents of Northern California have pleaded that we get this law repealed and replaced with something that actually works for them. We also know that there will be no help from Democrats, forcing us to use the budget reconciliation process which requires only 51 votes in the Senate as opposed to 60 – Republicans have 52 votes. The Senate Parliamentarian requires every measure to have a budgetary effect. Without budget reconciliation, this bill would need 60 votes to pass and would be dead upon arrival in the Senate – sticking Americans with the high costs of Obamacare for another year. This was our one and only shot to get this done using the budget reconciliation process.


The rules of reconciliation force the House to be cautious not to exceed parliamentary guidelines, but the Senate will have significantly more flexibility in their own chamber to test parliamentary limits. Simultaneously, we passed legislation today that will ensure Members of Congress and staff are subject to the same healthcare options as the constituents they serve. This bill is not a finished product, but it’s a start. The American Healthcare Act is a positive step that will ultimately return the freedom of choice back to the patient.”

The Budget Reconciliation Process:

The Senate requires 60 votes to waive a point of order, as compared to the 51-vote threshold for a budget reconciliation bill. Reconciliation measures are intended to implement budget resolutions, and the “Byrd rule” allows Senators to raise a point of order against any provision that is “extraneous” to reconciliation legislation. This includes measures that do not have a budgetary effect, measures where the budgetary effects are “merely incidental” to the policy objective, or measures that involve the jurisdictions of committees without reconciliation instructions. The Senate Parliamentarian may determine that a base bill that contains a substantial number of Byrd violations is not privileged and thus must be considered under a 60-vote threshold. The Senate Parliamentarian does not rule on the parliamentary inquiries of Members of the House, but the House has attempted to comply with the Byrd rule based on guidance from the Senate Budget Committee, among others.

Rep. LaMalfa Speaks on the House floor in support of the American Health Care Act. [YouTube]

Highlights of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act:

Ø  Helps to expand our economy and create jobs by providing relief from the employer mandate that California small businesses have been asking for since the ACA became law.

Ø  Repeals the individual mandate, currently forcing Americans to pay skyrocketing premiums for a plan they may not even want or pay a steep penalty.

Ø  Repeals job killing, and costly taxes such as the medical device tax, prescription drug tax, health insurance tax, and Cadillac tax.

Ø  Provides refundable tax credits, designed to give people in the individual market who don’t receive employer sponsored care the same tax benefits as those who do. This way, individuals and families receive an advanceable credit, meaning they have the money when they need to purchase a plan, valued from $2,000 to $14,000 based on age, household, and income, so they can afford coverage that meets their needs.

Ø  Expands tax-free Health Savings Accounts, a tool that gives Americans the opportunity to save their money pre-tax then also have control over how they spend these health care dollars, such as for medication or co-pays. This bill nearly doubles the contribution limit to $6,550 for individuals and $13,100 for families.

Ø  Authorizes $100 billion in grant funding for states under the Patient and State Stability Fund to help lower costs and increase access to care. States can determine how the funds are used to meet the needs of their residents, including providing financial assistance for high cost individuals, reducing out of pocket costs, incentivizing insurer participation in rural areas to drive up competition, reducing the cost of insurance, and promoting access to preventives services.

Facts of the American Health Care Act:

Ø  Will ensure that those receiving Medi-Cal benefits continue to receive them.

Ø  Protects individuals with pre-existing conditions.

Ø  Allows young adults under 26 to remain on their parents’ healthcare plan.

Ø  There will be no reductions for children’s healthcare in California.

Ø  H.R. 2192 ensures coverage options for members of congress and their staff should be on the same basis as what is available to their constituents.

Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.



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Obamacare – The Three Phases of Repeal and Replace

Congress - Senate

March 7, 2017 |

Speaker Ryan Press Office

| http://spkrryan.us/2m015Ys

From the start, we have been taking a step-by-step approach to repeal and replace Obamacare. Because building a better, patient-centered system is going to take more than just one bill.

As Speaker Ryan explained at his press conference, this approach has three overarching phases:

  • The American Health Care Act, which takes full advantage of the budget reconciliation process to avoid a Democratic filibuster;

  • Administration actions, notably by HHS Secretary Price, to stabilize the health insurance market, increase choices, and lower costs; and

  • Additional legislative policies, such as allowing individuals to purchase coverage across state lines, that by Senate rules cannot be included in a reconciliation bill.

Here’s how Speaker Ryan put it:

“Let me describe to you what the three phases are…Number one is this bill, which we use as reconciliation. As you all know, you can’t filibuster a reconciliation bill so this repeal and replace bill is what we pass through reconciliation…Phase two: all the regulatory flexibility that the Secretary of HHS has to deregulate the marketplace to lower the cost and stabilize the marketPhase three is to pass the bills that we want to pass that we cannot put in reconciliation because of those budget rules. What’s an example of that? Interstate shopping across state lines. We love that policy, we think it’s critical, but as you well know, you cannot put that in a budget reconciliation bill.”

Here is what Secretary Price wrote in his letter to congressional leaders:

Achieving all of the President’s goals to reform healthcare will require more than what is possible in a budget reconciliation bill, as procedural rules on this type of legislation prevent inclusion of key policies such as selling insurance across state lines, lowering drug costs for patients, providing additional flexibility in Medicaid for states to manage their programs in a way that best serves their most vulnerable citizens, or medical legal reforms.”

Learn more about the American Health Care Act here

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GOP’s new water bill forces EPA to pay for toxic spill

Clean Water ACT - EPA, Congress - Senate

A major water infrastructure bill introduced Monday by the Republican leadership would put states back in charge of enforcing one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s costly coal rules, while making sure the agency pays for the damage it caused states during last year’s toxic waste water spill in Colorado.

The new Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation bill includes pending water resources and water waste bills, as well as significant tribal and natural resources legislation, and other important measures to improve the nation’s infrastructure, according to a fact sheet.

The Senate and House passed water resources bills earlier this year to fund numerous water projects in the country, and Monday’s bill is the result of ongoing discussions to work out differences between the two chambers’ bills. The legislation introduced in the chambers matches up on the coal rules, but the Senate version contains the toxic waste spill provisions.

The coal waste provisions would block environmental groups from being able to sue to enforce EPA’s coal ash rule. The rule currently allows for green groups to file citizen suits if they don’t believe the industry or state has taken proper actions to enforce the federal regulations.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml


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Federal PILT could be on the chopping block

Congress - Senate, Federal gov & land grabs

Havasu News

Oct. 13, 2016

Uncertainty over funding levels has Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson concerned


It’s the same battle every congressional budget cycle: States and counties depend on lawmakers to come up with a long-term answer to fund the federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes program, while Congress stalls on legislation that at best offers only short-term solutions.

Although Congress passed stop-gap funding late last month to keep government agencies and programs running through Dec. 9, PILT may once again be on the legislative chopping block as lawmakers consider ways to shrink federal spending.

This uncertainty has Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson worried.

“Even though Congress has been funding this for years, every time they go back to fund PILT they find an offset from another agency’s budget. This year what we’re seeing is that it’s not going to be funded at the same level as we’ve seen in the past. It’s going to be down a little,” Johnson said. “For Mohave County, it’s more than $3 million, and now, with the budget getting so tight, it would mean some tremendous cuts. If PILT were eliminated we could probably survive for a year or so … but there are too many other counties that would go belly up.”

In June, Arizona received slightly more than $35 million with Mohave, Gila and Yuma counties at the top of the pack, each receiving $3.5 million, and Santa Cruz and Greenlee counties at the bottom with $900,000 each.

The Arizona funding was part of nearly $452 million paid to 1,900 local governments by the Interior Department under the PILT program, which has been compensating counties and local governments since 1977 for non-taxable federal land in their jurisdictions.

Using a formula provided by statute, the annual PILT payments to local governments are computed based on the number of acres of federal land and population within each county.

The lands include the national forest and national park systems and lands in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge system — areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Mohave County has 6.4 million acres of federal land.

“We’re maxed out with what we get,” Johnson said. “But, if they actually did the formula correctly, we’d get a lot more, but we’re pretty steady from year to year.”

PILT program eligibility is reserved for local governments — mostly rural counties — that contain non-taxable federal lands and provide vital services, such as public safety, housing, social services and transportation.

These jurisdictions provide significant support for national parks, wildlife refuges and recreation areas throughout the year. PILT seeks to compensate them for the support and foregoing tax revenue from these federal lands.

The Interior Department collects more than $11 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on federal lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing and timber harvesting. Since PILT payments began in 1977, DOI has distributed more than $7.5 billion to states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.

Fiscal year 2016 payments represented the largest amount ever allocated under the PILT program to compensate counties and local governments.

The President’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposes to return the PILT program to mandatory funding at $480 million annually, but this request has been caught up in the partisan wrangling within Congress.

“This investment is one of the ways the federal government can fulfill its role of being a good neighbor to local communities,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell during a June press conference.

“President Obama has made job creation and opportunity in rural areas a top priority for his administration and has fought for continuing the PILT program,” she added. “We encourage Congress to take the required action to make sure this important program continues.”


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Wolves will be the subject of congressional Oversight Hearing on 9-21-16

Congress - Senate, Doug LaMalfa Congressman CA, Wolves

Committee Announces Oversight Hearing on Federal Government’s Management of Wolves

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 7, 2016
CONTACT: Parish Braden, Elise Daniel, Molly Block (202) 226-9019


Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at 2:00 PM in 1334 Longworth House Office Building, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold an oversight hearing titled “The Status of the Federal Government’s Management of Wolves.


Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations oversight hearing titled “The Status of the Federal Government’s Management of Wolves”


Wednesday, September 21
2:00 PM


1334 Longworth House Office Building


Visit the Committee Calendar for additional information once it is made available. The meeting is open to the public and a video feed will stream live at House Committee on Natural Resources.



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‘Massive’ ESA lawsuit threatened—again

Agriculture, Congress - Senate, CORRUPTION, Courts, Endangered Species Act, Greenies & grant $, Lawsuits


Western Livestock Journal

AUG 26, 2016


—History set to repeat itself; environmental group tries to force USFWS’ hand

Is it 2016 or 2011? Or perhaps just a bad case of déjà vu?

Last Tuesday saw the history of 2011 repeated as an environmental litigation group threatened to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to force Endangered Species Act (ESA) decisions on 417 species.

Five years ago saw an ESA “mega-settlement” which forced USFWS to crank out over 1,200 backlogged listing and critical habitat decisions. In return, the two environmental groups that brought the case—Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and WildEarth Guardians—were expected (although not required) to back off on further litigation and additional listing petitions.

But now, the CBD is threatening to sue again, hoping to force “12-month finding” decisions on this new group of species. In fact, CBD and other groups never did stop filing petitions or lawsuits. Since the 2011 settlement, CBD and others have petitioned roughly 140 species, and CBD and WildEarth Guardians alone have filed over 130 of them since 2013, according to CBD’s own website.

Legal details

The 12-month finding is one step in the ESA listing process. One year after a species is petitioned for listing, USFWS is required to determine whether listing is “not warranted;” “warranted,” which leads to 60 days of public comments, then a final listing decision; or “warranted but precluded,” which places the species on the “candidate” list.

According to CBD, those 12-month findings on the 417 species are anywhere from one to seven years late. The species’ locations span from Washington State to Florida. They include 235 invertebrates (mussels, snails, beetles, etc.), 87 plants, 58 amphibians and reptiles, 27 fish, six birds, and seven mammals.

“This is precisely why the [ESA] is broken,” said Ethan Lane of the Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) in the groups’ statement.

“Groups like [CBD] are attempting to force their agenda on [USFWS] through litigation abuse. Substantive ESA reform is needed now to allow [USFWS] the autonomy necessary to prioritize species conservation according to need, rather than political agenda.”

Litigation: exception or rule?

CBD cites a recent study that found that “lawsuits from conservation groups … have played a key role in speeding protection for imperiled species.” The study was co-authored by CBD’s own Endangered Species Director, Noah Greenwald, and published last month in the academic journal, Biological Conservation.

Under the ESA, anyone can petition to list a species as threatened or endangered. From that point on, USFWS faces multiple deadlines and must issue multiple decisions. Wyoming attorney Karen Budd-Falen, who testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on April 20, said the listing process for just one species provides environmental groups with eight different opportunities to sue USFWS. And, she added, the ESA allows litigants to reap attorney fees. She told WLJ that she has seen groups charge $775 per hour for attorney fees. ESA litigation, she said, is a “business decision” on the part of environmental groups, and said it’s having the effect of “shutting down the [USFWS] from implementing the entirety of the ESA.”

Budd-Falen said USFWS is so swamped with petitions and the ensuing lawsuits that species recovery has become an afterthought. As of April, only 63 of the total 2,258 listed species had been delisted. Many of those delisted were not actually recovered; 19 of them were removed because of an error in the original data, and 10 of them, she said, had gone extinct.

Budd-Falen said USFWS is trending away from creating species recovery plans, which are usually a prerequisite to delisting a species.

In the 1990s, 843 species had recovery plans. From 2010 to today, only 177 species have been included in recovery plans.

The ESA requires USFWS to develop recovery plans and measurable objectives that would trigger a species’ delisting. However, the law doesn’t put a time frame on recovery plans and objectives. The lack of an enforceable time frame, Budd-Falen said, adds to USFWS’ propensity of putting recovery plans on the back burner.

Litigation versus science

Budd-Falen stated that one effect of all the litigation has been a shift away from science-based decision making and recovery plan development. Instead, USFWS has turned its focus to meeting court-ordered deadlines.

One of USFWS’ documents says as much: A memorandum from May 20, 2014 states, “Our primary (and perhaps only) focus will be on meeting court-ordered and settlement deadlines for findings…we do not plan to carry out… non-[2011 settlement] findings and proposed rules, or recovery plan revisions.”

The imposition of litigation deadlines has been felt on the ground in various ways, according to Budd-Falen. For example, according to the USFWS, the 2011 settlement prevented it from delaying its listing decision on the lesser-prairie chicken, rather than give the locally-driven and USFWS-approved range-wide conservation plan a chance to work (the decision has since been overturned nationwide by court order).

Similarly, the agency did not have enough time to update the Mexican wolf recovery plan in light of litigation-imposed deadlines.

“In other cases, USFWS has denied requests for extensions of time to comment on [experimental population rules] or has stated that certain activities have not been done because of the requirement imposed by litigation deadlines,” Budd- Falen testified.


In May of 2015, the Obama administration proposed new regulations to slow down listing petitions by requiring more scientific documentation and consultation with state wildlife agencies. However, Budd-Falen told WLJ that USFWS backed off on their proposal after receiving pushback from environmental groups. The revised proposal, she said, makes very little changes to the current procedures.

“Congress needs to fix [the ESA] so that there’s either an annual limit on petitions, or added flexibility on time frames,” she told WLJ.

Budd-Falen reported she has testified at least seven times on ESA problems over the years, but that so far Congress hasn’t enacted any reforms to the 1972 act. Several worthy bills have been introduced in recent years though, she said. They would have required more scientific rigor in ESA decisions; public posting of scientific documentation; capping of attorney fees; and specific involvement of state, local and tribal governments for species on their land.

“Congress has got to take away the cause of action— the courts can’t do it,” Budd- Falen said. “Congress has got to get its collective act together.” — Theodora Johnson, WLJ Correspondent

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Utah: Attorney General Reyes joins 15-state coalition, tells Congress to rein in federal agencies

Congress - Senate, Constitution, Federal gov & land grabs, State gov

Written by or for St. George News

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Congress aims to bolster local input on federal lands

Agriculture, Congress - Senate, Coordination process OR -- Fred K. Grant, Federal gov & land grabs

PNP comment: Coordination really could be a local government’s best friend. But it must be done correctly and the federal agencies must be held accountable and do this part to move forward. — Editor Liz Bowen

Western Livestock Journal

May 9, 2016

The clarion call for more local control over federal lands in the West is echoing, even in the far-off halls of Congress. Some lawmakers are calling for a transfer of lands to the states, while others are asking for improved laws and regulations on federal lands.

On April 26, the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a hearing on draft legislation designed to encourage the federal land management agencies to “more closely consult and cooperate” with local governments. Several western county commissioners and two high-level officials from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) testified on the draft bill, entitled the “Locallyelected Officials Cooperating with Agencies in Land Management Act” (the LOCAL Act).

The LOCAL Act’s provisions appear aimed at two primary goals: fostering relationships between federal agency officials and their local governments, and giving local governments more say over major federal actions. The draft bill specifically targets federal land acquisition as an action that would require local community support.

Engaging with local communities

“Federal agencies engaging in cooperative dialogue with local communities is just common sense,” said Jerrie Tipton, a Mineral County, NV, commissioner and rancher who testified at the hearing. “Unfortunately, the current practice is to make this kind of engagement a discretionary activity for the agencies. The sad fact is many federal officials simply choose not to engage.”

The LOCAL Act would require USFS and BLM officers to participate in the regular business meetings of local counties dominated by federal land; to be posted in the same region for at least three years; and to “coordinate” with and offer “cooperating agency status” to local governments on decisions that will affect the community.

Both of the agency officials posited that most of the bill’s communication and coordination provisions were unneeded.

“We have demonstrated our commitment to local coordination at every level of our organization throughout the country,” said USFS Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon, “and fully understand the critical role local government agencies play in land stewardship.”

Karen Mouritsen, a Deputy Assistant Director for the BLM, chimed in on behalf of her agency.

“Frequent communication and close collaboration are hallmarks of our work across the West,” Mouritsen said.

But several western members of Congress at the hearing argued that one of the chief complaints they get from their constituents is that the agencies don’t listen to the advice and concerns of the counties. Two county commissioners who testified affirmed that the LOCAL Act contains needed provisions to improve relationships between the federal agencies and local governments. 

Coordination and cooperation

The agency officials claimed that the “coordination” and “coordinating agency status” provisions of the LOCAL Act are unnecessary, as they duplicate existing federal laws. Indeed, a look at existing laws and regulations shows that the concepts are already on the books.

According to a white paper commissioned by Public Lands Council (PLC) in 2012, coordination is “a federally mandated process” required by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the National Forest Management Act of 1976 for BLM and USFS, respectively. Coordination calls for “negotiation on a government-to-government basis,” the white paper says, and requires the federal agencies to “seek consistency between federal land-use planning and local land-use plans and policies.” Although many local governments do not avail themselves of the coordination process, says the PLC white paper, it is already a federal requirement.

But when it comes to “cooperating agency status,” the LOCAL Act does seem to offer something new. This status is a special standing offered to local governments under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Currently, local governments may be granted this status by the lead federal agency, usually BLM or USFS. That’s where the LOCAL Act makes a significant departure: It declares that the lead federal agency “shall extend an offer, in writing,” to any local government that may have an interest in the proposed action.

Tipton said that being granted cooperating agency status is important to counties such as hers, because otherwise local government input is often “given the same weight as that of [nongovernment agencies]” when it comes to federal land management decisions.

Indeed, a cooperating agency is meant to have influence far above and beyond that of ordinary members of the public. Whether it’s for a land-use planning process or a project-specific NEPA analysis, having cooperating agency status makes local governments part of the “interdisciplinary team” responsible for putting together the NEPA analysis. That means working side-by-side with the BLM or USFS from early on, identifying important issues; determining what scientific data are needed for the analysis; helping to form alternatives; analyzing the impacts of the alternatives; and giving input on selecting the final alternative.

But NEPA does not require BLM or USFS to grant cooperating agency status— let alone proactively offer that status to local governments—when the agencies are thinking about taking a major action.

“In many cases, the onus is on the county to identify federal actions that may impact them and take all the steps necessary to initiate a cooperating agency agreement,” Tipton said. “Unfortunately, local staffing and budgetary realities mean it is simply unrealistic for … county governments to sift through hundreds of pages of federal publications every day and identify each agency action that may impact them.”

The LOCAL Act, Tipton said, offers a “common sense solution” by requiring the federal agencies to notify in writing local communities that could be impacted by agency actions, and offer them “a seat at the table” as a cooperating agency. Significantly, the draft bill also appears to pre-approve the local government entity as a cooperating agency.

Limiting federal land acquisition

The LOCAL Act would also give local governments more of a say when it comes to acquisition of more land by the federal government. Additionally, it would require the federal agencies to conduct a thorough study on the expected local economic impacts of a proposed acquisition. Weldon and Mouritsen indicated that neither agency supported these and other LOCAL Act provisions placing limits on land acquisition in the West. Tipton, however, said the provisions “[take] a positive step toward assessing the true costs of federal land acquisition…for the impacted counties in which the land is located.”

“This bill makes it clear that engaging, becoming a part of a community and consulting with those that are directly impacted by federal land management decisions is not going the extra mile; it is the bare minimum the federal government can do,” said Tipton. “I hope that today’s discussion will promote not just an exchange of information between federal agencies and local elected governments but also a true ongoing and collaborative working relationship.”

— Theodora Johnson, WLJ Correspondent

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Senate Judiciary Committee Approves R-CALF USA’s Request to Investigate Cattle Price Collapse

cattle, Congress - Senate

Senate Judiciary Committee Approves R-CALF USA’s Request to Investigate Cattle Price Collapse

Posted by R-Calf USA on

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016 @ 4:33PM

Billings, Mont. – In response to R-CALF USA’s January request, the Senate Judiciary Committee last week requested the Comptroller General of the United States to use his agency, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), to initiate an investigation into the 2015 cattle price collapse.

In a letter signed by the chairman and ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), respectively, along with the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), respectively, the GAO is asked to investigate the cause of the sudden 15.1 percent drop in fed cattle prices that occurred during the latter half of 2015.

“We are pleased the Judiciary Committee agrees that the evidence we provided regarding the dysfunctionality of our fed cattle market warrants a careful investigation into the current structure of our industry and our industry’s susceptibility to anticompetitive practices,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

The Judiciary Committee’s letter specifically requested the GAO to conduct “a review of the structure of the market and of any possible anticompetitive conduct.”

According to the agency’s Website, the GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency often called the ‘government watchdog’ because it investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. The Comptroller General of the United States, who heads the GAO, is appointed to a 15-year term by the President. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010.

“This is our last best chance to stop the chickenization of our cattle industry,” said Bullard, referring to the vertically integrated structure of the U.S. chicken industry that is under the complete control of large, corporate meatpackers.

“We don’t want our cattle industry to follow the chicken industry’s path and the only way to reverse our present trajectory towards it is to defend and protect competition in our cattle markets,” he added.

In 2010 the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Justice held joint hearings across the country during which both agencies indicated they would begin protecting competition in livestock markets by enforcing antitrust laws and the Packers and Stockyards Act, which prohibits anticompetitive conduct. However, no such actions have been initiated by either agency.

# # #

R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-25

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Sen. Mike Lee, Rep. Mia Love seek to ‘restore’ congressional power

Congress - Senate, Constitution

Published: Thursday, March 24 2016 7:40 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Republicans Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Mia Love were in their home state Thursday to promote an effort to “reclaim” Congress’ power from the executive branch.

Lee introduced the Article One Project as a “network” of House and Senate conservatives working together on a “new agenda of government reform” to restore power to Congress.

“The entire premise of the Article One Project is simple,” Lee told students at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics. “The federal government is broken. It’s not working in an optimal fashion, and congressional weakness is to blame. And I don’t mean accidental congressional weakness. I mean very deliberate congressional weakness.”

That’s because, Lee said, Congress has been losing its power for decades because politicians have willingly “handed over” their constitutional responsibilities to the executive branch’s regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

Today, more than 95 percent of federal laws are not passed by the House and the Senate and signed into law by the president, but instead they’re created and imposed by “unelected bureaucrats,” Lee said.

But the bureaucrats are only doing the jobs they were given, he said.

“Congress isn’t the victim here. Congress is the perpetrator,” Lee said. “Congress has cast itself as sort of the back-seat driver of our federal government.”

Last year, 580 bills passed out of the House and 100 went through the Senate to be written into law by the president, Love said. By comparison, regulatory agencies wrote 3,378 rules and laws that didn’t have to be passed by Congress.

Love called the federal regulatory agencies the “fourth branch of government that isn’t supposed to exist.”

“They don’t answer to anyone. They’re not elected by us. If we don’t like what they’re doing, it’s very difficult to reverse what they’re doing,” she said.

The Article One Project would focus on restoring congressional power in four key ways: “reclaiming Congress’ power of the purse; reforming legislative cliffs that unduly empower the executive (branch); reclaiming congressional authority over regulations and regulators; and reforming executive discretion,” according to the project’s policy brief.

Lee acknowledged it may sound “bizarre” to talk about empowering Congress when it’s one of the most distrusted institutions in the entire country.

“In many ways, we’re not even doing our job,” he said, noting the constant gridlock between Senate and House partisanship.

So why, then, should Americans trust Congress to enact effective regulations?

“It’s not because we’re smart. It’s not because we’re good looking. It’s not because we are particularly talented,” Lee said. “It’s because we work for you and you can replace us every two and six years. That’s the only reason. Congress is the only branch of government that is that directly accountable to the people.”

Love said she’s asking Washington to trust the people.

“The time has come where we can’t sit back and let Washington make the decisions for us anymore,” she said. “This is literally the American people not trusting Washington. So we have to show them that we’re willing to trust them. You’re not going to be able to save everyone from everything, but you’ve got to empower people again.”

Tim Chambless, a U. political science professor affiliated with the Hinckley Institute, said he doesn’t see the Article One Project gaining much traction because no Democrats have come forward to support the effort.

Chambless added that some don’t see the regulatory agencies as having too much power. Instead, the bureaucracies have grown as the nation’s population has grown, and the federal government needs a mechanism to implement and enforce its laws.

“(Conservatives) are talking about this right now because they are frustrated because of the gridlock, but meanwhile the bureaucracy continues to function,” he said, adding that it’s an election year for Love and Lee, and they could be pandering to voters who are also frustrated with the stalemate in Congress.

Lee spent all of Thursday speaking to Utahns about the Article One Project, traveling from the University of Utah to Utah Valley University to hold a forum at 3 p.m., then joining the national tea party organization FreedomWorks in Sandy at 7:30 p.m. for a grass-roots forum.


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