The little acts that couldn’t

The 113th Congress was sworn in a week ago today. The speculation on what they will (or will not) accomplish has been underway since the November votes were tallied. In the spirit of New Year reflections, here is a listicle of my favorite pieces of legislation that died in 112th Congress committees.  (NOTE: I find it very amusing that bills die by going to committee. I will remember this if I am ever asked to join a committee.)

1. Enemy Expatriation Act– This Bill would strip U.S. citizens of their citizenship if they are found to be supporting terrorists or engaging in hostilities against America. From my perspective, whenever a government looks to make it easier to denaturalize citizens we should all be concerned. Citizenship is meant to protect the rights of the individual and there can be no good reason to deny these protections. Lets hope this one rests in peace.

2. Ex-Patriot Act– Intended to prevent tax avoidance, this Bill would apply to individuals who renounced their U.S. citizenship for purposes of tax avoidance, imposing a 30% tax on any capital gains made on U.S. property. Additionally, it would deny them re-entry to America. The Ex-Patriot Act was designed to punish Eduardo Saverin, who gave up his American citizenship shortly before the Facebook IPO, and to discourage others from following in his footsteps. This made the list for its sheer pettiness, I don’t like tax evasion either but, really? You want to ban them from the US? You want to make retroactive to 2002? Maybe once everyone has cooled off the 113th Congress can stop tax evasion in a more mature way.

3. Stopping Trained in America PhDs from the Leaving the Economy Act– Despite support from both sides of the aisle, the Romney campaign, and the Obama administration this Bill didn’t make it. The title says it all. STAPLE would grant green cards to aliens who earned their PhD in the United States, provided they can find a job. This would allow them to bypass the H-1B visa process and stop them from leaving the economy. I am hoping for a zombie bill in the 113th Congress, it is hard enough being on the job market without worrying about visas!

4. English Language Unity Act -ACK!  ZOMBIE Bill!! Bills like this have been finding their way to committee deaths since the 109th Congress. Making English the official language seems like a pretty divisive path to unity. The ELU Act has tons of exceptions for public health, safety, international relations, justice, language preservation, etc. Making English the official language would (fortunately) have little impact on daily life. But, as a symbolic gesture it could promote a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment. Please, 113th Congress don’t encourage this!

What are your favorite Bills that didn’t make it? Or perhaps you have some hopes for unsuccessful legislation in the 2013-2015 Congress?

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2 thoughts on “The little acts that couldn’t

  1. I actually had an interesting discussion recently about STAPLE. I always like the idea of this bill, esp if US is trying to bring in people from STEM fields, however one thing to be considered is the role of universities in this case – and how it may affect higher ed. In the situation where PhD is an automatic route to citizenship and universities are constantly looking for new revenue, it open up a way to abuse the system by offering “easy” PhDs (lowering the admission and graduation standards for international students). Then it’s basically a way to buy your citizenship, isn’t it? What do you think?

  2. I think the key is that you would have to be able to find a job to get the green card. So it isn’t enough to just get the PhD–then it would be like buying citizenship. Maybe it is more like indentured servitude? I do think it would flood the market with foreign PhDs hoping to snag a job and citizenship, which is worrisome from a selfish point of view. And possibly run the risk of creating schools targeting foreign grad students for the money, but grad school sucks a lot of the time so maybe that would be enough to weed out the weak applicants?

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