"Like most Americans I was outraged by the recent revelations that Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials abused their power. The disclosure that the IRS targeted conservative organizations has put a bright focus on the immense power federal bureaucrats from hundreds of different agencies have over matters small and large today. When these officials abuse their power and waste tax dollars, the economy slows, the rule of law is threatened and our liberty eroded.
"Each year, federal agencies issue hundreds of regulations, covering everything from domestic energy production to what kind of ceiling fan you can buy to rules governing magicians who use bunny rabbits in their acts.
"These rules are not approved by your elected leaders who are accountable to their constituents. These same agencies then have the power to enforce the regulations they themselves wrote. And often they even have the power to judge whether the accused is actually guilty. The penalty for violations can range from monetary fines to seizure of property to jail time.
"When confronted by agency officials who enforce all these rules, citizens can quickly find that they have few rights and little recourse. Career government officials who are caught abusing their power are often simply put on leave -- with pay! Even when federal officials are not abusing their power, it has become nearly impossible for the average citizen to navigate the typical agency bureaucracy and get even simple answers to simple questions. And each year agencies squander our precious tax dollars by hosting lavish conferences for their employees.
"To top it all off, under Obamacare the IRS -- the same agency that has leaked confidential taxpayer information, targeted groups based on their political beliefs, and even told groups that they had to give up their First Amendment rights -- has gained new powers to collect information about whether you have health insurance and the type of health insurance you have. The IRS will then determine whether your insurance meets the government's standards and if not, impose a penalty on you.
"Last week, the House debated and passed a series of bills designed to put the brakes on government over-reach and, in some cases, outright abuse.
"Some people have labeled last week, "Stop Government Abuse' Week in the House of Representatives. I would rather refer to it as "Common-Sense Week' and I hope the Senate follows our lead, passes these bills, and transfers power from federal bureaucrats back to the people."
Frelinghuysen Visits Israel
Rodney returned yesterday from an official visit to the State of Israel with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27). Together they met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, and defense leadership officials. The trip was undertaken to examine the current security relationship between the United States and Israel. As continued threats of violence linger, specific security talks examined the implications for a nuclear Iran, the humanitarian crisis in Syria, political instability in Egypt and the current state of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
"The State of Israel has long been one of the United States' closest allies in the Middle East and around the world," Frelinghuysen said. "It is our responsibility to closely examine threats posed by violent extremists to our mutual interests of freedom, democracy and regional stability."
Rep. Frelinghuysen joined former Chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and current Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for the trip. Rep. Frelinghuysen is a member of the Appropriations Committee and serves as Chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Vice-Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. He also serves as the Defense Appropriations liaison to the House Select Intelligence Committee.
"Common-Sense Week" legislation:
Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care -- Did you know that the IRS has a role in nearly 50 different aspects of Obamacare? Their involvement is so extensive that they have established an office within the IRS just to implement Obamacare. H.R. 2009, authored by Rep. Tom Price (GA) prevents the IRS from implementing any portion of Obamacare. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 232 -- 185.
Keep Bureaucrats from Slowing the Economy and Lowering Wages -- Each year federal agencies issue dozens of economically significant regulations which are estimated to have an impact on the economy of greater than $100 million. H.R. 367, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, authored by Rep. Todd Young (IN), requires Congressional approval of regulations that cost over $100 million. Rodney is a cosponsor of this common-sense measure which passed the House by a vote of 232-183.
Stop Government Abuse Act - introduced by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (MO), H.R. 2879 included a series of bills passed by the House of Represenatives by a vote of 239-176. The series of bills included:
Citizen Empowerment Act -- Federal agencies not only write rules, they also get to enforce them. In fact, it was recently noted that "a citizen is 10 times more likely to be tried by an agency than by an actual court. In any given year, federal judges conduct roughly 95,000 adjudicatory proceedings, including trials, while federal agencies complete more than 939,000." In these proceedings, citizens have fewer rights than in a courtroom. The Citizen Empowerment Act, H.R. 2711, authored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (MO), ensures that individuals have the right to record their meetings and telephone exchanges with federal regulatory officials engaged in enforcement activities and requires that individuals be notified of such right.
Common Sense in Compensation Act -- Federal agencies routinely award significant annual bonuses to virtually all of their senior managers. H.R. 1541, sponsored by Rep. Mark Meadows (NC), would not only place limits on the size of bonuses but also limit the number of senior agency employees who may receive bonuses in any given year.
Government Employee Accountability Act -- Even when a senior federal official is under investigation for serious misconduct, agencies have little disciplinary recourse except to put them on paid leave, where they can continue to collect a paycheck for months and even years. H.R. 2579, authored by Rep. Mike Kelly (PA), allows agencies to place employees on unpaid leave when they are under investigation for certain serious offenses.
Government Customer Service Improvement Act -- Government is one of the few areas where entity and personnel reviews are not linked to actual level of service provided. H.R. 1660, sponsored by Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX), requires agencies to adopt customer service standards and to hold their organization and federal workers accountable. This bill passed the House on August 1, 2013 by a voice vote.
Government Spending Accountability Act -- It seems that every week another federal agency is in the news for wasting taxpayer money on another lavish conference. H.R. 313, sponsored by Rep. Blake Farenthold, (TX) increases transparency with respect to taxpayer-funded conference, places limits on federal conferences, and requires agency head approval for the most expensive conferences. The House adopted this reform bill by a voice vote.
Stop Targeting Our Politics IRS Act -- H.R. 2565, sponsored by Rep. Jim Renacci (OH), would allow the termination of employment of IRS employees who use their official position for political purposes. The measure passed the House by a voice vote.
Stop Playing on Citizen's Cash Act -- The IRS continues to hold conferences even though it has failed to adopt the reforms recommended by the independent Inspector General to prevent abuse and protect taxpayer funds. H.R. 2769, sponsored by Rep. Peter Roskam (IL), imposes a moratorium on IRS conferences until the IG's recommendations are implemented. The legislation passed the House by a voice vote.
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights -- H.R. 2768, sponsored by Rep. Peter Roskam (IL), amends the authorizing law that creates the position of IRS Commissioner to make clear that it is the duty of the Commissioner to ensure that Internal Revenue Service employees are familiar with and act in accord with certain enumerated taxpayer rights, including a right to privacy and confidentiality. The House approved this measure by a voice vote.