Partisan wrangling has slowed the Congressional calendar to a crawl and with it, public approval has fallen to all new lows. But there is still room for optimism on Capitol Hill. For the seventh year running, National Taxpayers Union presents ten “no-brainer” bills that can bridge the partisan divide. Each bill meets two important criteria: bipartisan support and a common sense solution to a real problem facing taxpayers. These aren’t just minting commemorative coins or naming post offices. Each bill demonstrates that there can be broad support across a variety of issues when partisan politics are put aside.
If Congress wants to turn the tide, they should prioritize floor time for these bills and give everyone, including taxpayers, some much-needed wins.
Stop EPA Overregulation of Rural Americans Act (H.R. 694): Introduced by Representative Rouzer (R-NC), this legislation would halt enforcement the March 2015 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule establishing federal standards for residential wood heater emissions. The misguided rule effectively banned a major portion of wood stoves, increasing the price for future replacements and hurting rural Americans who rely on wood heaters (a renewable fuel) as an affordable home-heating solution.
Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) Repeal Bills (S. 260, S. 251, H.R. 849): Any of these three bills, under the leadership of Senators Cornyn (R-TX) and Wyden (D-OR), and Representative Roe (R-TN), would fully and permanently repeal IPAB, a poorly designed Medicare cost-savings mechanism created under Obamacare that gives an unaccountable board the power to ration health care and impose draconian price controls.
No Regulation Without Representation Act (H.R. 2887): Introduced by Representative Sensenbrenner (R-WI), this legislation would codify the principle that businesses must be physically present in a state before it is lawful to tax or regulate them. H.R. 2887 is a critical check on the power of overzealous state governments.
Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act (S. 563, H.R. 1422): This legislation backed by Senators Heller (R-NV)/Tester (D-MT) and Representatives Ross (R-FL)/Castor (D-FL) passed the House unanimously in the previous Congress. It would permit private flood insurance to compete on an even playing field with the “under-water” (to the tune of $25 billion) National Flood Insurance Program. Private flood insurance options could reduce costs for customers and risks to taxpayers.
Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act (S. 642, H.R. 1555): Senator Paul (R-KY) and Representatives Walberg (R-MI), Ellison (D-MN), and Cardenas (D-CA), along with numerous other bipartisan cosponsors, have introduced what would be a sweeping reform of federal asset forfeiture laws. The FAIR Act would prevent federal law enforcement agencies from taking private property without charging owners of a crime, require an increased burden of evidence - including for seizures made by the Internal Revenue Service - and eliminate the perverse incentive whereby agencies have profited from forfeitures, along with other critical reforms that would protect taxpayers and property owners.
Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act (S. 741, H.R. 1753): This legislation, introduced by Senators Lee (R-UT) and Booker (D-NJ) and Representatives Brat (R-VA) and Titus (D-NV) would bring accountability and transparency to notorious “checkoff” programs, essentially government administered promotional programs for various agriculture commodities. Through enhanced oversight and commonsense restrictions, the OFF Act would end past anticompetitive practices and misuse of funds on the part of checkoffs.
Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (S. 261, H.R. 772): Senator Blunt (R-MO) and Representative McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced this bill in response to a complex, one-size-fits all national nutrition disclosure requirement imposed by the Food and Drug Administration across 400 pages of new regulations for practically all food retail establishments, from grocery stores to restaurants. In the place of enormous new costs (both for businesses and consumers) and penalties for violations (including criminal prosecution), S. 261/H.R. 772 would provide real relief through more reasonable guidelines.
Eliminating Federal Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act (S. 1342, H.R. 811): Sponsored by Senators Lankford (R-OK) and Booker (D-NJ), along with Representatives Russell (R-OK), Meadows (R-NC), and Blumenauer (D-OR), this legislation would end the federal tax-exemption for municipal bonds issued to fund stadiums, effectively a subsidy for multimillion dollar franchises. This doesn’t preclude other, often misguided, economic incentives or revenue options (such as higher taxes on in-stadium purchases), but it does get the federal government out of the stadium business, moving those choices closer to the voters and consumers most directly affected by stadium construction. Hopefully, it would make more localities think twice before buying into the stadium scam.
Stop Improper Federal Bonuses Act (S. 696): This legislation, backed by Senators Fischer (R-NE), McCaskill (D-MO), and Heller (R-NV), would eliminate bonus payments or require bonus repayment by federal employees found guilty of serious misconduct. In the past, taxpayer-funded bonuses have been distributed to employees who previously had been suspended for everything from sleeping on the job to sexual harassment.
Saving Federal Dollars Through Better Use of Government Purchase and Travel Cards Act (S. 1099): Sponsored by Senators Carper (D-DE), Grassley (R-IA), and others, this legislation would reduce improper and fraudulent payments on government charge cards through improved data analysis and oversight, as recommended by the Government Accountability Office and Inspectors General. Misuse of government purchase and travel cards is a significant problem and source of waste, with between 2,000 and 3,000 violations recorded annually. S. 1099 also passed the Senate with unanimous support.
Read more about these bills and how this kind of cooperation can serve as a model for other legislative challenges at the Washington Examiner.
Previous lists are available at the links below:
2016: 10 Bills That Can Bypass Congressional Gridlock
2015: Can Congress Be Tempted By This Legislative Low-Hanging Fruit?
2014: 10 Bipartisan “No-Brainer” Bills Congress Should Pass
2013: 10 “No-Brainer” Bills: Does Congress Have the Aptitude for This Test?
2012: Congressional Aptitude Test: 10 “No-Brainer” Bills Even a Caveman Could Pass
2011: Federal IQ Test: 12 “No-Brainer” Bills Congress Should Pass for Taxpayers