Hefty and historic week of legislating… 

Water infrastructure bill held the key to getting CR over the finish line, as lawmakers worked together to avert government shutdown. Congress took up historic override on far-reaching legislation — voting to override presidential veto of bill allowing terror victims to sue foreign governments. House passed their WRDA, teeing up conference with Senate lawmakers, and next time you visit a public building with a kid in diapers, life might be a bit easier.

Government Funding  |  JASTA  |  WRDA  |  BABIES |  ICYMI 

*Government shutdown averted*
Congress passed CR, President Obama signed into law

Teamwork makes the dream work — this week House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats worked together to pass continuing resolution (CR). The CR funds the federal government at current spending levels through Dec. 9, giving appropriators more time to negotiate 2017 spending measures.

Legislative Vehicle for Continuing Funding Resolution (CR through Dec. 9, 2016)
Sponsor: Rep. Tom Graves [R, GA-14]

How’d it go down?
On Tuesday, the Senate voted 45-55 to block stopgap spending bill. (60 votes were needed to consider the measure.) Democrats largely opposed the CR for the lack of funding for Flint and wanted greater assurance Flint funding would be included in major water projects bill.

House Republicans responded to Democrats’ demands to address Flint in House WRDA with Kildee amendment to authorize $170 million. The deal resolved government funding impasse and pushed CR to the finish line. 

On Thursday, President Obama signed the stopgap funding measure into law.

See how your lawmakers voted:
Senate passed 72-26. House passed 342-85.

What's included in CR?

CR included provision preventing the SEC from requiring public companies to disclose their political spending, as well as funding for combating Zika virus, implementing CARA, and aiding disaster relief efforts.

Read more in last week's Gavel Down.


Congress overrode presidential veto of bill allowing terror victims to sue foreign governments

Historic week indeed — Congress voted to override veto from President Obama for the first time in his tenure as President of the United States (just months shy of being the first president in 47 years to avoid a veto override). The override vote centered on major legislation that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. This is a big deal, creating an exception to U.S. laws barring lawsuits against foreign governments and possibly opening up Americans abroad to reciprocal lawsuits.

See if your lawmakers voted to override the presidential veto:
Senate voted 97-1. House voted 348-77.

Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (S. 2040)
Sponsor: Sen. John Cornyn [R, TX]

A day after Congress voted to override the veto, top lawmakers expressed concerns about the possible unintended consequences of the bill.

Speaker Paul Ryan said he wants to find a way “to protect our service members overseas from any kind of legal ensnarements or retribution” while still allowing 9/11 victims and their families the ability to sue Saudi Arabia. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said, “There will be an attempt to narrow the effect of what we’ve done.” However, two of the bill's main authors Sens. John Cornyn [R, TX] and Chuck Schumer [D, NY] dismissed the idea of narrowing the legislation. Possible solutions include limiting the bill’s scope to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, amending technical definitions and thresholds, and establishing a tribunal of experts to first determine culpability.


House passed major water infrastructure bill, teeing up conference with Senate lawmakers

House lawmakers spent much of the week debating provisions in Water Resources Development Act (H.R. 5303). Sound familiar? That’s because Senate passed their own WRDA earlier this month. The House version focuses heavily on water infrastructure, specifically harbors, dams, and flood protections.

Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (H.R. 5303)
Sponsor: Rep. Bill Shuster [R, PA-9]

What'd you miss?
Well WRDA became main player in CR negotiations, and late night Rules meeting led to several new amendments being made in order. For example, Rep. Dan Kildee [D, MI-5] originally sought to provide $220 million for Flint (same amount included in Senate WRDA) but Rules did not make the amendment in order for a House vote. New amendments allowed House to pass bipartisan amendment with $170 million for cities struggling with lead contamination in water systems.

See how your lawmakers voted:
Senate passed 95-3. House passed 399-25.

So what now?
When House and Senate return for lame duck session, they'll reconcile differences in passed legislation. House and Senate must pass an identical version in order to send legislation to President Obama. 

Compare House WRDA and Senate WRDA, and let your lawmakers know what you think!

Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (S. 2848)
Sponsor: Sen. Jim Inhofe [R, OK]

Bill requiring baby changing stations in public buildings heads to President Obama's desk

Senate passed several bills by unanimous consent this week, including legislation to require bathrooms in public buildings be equipped with baby changing tables. House passed the bill last week by a vote of 389-34, so the measure now heads to President Obama's desk.

The bill's author Rep. David Cicilline [D, RI-1] introduced the measure in response to constituents' experiences visiting his office in a federal building without any baby changing tables.

Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act (H.R. 5147)
Sponsor: Rep. David Cicilline [D, RI-1]


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.