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January 19th was a big day for the 115th Congress: Part of the government ran out of funding and some spying authorities also expired. In this episode, learn about FISA reauthorization law that contained a giant loophole that will allow previously inadmissible information to be used against you in court, get all the details about the 69 hour shutdown that resulted from an attempt by the Democratic Party to … do something for the Dreamers, get enraged by the dingleberries attached to the fourth temporary funding law of this fiscal year, and discover why Jen is angry with just about everyone right now.


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Bills

S. 139: FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017

Sec. 101: Requires the Attorney General to create procedures for searching through the database that are consistent with the fourth amendment to the Constitution.

  • The procedures must require that records of the query term used be kept
  • Allows the FBI to search through the database and access the content of communications acquired via foreign surveillance for criminal investigations unrelated to national security if they get a court order.

Sec. 102: Information acquired via the foreign surveillance program can be used against us in court if the FBI gets a FISA court order, if the Attorney General says it is related to national security, OR the criminal proceeding involves crimes including:

  • Death
  • Kidnapping
  • Serious bodily injury
  • An offense against a minor
  • Destruction of critical infrastructure (“assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that in incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.”
  • Cybersecurity
  • Transnational crimes, including drug and/or human trafficking

A determination made by the Attorney General can not be reviewed by the courts.

Sec. 110: Prohibits punishment for FBI and intelligence community contractors who report violations of law to certain authorities inside the government and Congressional committees.

Sec. 201: Delays the repeal of authorities granted in Title VII of the FISA Amendments Act until December 31, 2023.

  • The authorities allow the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence to target people non-Americans outside the United States

Sec. 202: Increases the penalty for unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents from a fine and/or 1 year in prison to a fine and/or 5 years in prison.


H.R. 195: Extension of Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018; HEALTHY KIDS Act; Federal Register Printing Savings Act of 2017

Division A: Federal Register Printing Savings Act of 2017

Prohibits copies of the Federal Register from being printed for members of Congress unless they request it.

  • CBO says this will end the distribution of about 1,000 copies of the 300-page Federal Register that are distributed daily for free, saving ~$1 million per year.

Division B: Extension of Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018

Extends 2017 government funding levels until February 8, 2018.

Allows the ~$4 billion appropriated for missile defense in the last CR to be spent by the intelligence agencies on things that were NOT specifically authorized by Congress

Division C: HEALTHY KIDS Act

Full Title: “Helping Ensure Access for Little Ones, Toddlers, and Hopeful Youth by Keeping Insurance Delivery Stable Act”

Funds the Children’s Health Insurance Program through 2023 at the following rates:

  • 2018: $21.5 billion
  • 2019: $22.6 billion
  • 2020: $23.7 billion
  • 2021: $24.8 billion
  • 2022: $25.9 billion
  • 2023: $5.7 billion + $20.2 billion = $25.9 billion

The 2018 funds that were already appropriated are eliminated.

Division D: Suspension of certain health-related taxes

Sec. 4001: Delays implementation of the medical device tax until 2020

Sec. 4002: Delays implementation of the tax on high premium insurance plans until 2022

Sec. 4003: Suspends the annual fee on health insurance companies for 2019 & 2020.

Division E: Budgetary Effects

The budgetary effects of the extension of the CHIP program and the suspension of health industry taxes will not be counted in the PAYGO budget.


Additional Reading


Resources


Twitter Poll

Who do you blame for the #GovernmentShutdown?

— CSPAN (@cspan) January 20, 2018

C-SPAN poll
Over 208,000 votes
45% blame Trump
41% blame Congressional D’s
14% blame Congressional R’s


Sound Clip Sources

Hearing: Senate Session, Part 2, January 22, 2018.

  • 1:08:40 Sen. Richard Burr: The vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee and I were notified when the House CR appeared that there was language in it that was different than in the past. The language in section 148 of the CR is of concern to the Intelligence Committee. Let me just read the language: Sec. 148. Funds appropriated by the Department of Defense Missile Defeat and Defense Enhancements Appropriation Act, 2018 (division B of Public Law 115–96) may be obligated and expended notwithstanding section 504(a)(1) of the National Security Act of 1947. This language is troublesome for the committee because it would authorize the intelligence community to spend funds ‘‘notwithstanding’’ the law that requires prior authorization by the Senate Intelligence Committee or by the House Intelligence Committee.
  • 1:11:00 Sen. Richard Burr: As a result, this language can erode the powers of the authorizing committee. Effectively,the intelligence community could ex-pend funds as it sees fit without an authorization bill in place and with no statutory direction indicating that an authorization bill for 2018 is forth-coming.
  • 1:16:30 Sen. Mark Warner: If this exemption is granted, you could potentially have an administration—any administration—go off and take on covert activities, for example,with no ability for our committee,which spends the time and has the oversight, to say timeout or to say we actually disagree with that policy.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

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Music Presented in This Episode