This Congress should embrace ideas to expand liberty

Republicans have made some bold promises to freedom-loving people for the 114th Congress. This week, some high-profile political fights will play out on the national stage. It’s possible that a partial government shutdown may hit by the end of the week over immigration.

The Senate can???t even debate a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security that blocks funding for President Obama???s executive action on immigration because of a Democrat filibuster. A federal court in Texas has ordered that the Obama executive order be frozen. Congress may try to pass a short-term extension to let the court battle play out.

The nomination of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to be the next Attorney General is turning out to be the first ???Obama Nom??? fight in a new Republican-controlled Senate. A few Republicans have already come out against her nomination.

Also, expect a battle over the president???s Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS that he has submitted to Congress. The reception for this resolution has not been favorable with some worrying that it does not go far enough and others worrying that yet another war, without an end date for the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, is dangerous.

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There are a few bills and one new regulatory attack on the 2nd Amendment that are less prominent than immigration, the Lynch nomination, and war, yet important to liberty-minded voters:

Audit the Fed

The House and Senate have introduced versions of a bill to audit a government agency ??? the Federal Reserve.  This seemingly non-controversial piece of legislation passed the House in September of last year on a 333-92 vote. Yet some progressive partisans and Wall Street insiders are blocking transparency and pretending that this bill is controversial.

Last month, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced H.R. 24 and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced S. 264 to audit the Fed.  The fear-mongering response from Wall Street???s defenders was immediate and loud.

Progressive leader Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and lefty economist Paul Krugman argue that the Fed being independent of the Obama Administration and liberal donors from Wall Street would have a bad economic result.

They oppose transparency, because they don???t want the Fed to be truly independent from the free money policies that have kept interest rates at historic lows. They also fear that the revolving door between the Obama Administration and Wall Street may be exposed.

There is nothing controversial about transparency. The American people deserve to know what is being done at the Fed.

Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal justice reform is a hot topic with libertarianish and progressive politicians. Tea Party Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul have partnered with liberal Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) on some serious reform ranging from reforming mandatory minimums and juvenile justice. Many in the reform movement are worried that a prison reform bill being authored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) may take the steam away from more aggressive criminal justice reforms.

The Whitehouse-Cornyn bill would allow non-violent criminals to enter recidivism reduction programs to encourage less time served in prison. This is a good idea, yet not enough.

The problem with this idea is that many Republicans and Democrats may pat themselves on the back if they pass this bill and act like it is a substantial criminal justice reform effort. This bill is not a substantial reform, but would be a great addition to all of the bills to dramatically reform the federal criminal justice system.

A substantial reform is necessary to restore federalism in criminal justice and to take a meat axe to federal laws that are ruining young lives.

2nd Amendment Under Attack

Second Amendment advocates at the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America and the National Association for Gun Rights are deeply concerned about a new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives proposed ban of a popularly used ammunition. Ammunition bans are a back door way for the Obama Administration to impose gun control without passing a new law.

According to the NRA, ???having failed to enact a federal ban on the AR-15, America???s most popular rifle, he???s now using the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to do the next best thing. BATFE is now proposing to ban a whole class of common rifle ammunition used in that overwhelmingly popular firearm.???

The BATFE has issued a ???framework??? to ban commonly used ammunition for rifles.  This idea is a facially unconstitutional infringement of the Bill of Rights.

Don???t let the big fights obscure and distract from these important issues that will restore a degree liberty in America.

Brian Darling is former staffer for Sen. Rand Paul and currently Sr. Vice President for Third Dimension Strategies. Follow him on Twitter @BrianHDarling