THIS WEEK IN THE SENATE Â
The Senate is expected to debate and vote to go to conferenceÂ on a bill to provide funding for both military construction projects and the Department of Veterans Affairs. A provision funding federal efforts to combat the Zika virus has also been attached to the bill.
Following consideration of the spending bill, the Senate may begin consideration of legislation intended to address the Puerto Rican debt crisis.
ROUNDUP REPORT Â
No-Fly, No Buy: The Arizona Republic published an editorial supporting Sen. Flakeâ€™s bipartisan effort to advance compromise legislation that would keep firearms out of the hands of 2,700 citizens (many of whom live overseas) who have been linked to terrorism and are considered too dangerous to board a plane without first being subject to extraordinary security screenings. While the legislation would not prevent an individual on the much broader, federal watch list from purchasing a weapon, it would ensure that the FBI is alerted when any individual who has been on that list in the past five years goes and purchases a firearm. Had that provision been in place, counterterrorism officials would have been notified when the Orlando shooter bought the weapons used in his ISIS-inspired terrorist attack.Â Â
In order to protect those few terrorism-linked individuals’ right to due process and bear arms, the legislation also included an expedited process to appeal a decision to deny a firearm purchase. If the federal government could not prove its case within 14 days, the sale would go through and the federal government would be required to pay that individualâ€™s legal fees. The legislation survived a procedural hurdle on Thursday when 52 senators voted against a motion to kill it. Read the full story here. Watch video of Sen. Flake speaking in support of the legislation here.
- Key Takeaway: â€œWhether they succeed or fail, a diverse group of senators is showing a rare flash of gumption in a Congress where the partisanship is toxic. Arizonaâ€™s Republican Sen. Jeff Flake is in the middle of the effort that includes Republicans, Democrats and an independent.”Â
Supreme Court Halts Presidentâ€™s Immigration Plan: ABC 15 in Phoenix interviewed Sen. Flake about his support for last weekâ€™s Supreme Court decision to block President Obamaâ€™s effort to circumvent Congress and use executive actions to rewrite the nationâ€™s immigration laws. Read the full story and watch Sen. Flakeâ€™s interview here.
- Key Takeaway: Â â€œI welcome the Supreme Courtâ€™s reaffirmation that there are limits on executive authority and that the president overreached when he attempted to unilaterally rewrite immigration laws. The immigration problem needs to be solved, but this problem needs to be solved by Congress through the legislative process,â€ â€“Sen. Flake.
Reining in EPA : The Yuma Sun is reporting that local officials are concerned EPA’s onerous new ozone standard could devastate the local economy and prevent businesses from moving into the area. Sen. Flake also spent time last week testifying before a Senate committee in support of his bill to halt the implementation of that standard. Read the full story here and watch Sen. Flake’s testimony here.
- Key Takeaway: â€œIt would cripple the economy to have to reduce our (agriculture) production in some kind of attempt to lower our emissions, because approximately 90 percent of our background emissions come from vegetation,’ [Deputy County Administrator Paul] Melcher said… Melcher called Sen. Jeff Flake a ‘champion’ for the issue, and the senator was represented at the meeting by his outreach coordinator, Buchanan Davis.”
Expanding Trade : The Arizona Republic published another editorial lauding efforts by Sen. Flake and Gov. Ducey to grow Arizonaâ€™s economy by building a strong trade relationship with Mexico, the stateâ€™s largest trading partner. Read the full story here.
- Key Takeaway: Â â€œWhen you consider that trade between the United States and Mexico exceeded $500 million in 2015, you can see why the future lies in ports of entry, not barriers. Arizona is in a particularly good position to capitalize on commerce. Sen. Jeff Flake made the point recently at a conference on U.S.-Mexico tradeâ€¦The opportunity inherent in our geography doesnâ€™t negate the hard facts. Illegal border crossing, drug smuggling and the reality of 11 million people living in this country without documentation are serious concerns. But the border is far more complex than its enduring problems. Flake says the need for â€œgood securityâ€ is obvious, â€˜but we need to talk more about commerce.â€™ We need to talk more about the benefits and opportunities â€“ and we need to do it in respectful, cooperative manner.â€
Keeping Pressure on Phoenix VA: The Arizona Republic is reporting that a VA watchdogâ€™s inspection of the Phoenix VA Health Care System found that improvements are still needed at the health care facility. Read the full story here.
- Key Takeaway: â€œI am deeply disturbed and disappointed in the conditions at the Phoenix VA that the (inspector general) confirmed today. Cleanliness, timeliness, and confidentiality are not lofty goals but bare minimums,â€ said Flake, R-Ariz. â€œThe failures of the Phoenix VA are worrisome and I will continue to provide oversight of the location.”Â
Holding BLM Accountable: During hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Flake sharply criticized the Bureau Land Management (BLM) for the agencyâ€™s failure to engage with citizen-based groups known as Resource Advisory Councils (RACs), which were established to provide an opportunity for individuals from all backgrounds and interests to have a voice in the management of Western lands. Watch the exchange here.
- Key Takeaway: â€œDonâ€™t you think it would have been wise before the rule was promulgated to seek some of that input? â€¦Wouldnâ€™t it have been better to have sought their counsel before promulgation of the rule rather than simply informing them â€˜hereâ€™s what it is, and come to a webinarâ€™? â€¦You have this organization, this [Resource Advisory Council] thatâ€™s there for that purpose, and it would behoove BLM to reach out while it still matters, while the rule is being formulated,â€ â€“Sen. Flake to BLM Director.
Criminal Justice Reform: The Arizona Republic ran an op-ed supporting the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, legislation that would reform mandatory-minimum-sentencing requirements. Read the full story here.
- Key Takeaway: â€œOne of our Arizona Senators, Jeff Flake, has shown promising leadership on this issue as one of the co-sponsors of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act in 2015. This bill has been gaining bipartisan support, most recently during its passage through the Senate Judiciary Committee, when several Senate Republicans lent their support following the addition of amendments enhancing the bill’s public-safety provisions.”
Economic Growth Award: Sen. Flake was one of just seven senators to be awarded the Club for Growthâ€™s Defender of Economic Freedom award last week. The award recognizes members of Congress who consistently vote in favor of policies that promote economic growth including reducing government spending, lowering taxes, and promoting free trade. See a photo of Sen. Flake accepting his award here.
- Key Takeaway: Â “ @club4growth : Great work on economic freedom by @JeffFlake in the US Senate.” â€“Club for Growth tweet.
Feds Rethink Lake Havasu Restrictions: The Arizona Republic is reporting that Sen. Flake, Sen. McCain, and Rep. Gosar were successful in their joint-effort to pressure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to abandon a controversial proposal that would have imposed onerous restrictions on recreational boaters on Lake Havasu. Read the full story here.
- Key Takeaway: â€œThe Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that it will postpone enforcing new restrictions it says are needed to protect wildlife until it gathers more information. The decision is a win for Lake Havasu City residents, boaters and legislators who went to great lengths to stall the boating restrictions for parts of the lake. They are also pleased the Fish and Wildlife Service will involve the public as it rewrites its regulations.â€
The only Civil War battle fought in Arizona was Battle of Picacho Pass.
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