House Passes Senate’s Ukraine Aid Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Senate’s version of a Ukraine-aid bill, allowing it to go to the President for his signature. The legislation provides $50 million directly to Ukraine to ensure it preserves it democratic government and society, and will back Ukrainian debt for up to $1 billion. Additionally, $100 million will be made available for security measures implemented by the United States and European countries. It also lays sanctions on high-ranking Russian leaders and others responsible for the unrest in Ukraine. The House voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, 378-34, and the President will probably sign it. In addition to the financial aid bill, the House also approved a measure providing funds to bolster Western radio broadcasts as an antidote to Russian programming. It is hoped that the measures will deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from taking more territory in Eastern Europe, but it is unclear how successful that will be.

Fox News: Ukraine Aid Bill Passes Congress

National Journal: Congress (Finally) Sends Ukraine Package to White House

House Budget Committee on Camp Tax Code Reform

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released his budget on April 1, and it anticipates tax code reform. Chairman Ryan referred to a number of different proposed plans for tax reform, including the one offered by the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp. Chairman Camp, however, will retire at the end of this Congress, and it is unlikely that his plan will advance. The Wall Street Journal notes, “The Camp plan is a model of practical political deal-making, with features designed to appeal to Democrats as well as Republicans. But at a time of partisan acrimony, pragmatism hasn’t been in high demand during the current Congress.”

Wall Street Journal: New House Budget Doesn’t Back Rep. Camp’s Tax Reform Plan

Democrats: Representing the Wealthiest Americans

The Democrats have made it a practice to rail against conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch for their influence in American society, but as it turns out, the wealthiest districts in America are represented by Democrats. Democrats represent 8 out of the top 10 richest areas, and the top 6 all have Democratic Members. Each of the wealthiest districts is on either the East or West Coast. The wealthiest district is NY-12, whose Representative is Carolyn Maloney; the average per capita income (which includes everyone, even children and the jobless) is $75,479. The wealthiest Republican-represented district, NJ-07, is the seventh richest district overall; Leonard Lance is its Member. The per capita income for NJ-07 is $48,556. Overall, the average per capita income in Democratic districts nationwide is $27,893, which is about $1,000 more than the average per capita income for Republican districts.

Yahoo! News: Party of the Rich: In Congress, It’s the Democrats

Discharge Petitions

Here at the Congressional Institute, we love reporting about parliamentary procedures that are little understood by the general public. Thus we are happy to bring to you today a column about discharge petitions by former House Rules Committee staff director Don Wolfensberger, a resident scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center and a senior scholar the Woodrow Wilson Center. A discharge petition is a motion to relieve a committee of its consideration of a particular bill or to do the same to the Rule Committee for its special rule. It only needs a simple majority of the House of Representatives to pass—in other words, 218—but they are rarely successful because it requires at least some majority party Members to vote with the minority. “Since 1931, 637 discharge petitions have been filed, including nine in this Congress. Only 47 have reached the discharge calendar — none in the past decade. Only three discharged bills have become law although other targeted discharge measures have been enacted using alternative procedures. Nonetheless, the device remains a useful tool in rallying House minority party members, pressuring vulnerable majority party members, mobilizing grass-roots supporters, raising campaign funds from allied interest groups and educating voters on major issues dividing the parties”, Wolfensberger writes.

Roll Call: Discharge Petitions Are Useful Minority Tools

And for our latest post: Cracks in the Senatorial Saucer: Filling the Tree, Cloture, and Curtailing Senate Debate