Congress returns this week for the post-election session. The Republican electoral sweep will likely keep this Lame Duck session short and focused on must-pass bills: government funding (expires December 9th) and defense authorization.
Republicans and Democrats will vote on new leadership teams, newly-elected members will be in Washington for orientation, and the focus will shift from wrapping up the 114th Congress (2015-2016) to planning for the 115th (2017-2018).
Major votes this week on extending Iran sanctions and a bill to make it easier for Congress to invalidate “midnight rules” made in the last months of an administration.
Here's what Congress is voting on this week:
Extending Iran sanctions
Iran sanctions are set to end on December 31, 2016. The bill (no bill number yet) will extend the sanctions for ten years. Read more about the history and current state of Iran Sanctions. The House will also vote on a bill (H.R. 5711) to prohibit U.S. financial institutions from financing the sale of commercial passenger aircraft to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Limiting "Midnight Rules"
It is not uncommon for presidents to issue rules and guidance up until the end of their term in office. It is also not uncommon for a Congress controlled by the other party to seek to invalidate those rules. H.R. 5982 would make it easier for Congress to consider and vote to invalidate rules "en bloc" if issued in the last year of a presidential administration.
Also on the Docket:
The bill creates a commission of diabetes experts including specialists, primary care physicians, patient advocates and representatives from the federal agencies to streamline federal investments in the disease to improve the coordination and clinical care outcomes for people with diabetes and pre-diabetes.
The National Health Service Corps provides loan repayment to physicians and other health care providers who work in areas designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA). There are currently three categories of HPSAs – dental, mental health, and primary care. The bill develops a fourth HPSA based specifically on maternity care.
The bill would reauthorize the Nursing Workforce Development programs (Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act) through FY 2021 and includes four technical changes: identifies and defines clinical nurse specialists, highlights the clinical nurse leader role, and adds the definition of nurse-managed health clinics.
The bill allows emergency medical service practitioners to administer controlled substances in the field under direction from a medical director, including a verbal order issued by one or more medical directors. The bills also clarify that the current practice of physician medical directors overseeing care provided in the field by EMS practitioners through “standing orders” is statutorily allowed, protected and necessary.
H.R. 2566 would require certain providers of voice communication services to register with the FCC. It also would require the FCC to issue rules establishing service quality standards for those providers.
Under current law, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has the authority to levy penalties and criminal fines against individuals that use fake information about a caller’s identification to defraud or harm another. H.R. 2669 would expand that authority to include the use of text messages and would apply the authority to violators outside of the United States if the recipient is within the United States. The bill also would direct the FCC to develop consumer education materials that provide information for consumers on identifying fraudulent caller activities. (CBO).
H.R. 5332 would require the President to develop a plan to promote the participation of women abroad in conflict prevention, management, resolution, and recovery, and to train personnel of the Departments of Defense (DoD) and State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in such matters. In addition, the bill would require the Department of State and USAID to provide their staff with guidelines on consulting with appropriate stakeholders and to report at intervals to the Congress on the implementation of those requirements.
"The United States should impose sanctions on government officials of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who impede progress toward a democratic transition through credible elections that respect the will of the Congolese. Sanctions should target core figures in President Kabila's government for visa denials and asset freezes. …."
Ever wonder why bills like this are important? Check out the POPVOX Guide to Better Advocacy and our explainer on The Long Road to a Legislative Win.
H.R. 985 would establish the Concrete Masonry Products Board (Board), upon approval of a referendum by producers of masonry products made from concrete (CMP), such as cinder blocks. The Board would develop research and education programs as well as efforts to promote CMP in domestic markets. Funding for those activities would be derived from assessments on CMP manufacturers based on the number of masonry units sold each year. The bill would direct the Secretary of Commerce to organize and hold the referendum; the agency’s costs would be reimbursed by the Board from initial collections of assessments.
This bill directs the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Department of Commerce to assess and analyze the outdoor recreation economy of the United States and the effects attributable to it on the overall U.S. economy.
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