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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
- House passed legislation to delay implementation of the Labor Department's overtime pay rule until the middle of next year. (See how your lawmaker voted.) White House said President Obama would veto the bill.
- 19 lawmakers traveled to Israel to attend state funeral of Israel's former President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
- More than one-third of calls to Veterans Affairs' suicide hotline roll over to back-up centers where workers have less training. This week House unanimously passed Young bill to require the VA to ensure all calls are answered in a timely manner and by appropriately qualified employees.
- Department of Labor launched Wells Fargo investigation, following Senate Democrats' questioning if the bank violated wage and labor laws.
- Senate failed to pass right to try legislation by unanimous consent.
- Reps. Tim Murphy [R, PA-18] and Michael Burgess [R, TX-26] helped resuscitate an unconscious man found on the floor of House office building.
- Members of the House Freedom Caucus offered a measure to extend the stopgap funding legislation into 2017.
- FARC rebels and Colombian government signed peace deal, formally ending 52 years of armed conflict. The deal (which still must be ratified in Oct. 2 public referendum) requires the rebels to surrender weapons to the United Nations.
- Obama administration urged lawmakers to keep quiet on Russian hacking efforts.
Three Senate Republicans revived legislatio
n to ban online gambling.
- Crime in America's biggest cities is decreasing, with some outliers of note.
- President Obama nominated first Cuban ambassador in 55 years.
- Internal Revenue Service set to eliminate 7,000+ jobs as fewer people file paper tax returns.
- FBI Director James Comey said hackers have attempted more intrusions into voter registration databases since last report. Read full testimony.
- Number of Americans following national politics "very closely" increased to 39%.
- New report from the Center for Political Accountability found companies are disclosing more about their political contributions.
- Obama administration warned Russia to halt airstrikes on Aleppo, threatening to end coordinated counterterrorism talks.
- Presidential candidates debated and we live tweeted related bills and Congressional happenings. Follow us on Twitter @POPVOXfor future debates!
- Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Nevada filed a lawsuit to block the transfer of internet domain systems oversight from the U.S. to an international governing body.
- New GAO report concluded Obama administration is illegally refusing to make payments to the U.S. Treasury and instead giving funds collected under Obamacare to insurers.
- Sen. John Thune [R, SD] talked about his new role.
Supreme Court agreed to hear eight new cases in next term, including a sovereignty case with implications for Native American tribes and trademarks
case that would affect Washington Redskins. New term begins next week.
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.