Wait, where’d the Department of Education go?
The top 10 most-viewed bills on Congress.gov last week were all from the U.S. House of Representatives—and most of them will terrify progressives and enthuse conservatives.
Of the 10 most popular, the one House bill that wouldn’t give a liberal a heart attack is legislation that would keep President Donald Trump‘s controversial chief strategist, Steve Bannon, or any other political operatives from having a seat in the National Security Council, which Bannon already has.
Here are the six that are most likely to cause some liberal anxiety if they ever make it through to a full vote, which is highly unlikely.
1) H.R.861 – To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency.
This one-line bill would terminate the Environmental Protection Agency, as the title explains.
2) H.R.899 – To terminate the Department of Education.
And this one would eliminate the Department of Education.
3) H.R.367 – Hearing Protection Act of 2017
This bill, charmingly entitled “Hearing Protection Act of 2017,” would eliminate background checks and the $200 tax to purchase a gun silencer. Interestingly, the legislation actually calls them “firearm silencers,” while the preferred name in gun-rights advocates circles is “suppressors.”
4) H.R.1030 – Secret Science Reform Act of 2015
Introduced by climate change denier and House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), this bill (which literally has the word “secret” in its name) would keep the EPA from issuing a new rule until it looks at all “the best available science.”
5) H.J.Res.10 – Authorization of Use of Force Against Iran Resolution
6) H.R.610 – To distribute Federal funds for elementary and secondary education in the form of vouchers for eligible students and to repeal a certain rule relating to nutrition standards in schools.
Critics of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will likely blanch at a bill that would repeal the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and eliminate the requirement, backed by former First Lady Michelle Obama, that public schools serve more fruits, vegetables, and whole grain pasta.
Not gonna happen… probably
While Republicans are likely to cheer at the prospect of a majority in both the House and the Senate. But what Republicans don’t have is a supermajority in the Senate.
There are currently only 51 Republicans in the Senate, which means Republicans will need nine Senate Democrats to unite with them in order to kill a filibuster.
Of course, a small team of two or three Republicans could join Democrats and upend any of the more extreme measures coming at them from the House of Representatives. There will no doubt be Republican opposition to immediately terminating the work of two federal agencies, for example, both of which would result in jobs being lost and millions of dollars lost in federal grants, loans, and contracts to states. It’s likely that enough Republicans will realize that their state’s constituents receive Pell Grants, too, which the Department of Education administers. Surely enough Republican senators will realize that the EPA issues grants to states to clean up hazardous waste, as well as uphold clean-air and clean-water standards.
There may even be Republican opposition to starting a new war in Iran, which Congress would essentially be doing if it authorizes an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iran. Remember it was a mix of peace-minded House Democrats and anti-Obama Republicans that kept Congress from approving an AUMF in Syria, for example (though the Obama administration just ignored that and claimed it had powers under the post-9/11 AUMF for the Iraq War).
Given that both parties have a track record of being unable to cast aside partisan differences and work together for common good, it’s hard to believe they would be able to do so under Trump.
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