The House was on recess and electoral politics ruled the headlines. Meanwhile in the Senate, a sweeping bill to combat opioid abuse passed 94-1, and an FAA reauthorization bill was introduced.
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[US] H.R. 3929 OFFICE OF STRATEGIC SERVICES CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL ACT
Senate passes opioid and addiction bill
Senate passed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524) 94-1, with Sen. Ben Sasse [R, NE] in opposition saying he's "not convincing fighting addiction…is best addressed at the federal level." The broad drug treatment and prevention bill is the largest of its kind in nearly a decade.
CARA includes provisions to:
- Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other responders to help in the reversal of overdoses
- Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medicines
- Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to promote best practices throughout the country
- Increase resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders
- Launch medication assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program
- Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs
So what's next?
Now the bill heads to the House.
FAA Reauthorization plan emerges
FAA authorization expires on March 31. A long-term bill from the House (AIRR Act) has stalled, prompting House members to introduce a short-term extension (until July 15, 2016) to allow for consideration of other approaches. This week, Senate Commerce will mark up its bill that would authorize the FAA until the end of FY 2017.
Short-term FAA Extension introduced in the House:
After a broader FAA reauthorization bill hit turbulence in the Senate over a proposal to privatize the air traffic controller system, House members this week introduced a short-term reauthorization (current authority expires on March 31). The bill (H.R. 4271) from Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady extends FAA authorization through July 15, 2016 (but would allow the agency to continue collecting excise taxes until the spring of next year.)
Senate Commerce to mark up FAA Reauthorization through 2017
"The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2658) reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration and related programs through the end of fiscal year 2017 (September 30, 2017). The legislation updates the safety and privacy framework to further drone development, offers reforms to help our aerospace industry better compete in a global economy, improves aviation safety, and expands consumer protections for airline passengers. " according to the Senate Commerce Committee. Read the Section-by-Section summary.
Senate passed presidential transition bill
Senate unanimously approved House passed Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015 (S. 1172). The bill is aimed at smoothing the presidential transition process by directing federal agencies to begin high-level preparations six months before the November election. The bill is in response to 15 year effort to improve the presidential transition process and would appoint a federal transition coordinator to work with candidates. The bill lengthens the amount of time for which transition services can be provided by the federal government from 30 days to 180 days after the president's inauguration. The bill is now headed for President Obama's desk.
Senate HELP held second of three planned markups of medical innovation bills, designed to be companion legislation to House's 21st Century Cures Act. Several bills advanced:
- Warren bill to expand priority review voucher program for rare pediatric diseases
- Burr bill to expedite the development and review of designated medical devices
- Bennet bill re: medical device classifications
- Burr bill to amend the Public Health Service Act and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to national health security
- Isakson bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to combination products
- Wicker bill to require documentation of patient engagement to accompany approval of new drugs
- Franken bill to add Zika virus to list of tropical disease under the priority review voucher program
- Sen. Raul Paul [R, KY] is looking to force a vote on the State Department's approval of $700M worth of fighter jets to Pakistan, using an obscure Senate rule that allows any Senator to secure a floor vote to disapprove an arms sales. See the resolution, as well as companion resolution in the House.
- Sen. Bill Nelson [D, FL] placed a hold on energy reform legislation and aid bill for Flint, Michigan, saying he supports the energy bill but "no negotiation part" is the possibility of drilling off of Florida.
New Bills on the Block
- Sen. Steve Daines [R, MT] introduced resolution to place ISIS detainees in Guantánamo Bay.
- House Ways and Means released "budget savings" package, aimed atdecreasing overpayments in government programs. Bills will be marked up next week, ahead of full House vote on budget resolution. Included bills: H.R. 4722, H.R. 4723, H.R. 4724
- Long-awaited Burr-Feinstein encryption piercing bill could come as soon as next week.
- According to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, revisions to bipartisan criminal justice reform bill will be unveiled soon and amended package should attract enough support to reach President Obama's desk.
- Roll Call mapped out where in the city past Speakers lived. Speaker Ryan is the first Speaker to actually live in the Capitol by sleeping in his office.
- Supreme Court temporarily blocked Louisiana abortion law, law is similar to Texas' HB2 (law at center of Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt) in that it requires doctors hold admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
- Obama administration announced it will release report of deaths due to U.S. drone strikes since President Obama took office.
- Sen. Al Franken [D, MN] has mad freehanding skills…and superb knowledge of U.S. map.
- Supreme Court unanimously overturned an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that didn't recognize a same-sex adoption.
- Pentagon said U.S. warplanes bombed a terrorist camp in Somalia, killing approx. 150 Shabab fighters.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined an offer to meet with President Obama at the White House later this month and canceled a planned trip to Washington.
- Deadlocked FEC means campaign donors can hide contributions behind limited-liability corporations in this year's elections.
- HHS shipped its first batch of blood products to Puerto Rico to ensure the island has an "adequate supply" while fighting outbreak of Zika virus.
- Seven families affected by lead-poisoned water in Flint, Michigan filed a lawsuit, seeking class-action status for "wide-reaching negligence" — first litigation to be filed over the Flint water crisis.
- FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler introduced proposal to institute data-privacy rules for broadband service providers. FCC will vote on proposal on March 31.
- Attorney General Loretta Lynch said President Obama will not try to transfer detainees from Guantánamo Bay to US without change in law, saying "The President would have to work with Congress."
- Hello. It's Harry Reid. Reporter's phone rang during presser, so Senate Minority Leader answered it.
- Obama administration will expand methane leak crackdown in oil and gas industry, as part of climate change declaration between the US and Canada.
- Senate Armed Services approved nomination of Eric Fanning as secretary of the Army — if confirmed, Fanning would be the first openly gay secretary of a U.S. military branch.
- The Lugar Center released bipartisan index rankings for the first session of the 114th Congress. See how your Member compares: House, Senate
- NOAA announced the lower 48 states had its warmest winter in 121 years of record-keeping.
- New database allows you to search political ads.
- New NOAA data says earth experienced largest annual spike in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations on record in 2015.
- New GAO report highlighted loophole states use to meet Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) requirements, nearly one-third of states are counting nongovernmental third-party expenditures towards their states' required spending level under TANF block grant.
Legislative Lowdown: States Edition
- PA Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for state employees from $7.25 to $10.15.
- After 39-hour filibuster, Missouri Senate passed bill aimed at protecting faith-based groups from having to condone same-sex marriage.
- California legislature approved a measure that would make CA the second state to raise the legal age to smoke tobacco from 18 to 21. Now it's off to Gov. Jerry Brown [D].
- West Virginia legislature approved bill that would screen welfare applicants for drug use. If Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin [D] signs the bill into law, West Virginia would become the fourteenth state to pass a welfare drug testing bill in the last five years.
- Georgia Senate panel advanced campus carry gun bill.
"Income Inequality, Social Mobility, and the Decision to Drop Our of High School" by Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine, Brookings
"The Amicus Machine" by Alli Orr Larsen and Neal Devins, The Virginia Law Review
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