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Adam Dick

Sen. Bernie Sanders Exposes Bloated Military and Intelligence Spending

Sen. Bernie Sanders, in a US Senate floor speech Thursday explaining his “no” vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (HR 3304), exposes “wasteful, inefficient, and often fraudulent” Department of Defense spending. Sanders also addresses the bloated nature of US military spending compared to military spending by other governments as well as the tens of billions of dollars sucked yearly into US intelligence agencies’ “black budget.”
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Rep. Jim McGovern: 'It is Time to Get Out of Afghanistan'

Speaking on the United States House of Representatives floor Thursday, Rep. Jim McGovern delivered a comprehensive speech urging Congress to stop wasting $80 billion a year and Americans’ lives in US military action in Afghanistan. “It is time to get out of Afghanistan,” McGovern concluded.

McGovern’s speech follows compelling House floor speeches in October and November by Rep. Walter Jones, an RPI Advisory Board member, also calling for ending the twelve years and counting war.

Meanwhile, a bilateral security agreement being negotiated between US President Barack Obama and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai proposes keeping the US military in Afghanistan for ten or more years beyond the widely publicized end of 2014 termination date.
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New House Resolution Calls for Declassifying Secret Portion of 9/11 Report

Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) introduced a resolution this week in the House of Representatives urging President Barack Obama to declassify 28 pages of a joint House and Senate Intelligence Committee report that includes information concerning foreign governments' involvement in terrorist attacks in the US. The George W. Bush administration redacted the pages from the December 2002 report of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 2001.

The text of the resolution Jones, an RPI Advisory Board member, introduced along with cosponsor Rep. Stephen Lynch follows:
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House 'Improves' TSA Instead of Ending It

Following another Thanksgiving travel period with the Transportation Security Administration subjecting travelers to infuriating harassment, the House of Representatives leadership has scheduled for House floor consideration Tuesday three bills that will tinker with the TSA while allowing the harassment to continue. The three bills are the TSA Loose Change Act (HR 1095), the Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act (HR 2719), and the Aviation Security Stakeholder Participation Act (HR 1204)

All three bills are scheduled for consideration under suspension of the rules—a process generally reserved for noncontroversial legislation. Because bills considered under suspension of the rules are not subject to amendments on the House floor, the House Republican and Democrat leadership have enured there will be no debate or vote on amendments that would end or significantly restrict the TSA harassment.
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Rep. Walter Jones: Congress Should Decide if US Military Stays in Afghanistan

Rep. Walter Jones, speaking on the US House of Representatives floor yesterday morning, called on Congress to exercise its constitutional power over US military policy in Afghanistan. In particular, Jones insisted that Congress debate and vote on the matter instead of acquiescing to keeping the US military in Afghanistan for ten more years under a bilateral security agreement being negotiated by US President Barack Obama and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.
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Rep. Walter Jones: Stop Wasting American Money and Lives in Afghanistan

Rep. Walter Jones, an RPI Advisory Board member, presented last week on the House floor a short, powerful speech calling for ending US military action in, and the flow of Americans' tax money to, Afghanistan. Jones's speech focuses on continued US government spending in Afghanistan "at a time when America is drowning in debt" as well as recent killings of Americans in Afghanistan, including a father of two who had been stationed at a US Marines base in Jones's North Carolina district.
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House Republicans' Hollow 'Local Control of Education' Rhetoric

By guiding HR 2083, the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act, to the Floor Tuesday for passage by a voice vote, the House Republican leadership demonstrated the hollowness of the praise it heaped on local control of education when HR 5, the Student Success Act, passed in the House three months earlier.

The nice sounding but ominous in consequences Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act presents serious federalism, constitutional, and individual liberty concerns. The legislation standardizes nationwide -- and expands -- school-related background check policies that states have implemented. In particular, HR 2083 mandates fingerprinting, as well as state and FBI criminal background checking, of millions of school and local or state educational agency employees. The requirements also apply to any people who, because they work for private entities or public agencies with a school contract or agreement, have "unsupervised access" to students.
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Sen. Ron Wyden Warns of Fake Surveillance Reform and the Economic Harm of US Mass Spying

US Sen. Ron Wyden, in a Guardian article he wrote based on his speech at a Cato Institute event this week, reinforces RPI's warnings that efforts to reform the US government mass spying program "provide an excellent opportunity to make bad legislation worse" and that the spying "threatens American companies' business prospects in the international marketplace."
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Did Sen. Reid Let Slip Secret Plan to Use Navy Yard Killings as Excuse for New Medical Privacy Violations?

There is reason for concern that the US Congress and the National Rifle Association may soon  work together to use the Washington, DC Navy Yard killings earlier this week as an excuse to expand a US government database of all Americans' private medical information.

The day after the Navy Yard killings, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was talking about bringing expanded gun transfer background checks to a vote in the Senate. Bloomberg reports:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he’ll schedule another vote to expand firearms background checks “as quickly as we can” when enough members support the bill. Reid said at the moment, the Senate lacks enough votes to pass the legislation.

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House Passes Farm Bill With Partial Hemp Legalization

The US House of Representatives passed a new farm bill (H.R.2642) Thursday afternoon that would remove the US government prohibition on colleges and universities growing industrial hemp for research purposes in compliance with state laws. The partial removal of the US government prohibition on growing hemp included in H.R.2642 is the same as in Rep. Jared Polis's amendment that won a majority floor vote for inclusion in a previous House farm bill (H.R.1947) before that farm bill was voted down on the House floor.
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