Bills up for a vote in Congress this week
Congress returns from July 4 to begin its annual sprint to August recess.
The House will take up a counterterrorism bill that includes restrictions on gun purchases for terror suspects, as well as bills on mental health, Medicare payment policies for medical equipment, and fixes to new crowdfunding rules. It may also vote on the FAA and Defense authorization bills if they are ready, and the conference report for the combined House/Senate opioid bill.
The Senate will vote on tightening immigration enforcement for those convicted of crimes and penalizing "sanctuary cities" before turning to a bill to provide a federal standard for state GMO labeling requirements.
In the House:
Counterterrorism measures (with some gun sale limitations)
Last week, House GOP leaders announced a bill that includes the ability for law enforcement to seek to block firearms purchases if they suspect the person poses a terrorism risk.
H.R. 5611: Homeland Safety and Security Act
Sponsor: Rep. Kevin McCarthy [R, CA-23] | Full Text
The bill establishes an Office for Partnerships to Prevent Terrorism within the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate efforts to prevent terrorism and activities related to recruitment, radicalization, and propaganda. It also provides authority for the Attorney General to deny the sale, delivery, or transfer of firearms or explosives to known or suspected terrorists. As explained by the House Republican Policy Committee:
When the Attorney General is notified of a request to transfer a firearm or an explosive to a person who is being, or has been investigated during the previous 5 years, as a known or suspected terrorist, the Attorney General shall notify relevant Federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies, or intelligence agencies, concerning the identity of the individual.
In addition, the Attorney General may delay the transfer of the firearm by no more than 3 days and file an emergency petition in a court to prohibit the transfer of the firearm of explosive. An emergency petition can be granted only after a hearing, to which the individual looking to acquire the firearm or explosive receives notice and has an opportunity to participate with counsel. Finally, in the case of an emergency petition filed which has been denied, the court shall require that the United States pay the costs and attorney fees of the individual.
The bill was introduced in the wake of House Democrats' sit-in calling for action on gun control after the tragic Orlando shooting. It is supported by the National Rifle Association (according to news reports). Several Democrats have expressed opposition and intent to offer amendments.
Mental Health Assistance and Reform
Members of Congress have also introduced bills to address access to mental health services in response to several tragic mass shootings. This week the House will vote on a bill from Rep. Tim Murphy [R, PA-18]:
H.R. 2646 – Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act
Sponsor: Rep. Tim Murphy [R, PA-18] | CBO Report
The bill creates the position of Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders and establishes the National Mental Health Policy Laboratory and the Interagency Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee. It expands the number and type of mental health services that states may cover under Medicaid; prohibits Medicare and Medicaid from restricting access to drugs used to treat mental health disorders; eliminates the 190-day limit on Medicare coverage of stays in an inpatient psychiatric facility; and expands the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics demonstration program.
Health Policy and Medicare Payments
H.R. 1270: Restoring Access to Medication
Sponsor: Rep. Lynn Jenkins [R, KS-2]
The bill would repeal provisions that disqualify expenses for over-the-counter medicine under health savings accounts (HSAs), Archer medical savings accounts (Archer MSAs), health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs), and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).
H.R. 5210: Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment (PADME) Act
Sponsor: Rep. Tom Price [R, GA-6]
The bill would delay the implementation of a new round of Medicare payment rates for durable medical equipment (DME) for three months, until October 1, 2016 and require a study to examine the impact of DME payment adjustments. The bill also contains:
In the Senate:
Sanctuary Cities and Immigration
"Sanctuary cities" refer to cities that have policies designed to shelter immigrants who are in the United States illegally. Most of these cities do not allow municipal funds or resources to be used to enforce federal immigration laws, usually by not allowing police or municipal employees to inquire about an individual's immigration status. Read more about "Sanctuary Cities" from POPVOX.
The issue became a flashpoint after the death of Kathryn Steinle, who was fatally shot on July 1 in San Francisco by a Mexican national with a criminal record who had been deported several times. This week, the Senate will vote on two related bills:
S. 3100: Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act
Sponsor: Sen. Patrick Toomey [R, PA]
According to the sponsor, the bill "states that sanctuary jurisdictions are not eligible for certain federal funds." It also "addresses federal court decisions… [to allow] local police to cooperate with federal authorities without fear of being sued, and removes any justification for a locality to be a sanctuary city."
S. 2193: Kate's Law
Sponsor: Sen. Ted Cruz [R, TX]
The bill increases the maximum prison term for an alien who reenters after being denied admission, excluded, deported, or removed (from two years to five years) and establishes a 5-year mandatory minimum prison term for a person who reenters after being removed following a conviction for an aggravated felony or following 2 or more prior convictions for illegal reentry.
S. 764 – The legislative vehicle* for GMO Labeling bill
Full Text |
According to the Senate Agricultural Committee, key provisions include:
- Pre-emption: immediately prohibits states or other entities from mandating labels of food or seed that is genetically engineered.
- National Uniform Standard: the U.S. Department of Agriculture establishes through rulemaking a uniform national disclosure standard for human food that is or may be bioengineered.
- Disclosure: requires mandatory disclosure with several options, including text on package, a symbol, or a link to a website (QR code or similar technology); small food manufacturers will be allowed to use websites or telephone numbers to satisfy disclosure requirements; very small manufacturers and restaurants are exempted.
- Meat: foods where meat, poultry, and egg products are the main ingredient are exempted. The legislation prohibits the Secretary of Agriculture from considering any food product derived from an animal to be bioengineered solely because the animal may have eaten bioengineered feed.
*A "legislative vehicle" is a bill that is amended with another bill. This one was particularly confusing: S. 764 was originally the National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act (passed Senate 7/28/2015). The House added the Defund Planned Parenthood Act on 9/18/2015 and sent it back to the Senate.The Senate is now considering the bill with the GMO language, completely stripping out the other provisions. Confused? So were the senators.
Also in the House:
Foreign Aid and Foreign Affairs
H.R. 3766: Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act
Sponsor: Rep. Ted Poe [R, TX-2]
Requires the President to establish guidelines for the establishment of measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans for U.S. foreign development and economic assistance.
S. 1252 – Global Food Security Act
Sponsor: Sen. Robert Casey [D, PA]
Requires the President to develop and implement a Global Food Security Strategy to promote global food security, resilience, and nutrition.
S. 2845 – Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Extension Act
Sponsor: Sen. Marco Rubio [R, FL]
Extends through December 31, 2019, provisions requiring the President to impose sanctions against individuals in Venezuela who are responsible for human rights violations.
H.R. 4854: Supporting America’s Innovators Act
Sponsor: Rep. Patrick McHenry [R, NC-10]
Under current law, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) exempts certain issuers of securities from the requirement to register as an investment company. H.R. 4854 would expand that exemption to include a broader set of issuers. Source: CBO
H.R. 4855: Fix Crowdfunding Act
Sponsor: Rep. Patrick McHenry [R, NC-10]
This bill increases from $1 million to $5 million the aggregate amount of securities sold to all investors by an issuer that qualify for the crowdfunding exemption.
H.R. 4538: Senior$afe Act
Sponsor: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema [D, AZ-9]
H.R. 4538 would exempt financial institutions and some of their employees from liability in any civil or administrative proceeding when those employees report to a government agency about the potential exploitation of a senior citizen. Source: CBO
H.R. 4875: United States Semiquincentennial Commission Act
Sponsor: Rep. Patrick Meehan [R, PA-7]
Establishes the United States Semiquincentennial Commission to plan, develop, and coordinate the commemoration of U.S. history leading up to the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States.
H.R. 4539: 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act
Sponsor: Rep. Robert Scott [D, VA-3]
Establishes the 400 Years of African-American History Commission to develop and carry out activities throughout the United States to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies at Point Comfort, Virginia, in 1619.
H.R. 4361: The Federal Information Systems Safeguards Act
Sponsor: Rep. Gary Palmer [R, AL-6]
The bill provides a comprehensive framework to protect the security of federal information systems. It would clarify that, under FISMA, federal agencies have the sole and exclusive authority to take appropriate and timely actions to secure their information technology and information systems. Source: CBO
H.R. 5485: Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act
Sponsor: Rep. Ander Crenshaw [R, FL-4] | Summary
Provides $21.7 billion in funding for programs that will "help boost economic growth and opportunity, to protect consumers and investors, promote an efficient federal court system, and stop financial crime."
Land Management Bills
H.R. 3844: Bureau of Land Management Foundation Act
Sponsor: Rep. Jody Hice [R, GA-10]
H.R. 3844 would authorize the appropriation of $2 million a year through 2019 and $1 million in 2020 for BLM to establish the Bureau of Land Management Foundation, a nonprofit entity that would support the management of BLM lands and reclaim federal lands affected by mineral development. Source: CBO
H.R. 2273: To amend the Colorado River Storage Project Act to authorize the use of the active capacity of the Fontenelle Reservoir
Sponsor: Rep. Cynthia Lummis [R, WY-0]
Authorizes the Department of the Interior, in cooperation with the state of Wyoming, to amend the Definite Plan Report for the Seedskadee Project authorized under the Colorado River Storage Project Act.
H.R. 4582: Save Our Salmon Act (SOS) Act
Sponsor: Rep. Jeff Denham [R, CA-10]
To exclude striped bass from the anadromous fish doubling requirement in section 3406(b)(1) of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.
H.R. 1838: Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act
Sponsor: Rep. Sam Farr [D, CA-20]
Establishes the Clear Creek National Recreation Area in California to promote environmentally responsible off-highway vehicle recreation and support other public recreational uses.
H.R. 5244: Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial Act
Sponsor: Rep. Steve Knight [R, CA-25]
Provides for the establishment of a national memorial and national monument to commemorate those killed by the collapse of the Saint Francis Dam on March 12, 1928.
H.R. 3079: To take certain Federal land located in Tuolumne County, California, into trust for the benefit of the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians
Sponsor: Rep. Tom McClintock [R, CA-4]
Places U.S. Forest Service land in Tuolumne County, California, in trust for the benefit of the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians.
H.R. 4685: Tule River Indian Reservation Land Trust, Health, and Economic Development Act
Sponsor: Rep. Kevin McCarthy [R, CA-23]
Places certain Federal lands located in Tulare County, California, into trust for the benefit of the Tule River Indian Tribe.
Possible Votes if Legislation is Ready:
Legislation Related to the Federal Aviation Administration
Motion to Go to Conference on National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (S. 2943)
Consideration of the Conference Report to Accompany the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524)
Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.