12.01.2014 1

Six defunds Congress can take up right now

fundit_ownit

By Rick Manning and Robert Romano

Americans for Limited Government supports Congress passing a short-term continuing resolution in the lame duck session with a longer term funding bill passed by the newly elected members next year.

Current funding for the fiscal year expires on December 11. Kicking funding questions into 2015 would maximize the incoming Republican majority’s ability to make an immediate impact, and deny outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) a seat at the table.

But whatever the length of the funding measure — Congress is said to be working on a year-long omnibus bill — there is still much that can be accomplished in the context of the December continuing resolution.

Here are six defund items that we believe Congress should pursue immediately.  Note, this list does not include the health care law or Obama’s executive amnesty, which would undoubtedly prompt a presidential veto.

These might be vetoed, too, but we would leave it to the White House to explain why it thought shutting down the government two weeks before Christmas was so important.

  1. Stop the Internet Giveaway:  A defund amendment offered by Rep. Sean Duffy successfully passed the House as part of the Commerce, Science, and Justice appropriations bill in 2014 with 229 Members voting in favor of it.

H.AMDT.767 to H.R.4660 “An amendment to prohibit the use of funds to relinquish the responsibility of the NTIA with respect to Internet domain name system functions, including responsibility with respect to the authoritative root zone file and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions. “

Sponsor: Rep Duffy, Sean P. [WI-7] (introduced 5/29/2014

Latest Major Action: 5/30/2014 House amendment agreed to. Status: On agreeing to the Duffy amendment (A078) Agreed to by recorded vote: 229 – 178 (Roll no. 264).

Why this is important now:  The Obama Administration intends to relinquish U.S. control over the operation of the Internet with the likely effect being that the current vendor who holds the U.S. contract — the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) — would keep it without the oversight or review of the U.S. Government.

Americans for Limited Government filed a FOIA request trying to determine what legal authority exists for this dramatic action.

FOIA interim response: http://getliberty.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/DOC-NTIA_FOIA-Responsive-Docs-Set1.pdf

Original FOIA request: http://getliberty.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/DOC-NTIA-FOIA-re-ICANN-03-27-14.pdf

This is the same legal analysis that Wall Street Journal columnist Gordon Crovitz had requested from the agency back in March: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303802104579453263393882136

ALG had requested “All records relating to legal and policy analysis developed by or provided to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that support its decision to ‘transition key internet domain name functions,’ including any analysis showing whether the NTIA has the legal authority to perform the transition.”

We’re still awaiting the full response. So far, the agency has not claimed any exemptions under FOIA, raising the question if any legal analysis was done by the administration at all on whether it has the authority to perform the transfer of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions and administration of the DNS from a government contract to a private entity. We believe it would take an act of Congress.

Article IV of the Constitution states, “The Congress shall have power to dispose of … property belonging to the United States.” Under the Commerce Department’s current contract with ICANN, which provides for the administration of the IANA on behalf of the U.S. Government, it states,  “All deliverables under this contract become the property of the U.S. Government.”

Those deliverables include “technical requirements for each corresponding IANA function,” “performance standards in collaboration with all interested and affected parties … for each of the IANA functions,” and “a fully automated root zone management system … [that] must, at a minimum, include a secure (encrypted) system for customer communications; an automated provisioning protocol allowing customers to manage their interactions with the root zone management system; an online database of change requests and subsequent actions whereby each customer can see a record of their historic requests and maintain visibility into the progress of their current requests; and a test system, which customers can use to meet the technical requirements for a change request; an internal interface for secure communications between the IANA Functions Operator; the Administrator, and the Root Zone Maintainer,” among other items.

As for the IANA itself, that presumably reverts to the Commerce Department upon termination of the contract: “the Government may terminate the contract for default.” The contract even provides for the possibility of IANA being performed by another entity: “In the event the Government selects a successor contractor, the Contractor shall have a plan in place for transitioning each of the IANA functions to ensure an orderly transition while maintaining continuity and security of operations.”

The key question is how can Commerce terminate the current contract or award it to somebody besides ICANN unless Commerce itself retains the contractual rights to administer the IANA?

With the contract set to expire on September 30, the December government funding bill may prove to be the last opportunity to force a delay on this illegal transfer.

Other articles and analysis of the issue are available upon request or at www.netrightdaily.com

The existing contract with ICANN is set to expire in September.  Failure to either extend or re-let that contract in the interim legally places these responsibilities into the ill-prepared Commerce Department bureaucracy.  President Obama has promised to relinquish these responsibilities altogether compromising the current First Amendment protections over Internet governance in favor of an unaccountable international model.  Failure to act effectively allows the U.S. to lose control over Internet governance, which can never be regained.

  1. Defunding HUD regulation that wipes out local zoning for cities/towns/counties that take Community Development Block grants: Rep. Paul Gosar and Sen. Mike Lee have language to block the on-going implementation of a HUD regulation that obliterates local zoning authority for communities which take federal community development block grants. The Gosar amendment stripping funding from the House HUD appropriation passed on a 219 -207 vote.

H.AMDT.813 to H.R.4745 “Amendment to prohibit use of funds to implement, administer, or enforce the proposed rule entitle “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing”, published by HUD on July 19, 2013 in the Federal Register.”

Sponsor: Rep Gosar, Paul A. [AZ-4] (introduced 6/9/2014)      Cosponsors (None)

Latest Major Action: 6/10/2014 House amendment agreed to. Status: On agreeing to the Gosar amendment (A036) Agreed to by recorded vote: 219 – 207 (Roll no. 285).

Why this is important now:  This regulation has been delayed until December, and failure to rein it in before it takes full root will create havoc with local zoning as federal officials impose race-based housing quotas on unsuspecting local communities overriding their authority.

  1. Eliminate the authorization allowing the IMF access of up to $100 billion from the U.S. Treasury without gaining additional Congressional approval: One of the 2009 Congress’ responses to the fiscal crisis was to allow the Treasury Secretary to sign off on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) accessing up to $100 billion directly from the U.S. Treasury without any additional congressional authorization.  The IMF has accessed about $13 billion already, and Congress should close this authorization.

Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers had this bill in the 112th Congress and garnered more than 90 co-sponsors for it.  Unfortunately, she never introduced the legislation in the 113th Congress.

This is an obvious area where Congress can pull back some of the executive branch authority that was ceded in the past, and show the American public that it protected the Treasury.

Why this is important now: The virtual open check book that Obama, Reid, and Pelosi granted the IMF through the creation of the New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) account puts the U.S. Treasury at constant risk of being raided.  Rescinding this authority now would reset the relationship between Congress and the Executive Branch with minimal consequences.

Being able to argue that Republicans protected taxpayers from an almost $100 billion raid by the IMF to bailout the banks that financed failed European socialist states is compelling and meaningful.  Should the President want additional funds for the IMF to loan, he should come to Congress and request them.

It is critical that this relationship between the two branches of government be reset, and that the legislative branch to reestablish its power of the purse.  Few actions would do this as forcefully, and there are few domestic constituencies that would push back aside from those who read the Financial Times.

  1. NLRB Quickie Election Rulemaking Defund: It is anticipated that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will finalize a rule allowing as little as a ten day turnaround for union organizing elections.  Defunding all activity on this rule prior to its finalization would stymie this gross violation of employer rights.

There was not a House vote on defunding the finalization of this rule, and language would need to be developed.

Why this is important now: The NLRB is expected to act on the rule before the end of 2014 due to the ending of Democrat Member Nancy Schiffer’s term in office on December 16, 2014.  Schiffer’s tenure ending leaves the Board with a likely two to two tie on this regulation blocking it from going forward.  Delaying a defunding of this action will allow its likely implementation damaging employer rights to make a legal case against unionization to their employees.

  1. IRS cuts and riders as proposed by the House Appropriations Committee: In June, the House Appropriations Committee proposed cutting the IRS budget $341 million and included a number of policy riders that would rein in the out of control agency. These cuts and policy riders are needed to end this Administration’s continuing weaponization of the IRS.  While the Agency postponed its attempt to regulate conservative 501(c)(4)s out of existence due to an overwhelming response in opposition, formally stopping the Agency from revisiting that effort through the funding process would put an emphatic end to this abuse of power.

Why this is important now: This Administration’s lawless abuse of power against citizens trying to exercise their First Amendment right to political expression must have a cost attached to it.  Failure to create a real cost to the IRS for their actions effectively allows the bureaucracy to assume that they are back to business as usual.  Given the IRS stonewalling of federal courts on pertinent emails it is clear that this lesson has not been learned.  Our nation cannot tolerate an IRS that is used by any Administration for political purposes, and their funding is the only place that Congress can send this message forcefully and clearly.

  1. Defund or delay implementation of the EPA Power Plant rule: No one is more aware of the importance of defunding or delaying this rule than incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).  Americans for Limited Government supports his efforts to stop the destruction of our nation’s reliable electricity grid through this attack on coal burning utilities, a rule that goes into effect in June.

Why is this important now: The EPA plans even more devastating rules for the upcoming two years, and the President’s promise to continue destroying our nation’s economy through misguided environmental policies was reiterated in China recently.  Congress simply cannot allow him to destroy the hope for a 21st century American economic renaissance through his continued war on real energy sources.

Rick Manning is the vice president of public policy and communications of Americans for Limited Government. Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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