The U.S. House easily passed the so-called “Buffett Rule Act” by Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, that would allow people to pay extra money on their IRS tax filing forms to help reduce the national deficit if they want.
The name of the bill is a shot at billionaire investor Warren Buffett — the nation’s second wealthiest man — who has backed President Barack Obama’s plan to continue tax cuts for all but the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.
“If someone truly does not feel they’re paying enough, they can check the box,” Scalise said, and help bring down the “out-of-control” debt.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said Democrats agree the deficit must be reduced, “But we also need to raise revenues.”
“Folks who have done very well should contribute a little more,” Van Hollen said, arguing that the wealthy would still be paying a smaller percentage of taxes than 12 years ago even if many of the current tax cuts are allowed to expire.
The Buffett Rule Act is not expected to be taken up in the U.S. Senate.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, introduced a “FEMA Reform Act” bill in the wake of Hurricane Isaac to help expedite federal funding to disaster areas.
The bill puts deadlines on preliminary damage assessment times for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and also would send more dollars directly to the states and communities affected.
The legislation also would require FEMA to pay much of the replacement costs for damaged public vehicles and make FEMA hire local employees to assist in the aftermath of disasters.
“Time and time again, Louisianians have endured natural disasters that endanger our lives, livelihoods and property,” Richmond stated. “This legislation seeks to strengthen our confidence in the federal government as partners in our recovery.”
The bill filing came two days after the House approved the FEMA reauthorization bill that attempts to expedite funding for disaster response projects and individual assistance. Both Scalise and Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, lauded the bill’s passage.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., has filed new legislation to make it a deportable offense for non-U.S. citizens to vote in federal elections.
While there is little to no hard evidence of widespread voting by illegal immigrants, the issue has been a hot topic as Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott has fought with the U.S. Justice Department over purging voter rolls.
Scott has alleged to have uncovered about 100 or so non-citizens in the state who were registered to vote, intentionally or not.
Critics have claimed the effort is little but Republicans attacking a non-existent problem in order to suppress minority voting prior to the Nov. 6 elections.
Vitter’s bill, the Protect Voter Integrity, also would make noncitizens voting in federal elections an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which would automatically subject an illegal alien who commits this crime to expedited removal.
“My bill injects some of that common sense and puts teeth into voter laws so we can uphold the integrity of American elections,” Vitter said in the announcement.
“Of course we want immigrants to become voters once they become citizens, but our election system and our right to vote are being taken advantage of because of weak enforcement.”
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., on Friday introduced a new bill to give tax credits to families who adopt children in order to help them cut down on administrative costs.
The Making Adoption Affordable Act would make the Adoption Tax Credit a permanent part of the tax code and refundable to families.
“For families who have generously opened their hearts and homes to a child, the Adoption Tax Credit gives them important assistance along the journey,” Landrieu stated. “My husband and I are blessed with two precious, adopted children, and I am hopeful that this credit will encourage others to consider enlarging their families through adoption.”
Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, received an endorsement last week from the “Geaux Free TPL” group, formerly known as the Tea Party of Lafayette.
Landry, who was first elected through the tea party surge in 2010, best aligns with the group’s conservative tea party values, according to the endorsement.
The camp for Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, who Landry is running against because of redistricting, shot back that Geaux Free TPL backed Landry after the national FreedomWorks conservative group, which loosely aligns itself with the tea party, pressured the Lafayette organization into that endorsement.
While acknowledging there were discussions with FreedomWorks about why they should support Landry, the Geaux Free TPL leadership said they chose independently.
Boustany is the only Republican member of the Louisiana House congressional delegation who is not part of the Tea Party Caucus run by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.
Jordan Blum is chief of The Advocate Washington bureau. His email address is jblum@theadvocate.
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