New to the art form? This Wall Street Journal article will get you orientated. Also, for more information on how some of these titles mislead lawmakers and the citizenry, find some academic commentary from Brian Christopher Jones here: https://works.bepress.com/brian_jones/.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

EL CHAPO Invades US Congress

Not the real El Chapo, of course...but the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act has indeed been introduced in the US Senate. Senator Ted Cruz (R., TX) introduced the measure yesterday, which would provide money to build President Trump's proposed border wall through using assets forfeited as a result of high-profile criminal prosecutions (such as El Chapo). 

Mr. Cruz has also included a petition on his website where people can show support for the bill. A version of the press release is available below. 

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Sen. Cruz Introduces the EL CHAPO Act

BILL RESERVES BILLIONS IN POTENTIAL ASSETS FORFEITED AS A RESULT OF THE CRIMINAL PROSECUTION OF JOAQUIN ARCHIVALDO GUZMAN LOREA “EL CHAPO” AND OTHER DRUG LORDS TO PAY FOR BORDER SECURITY

April 25, 2017

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202-228-7561



WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today introduced the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act. The bill would reserve any amounts forfeited to the U.S. Government as a result of the criminal prosecution of “El Chapo” (formally named Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Lorea) and other drug lords for border security assets and the completion of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The U.S. Government is currently seeking the criminal forfeiture of more than $14 billion in drug proceeds and illicit profits from El Chapo, the former leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel who was recently extradited to the U.S. to face criminal prosecution for numerous alleged drug-related crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder and money laundering. 
“Fourteen billion dollars will go a long way toward building a wall that will keep Americans safe and hinder the illegal flow of drugs, weapons, and individuals across our southern border,” said Sen. Cruz. “Ensuring the safety and security of Texans is one of my top priorities. We must also be mindful of the impact on the federal budget. By leveraging any criminally forfeited assets of El Chapo and his ilk, we can offset the wall’s cost and make meaningful progress toward achieving President Trump’s stated border security objectives.”
On Friday, January 20, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that El Chapo will face charges following his extradition to the United States from Mexico. The U.S. Government has alleged that El Chapo was operating a continuing criminal enterprise and other drug-related crimes through his leadership of the Mexican organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel. The indictment alleges that between January 1989 and December 2014, El Chapo led a continuing criminal enterprise responsible for importing into the United States and distributing massive amounts of illegal narcotics and conspiring to murder persons who posed a threat to El Chapo’s narcotics enterprise.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Presidential Moniker: the No TRUMP Act

Representative Earl Blumenauer (D., OR) has introduced the No Taxpayer Revenue Used to Monetize the Presidency (No TRUMP) Act. The USA Today reports that the bill would "prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for events, overnight stays, food or other expenses at hotels owned or operated by a president or his relatives." 

According to the press release (see below), the measure "is an important check on the office of the presidency. It would ensure that there is no personal financial incentive by the current or any future president or his/her family to stay or hold official meetings or events at certain properties across the United States or abroad. In the interest of safety, the bill would allow the Secret Service to continue guarding Trump residences – Trump Towers in New York and Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach."

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Blumenauer Introduces Bill to Prevent Trump and His Family from Getting Wealthier from the Presidency

March 9, 2017 
Press Release
Washington, DC –  Today, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) introduced the No Taxpayer Revenue Used to Monetize the Presidency (No TRUMP) Act to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for events, overnight stays, food, or other miscellaneous expenses at hotels owned or operated by a president or his or her relatives.
“Trump and his family are riddled with conflicts of interests. Putting a strain on government resources for Trump to hold meetings with U.S. officials at Mar-a-Lago or for the Trump children to travel the world to promote the family business are just more examples,” said Blumenauer. “Presidents should not financially benefit from holding the office. No taxpayer money should be spent at Trump hotels. Period.”
The No TRUMP Act is an important check on the office of the presidency. It would ensure that there is no personal financial incentive by the current or any future president or his/her family to stay or hold official meetings or events at certain properties across the United States or abroad. In the interest of safety, the bill would allow the Secret Service to continue guarding Trump residences – Trump Towers in New York and Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.
“With new conflicts of interest arising almost daily within the current administration, Republican leadership in Congress has failed to follow through on the President's promise to ‘drain the swamp,’” said Aaron Scherb, Common Cause's director of legislative affairs. “We applaud Congressman Blumenauer's leadership in introducing this legislation to help ensure that the presidency cannot be used to enrich oneself.”

Thursday, March 9, 2017

HONEST(y) for the EPA?

Rep. Lamar Smith (R., TX) has introduced the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment (HONEST) Act of 2017, which according to its long title, would "prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible." 

But the proposal is controversial, and some groups are calling it "dishonest", noting that it "effectively prevents the EPA from using the weight of scientific evidence to protect public health and the environment."

The Bill is an updated version of Rep. Smith's Secret Science Reform Act of 2015.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

World's Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017

Wow. 

The official title of Pete Sessions's (R., TX) most recent health care proposal is indeed: World's Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017. To be clear, although it very much sounds like a Trump-backed measure, this is not the proposal backed by House Republicans—that Bill is known as the American Health Care Act. The former, however, is getting a lot of press

Alas, this is not even the first time Sessions has introduced the measure: he did so in 2016 as well. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It's not Obamacare...It's Americare!

House Republicans have unveiled their replacement for the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which is named the American Health Care Act. The proposal would eliminate the mandate that the ACA implemented as regards every citizen having health insurance, and would replace it with a system of tax credits. it will also halt the expansion of Medicaid the ACA provided for. 

However, the law would keep three significant ACA provisions: "the prohibition on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, the ban on lifetime coverage caps and the rule allowing young people to remain on their parents’ health plans until age 26."

Some Republicans are unhappy with the proposal, and have labelled it "Obamacare-lite" and "Obamacare 2.0." 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Obama's last-minute signing of the TALENT Act

The final law of the Obama era—signed at 11:07 am on January 20th, just before Donald Trump took the oath of office—was adorned with an acronym: Tested Ability to Leverage Exceptional National Talent (TALENT) Act of 2017. Put forward by House of Representative majority leader Kevin McCarthy (R., CA), the law is a bipartisan effort to continue to expand the role of technology in government. Although some of President Obama's efforts, such as the TPP, have already been abandoned by the Trump Administration, the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program will now need an Act of Congress to be done away with. 

Issie Lapowsky at Wired wrote an excellent piece on how the Act came to be signed by Obama in his final minutes as President.