Raising the Debt Limit, Protecting the Capitol and Prohibiting Foreign Campaign Financing

Raising the Debt Limit, Protecting the Capitol and Prohibiting Foreign Campaign Financing

A joint resolution relating to increasing the debt limit(SJ Res 33) – This legislation was initially introduced on Dec. 14 by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). It is a joint resolution that authorized an increase to the public debt limit by $2.5 trillion. It passed in the Senate and the House within one day and was enacted into law by the president on Dec. 16.

Capitol Police Emergency Assistance Act of 2021(S 3377) – This bill empowers the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police to unilaterally request the assistance of the D.C. National Guard or Federal law enforcement agencies in emergencies without prior approval from the Capitol Police Board. The legislation was introduced on Dec. 13 by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). It passed in the House and the Senate within one day and is currently awaiting signature by the president.

Protecting Our Democracy Act (HR 5314) – This bill is designed to protect American democracy by preventing abuses of presidential power (e.g., requires the president to submit materials relating to certain pardons to Congress, prohibits self-pardons by the president, suspends the statute of limitations for federal offenses committed by a sitting president or vice president); restoring checks, balances, accountability and transparency in government (e.g., requires cause for removal of inspectors general, increases whistleblower protections, requires a candidate for president or vice president to produce 10 years of most recent income tax returns); and preventing foreign interference in U.S. elections (prohibits the acceptance of foreign or domestic emoluments and foreign donations to political campaigns); as well as other purposes.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on Sept. 21 and passed in the House on Dec. 9. It is currently with the Senate.

No CORRUPTION Act (S 693) – Presently, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 prevents a member of Congress who is convicted of a felony from collecting a government pension. However, they may continue receiving their pension until the completion of legal appeals. This bill alters the conditions of the previous Act to stop pension payments immediately after the original conviction. Should the conviction eventually be overturned, the pension would retroactively pay out lost benefits and resume from that point on. The bill was introduced by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) on March 10. It passed in the Senate on Dec. 8 and is in the House for consideration.

Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act of 2021 (S 1097) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) on April 13. It passed in the Senate on Dec. 14 and is currently under consideration in the House. The purpose of this legislation is to establish a rotational cyber workforce program. The program will have processes in which to dispatch certain federal employees to work in other cyber positions at other agencies.

Methamphetamine Response Act of 2021 (S 854) – The purpose of this legislation is to designate methamphetamine as an emerging threat as an illicit drug, and directs the Office of National Drug Control Policy to implement a methamphetamine response plan. The bill was introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) on May 18. It passed in the Senate on Dec. 18 and is currently in the House.

Congress at Work: Infrastructure Spending, Hiring Veteran Health Heroes and Initiatives for Education, Childcare and Immigration

Congress at Work: Infrastructure Spending, Hiring Veteran Health Heroes and Initiatives for Education, Childcare and Immigration

HR 3684, S 1031, S 894, S 108, HR 5376Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act(HR 3684) – This legislation authorizes funding for federal highway, transit, safety, motor carrier, hazardous materials and rail programs of the Department of Transportation (DOT). The bill also addresses climate change with strategies to reduce the environmental impacts of the surface transportation system and facilitate the efficient use of federal resources. It was initially introduced on June 4; it passed in the House on July 1 and in the Senate on Aug. 10. It was passed again in the House in its final form on Nov. 5, and then was signed into law by the president on Nov. 15.

A bill to require the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on disparities associated with race and ethnicity with respect to certain benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. (S 1031) – This bill was introduced by Rep. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) on March 25. It passed in the House on Aug. 6, then in the Senate on Nov. 15. It is awaiting signature by the president. Within one year, a study must be conducted and Congress briefed on how race and ethnicity impact VA compensation benefits, disability ratings and the rejection of claims for VA benefits.

Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act of 2021 (S 894) – The purpose of this legislation is to identify separating service members in healthcare occupations and refer them for jobs at the VA. The bill was introduced by Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) on March 23. It passed in the Senate on July 21, the House on Nov. 15 and is currently with the president.

A bill to authorize the Seminole Tribe of Florida to lease or transfer certain land, and for other purposes (S 108) – This legislation allows the Seminole Tribe of Florida to lease, sell, convey, warrant or transfer any real property it owns that is not held in trust by the United States. The bill was introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Jan. 28. It was passed in the Senate on May 26, in the House on Nov. 2 and is currently waiting to be signed into law by the president.

Build Back Better Act (HR 5376) – This bill is currently being debated in Congress as the second phase of President Biden’s effort to “build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out.” It includes funding for a wide array of initiatives, including education, labor, childcare, healthcare, taxes, immigration and the environment. Specifically, the legislation would provide for up to six semesters of free community college, free childcare for children under the age of 6, free universal preschool services, health benefits for eligible individuals who reside in states that have not expanded Medicaid, expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision care; provide certain aliens with a path to permanent resident status (e.g., those who entered the United States as minors); and provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Funding mechanisms include increasing the tax rates for certain corporations and individuals with annual income over $400,000; and require the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate maximum prices for certain brand-name drugs under Medicare. The bill was introduced by Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) on Sept. 27 and is currently under consideration in the House.

Increasing the Debt Limit, Extending Government Funding, and Protecting Vets, Veteran Moms and the Capitol Police

Increasing the Debt Limit, Extending Government Funding, and Protecting Vets, Veteran Moms and the Capitol Police

Increase of Public Debt Limit(S 1301) – This bill was enacted on Oct. 14 in order to increase the public debt limit. The debt was increased by $480 billion, the amount projected by the Treasury Department to be needed through early December in order to avoid surpassing the public debt limit. Had this stopgap legislation not been passed, it would have created the potential for a severe economic crisis in which the government would have run out of money to pay back existing debts, government salaries and other pre-existing obligations. The bill was initially introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on April 22; it passed in the House on Sept. 29 and in the Senate on Oct. 7. It was signed into law on Oct. 14.

Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act (HR 5305) – The bill was both introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and passed in the House on Sept. 21; then passed by the Senate on Sept. 30. It authorizes appropriations for federal agencies for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022, including providing emergency assistance for activities related to natural disasters and evacuees from Afghanistan. The bill is also known as a continuing resolution (CR), which prevented a government shutdown that would otherwise have occurred if the 2022 appropriations bills had not been enacted by Oct. 1, when the new fiscal year began. The legislation was signed and enacted in the nick of time by the president on Sept. 30.

Protecting Moms Who Served Act of 2021 (S 716) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) on March 17. The purpose of the legislation is to codify maternity care coordination programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Specifically, the VA must work with local non-VA maternity care providers for training and support related to the unique needs of pregnant and postpartum veterans, particularly with regard to mental and behavioral health conditions. The bill passed in the Senate on Oct. 7 and is currently under consideration in the House.

A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to designate one week each year as Buddy Check Week for the purpose of outreach and education concerning peer wellness checks for veterans, and for other purposes. (S 544) – This bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to designate one week each year as Buddy Check Week for veterans to conduct peer wellness checks. It also mandates that the VA ensure the Veterans Crisis Line has a plan to handle potential increases in calls during that week. The bill was introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) on March 2 and passed in the Senate on Oct 7. It is currently under consideration in the House.

Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (HR 3237) – This legislation provides $1.9 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations for the legislative branch and federal agencies for preventive measures in response to what happened at the U.S. Capitol Complex on Jan. 6. Because this funding is designated as emergency spending, it is exempt from discretionary spending limits. The funding is allocated for expenses such as security-related upgrades, repairs to facilities damaged by the attack, reimbursements for the costs of responding to the attack, support for prosecutions, the establishment of a quick reaction force within the District of Columbia National Guard to assist the Capitol Police, and mandatory use of body-worn cameras by Capitol Police officers who interact with the public. The bill was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) on May 14. It was passed in the House on May 20, in the Senate on July 29, and signed into law by the president on July 30.

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.