Brian Higgins on Technology
Democratic Representative (NY-27)
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Waxman, D-CA]: This bill will cripple National Public Radio, public radio stations, and programming that is vital to over 27 million Americans. We are now voting to deny the public access to one of our Nation's most credible sources of news coverage. This bill does not save a penny. This legislation does not serve any fiscal purpose, but it does serve an ugly ideological one. This legislation is not about reforming NPR. It is about punishing NPR. It is vindictive, it is mean-spirited, it is going to hit the smallest stations in rural areas particularly hard. Public radio is indispensable for access to news that's hard to get, especially where broadband service is limited.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. RICK BOUCHER (D, VA-9): Fully 6.5 million households are totally unprepared for the transition on February 17; these 6.5 million households will lose all of their television service, and that number represents about 5.7% of the total American television viewing public. If almost 6%of the nation's households lose all of their television service, I think that most people would declare that the digital television transition has been a failure. In recognition of that reality, this legislation would delay the transition until June 12.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. JOE LINUS BARTON (R, TX-6): The majority is trying to fix a problem that I do not think really exists. We have sent out 33 million coupons: 22 million of those coupons have been redeemed, and 11 million coupons are outstanding. The outstanding coupons are being redeemed, I think, by about 500,000 a week, something like that. In my opinion, you could keep the hard date and not have a problem, but if you think there is a problem, it is not from lack of money. We have appropriated $1.3 billion. About half of that is still in the Treasury, so the redemption rate is only about 52%. Even though we are delaying this until June 12 if this bill becomes law, according to the acting chairman of the FCC, 61% of the television stations in America are going to go ahead and convert to digital. 143 television stations already have converted, and in those areas where they have converted, I am not aware that there has been a huge problem.
Rep. LANGEVIN. One issue that has been repeatedly addressed is whether telecommunications companies should be granted immunity against pending lawsuits for their involvement in the earlier surveillance program. This legislation preserves a role for the U.S. court system to decide independently whether the telecommunications companies acted in good faith. Only after that review would the courts decide whether the telecommunications companies deserve any form of liability protection.
Opponents argument for voting NAY: Rep. LEVIN. I oppose this bill because of the provisions that would confer retroactive immunity on the telecommunications companies that participated in the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program. It sets a dangerous precedent for Congress to approve a law that dismisses ongoing court cases simply on the basis that the companies can show that the administration told them that its warrantless surveillance program was legal. A program is not legal just because the administration claims that it is.
Rep. NADLER. The House must decide today whether to uphold the rule of law & the supremacy of the Constitution or whether to protect & reward the lawless behavior of the administration and of the telecommunications companies that participated in its clearly illegal program of spying on innocent Americans. The bill is a fig-leaf, granting blanket immunity to the telecom companies for illegal acts. It denies people whose rights were violated their fair day in court, and it denies the American people their right to have the actions of the administration subjected to fair & independent scrutiny.
Veto message from President Bush:
This bill lacks fiscal discipline. I fully support funding for water resources projects that will yield high economic and environmental returns. Each year my budget has proposed reasonable and responsible funding, including $4.9 billion for 2008, to support the Army Corps of Engineers' main missions. However, this authorization bill costs over $23 billion. This is not fiscally responsible, particularly when local communities have been waiting for funding for projects already in the pipeline. The bill's excessive authorization for over 900 projects and programs exacerbates the massive backlog of ongoing Corps construction projects, which will require an additional $38 billion in future appropriations to complete. This bill does not set priorities. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.
The strong anti-government sentiments of the early 1990s have subsided, but most Americans still think government is too bureaucratic, too centralized, and too inefficient.
In Washington and around the country, a second round of “reinventing government” initiatives should be launched to transform public agencies into performance-based organizations focused on bottom-line results. Many public services can be delivered on a competitive basis among public and private entities with accountability for results. Public-private partnerships should become the rule, not the exception, in delivering services. Civic and voluntary groups, including faith-based organizations, should play a larger role in addressing America’s social problems.
When the federal government provides grants to states and localities to perform public services, it should give the broadest possible administrative flexibility while demanding and rewarding specific results. Government information and services at every level should be thoroughly “digitized,” enabling citizens to conduct business with public agencies online.
A bill to facilitate nationwide availability of 2-1-1 telephone service for information and referral on human services & volunteer services. Congress makes the following findings:
Introductory statement by Sponsor:
Sen. CLINTON: In the immediate aftermath of the devastation of September 11, most people did not know where to turn for information about their loved ones. Fortunately for those who knew about it, 2-1-1 was already operating in Connecticut, and it was critical in helping identify the whereabouts of victims, connecting frightened children with their parents, providing information on terrorist suspects, and linking ready volunteers with victims.
Every single American should have a number they can call to cut through the chaos of an emergency. That number is 2-1-1. It's time to make our citizens and our country safer by making this resource available nationwide.
Congressional Summary: TIGER Grants for Job Creation Act: Congress finds the following:
Opponent's argument against bill:(The Reason Foundation, July 6, 2012):
The US Constitution authorizes Congress "to regulate Commerce...among the several States." However, the five non-motorized transportation projects, the six transit projects and the six multimodal projects TIGER Grants have funded serve no national need. Some of the port, passenger rai
Congressional Summary: Scientific Research in the National Interest Act: This bill directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award federal funding for basic research and education in the sciences only if the grant promotes the progress of science in the United States, is worthy of federal funding, and is in the national interest.
Support on GovTrack.us: Lead sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX-21)--chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee--noted the millions of dollars the NSF has doled out for purposes he considers less than worthwhile. In particular, he cited a few examples he considered particularly egregious, including:
Opposition on GovTrack.us: The Science Committee's ranking member, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30) called the bill anti-science. She wrote, "Most Members of Congress lack the relevant expertise to fairly evaluate the merits of any particular grant. If we do not trust the Nation's scientific experts to make that judgement, then who are we to trust?" Johnson also noted that the NSF already has a rigorous review process, only funding about 1/5 of grant proposals.
White House Opposition: Contrary to its stated purpose, [HR.3293] would add nothing to accountability in Federal funding for scientific research, while needlessly adding to bureaucratic burdens and overhead at the NSF. It would replace the clarity of the [current rules implemented in] 1950, with confusing language that could cast a shadow over the value of basic research.
Legislative outcome: Passed House 236-178-26 (roll call 70, CR H684) on 2/11/16; bill died in Senate committee. The White House had threatened to veto the bill if it passed the Senate.
Summary by Vox.com: The US House of Representatives just passed a bill to bring Obama-era net neutrality rules back to the internet. This time, they want to make these regulations law so the Federal Communications Commission can’t overturn them easily. President Trump has said he will veto the bill should it make it to his desk. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the bill "dead on arrival in the Senate".
Statement in support by Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA-16): "The internet has a profound impact on America's economy and the social fabric of our nation. It is an important tool to connect individuals to each other and businesses with consumers, said Costa. "Ensuring a free and open internet, with equal access to all, is essential if we are to preserve the American dream."
Statement in opposition by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC-8): "If this legislation became law, the Internet would be slower, more expensive, less free and controlled by Washington," said Rep. Hudson. "This would hurt our rural communities the most. I'll continue to work to keep the Internet free from government intervention and open."
Statement in opposition by Rep. Don Bacon (R-NC-8): "Previous regulations led to additional expenses for 80% of providers in rural areas leading to delayed or reduced network expansion and services," said Rep. Bacon. "This bill would also lay the groundwork for the government for eventually taxing the internet." The internet is now operating under the same regulations that governed, and facilitated its expansive growth, from the mid 1990's until 2015. Some Democrats predicted that the return of those regulations would lead to limited access of the internet. None of those scenarios came true.
Legislative outcome: Bill passed House 232-190-10 on April 10, 2019, rollcall #167. [The 116th Congress terminated with no Senate action on this bill].
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