During his successful congressional campaign to represent Minnesota‘s Second District, Jason Lewis said just because you are in the same party you don’t work in lockstep — adding that he would be someone who is principled over party — in contrast to his opponent, Angie Craig, who he said would be a rubber stamp for Hillary Clinton.
With the 115th Congress officially in session on January 3rd, let’s see what Representative Lewis is doing to earn his $3,346.15 weekly salary.
Well, he has had an opportunity to vote on a number of bills and resolutions.
Such as when to start the workday — 2 PM on Mondays, noon on Tuesday (unless there was no legislative business on Monday, then it would be 2PM), noon on Wednesday and Thursday … but 9 AM on Friday – so they can get out of town early.
They had to elect a Speaker … and Representative Lewis joined all but one of his Republican colleagues to vote for Paul Ryan.
Besides the activities to start up the new Congress, they did approve a few things.
For example, H.R. 73 to require financial disclosure of contributions to Presidential … (don’t get excited, they did not address dark money being funneled in to campaigns) … no, the bill requires Presidential Libraries to disclose any contribution over $200.
Yeah, oversight of Presidential Libraries is a concern … after all there are 13 libraries being managed by the Office of Presidential Libraries. The cost of HR73 … $1 million over four years … but there is potential for offsets if any contribution was found to result in a political favor being granted. Funny thing is that these Presidential Libraries are typically non-profits and subject to filing IRS form 990 disclosing large donations; thus, whittling the amount down to $200 sounds like overkill.
Representative Lewis did not object to the work schedule or to increasing reporting of contributions to Presidential Libraries … but he did object to the federal government ( the Executive Branch) establishing rules that address the amount of lead in public drinking water.
Yep, during the first days of the new session, a top priority was to amend the Congressional Review Act by approving H.R. 26 Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017 (REINS Act). The REINS Act has long been a legislative priority for Koch Industries, as well as Koch-funded advocacy groups such as Americans for Prosperity, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
And the way in which the House wants to act is very interesting … considering their previously approved work schedule.
Under this bill, the House may only consider a resolution for a major rule on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. Keep in mind that typically 80 major rules are promulgated annually. Yet, there may be as little as just 15 days available to consider such measures based on the Majority’s legislative calendar for the current year.
Furthermore, REINS dictates that a “major rule shall not take effect unless the Congress enacts a joint resolution of approval”.
OK … you get it … the Constitution entrusts the writing of the laws to the legislative branch and the implementation of the laws to the executive branch … except now, the House must approve whatever implementation plan the Executive Branch promulgates — for “major rules.”
Which begs the question what is a “major rule” ?
For example, consider accounting of the greenhouse gas emission. If the rule increases carbon dioxide by a certain amount or increases the risk of certain health impacts to low-income or rural communities, is the rule defined as a “major rule” ?
Well, the House voted on that question … five Republicans said “Yes” but “Representative” Lewis and 228 other Republicans said “No” …
Or, what if the rule would result in reduced incidence of cancer, premature mortality, asthma attacks, or respiratory disease in children, is that considered a “major rule”.
Well, the House voted on that question … two Republicans said “Yes” but “Representative” Lewis and 231 other Republicans said “No” …
The question of lead in public water resulted in a similar result … Well, the House voted on that question … three Republicans said “Yes” but “Representative” Lewis and 230 other Republicans said “No” …
Hmmm … so the guy that told us he would be the independent voice for Minnesota … ya know, someone who is principled over party, well it seems his principles unwilling to buck party establishment or those that made an investment in his campaign … In case you missed it, in the closing days of the election, KOCH PAC made a $5,000 donation to the Jason Lewis campaign.
— Mac (@McPhersonHall) October 31, 2016
“Representative” Lewis also sponsored his first bill … H.R. 184 repealing the medical device excise tax.
Surely, you remember that the RNCC attacked Angie Craig for supporting such a repeal … yet the first bill to garner his support is a gift to the medical device industry.
OK … a little history here … while some Members of Congress pushed a bill to give a tax break to the industry, they failed to get it approved as a standalone bill … so instead, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, language was inserted to suspend the “onerous” 2.3% excise tax for two years (until December 31 2017) … now, HR 184 makes it permanent.
Why is it a “gift” … well, the industry had years to set prices based on the fact that the tax would be applied — now, they just charge the same price for an implantable device and don’t have to pay the tax. A “tax” that was really a “user” fee … if you get a knee replaced, you paid the tax — and the 2.3% fee was based on the product, having no impact on the doctor or hospital charges … and interestingly, in 2013, hip and knee replacements cost Medicare over $7 billion dollars in hospital costs. So unless, Medicare gets a 2.3% price cut, the industry has received a substantial “gift”.
The argument for repeal is based on jobs and increased investment in Research and Development … if so, Congress should be able to provide a listing of companies who have increased R&D and jobs (confirmed by SEC filings) that have occurred since the suspension went into effect. Thus far, the industry has offered a “survey” … of which 23% of the respondents said the repeal would have no impact on their business decisions.
BUT, HR 184 would have a big impact on the national debt … as the repeal does not have an offset … and CBO reports this will add $24.4 BILLION over the ten year budget period.
Yet, “Representative” Lewis has eagerly signed on as a sponsor.
For his first week on the job, “Representative” Lewis has proven to be a great friend to the Washington Establishment … something that has become quickly evident — who Jason Lewis “represents.”