Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Measures
PATRIOT Act (HR 2975): The PATRIOT Act, better known as the anti-terrorism bill, passed the House and Senate this week with overwhelming bipartisan support, and was signed by the President on October 26th. The Patriot Act expands the ability of law enforcement to tap phones, monitor Internet traffic and perform other surveillance tasks associated with ending terrorism. The bill also has a number of measures aimed at curtailing money laundering to disrupt the financial network of terrorists. While the bill allows law enforcement more latitude in doing their job, Congress included a "sunset provision" so that electronic surveillance measures will expire in four years to reduce the chance of infringing on civil liberties.
Economic Security and Recovery Act of 2001 (HR 3090) The bill, which has been referred to as the economic stimulus bill, addresses the human impact of the attacks of September 11th while offering incentives for our nation's businesses (most of which are small businesses) to create jobs. It also includes provisions to get money into the hands of consumers now so they can spend that money to stimulate the economy. Those people who filed 2000 tax returns but did not actually pay any federal taxes will receive $300 for an individual return and $600 for a joint return. And those people who received a partial refund from our tax relief bill earlier this year will receive the balance of $300 or $600. Finally, the legislation offers states assistance to offset expenses associated with unemployment and health care costs. While we still must await an economic stimulus bill from the Senate and then negotiate any differences between the two bills, I am hopeful that the final product will sufficiently stimulate our very sluggish economy.