This Week in Washington - November 14, 2011

The Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution and a bill to allow Americans to use conceal carry firearms permits over state lines are scheduled for votes in the House this week.  The Senate is expected to schedule a vote on the second “Mini-Bus” appropriations measure this week.  The Super Committee gets closer to the date they need to vote on a plan and they may increase taxes.

This week shall be very important for the conservative movement.

The House is considering two very important items this week – the Second Amendment and balancing the budget.  On Monday, the House has nine suspension votes scheduled on the following pieces of legislation:  H.R. 1791 – Courthouse naming bill; H.R. 588 – National wildlife refuge renaming bill; H.R. 2079 – Post office naming bill; H.R. 3004 Post office naming bill; S. 1412 – Post office naming bill; H.R. 298 – Post office naming bill; H.R. 2422 – Post office naming bill; H.R. 2660 – Post office naming bill; and, H.R. 2415 – Post office naming bill. 

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday the House will be in to consider H.R. 2838 – Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act, H.R. 674 – 3% withholding tax bill as amended by Senate, H.R. 822 – National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, H.J. Res. 2 – Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution (BBA) and potential action on the conference report accompanying H.R. 2112. 

H.J Res. 2 is a weakened version of a BBA and House Republicans have settled on the weak BBA in an attempt to pick up a few Democratic votes.  By weak BBA I mean one that strips the supermajority requirement to increase taxes and removes a cap on government spending at 18% of the economic output of the United States. 

I wrote in Human Events today that the weak BBA may be an example of the GOP snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Last week, House Republicans tentatively agreed to put on the floor a weakened version of a BBA, H.J. Res. 2, sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R.-Va.).  They are trying to get enough Democrats to support a weaker BBA so that they can get some BBA passed by the needed two-thirds vote.  Conservatives may want to consider fighting this.

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform told Human Events that a squishy BBA will provide protection for moderate Democrats going into a tough re-election year.

While many moderate Democrats will vote for a weak BBA, most Democrats will vote against a robust BBA, and that opens those in moderate districts to the possibility of defeat on this issue.

H.R. 822 is a conceal carry bill introduced by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Heath Shuler (D-NC) would allow citizens to carry firearms out of state.  Gun Owners of America has some concerns about the Stearns-Shuler bill and prefers the approach in H.R. 2900 introduced by Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA).  This will be a fascinating Second Amendment vote in the House and we shall see if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will schedule a vote on this bill when it passes the House.

The Senate will be debating a Mini-Bus appropriations measure.  On Tuesday, the Senate will vote on the nominations of Sharon Gleason to be U.S. District Judge for Alaska and Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers to be U.S. District Judge for Northern California.  The Senate will then be considering H.R. 2354, the Energy and Water Appropriations measure, and that bill is expected to carry another bloated Mini-Bus appropriations spending bill. 

The Super Committee has just over a week to find common ground to cut between $1.2 and $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.  President Obama admonished the Committee to “bite the bullet” and raise revenue (i.e. taxes).  Conservatives need to watch the Super Committee closely to see if they agree to tax increases as part of any deal.