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House Legislative Update for June 20, 2014

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Capitol Hill was buzzing this week as leadership changes in the House approached.  With Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) stepping down from his post in just a month, votes were cast yesterday to fill the new leadership vacancies.  Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-California) will succeed Cantor as Majority Leader and Republican Study Committee Chair Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) won the hotly contested race for Majority Whip.  While all this action happened behind closed doors and by secret ballot, legislative action in the House continued.

Religious Liberty: Rep. Steve Scalise introduced H.R. 621, a resolution that seeks to reaffirm the commitment of the House of Representatives to the First Amendment to the Constitution.  Sent to the Judiciary Committee last week, this legislation stands in direct opposition to S.J. Res. 19, a bill designed to restrict free speech and gag those wishing to freely participate in the political process — all in the name of “legislative integrity” and “political equality.”  By supporting H.R. 621, the McCutcheon v. FEC decision that rightly advocated unmitigated political speech, including monetary actions, would be upheld.  As we witnessed in the Senate hearing last week, our fundamental “First Freedom” is at stake.  Call your representative and ask him/her to support and cosponsor H.R. 621.  Click here to find your representative.

Marriage: Congressman Randy Weber (R-Texas) recently sponsored the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 (H.R. 3829), a bill that affirms the rights of states to define marriage for their citizens without interference from the federal government.  Ensuring consistency among agencies, this act safeguards the United States v. Windsor decision while simultaneously protecting the sovereignty of the states.  Although many of our most faithful allies in the House have already signed on, this bill needs more support to gain the attention of leadership. Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) has been working diligently this week to gain critical cosponsors on this important piece of legislation.  Call your representative and ask him/her to cosponsor H.R. 3829.  Click here to find your representative.

Appropriations: The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, H.R. 4870, was debated on the House floor Wednesday and Thursday.  This bill provides $491 billion to our nation’s defense and will prohibit funds from being used to transfer prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay.  The House deliberated this measure for hours and tacked on a total of 71 amendments before its final passage.  It is critical that Congress not cut essential defense funding that could, in the end, compromise or threaten our national sovereignty while, at the same time, be diligent to reduce unnecessary spending where possible.

Veterans: On Wednesday, the House continued debate on a revised version of H.R. 3230, a bill designed to “improve the access of veterans to medical services from the Department of Veterans Affairs.” Having passed the House in its original version, the Senate added two amendments last week. Insisting on their recent changes, the Senate scheduled a conference between members of the House and Senate in hopes that, by the end, all differences will be reconciled and resolved. If this moves forward as prescribed, H.R. 3230 should pass both chambers in its final form soon.