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Inside the Beltway: Aiming at the NRA
Question of the Day
There already is swift, emotionally charged reaction to a National Rifle Association school-security report that recommends at least one armed guard in every school in the nation. Vilification is afoot.
“The report is nothing more than a continuation of the NRA’s attempts to prey on America’s fears, saturate our schools with more guns and turn them into armed fortresses. It must be soundly rejected,” says Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, which has already released its own findings on school security.
“It is long past time for us to protect child safety instead of guns. We must not allow the gun lobby to enrich gun manufacturers at the expense of our children’s education and safety,” she adds.
“While it is not surprising that an organization driven by profit would stop at nothing to boost the sales of the products it promotes, the NRA leadership’s suggestion that an armed guard be stationed in ‘every single school’ across America is an insult to Americans who want to live in a free society. American mothers will not allow their children’s schools to be turned into fortresses or prisons,” says Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, an Indiana-based grass-roots group.
Ms. Watts went on to accuse “gun industry lobbyists” of trying “to obstruct efforts to find common-sense, middle-ground solutions to curb gun violence in America. We expect our representatives to ignore the self-serving propaganda of these special interests. The mothers of America are watching.”
Should Senate Democrats approve a sweeping new anti-gun bill in the near future, Rep.Steve Stockman says he’ll seek to automatically kill it using a House “blue slip.” That slip automatically returns to the Senate any bill that violates the “origination clause” of the U.S. Constitution, which says all bills that raise revenue must originate in the House.
“The Democrat gun ban is dead on arrival. I will introduce in the House a blue-slip resolution that will automatically kill the Senate gun ban,” the Texas Republican promises. “Not only are Democrats on the wrong side of public opinion, they are on the wrong side of the Constitution. You can’t strip Americans of their gun rights, and you certainly can’t do it by having the Senate create a national tax on firearms. They are in violation of constitutional limits on federal power.”
Mr. Stockman notes that the Democrat-sponsored bill requires background checks to purchase or acquire a weapon and requires people to pay for the checks. This makes the bill a revenue measure, he argues, citing Supreme Court precedent and a Heritage Foundation analysis.
Blue-slip resolutions, incidentally, are immediately considered as a matter of constitutional privilege, are debatable for an hour and are not subject to amendment.
STILL IN THE MONEY
Oh, the lucky lawmakers. While everyone else braces for the $85 billion in sequester cuts, salaries in Congress will go untouched because of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act, which first introduced the concept of a sequester.
“The Reagan-era law exempted some programs from the sequester, including elements of Social Security, interest on the debt and federal Pell grants. The law also exempts the president’s pay, which is the reason President Obama’s pay won’t be hit,” explains Pete Kasperowicz, a correspondent for The Hill.
“Congressional salaries are not explicitly exempted, but according to experts familiar with the issue, the law was written in way that makes them exempt. For example, the law says federal ‘accounts’ are subject to the sequester, and defines ‘accounts’ as items that are appropriated by Congress,” he says.
“Lawmaker salaries are not appropriated by Congress, so they don’t get treated as an account for the purposes of sequestration. And while items found in presidential budgets are subject to the sequester, member salaries are not found in the presidential budget either. For these reasons, the Office of Management and Budget has not applied any sequester to members of Congress since the law was put in place,” Mr. Kasperowicz says.
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