Morning Action: The DREAM Act, a Backdoor Path to Amnesty

AMNESTY.  The Heritage Foundation explains that as the House debates yet another version of the DREAM Act today, conservatives have reason to be cautious because the legislation – which no one has seen yet – could contain amnesty:

Although no bill text is available — and might not be until after the August recess — a Judiciary Committee panel will hold a hearing this afternoon addressing the immigration status of an estimated 2.8 million illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children.

Even without legislative language, conservatives know enough about previous proposals to be skeptical. Over the past decade, both Democrats and Republicans have rejected numerous bills mirroring the DREAM Act.

Heritage’s Jessica Zuckerman warned that “Any DREAM Act legislation put on the table this time around is not likely to be different from these very proposals that Congress has tried and rejected in the past.”

OBAMACARE.  Even Democrats are becoming increasingly skeptical of Obamacare, and for good reason:

The landmark health-reform law passed in 2010 has never been very popular and always highly partisan, but a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that a group of once loyal Democrats has been steadily turning against Obamacare: Democrats who are ideologically moderate  or conservative.

Just after the law was passed in 2010, fully 74 percent of moderate and conservative Democrats supported the federal law making changes to the health-care system. But just 46 percent express support in the new poll, down 11 points in the past year. Liberal Democrats, by contrast, have continued to support the law at very high levels – 78 percent in the latest survey. Among the public at large, 42 percent support and 49 percent oppose the law, retreating from an even split at 47 percent apiece last July.

The shift among the Democratic party’s large swath in the ideological middle is driving an overall drop in party support for the legislation: Just 58 percent of Democrats now support the law, down from 68 percent last year and the lowest since the law was enacted in 2010. This broader drop mirrors tracking surveys by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation and Fox News polls, both of which found Democratic support falling earlier this year.

EPA.  The Environmental Protection Agency committed to release scientific data that is the basis for its air pollution regulations to the top senator on the Environment Committee; however, the House Science Committee chairman wants the EPA to publicize this data (sub. req’d):

Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Chris Stewart, R-Utah, are also seeking a commitment from regulators to cease using the studies to justify rule-making until they have “been made accessible in a manner sufficient for independent re-analysis.”

Earlier this month, the EPA agreed to provide the scientific research in response to demands by Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee. In exchange for agreeing to more transparency about its research practices, email policies and other matters, Vitter dropped support for a filibuster blocking Gina McCarthy’s confirmation as EPA administrator. The Senate voted 59-40 on July 18 to confirm McCarthy.

Those assurances to Vitter apparently did not appease Smith and Stewart, who claimed McCarthy has failed to follow through on a commitment to disclose the information that she first made to the committee in September 2011.

The House is also aiming to cut spending on President Obama’s global warming agenda (sub. req’d):

House GOP appropriators are taking aim at the Obama administration’s latest efforts to combat global warming and proposing deep funding cuts for the EPA, in a $23.4 billion fiscal 2014 Interior-Environment spending bill slated to be marked up in subcommittee Tuesday.

The bill unveiled Monday would bar the EPA and Interior Department from spending money to write and implement restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions by new and existing power plants and limits on the sulfur content of gasoline.

HUD SPENDING. The White House has threatened to veto the fiscal 2014 Transportation-HUD spending bill citing cuts to investments (sub. req’d):

The White House has issued a veto threat against the fiscal 2014 Transportation-HUD spending bill that could move to the House floor this week, saying the measure would cut too deeply into important infrastructure investments.

The $44.1 billion bill (HR 2610) would cut about 9 percent from post-sequester fiscal 2013 spending levels. That’s $9.6 billion less than the companion bill (S 1243) approved by Senate appropriators and $7.5 billion less than the White House requested.

“The bill severely undermines critical investments in economic and community development programs that drive local innovation, while also significantly reducing resources for public improvements, air traffic control infrastructure, affordable housing, as well as public services for low- to moderate-income families,” the White House said Monday in a Statement of Administration Policy. The statement said President Barack Obama’s advisers would recommend a veto.

Heritage’s Emily Goff explains that the THUD bill does not cut enough:

House appropriators recently approved the fiscal year (FY) 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) bill, setting the spending level at $44.1 billion—a $4.4 billion reduction from the FY 2013 post-sequestration level.

Senate appropriators have blown through the sequestration spending caps and approved their more costly, $54 billion THUD bill. The House should hold its ground and resist giving way to that higher spending level. Lawmakers in both chambers could also adopt the following reforms which, when fully implemented, would achieve $30 billion in additional budget savings.

Goff has also explained that TIGER [Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery] grants did not boost the economy as some on the Left have suggested; rather these grants took money out of the private sector and served to take power away from the states.

CR. House Republicans have begun discussions on the fiscal 2014 Continuing Resolution (CR), which could last for a matter of weeks or months (sub. req’d):

Republican appropriators in the House are starting to discuss potential terms for a stopgap funding bill to keep the government operating after September, even as both chambers gear up for a flurry of action this week on competing spending measures.

House Republicans say they are undecided so far on whether to press a simple extension at the fiscal 2013 level of roughly $988 billion for discretionary spending programs or to a stopgap bill at the roughly $967 billion level now demanded by federal law.

GOP appropriators will not work with the $1.058 trillion level for discretionary spending sought by Senate Democrats, according to Mike Simpson, a GOP appropriator and chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment.

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