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Congressman Sandy Levin


Congressional Connector

The Congressional Connector
Week of June 19 - 23, 2006

House Approves $762 Billion Estate Tax Cut, But Few Americans Stand to Benefit
While gas prices are rising, the cost of health care skyrockets and college tuition climbs, the House of Representatives debated an expensive tax cut bill that has absolutely no impact on 99.73 percent of Americans.  On June 22, the House voted 269 to 156 to pass legislation [H.R. 5638] to permanently exempt $5 million of an individual's estate, and $10 million of a couple's estate from taxation beginning in 2010.  Current law already exempts up to $2 million for individuals and $4 million per couple, so the House-passed bill helps less than 1 percent of American households at a cost of $762 billion in the first full ten years after the tax cut takes effect.  Referring to the fact that more than 300 million Americans would have to pay the bill for this tax cut after it takes effect, Rep. Levin said, "This is a test of whose side you are on: the 300 million Americans in the year 2009 or the 7500 families who would benefit from this bill?  This is not a compromise.  This is a sellout of 300 million people."

Lawmakers Introduce Resolution to Oppose Amnesty for Insurgents Responsible for Killing U.S. Troops in Iraq
On June 22, Rep. Levin and other concerned members of the House cosponsored a resolution by Rep. Larson of Connecticut that declares it the policy of the United States that this nation opposes efforts by the Government of Iraq to grant amnesty to persons known to have attacked, kidnapped, wounded or killed members of the Armed Forces and other citizens of the United States.  On June 14, a top advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Adnan Ali an-Kadhimi indicated that the Iraqi government was considering providing amnesty to members of the insurgency "who weren't involved in the shedding of Iraqi blood." 

House Debates Electronic Surveillance During Consideration of Defense Bill
On June 20, the House overwhelmingly approved a $427 billion defense bill for 2007.  The bill funds military personnel, weapons, and operations for the U.S. military.  The House approved the bill by a vote of 407 to 19.  During consideration of the measure, the House had a lengthy debate on whether or not the Bush Administration should continue to conduct electronic surveillance within the United States if that surveillance violates U.S. law.  Under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the federal government may not conduct electronic surveillance within the United States without obtaining a warrant from a special court created for the purpose of balancing legitimate national security interests and the privacy rights of Americans who might have their phone calls and other electronic communications monitored.  Late last year, media reports revealed that the Bush Administration had been conducting a secret electronic surveillance program within the United States since 2002, apparently without obtaining the required court orders.  The details of the surveillance program remain highly classified, but many in Congress would like to give the President the necessary tools to pursue terrorists while also requiring judicial review for the Administration's electronic surveillance activities within the United States.  The Bush Administration maintains that such review is unnecessary.  During the defense debate, Rep. Schiff of California offered an amendment to bar any funding in the bill from being used for electronic surveillance in the United States, unless it complies with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act laws.  The amendment was narrowly defeated on a vote of 219 to 207.  Rep. Levin voted for the Schiff amendment.  For additional information, click here.


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