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Capitol Connection: April 29 to May 5, 2006

A Weekly Update from Congress

Published: May 5, 2006

   

House Debates Gas Prices with Mixed Results

The House failed to pass a bill Wednesday that would have streamlined the permit process for new or rebuilt refineries in an effort to increase domestic gasoline production. The problem: The United States has not built a new refinery since the 1970s and must rely on expensive gasoline imports to meet current demand. Congressman Miller supported this measure, which garnered a majority of votes, 237 to 188, but failed to reach the two-thirds needed for passage. A second bill that punishes individuals and companies who illegally manipulate oil and gas prices passed the House, but if signed into law its enforcement could be delayed by months, even years. Instead of defining the term “price gouging,” the bill directs bureaucrats to decide what constitutes fraud at the pump, a process that can take years to complete. Congressman Miller, demanding immediate enforcement, voted against the measure, which passed anyway 389 to 34.

 

House Approves Cargo Screening at Ports

The House approved a plan on Thursday to screen nearly all cargo entering the United States for nuclear and biological hazards by next year. The Homeland Security Department currently inspects six percent of the 11 million cargo containers that enter U.S. seaports annually. Congressman Miller supported the measure, which passed 421 to 2.

 

Federal News Brief

Entitlement Agencies Headed to Bankruptcy. The trustees for the government's two biggest benefit programs said Monday that the trust fund for Social Security will be depleted by 2040, a year earlier than expected, while Medicare will exhaust its trust fund just 12 years from now. To keep both systems afloat, the federal government must borrow more money, raise taxes or cut benefits. Federal Fact of the Week. For the average taxpayer, April 26 is Tax Freedom Day—everything earned before this day represents their total annual tax bill.

 

Outrage of the Week

On Monday, many illegal immigrants participated in the “National Day of Action,” boycotting work and U.S. businesses to draw attention to the role of undocumented workers on the U.S. economy. Too bad their protest didn't include giving up government-paid social services—because a day without illegal aliens would be a boon to U.S. taxpayers. Consider their daily costs to the government:

  • $78.4 million to educate illegal immigrant children, not including the cost of free school lunches.

  • $95.9 million in lost tax revenue because of the growing size of the underground labor market using illegal workers in the cash economy.

  • $684,930 to reimburse states for emergency medical services provided to illegal aliens, which is less than 10 percent of the true cost of those services.

  • $7.7 million charged to Medicaid to care for illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children.

  • $4.9 million in court and incarceration expenses. Illegal aliens account for less than five percent of the U.S. adult population, but were 17 percent of the federal prison population in 2004.

Fortunately, Americans have seen through the protestors' half-truths. A recent poll showed widespread disfavor of recent immigration protests, with 26 percent holding a favorable opinion and 54 percent holding an unfavorable opinion.

   

Read more Outrages at the Outrage of the Week Archive

 
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