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Does the House Leadership Really Want to Rein In Obama?

The House GOP leadership talks a lot about "reining in" President Obama's abuse of executive powers; yet last week they blocked two amendments to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have rolled back President Obama's power to violate our civil liberties and unilaterally keep US troops involved in overseas military actions.
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House Votes to Keep Paying for ISIS War It Neither Debated Nor Authorized

The US House of Representatives on Friday again voted to pay for war on the Islamic State (ISIS) without ever having a debate and vote on the authorization of the war. This result is par for the course given the House leadership is well practiced in manipulating House rules to scuttle efforts by Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and James McGovern (D-MA), as well as by other House members, to ensure that the legislative branch fulfills its constitutional responsibility to decide when the US government uses military force.

By barring war debates and votes, the House leadership ensures the continued legislative rubber-stamping of the wars the executive branch unilaterally pursues.

The authorization of funding for the ISIS War that the House approved Friday is included in the massive National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016 (HR 1735) that covers funding authorization for the Department of Defense generally. This leaves any representative who voted for the legislation with the ability to deny responsibility for the ISIS War by saying he voted for the NDAA just to advance some combination on other provisions in the bill.
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Rep. Walter Jones: Congress Should Debate Nine More Years in Afghanistan

Speaking Tuesday on the United States House of Representatives floor, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) again urged Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibility by debating and voting on if the United States government will continue militarily intervening in Afghanistan for nine more years.

Referring to Afghanistan as “well known by historians as the graveyard of empires,” Jones, a Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Advisory Board member, details the high cost in thousands of US troops killed, tens of thousands more US troops wounded, and hundreds of billions of dollars spent by the US government in the first 14 years of the Afghanistan War. Jones proceeds to note that a new bilateral security agreement President Barack Obama has entered into with Afghanistan “ties us — our nation — to a failed policy for another nine years.”
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Bipartisan Group of Senators Beginning Push for Big Increase in US Military Spending

There is no doubt that the US government engages in extraordinary military and “national security” spending. In February, a Washington Post article cited an International Institute for Strategic Studies report ranking US “defense spending” at four and a half times that of China (the next biggest spender), close to matching China and the next 13 nations combined, and more than a third of the total defense spending of all nations. As explained by Ron Paul Institute Academic Board Member Robert Higgs, even such calculations far understate US national security spending by focusing on the Department of Defense base budget while neglecting to include significant expenses including, for example, separately allocated war spending and US Department of Energy spending on the nuclear weapons program.

Despite this vast spending dwarfing that of other nations around the world, Alexander Bolton reports in the The Hill on Saturday that a bipartisan group of US Senators is focusing on gaining Senate approval for increased military spending beyond 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) limitations when appropriations legislation is considered later this year.
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Congressional Leaders Subverting Regular Procedure to Rush Through Fast Track Authority?

Is fast track being fast tracked? George Zornick at the Nation today suggests that the fast track authority for President Barack Obama to enter the United States into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive, wide-scope international agreement, may soon be rushed through Congress without adequate opportunity for Congress members and the American people to consider the matter. This circumvention of regular process in Congress and of public scrutiny should not be a surprise given that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) support the granting of this presidential power that Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), a Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board member, calls “absolutely a threat on our Constitution, on our sovereignty.”
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Reps. McGovern and Jones to Force House Vote on War in Iraq and Syria

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), in an interview Tuesday with the Daily Hampshire Gazette, revealed his plan to introduce, along with Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), a privileged resolution in the US House of Representatives that will require a prompt vote regarding the war on the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria. While Congress has voted to spend some funds on part of the war, there has been no floor vote in the House or Senate regarding authorization of the war since President Barack Obama started bombings in August. The resolution would be introduced after the April 13 return of House members from recess to Washington, DC.
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God Save the Queen (of the Hill)?

Today, the House of Representatives will vote on the Fiscal Year 2016 budget. As is custom, there will be a series of votes on various substitute budgets, including substitutes offered by the Congressional Black Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, the Democratic Leadership, and the conservative Republican Study Committee.

There will also be two official Republican budgets....why two? Because the budget passed out of the House budget committee "only" spends $613 billion on defense in FY2016 and "only" increases defense spending by $387 billion over ten years.  So Republicans on the House Millitary-Industrial Complex  (oops...I mean Armed Services) Committee threatened to vote against the rule unless the House leadership increased defense spending.
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Rep. Dana Rohrabacher: US Seeking to Humiliate and Defeat Russia Will Mean More Ukraine Suffering

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) provided some refreshing counterweight to the war promoting statements of the United States House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee chairman and ranking member at the committee’s Ukraine hearing on Wednesday with sole witness Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. Rohrabacher, who chairs the committee’s subcommittee with Ukraine jurisdiction — the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats — begins his exchange with Nuland by challenging the “black and white alternatives” being discussed at the hearing. Rohrabacher proceeds to warn that the US having a goal “to basically defeat and humiliate Russia” instead of “to do what is right by Ukraine and bring peace to Ukraine” will mean that “the people of Ukraine will continue to suffer and suffer and suffer.”
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Sen. Cory Booker: Use War on Drugs Resources to Expand War on Guns

Be cautious, advocates for liberty who are cheering the apparent winding down of the United States government’s war on marijuana and that war’s replacement with a patchwork quilt of revised state and local laws more tolerant of marijuana growth, distribution, and use. This trend is good news, and it carries hope for similar results regarding the broader war on drugs. The bad news is that some politicians, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), want to move drug war resources into new government assaults on liberty.
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