Enhancing Agency Budget Transparency, Opportunities to Study Science and Environmental Protections

Enhancing Agency Budget Transparency, Opportunities to Study Science and Environmental Protections

Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act of 2021 (S 272) – This bill mandates that federal agencies must make budget justification materials publicly available online. The Office of Management and Budget will be required to publish details regarding the agencies that submit budget justification materials to Congress and dates the materials are posted online, along with links to the materials. The bill was introduced by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) on Feb. 8, passed in the Senate and the House on Aug. 23 and is awaiting enactment by the president.

National Science Foundation for the Future Act (HR 2225) – Introduced by Rep. Eddie Johnson (D-TX) on March 26, the bill authorizes appropriations for the National Science Foundation for fiscal years 2022 through 2026. It is designed to assess opportunities and award grants for Pre-K through 12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs, including computer science and STEM education research. The legislation passed in the House on June 28 and is in the Senate for consideration.

Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act (S 273) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Feb. 8. The purpose of the legislation is to prohibit the use of large-scale gillnets with a mesh size of 14 inches or greater. Gillnets are used for driftnet fishing, in which nets with panels of webbing are placed in the water and allowed to drift with the currents and winds to passively catch fish by entangling them in the webbing. Presently, gillnets are limited in size to less than 2.5 kilometers in length. However, the bill will not go into effect within the U.S. exclusive economic zone for five years in order for the Department of Commerce to facilitate the phase out of large-scale driftnet fishing and promote the adoption of alternative practices to minimize the incidental catch of living marine resources. Furthermore, the bill authorizes the Commerce Dept. to award grants to program participants. The bill passed in the Senate on Sept. 14 and is currently under consideration in the House.

PFAS Action Act of 2021 (HR 2467) – This legislation would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit the use of and designate perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) as hazardous substances. These are manmade materials used in a variety of products, such as nonstick cookware and weatherproof clothing, that may have adverse human health effects. The legislation would classify PFAS under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, which in turn would require appropriate remediation of those substances released into the environment. This bill was introduced by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) on April 13. It is currently in the Senate after passing in the House on July 21.

Divided Families Reunification Act(HR 826) – This bill directs the State Department to make regular reports to Congress on its work with South Korea to reunite Korean Americans with family in North Korea. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) on Feb. 4 and passed in the House on July 19. It is currently under consideration in the Senate.

Fiscal Year Funding Plus Legislative Support for Health Care Professionals and Physical Activity for All Americans

Fiscal Year Funding Plus Legislative Support for Health Care Professionals and Physical Activity for All Americans

S 1301, S 610, HR 4502, HR 4346, HR 2485, S 583A bill to provide for the publication by the Secretary of Health and Human Services of physical activity recommendations for Americans (S 1301) – This bill authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to publish guidelines of recommended physical activity for Americans. The bill was introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on April 22, passed in the Senate on July 30 and is under consideration in the House.

Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (S 610) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) on March 4. The purpose of this legislation is to establish grants and require activities designed to improve mental and behavioral health and prevent burnout among health care providers. Strategies include ways to improve well-being, establish or expand programs to promote mental and behavioral health among health care providers involved with COVID-19 response efforts, and train health care providers on suicide prevention. Moreover, the bill instructs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a campaign urging health care providers to seek support and treatment for mental and behavioral health issues. The bill passed in the Senate on Aug. 6 and is currently under consideration in the House.

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Agriculture, Rural Development, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, 2022 (HR 4502) – This bill authorizes appropriations for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022, for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and others.The legislation was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) on July 19 and passed in the House on July 29. It is currently under consideration in the Senate.

Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2022 (HR 4346) – Introduced by Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) on July 1, the bill provides appropriations for the Legislative Branch for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022. Funding for the Legislative Branch includes the House of Representatives and related committees, the Office of the Attending Physician, the Capitol Police, the Congressional Budget Office, the Library of Congress and the Government Accountability Office. The legislation passed in the House on July 28 and is in the Senate for consideration.

Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (HR 2485) – This legislation would require the Director of the Government Publishing Office to establish and maintain an online portal available to the public that enables access to all congressionally mandated reports. This bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) on April 13. It is currently in the Senate after passing in the House on July 26.

PRICE Act of 2021 (S 583) – In an effort to encourage and promote innovative procurement techniques within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), this bill directs the Management Directorate to publish an annual report on a DHS website. The report will provide details on how DHS projects met goals such as improving or encouraging better competition, reducing time to award, achieving cost savings, achieving better mission outcomes or meeting the goals for contracts awarded to small business concerns. The bill was introduced by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) on March 3. It was passed by the Senate on July 29 and is currently in the House.

Blocking Voter Expansion, Proposing Greater Scrutiny of Inspectors General, and Paving the Way for Climate Change Measures

Blocking Voter Expansion, Proposing Greater Scrutiny of Inspectors General, and Paving the Way for Climate Change Measures

hr 12, s65, s1251, hr3684, hr2662For the People Act of 2021 (HR 12) – This bill is designed to improve voter access to the ballot box by expanding automatic and same-day voter registration, vote-by-mail and early voting. The legislation also contains provisions that limit removing voters from voter rolls, strengthens ethics rules for public servants, reduces the influence of big money in politics and addresses other anti-corruption measures. The bill was introduced by Sen. John Sarbanes (D-MD) on Jan. 4 and passed in the House on March 3. In early July, the bill was blocked by Republicans in the Senate and its status is pending further action that may be taken by Senate Democrats.

Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (S 65) – This bipartisan bill is designed to prevent goods from entering the U.S. market that are made via forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. It would also enhance existing asset- and visa-blocking sanctions of foreign individuals and entities responsible for human rights abuses connected to forced labor in Xinjiang. The bill was introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Jan. 27. It was passed by the Senate on July 14 and is currently in the House.

Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2021 (S 1251) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) on April 2. The purpose of this legislation is to reduce barriers to entry for farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners in certain voluntary credit markets. In order to participate in the program, providers must offer technical assistance to help landowners utilize sustainable land use management practices that prevent, reduce or mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, or sequester carbon; or be a third-party charged with verifying the process for voluntary environmental credit markets. The bill passed in the Senate on June 24 and is currently under consideration in the House.

INVEST in America Act (HR 3684) – This bill authorizes federal funds for highways, highway safety and transit programs. It includes strategies to reduce climate change impacts of the surface transportation system; revises Buy America procurement requirements for highways, mass transit and rail; establishes a rebuild rural bridges program to improve the safety and state of good repair of bridges in rural communities; and other purposes. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) on April 19 and passed in the House on June 29. It is currently under consideration in the Senate.

IG Independence and Empowerment Act (HR 2662) – Introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) on April 19, the bill amends the Inspector General Act of 1978. Some of the provisions include: allowing an Inspector General to be removed only for cause; requiring that Congress be notified before an IG is placed on nonduty status; requiring the president to explain any failure to nominate an IG; adding provisions regarding acting IGs when an IG position is vacant; notifying Congress when an allegation of wrongdoing made by a member of Congress is closed without referral for investigation. The legislation passed in the House on June 29 and is in the Senate for consideration.

Recognizing the Abolishment of Slavery and Compensating Law Enforcement, Overseas Federal Employees and Disaster Relief Victims

Recognizing the Abolishment of Slavery and Compensating Law Enforcement, Overseas Federal Employees and Disaster Relief Victims

Recognizing the Abolishment of Slavery and Compensating Law Enforcement, Overseas Federal Employees and Disaster Relief VictimsJuneteenth National Independence Day Act (S 475) – This bill authorizes Juneteenth National Independence Day on June 19 as a legal public holiday. The bill was introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) on Feb. 25. It was passed by both the House and the Senate on June 16 and signed into law by the president on June 17.

Protecting America’s First Responders Act (S 937) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on April 29. The legislation ensures that certain law enforcement and first responders who have become permanently and totally disabled as a result of personal injuries sustained in the line of duty have prompt access to specific payments and benefits. The bill passed in the Senate on June 10 and is currently under consideration in the House.

HAVANA Act of 2021 (S 1828) – This bill provides financial support and resources for American officials suffering from the so-called Havana Syndrome – a mysterious set of symptoms that first affected federal employees stationed in Cuba in 2016. The bill authorizes disability benefits to American personnel who have experienced qualifying anomalous health incidents while serving in other countries throughout the world. The legislation was introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on May 25 and passed in the Senate on June 8. It is currently under consideration in the House.

Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act (HR 539) – Introduced by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) on Jan. 28, this bill would prevent the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from taking back disaster assistance funds that it mistakenly awarded to victims who applied for assistance in good faith. Under current law, FEMA can go back weeks, months or even years to seek repayment of funds in cases where the agency subsequently determined it mistakenly granted assistance, but no fraud was committed. This bill would require FEMA to waive that disaster relief debt. The legislation passed in the House on June 15 and is in the Senate for consideration.

United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 (S 1260) – This bill establishes a Directorate for Technology and Innovation in the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the purpose of strengthening U.S. leadership in critical technologies. The legislation authorizes investments in research, development and manufacturing in key technology focus areas, such as artificial intelligence, high performance computing and innovation to support national security strategy. The Office of Science and Technology Policy is to develop an annual strategy for the federal government to improve national competitiveness in science and research, and help grow critical industries to generate jobs for the future. The bill was introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on April 20 and passed in the Senate on June 8. It is currently under consideration in the House.

Addressing Hate Crimes, Banks Serving the Cannabis Industry and Unilateral Power to Restrict Immigration

Addressing Hate Crimes, Banks Serving the Cannabis Industry and Unilateral Power to Restrict Immigration

Addressing Hate Crimes, Banks Serving the Cannibis Industry and Unilateral Power to Restrict ImmigrationComprehensive Debt Collection Improvement Act (HR 2547) – This bill would expand financial protections and restrictions on debt collection activities for consumers, in particular for private student loans and medical debt. The legislation would require lenders to discharge private student loan debt if the borrower dies or becomes permanently disabled. It would prohibit consumer reporting agencies from adding any information related to certain situations, such as debt arising from a medically necessary procedure, and restrict certain debt collection practices.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) on April 15. It was passed by the House on May 13 and is currently under consideration in the Senate.

COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (S 937) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) on May 23. The legislation authorizes the designation of a Department of Justice (DOJ) employee to facilitate an expedited review of hate crime reports. The DOJ also must issue guidance for state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to establish online hate crime reporting processes and issue guidance to raise awareness of hate crimes related to COVID-19. The bill also authorizes funding for states to create state-run hate crime reporting hotlines. This bill was passed by Congress on May 18 and is awaiting signature by the president.

Washington, D.C., Admission Act (HR 51) – This bill provides for the admission of the State of Washington, D.C., into the Union. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Eleanor Norton (D-DC) on Jan. 4 and passed in the House on April 22. It is currently under consideration in the Senate.

SAFE Banking Act of 2021 (HR 1996) – Introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) on March 18, this bill would eliminate penalties imposed on a depository institution for providing banking services to a legitimate cannabis-related business. The legislation passed in the House on April 19 and is in the Senate for consideration

DUMP Opioids Act (S 957) – This bill was introduced by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on March 24 and passed in the Senate on April 22. It is currently under consideration in the House. The bill would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to designate places where any individual can dispose of controlled substance medications at VA medical facilities or law enforcement locations. The bill also directss the VA to advertise the designated disposal times and locations via a public information campaign.

NO BAN Act (HR 1333) – Introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) on Feb. 25, this bill passed in the House on April 21 and goes to the Senate next for consideration. The purpose of the legislation is to impose limitations on the president’s authority to suspend or restrict aliens from entering the United States. Furthermore, the bill would prohibit religious discrimination to be used as a basis for immigration-related decisions.

Advancing Healthcare Initiatives, Small Business Funding and Protecting the Elderly from Scams

Advancing Healthcare Initiatives, Small Business Funding and Protecting the Elderly from Scams

FASTER Act of 2021 (HR 578) – This bill expands the definition of major food allergens for food-labeling purposes to include sesame. It is designed to protect Americans with food allergies and related disorders that could be affected by anaphylaxis, food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome, and eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases. It also authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to report on food allergy research and data collection activities. The bill was introduced by Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) on March 3. It was passed by Congress on April 14 and is currently awaiting enactment by the president.

Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act of 2021 (S 164) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Margaret Hassan (D-NH) on Feb. 2. The legislation requires the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to educate and promote awareness about biological products and biosimilars among healthcare providers. The FDA may also host a website to provide educational materials. This bill was passed by Congress on April 14 and is awaiting signature by the president.

TRANSPLANT Act of 2021 (HR 941) – This bill reauthorizes the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005, which makes genetically matched cord blood stem cells available to patients who need them. The legislation was re-introduced by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) on Feb. 8 and passed in the House on April 15. It is currently under consideration in the Senate.

504 Credit Risk Management Improvement Act of 2021 (HR 1482) – Introduced by Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) on March 2, this bill passed in the House on April 16 and goes to the Senate next for consideration. It amends the Small Business Act to require the administrator of the Small Business Administration to issue rules relating to environmental obligations of certified development companies and for other purposes.

504 Modernization and Small Manufacturer Enhancement Act of 2021 (HR 1490) – This bill was introduced by Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) on March 2 and passed in the House on April 15. It is currently under consideration in the Senate. The bill would amend the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 to improve the loan guaranty program in order to enhance the ability of small manufacturers to access affordable capital. In addition, the bill adds policy goals, such as facilitating reduced costs via energy-efficient products and generating renewable energy, and providing aid to revitalize disaster areas. The bill also would increase the maximum loan amount from $5.5 million to $6.5 million for small manufacturers, and reduce the amount that they must contribute to project costs, among other provisions. The legislation authorizes each SBA district office to engage a resource partner to provide training for small manufacturers.

Fraud and Scam Reduction Act (HR 1215) – This bill would establish an office within the Federal Trade Commission and an outside advisory group for the purpose of preventing fraud that specifically targets the elderly, including mail, telephone and internet scams. Furthermore, the bill would create a Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group to create educational materials for distribution to employees of retailers, financial services, and wire-transfer companies to help them identify and prevent scams that affect older adults. The FTC also would establish an advisory office within the Bureau of Consumer Protection to monitor scams targeting older adults, educate consumers and receive complaints. The bill was introduced by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) on Feb. 23. This bill passed in the House on April 15 and goes to the Senate next for consideration.