December 6, 1999
Floor Votes Reviewed
An Outline of 1999 Paul Amendments
During the recently concluded session of Congress, I was able to get floor votes on a number of amendments that I proposed. The first amendment I introduced was to HR 1658, a bill introduced by Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, aimed at overhauling the nation's civil asset forfeiture laws.
This body of law exemplifies much of what is wrong with current legislation. First, these laws were never considered to be the domain of the federal government when our founding fathers crafted our constitution. This approach also considers property an "agent of crime" rather than the person who is actually engaged in an offense, thus making people who have no involvement in criminal activity, subject to loss of property. Finally, these laws resemble a repeal of the idea that individuals are "innocent until proven guilty." Civil asset forfeiture allows for the confiscation of property, prior even to any conviction, and this is the issue my amendment specifically addressed. Although my amendment did not become part of the final bill, I was pleased that we were able to assist Chairman Hyde. While his bill did not become law, and while it is far from a proper repeal of this entire body of law, the fact that Chairman Hyde succeeded in getting his bill passed by an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives is an important first step in the right direction.
Another amendment I introduced dealt with funding for the United Nations. Similar to an amendment I put forward in the last Congress that would have ended US participation in that international bureaucracy, this year my amendment garnered 74 votes in the House. This was a significant increase over the 54 vote total we achieved in the 105th Congress. Obviously, although we are not yet close to convincing the majority we need to enact this policy into law, we continue to build support and to see support in advancing this idea.
In a fashion similar to that which I took in the 105th Congress, I introduced an amendment to stop all funding for so-called overseas family planning. This money is not only another form of foreign aid, it is also used to advocate the anti-life agenda of the most radical pro-abortion groups. Unfortunately, we lost ground on this issue in this Congress. This year we received 145 votes in favor of my amendment, whereas last Congress we had the support of 147 members.
My final amendment voted upon this year involved ending the further funding of agencies such as the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, or "OPIC." These agencies take our hard earned tax dollars and send them, in the form of grants and subsidized loans, to companies doing business in other nations. This massive corporate welfare scheme is often portrayed as having some benefit to US citizens, but let's face it - only the very wealthy and very influential corporate and Wall Street interests truly benefit from such financial shenanigans.
Of course, this amendment always draws the wrath of the rich and powerful insider crowd. However, we were able to get 58 votes in support of our amendment this year, again a significant improvement over the 40 votes we garnered for a similar amendment that I introduced in the 105th Congress.
I will continue to work to get votes on the floor when these opportunities present themselves according to the rules of the House. It is my intention to continue to focus my amendments on addressing issues of importance to the American people and particularly to cut wasteful Washington spending. And, of course, I will continue to keep attention on this overseas spending which drains our nation's resources and impoverishes taxpayers in this country.