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Capitol Hill Agenda Significantly Altered in Wake of 9-11 Terrorist Attacks

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and as President Bush put it, civilization as a whole, almost instantaneously changed the political tone and legislative agenda on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are coming together, rightfully so, in a display of unity behind the president and the efforts to combat terrorism worldwide.

What was shaping up to be stark party-line battles over the budget and other contentious domestic issues has shifted to a united Congress focused on disaster relief and recovery efforts, military operations and economic bailouts. Policies and agendas that seemed important a little over a week ago pale in comparison to what our country faces today.

Like every other issue unrelated to the events of September 11, many of the issues the Center has been tracking and weighing in on have been set aside -- including those listed below:

Internet Taxation:

On September 4, the Center launched a television advertising campaign and dedicated a portion of its website urging Congress to extend or make permanent the Internet tax moratorium set to expire on October 21. On September 11, a House Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee hearing on H.R. 2526, the Internet Tax Fairness Act of 2001, was cut short in light of the disastrous events. A House Judiciary Committee mark-up scheduled for September 13 on H.R. 1552, the Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act, has been postponed until further notice. However, Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) has suggested that he still plans to hold hearings on the issue.

As the deadline for the moratorium approaches, the Center still feels strongly that Congress must act to extend the ban on new and discriminatory taxes on the Internet.

To view the Center’s activities on Internet taxation, click here.

Campaign Finance Reform:

In a conscientious effort by all members of Congress to set aside issues that have been the subject of fierce partisan debates this year, the drive to force a House vote on campaign finance reform legislation has, for now, come to a halt. When asked about the future of his campaign finance reform legislation, Representative Martin Meehan (D-Massachusetts) was recently quoted as saying, "All of this stuff has gone by the wayside . . .I don’t think there is going to be a rush to the rostrum to sign a discharge petition."

To view the Center’s activities on campaign finance reform, click here.

2001 Farm Bill:

The Center has a long history of challenging the constitutionality of mandatory commodity promotional programs, also known as checkoffs, overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Farm Security Act of 2001, in providing for the continuation of agricultural programs through 2011, includes provisions to expand such promotional programs. The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry has postponed its September 20 hearing on the farm bill until further notice. Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) could bring this issue up as early as next week.

To view the Center’s activities challenging as unconstitutional the commodity checkoff programs overseen by the USDA, click here.


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