Capitol lowlights

Guns for the mentally ill, polluted streams and union-busting legislation coming your way courtesy of the Republican Congress.

Courtesy of K3nna

With the blizzard of crazy spewing from the White House every day, it’s easy to get distracted and miss what’s going on in Congress.

That’s a shame, because Republicans on Capitol Hill are pushing an agenda that’s good for corporations and culture warriors and bad for just about everybody else.

Here’s this week’s summary of some of the worst legislation oozing through Congress.

Mentally ill? Have a gun

The House voted Thursday to repeal a regulation banning gun ownership by disabled Social Security beneficiaries with mental disorders.

You read that right.

Two hundred and thirty-five representatives, mostly Republicans, decided that an estimated 75,000 people with mental disabilities so severe that they can’t manage their own benefits really, really need a gun.

The repeal needs Senate approval, but can’t be filibustered because the rule is being nullified under the Congressional Review Act.

Right to work for cheap

Republican Congressmen Steve King of Iowa and Joe Wilson of South Carolina (the guy who shouted “You lie!” at then-President Barack Obama in 2009) introduced a national right-to-work bill in the House on Wednesday.

Right-to-work laws, it’s important to note, have nothing to do with having a right to work and everything to do with crushing unions. They make it illegal for contracts to require employees to join or pay dues to a union, even though the union is legally required to represent them.

All right-to-work laws do is weaken organized labor, lowering wages and benefits as well as limiting workers’ rights. They are largely supported by corporations, anti-union zealots and Republicans seeking political advantage by diminishing unions that support Democrats.

King and Wilson are, by absolutely no coincidence, former members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the corporate bill mill that has pushed right-to-work legislation at the state level for decades.

Polluters rejoice

If you thought we just weren’t getting enough coal-mining waste in our streams, fear not. Congressional Republicans have you covered.

The House and Senate have scrapped a regulation, issued by the Department of the Interior, requiring coal-mining companies to avoid practices that permanently pollute streams, destroy drinking water sources, increase flood risk, and threaten forests. 
Companies also were required to monitor streams that could be affected by their mining operations.

The rule was nullified under the Congressional Review Act.

More corruption, please

Republicans have been using the Congressional Review Act so much their right hand must be getting sore.

The latest instance came Friday, when they overturned a Securities and Exchange Commission rule aimed at curbing corruption by energy giants such as ExxonMobil and Chevron. Because that’s what we need: more corruption in the oil and gas industry.

The regulation, requiring energy and mining companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments, passed 52–47 in the Senate on a party-line vote. It had previously passed the House.

Not so fast

Rep. Jason Chaffetz has announced he will withdraw a bill that would have sold off an area of public land the size of Connecticut.

The bill, introduced last week, ordered the secretary of interior to sell off 3.3 million acres of national land that Chaffetz claimed had “no purpose for taxpayers.”

Chaffetz probably would have just ignored environmentalists’ complaints, but when hunters and fishermen joined them in opposing the bill, he was forced to backtrack and pander on Instagram.

Another wacky Chaffetz bill is still in motion, though. H.R. 622 would strip the law enforcement function from the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service, handing over their duties to local law enforcement.

The bill is not named, as you might have thought, the Handjob for Cliven Bundy Act.

For updates on these bills and more, check out Lobby99.

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