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Federal Legislative Branch

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  • Backgrounder posted March 31, 2015 by Daren Bakst Achievable Economic Policy Reforms for Congress

    Congress can pass legislation this year that would make a significant difference in the lives of Americans. Despite the perception of partisan gridlock, broad support exists for many important domestic economic policy reforms. These policies are ambitious but achievable, and, if adopted, would promote economic growth, empower individuals, and reduce government waste.…

  • Issue Brief posted December 5, 2014 by John Malcolm President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration Sets a Dangerous Precedent

    It is no secret that President Obama is a supporter of the DREAM Act—legislation that has been debated and rejected numerous times by Congress. Yet, instead of doing the tough work of building trust, engaging in intense negotiating, and making compromises in search of a bipartisan solution, the President has decided to “go it alone” by implementing broad…

  • Issue Brief posted November 20, 2014 by Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D. Medicare’s SGR: Fixing It the Right Way, Not in a Lame Duck Session

    Congress needs to junk the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that governs Medicare physician payment. Under the formula, if Medicare physicians’ payments in any given year increase by more than the economy’s growth, an automatic and proportionate reduction in their reimbursements is imposed the following year. Conceptually flawed and practically draconian, the formula…

  • Issue Brief posted November 13, 2014 by Hans A. von Spakovsky The Dangers of Lame Duck Sessions in Congress—Unfair and Undemocratic

    An awful lot of people are confused as to just what is meant by a lame duck Congress. It’s like where some fellows worked for you and their work wasn’t satisfactory and you let’em out, but after you fired ‘em, you let ‘em stay long enough so they could burn your house down.[1] —Will Rogers When Congress comes back into session after the November election and before a new…

  • Issue Brief posted November 13, 2014 by Charlotte Florance Nine Questions for the House Ebola Hearing

    Over the past seven months, Ebola has infected more than 13,000 people and claimed nearly 5,000 lives. Most of the infected people have been in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Both Nigeria and Senegal successfully overcame transportation-related cases in their countries and were declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization on October 20. The virus has also…

  • Issue Brief posted November 12, 2014 by Romina Boccia Lame Duck Threats Congress Should Avoid

    A‌ lame duck session refers to when one Congress ‌is in session after a new one has been elected. After last week’s election, Members of Congress who lost elections or are retiring are lame ducks, who are protected from the consequences of passing politically unpopular legislation. This lame duck session is particularly important because the Republicans will take control…

  • Commentary posted November 10, 2014 by Nina Owcharenko, Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D. Lame duck legislators ought not act on complex health policy issues

    A lame-duck Congress typically is driven by a desire to "get things done." But lawmakers should resist ramming last-minute deals on Medicare physician payments and the Children's Health Insurance Program through this Congress. These are complex and highly consequential health policy issues. They deserve prudent deliberation by the people's chosen representatives, i.e.,…

  • Issue Brief posted September 25, 2014 by Theodore R. Bromund, Ph.D. Congress Should Stop Implementation of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

    On September 25, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry signed the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). In the past year, the ATT has gone from bad to worse as the aims of its supporters and its failure in practice have become obvious. Yet the Obama Administration, without even transmitting the treaty to the Senate, has sought to implement it. Congress should hold hearings to…

  • Commentary posted August 20, 2014 by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. There's a place for the National Guard even in a tight budget, and Congress needs to find it

    It was a “hard luck” division, gathering nothing but casualties and setbacks since it landed in Normandy. Its general led from behind — well behind — ensconced in a well-appointed bunker. That all changed when Raymond S. McLain took over the 90th Infantry Division. Leading from the front, he turned those troops into a crack fighting force that swept across…

  • Legal Memorandum posted July 24, 2014 by John Malcolm, Elizabeth Slattery Boehner v. Obama: Can the House of Representatives Force the President to Comply with the Law?

    A‌rticle I of the Constitution vests “All legislative powers herein ‌granted” in Congress, while Article II, section 3 requires that the President “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” But what happens when the President fails to execute the law? Time and again, President Barack Obama has pushed the limits of this duty, acting unilaterally to change or…

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  • Issue Brief posted January 31, 2014 by Cassandra Lucaccioni , Steven P. Bucci, Ph.D. Top Homeland Security Priorities for Congress in 2014

    The world today is more dangerous than it was on September 10, 2001. Threats to the homeland have increased as the President’s leadership has caused the U.S. to lose respect and influence on every front. After at least 61 thwarted terrorist attacks in the U.S.,[1] those who are committed to destroying America’s way of life cannot be ignored. Protection of the homeland…

  • Issue Brief posted May 18, 2012 by Matt A. Mayer Congress Should Act on FEMA’s Refusal to Reform

    It is one thing for government entities to dismiss the criticisms from outside groups. It is quite altogether something else to dismiss the criticisms of government-empowered investigators who have access to the closely held data. Based on its reaction to an audit by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (OIG), the leadership at the…

  • WebMemo posted December 9, 2010 by Matthew Spalding, Ph.D., Anna Leutheuser Treaty Ratification During Lame Duck Sessions

    President Obama has submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which he signed with Russia on April 8, 2010. But Congress currently sits in a lame duck session, one month after a significant election. The question has been raised: Has the United States Senate ever ratified a major treaty during a “lame duck”…

  • Backgrounder posted March 31, 2015 by Daren Bakst Achievable Economic Policy Reforms for Congress

    Congress can pass legislation this year that would make a significant difference in the lives of Americans. Despite the perception of partisan gridlock, broad support exists for many important domestic economic policy reforms. These policies are ambitious but achievable, and, if adopted, would promote economic growth, empower individuals, and reduce government waste.…

  • Lecture posted February 3, 2011 by Brett D. Schaefer United Nations: Urgent Problems That Need Congressional Action

    Abstract: The United Nations has largely failed to maintain international peace and security, promote self-determination and basic human rights, and protect fundamental freedoms. While the conflicting interests of member states have led to many of these failures, the U.N. system itself is partly to blame. The U.N. and its affiliated organizations are plagued by outdated…

  • Backgrounder posted January 3, 2011 by Brian Darling The Filibuster Protects the Rights of All Senators and the American People

    Abstract: The filibuster in the U.S. Senate protects the rights of Senators to debate and amend legislation, thereby protecting the interest of the American people. The filibuster actually realizes the Founders’ intent that the Senate slow the legislative process “to ensure due deliberation and inquiry” before passing a bill. Current efforts to limit the…

  • Backgrounder posted March 25, 2013 by Paul Rosenzweig, Daniel J. Dew Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Undermining the Criminal Intent Requirement

    Developed over the course of hundreds of years, the Anglo–American legal system contains several key provisions that, when used properly, guard against wrongful criminal convictions. These protections are critical: Not only do they defend Americans from false accusations and Kafka-esque legal proceedings, but they also demand that police and prosecutors proceed with…

  • Testimony posted July 27, 2010 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. The Second Chance Act: More Evaluations of Effectiveness Needed

    Before the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate Delivered July 21, 2010 “The Second Chance Act: More Evaluations of Effectiveness Needed” Introduction My name is David Muhlhausen. I am Senior Policy Analyst in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation. I thank Chairman Patrick J. Leahy,…

  • Legal Memorandum posted December 13, 2011 by Paul Larkin Overcriminalization: The Legislative Side of the Problem

    Abstract: The past 75 years in America have witnessed an avalanche of new criminal laws, the result of which is a problem known as “overcriminalization.” This phenomenon is likely to lead to a variety of problems for a public trying to comply with the law in good faith. While many of these issues have already been discussed, one problem created by the overcriminalization…

  • Backgrounder posted July 14, 2011 by Ernest Istook Considering a Balanced Budget Amendment: Lessons from History

    Abstract: Attempts at passing a balanced budget amendment (BBA) date back to the 1930s, and all have been unsuccessful. Both parties carry some of the blame: The GOP too often has been neglectful of the issue, and the Democratic Left, recognizing a threat to big government, has stalled and obfuscated, attempting to water down any proposals to mandate balanced budgets. On…

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  • Backgrounder posted March 31, 2015 by Daren Bakst Achievable Economic Policy Reforms for Congress

    Congress can pass legislation this year that would make a significant difference in the lives of Americans. Despite the perception of partisan gridlock, broad support exists for many important domestic economic policy reforms. These policies are ambitious but achievable, and, if adopted, would promote economic growth, empower individuals, and reduce government waste.…

  • Issue Brief posted December 5, 2014 by John Malcolm President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration Sets a Dangerous Precedent

    It is no secret that President Obama is a supporter of the DREAM Act—legislation that has been debated and rejected numerous times by Congress. Yet, instead of doing the tough work of building trust, engaging in intense negotiating, and making compromises in search of a bipartisan solution, the President has decided to “go it alone” by implementing broad…

  • Issue Brief posted November 20, 2014 by Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D. Medicare’s SGR: Fixing It the Right Way, Not in a Lame Duck Session

    Congress needs to junk the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that governs Medicare physician payment. Under the formula, if Medicare physicians’ payments in any given year increase by more than the economy’s growth, an automatic and proportionate reduction in their reimbursements is imposed the following year. Conceptually flawed and practically draconian, the formula…

  • Issue Brief posted November 13, 2014 by Charlotte Florance Nine Questions for the House Ebola Hearing

    Over the past seven months, Ebola has infected more than 13,000 people and claimed nearly 5,000 lives. Most of the infected people have been in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Both Nigeria and Senegal successfully overcame transportation-related cases in their countries and were declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization on October 20. The virus has also…

  • Issue Brief posted November 13, 2014 by Hans A. von Spakovsky The Dangers of Lame Duck Sessions in Congress—Unfair and Undemocratic

    An awful lot of people are confused as to just what is meant by a lame duck Congress. It’s like where some fellows worked for you and their work wasn’t satisfactory and you let’em out, but after you fired ‘em, you let ‘em stay long enough so they could burn your house down.[1] —Will Rogers When Congress comes back into session after the November election and before a new…

  • Issue Brief posted November 12, 2014 by Romina Boccia Lame Duck Threats Congress Should Avoid

    A‌ lame duck session refers to when one Congress ‌is in session after a new one has been elected. After last week’s election, Members of Congress who lost elections or are retiring are lame ducks, who are protected from the consequences of passing politically unpopular legislation. This lame duck session is particularly important because the Republicans will take control…

  • Issue Brief posted September 25, 2014 by Theodore R. Bromund, Ph.D. Congress Should Stop Implementation of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

    On September 25, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry signed the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). In the past year, the ATT has gone from bad to worse as the aims of its supporters and its failure in practice have become obvious. Yet the Obama Administration, without even transmitting the treaty to the Senate, has sought to implement it. Congress should hold hearings to…

  • Legal Memorandum posted July 24, 2014 by John Malcolm, Elizabeth Slattery Boehner v. Obama: Can the House of Representatives Force the President to Comply with the Law?

    A‌rticle I of the Constitution vests “All legislative powers herein ‌granted” in Congress, while Article II, section 3 requires that the President “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” But what happens when the President fails to execute the law? Time and again, President Barack Obama has pushed the limits of this duty, acting unilaterally to change or…

  • Lecture posted May 22, 2014 by Adam J. White Congress and the New Administrative State

    The administrative state begins with Congress. As the Supreme Court has observed, “an agency literally has no power to act…unless and until Congress confers power upon it.”[1] So let me offer a few words about what previous Congresses have done to create the new administrative state and what Congress can do, today and tomorrow, to restore some limits. Delegating Powers…

  • Center for Policy Innovation Discussion Paper posted April 11, 2014 by Patrick Louis Knudsen An Analysis of Selected Budget Process Reforms

    Since adoption of the congressional budget process in 1974, the procedure has rarely unfolded precisely on schedule or as planned. Conflicts large and small have been common, deadlines have been breached, and rules have been stretched to meet the demands of the moment. Customarily, Congress has found a way back to something resembling the “regular order” intended by the…

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