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Monday, November 13, 2006

From the Have-They-Learned-Nothing? Department: House GOPers Return From Thumpin,' Set to Approve New Federal Programs

It's probably a mistake to put much hope in the outcome of the GOP congressional leadership races. Just check out this description from the Republican Study Committee of a proposal on the House calendar tomorrow.

The bill in question concerns underage drinking. Now there is a problem the Founders clearly intended to be covered as a federal responsibility under the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution. Why else would there be no committee report accompanying the proposal concerning its constitutionality?

Note, too, that the bill is coming to the House floor as a result of a vote by the outgoing House GOP leadership - including Rep. John Boehner and Rep. Roy Blunt - to suspend House rules that prevent consideration of proposals that create at least three new federal programs without allowing debate and amendments.

In other words, the leading guys who just got booted out are suspending the rules to create a "fast track" for approving even more spending and more new federal programs. And Boehner wants to be the new House Minority Leader and Blount wants to be the Minority Whip!

If this passes ...

H.R. 864 - Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act - as amended (Roybal-Allard, D-CA)

Order of Business: The bill is scheduled for consideration on Tuesday, November 14, 2006, under a motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended

Note: Under House Republican Conference Rules, legislation which creates at least three new programs may not be considered by the House on the Suspension Calendar. This rule may be waived by a vote of the elected Leadership. H.R. 864 received such a waiver from the elected Leadership.

Summary: H.R. 864 codifies the interagency coordinating committee focusing on underage drinking that had been operating informally since 2004 and directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to enhance the efforts of the committee. The committee's purpose is to coordinate federal policy and program development with respect to underage drinking. The committee is to report annually to Congress. Additionally, HHS is to report annually to Congress on the states efforts to prevent underage drinking. H.R. 864 authorizes $4 million over four years for the committee.

H.R. 864 directs HHS to continue the Ad Council's national media public service announcements against underage drinking, and authorizes $4 million for the campaign. The Secretary must also report annually on the Ad Council's efforts.

The bill authorizes $20 million over four years for the establishment of a new grant program, which would award grants to entities eligible to receive grants under the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, "to design, test, evaluate and disseminate effective strategies to maximize the effectiveness of community-wide approaches to preventing and reducing underage drinking."

H.R. 864 authorizes $20 million over four years for a new grant program, which would directs award grants to states, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit entities to prevent and reduce the rate of underage alcohol consumption and binge drinking among students at institutes of higher learning.

The bill authorizes $24 million over four years for a new research initiative and directs HHS to research and compile data on underage drinking including the scope of the phenomena, and the involvement of alcohol in unnatural deaths of persons aged 12 to 20 years. HHS would be required to collect data and surveys on the identification of alcohol use and attitudes about alcohol use during pre- and early adolescence, and the development and identification successful clinical treatments for youth with alcohol problems.

Committee Action: H.R. 864 was introduced on February 16, 2005, and referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Health, which took no official action.

Cost to Taxpayers: A CBO score of H.R. 864 is unavailable. However, the bill authorizes appropriations of $72 million over the 2007-2010 period.

Does the Bill Expand the Size and Scope of the Federal Government?: Yes. The bill creates at least three new federal programs.

Does the Bill Contain Any New State-Government, Local-Government, or Private-Sector Mandates?: No.

Constitutional Authority: A committee report citing constitutional authority is unavailable.

RSC Staff Contact: Marcus Kelley; marcus.kelley@mail.house.gov; (202) 226-9717

UPDATE: Captain For Pence, Shadegg

Ed Morrissey says Rep. Mike Pence, R-IN, and Rep. John Shadegg, R-AZ, are his choices for House Minority Leader and House GOP Whip, respectively. He also likes either Rep. Jack Kingston, R-GA, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN, for GOP Conference Chairman.

UPDATE II: Cool video for Pence, Shadegg

The Jawa Report's Ragnar Danneskjold has created a superb video that puts the current House leadership races in the proper perspective. It's got some great music and images, too.

UPDATE III: Spending-drunk House OKs new federal underage drinking programs

Approval came on a 373-23 vote. Here are the Members who voted no:

Barrett (SC)
Campbell (CA)

Inglis (SC)
Johnson, Sam
Jones (NC)
King (IA)

Taylor (MS)