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Weekly Update

WEEKLY UPDATE: The Week Ahead in Congress (Jul 24-28, 2017)


Buckle up for one of THOSE weeks in Washington.

The Senate will vote on its version of the health care bill and let the chips fall where they may. The House has reached agreement on a sanctions bill that will include sanctions on Russia, with a vote on Tuesday. The House will also take up a series of veterans bills and a spending "mini-bus" package of national security-related appropriations bills.

Much of the attention this week will be on a series of meetings between Trump administration officials and Congress regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election, starting with testimony closed-door by Trump son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds its postponed hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Donald Trump, Jr. and Paul Manafort were originally scheduled to testify, before reaching a deal with the committee to do so at a later date.
 


 

Russian Election Interference


KUSHNER TESTIMONY (Senate Intel & House Intel Committees)

In a prepared statement, Jared Kushner will tell the Senate Intelligence Committee (on Monday) and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (on Tuesday):  “I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government… I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector,” according to the Washington Post.

HEARING ON RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE (Senate Judiciary)

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds its postponed hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Donald Trump, Jr. and Paul Manafort were originally scheduled to testify, before reaching a deal with the committee to do so at a later date. Also scheduled to appear: Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, the firm that compiled the so-called "Steele Dossier." Lawyers for President Trump have now alleged that the Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr was also associated with the firm. The Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena for Simpson; his attorney says he will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in response.
 


Russia Sanctions Legislation


Last week, Congress reached a deal on a sanctions bill that targets Iran, North Korea, and Russia. A key provision of the bill would require Congressional review if the president attempted to lift existing sanctions on Russia. After the bill passed the Senate, the White House originally pressured House members to soften the language. However, President Trump now appears ready to sign the bill, when it reaches his desk. It will be considered as a "suspension" vote this week (a quicker process in the House for bills that eliminates the possibility for amendments and requires 2/3 vote to pass) and then sent back to the Senate for a second vote.
 

Read the new bill language

 

 


Also In the House:


SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS

H.R. 3219: Make America Secure Appropriations Act, 2018
This bill includes funding provisions from four individual appropriations bills – Defense, Legislative Branch, Military Construction/Veterans Affairs, and Energy and Water – and an amendment that will be added to fully fund the President’s request for the border wall.
 

H.R. 3180: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018
This bill authorizes appropriations for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the U.S. government for fiscal year 2018. 


SMALL BUSINESS

H.R. 2333: Small Business Investment Opportunity Act of 2017
This bill amends the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 by increasing the Individual Leverage Limit from $150 million to $175 million.

H.R. 2056: Microloan Modernization Act of 2017
This bill modernizes the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Microloan program, which offers small businesses microloans of $50,000 or less through nonprofit lending intermediaries.

H.R. 2364: Investing in Main Street Act of 2017 
This bill increases the amount of capital and surplus that a financial institution and federal savings association can invest in a Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) from 5 percent to 15 percent in order to assist small businesses in obtaining venture capital and private equity. 


VETERANS BILLS

S. 114: A bill to authorize appropriations for the Veterans Choice Program, and for other purposes, as amended 
This bill authorizes and appropriates $2 billion to be available without fiscal year limitation for the Veterans Choice Fund, extends through December 2027 the current $90 per month limit on a pension paid to veterans residing in nursing homes when their nursing costs are paid through Medicaid, extends through December 2027 the Secretary’s authority to collect fees for certain housing loans made, insured, or guaranteed by the VA, and extends through December 2027 the Secretary’s authority to use IRS income information.
 

H.R. 3218: Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, as amended
This bill makes several improvements to the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
 

H.R. 282: Military Residency Choice Act
This bill amends the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to permit the spouse of a service member to elect to use the same residence as the service member for purposes of taxation and voting, regardless of the date on which the marriage of the spouse and the service member occurred.
 

H.R. 1058: VA Provider Equity Act, as amended
This bill includes podiatrists within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) definition of a physician, increases their pay grade to match other VA physician compensation, and expands the opportunity to compete for leadership positions. 
 

H.R. 1690: Department of Veterans Affairs Bonus Transparency Act, as amended 
This bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to submit an annual report to specified congressional committees on the performance awards and bonuses presented to Senior Executive Service (SES) employees.
 

H.R. 2006: VA Procurement Efficiency and Transparency Act 
This bill improves procurement within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by putting in place consistent parameters for VA to measure its cost savings from competition and encouraging VA to organize its templates for key procurement documents and share them across the organization.
 

H.R. 2772: SEA Act 
This bill requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to personally approve of a reassignment of VA’s approximately 350 Senior Executive Service (SES) employees and submit a semiannual report to congress identifying those employees who were reassigned and the costs associated with this reassignment.
 

H.R. 2781: Ensuring Veteran Enterprise Participation in Strategic Sourcing Act 
This bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to work with the General Services Administration to increase the pool of veteran owned small businesses represented on government-wide strategic sourcing contracts. 
 

H.R. 2749: Protecting Business Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2017, as amended 
This bill strengthens enforcement over veteran owned small businesses that improperly pass through contracts.
 

H.R. 3262: Grow Our Own Directive: Physician Assistant Employment and Education Act of 2017
This bill establishes a pilot program for educational assistance for former members of the Armed Forces pursuing a physician assistant degree to work within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
 

H.R. 95: Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act, as amended 
This bill makes permanent a pilot program to provide child care at Veterans’ Affairs hospitals to veterans who are receiving mental health or other intensive health care services and serve as the primary caretaker of a child. 
 

H.R. 1848: Veterans Affairs Medical Scribe Pilot Act of 2017, as amended
This bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a two-year pilot program to increase the number of medical scribes employed at the department.
 

H.R. 3298: Wounded Officers Recovery Act of 2017, as amended 
This bill authorizes the Capitol Police Board to make payments from the United States Capitol Police (USCP) Memorial Fund to employees of the USCP who have sustained serious line-of-duty injuries.


MISCELLANEOUS

H.R. 3178: Medicare Part B Improvement Act of 2017, as amended
This bill amends title XVIII of the Social Security Act to improve the delivery of home infusion therapy and dialysis as well as the application of the Stark rule under the Medicare program.
 

H.R. 2182: Plum Island Preservation Act 
This bill suspends the requirement that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sell Plum Island until the Government Accountability Office has submitted a report to Congress on the potential alternative uses for the island. 

H.J.Res. 111: Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection relating to "Arbitration Agreements"
This joint resolution disapproves and nullifies the rule issued by the Bureau of Consumer Protection (CFPB) on July 10, 2017, regarding final arbitration pertaining to consumer finance contracts.
 

H.R. 3210: SECRET Act of 2017
This bill requires the Director of the National Background Investigations Bureau to submit a report on the backlog of personnel security clearance investigations. 
 

H.R. 2370: Escambia County Land Conveyance Act
This bill authorizes Escambia County, Florida to convey to other entities certain property that it received from the federal government, specifically the properties were part of the Santa Rosa Island National Monument (now abolished) and transferred to Escambia County in 1947 for public purposes. 
 

H.R. 1927: African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017, as amended
This bill authorizes the National Park Service (NPS) to establish an African American Civil Rights Network.
 

H.Res. 317: Calling for the unconditional release of United States citizens and legal permanent resident aliens being held for political purposes by the Government of Iran, as amended 
This resolution highlights the cases of several Americans being held prisoner by Iran.


In the Senate: Health Care Bill

It is not 100% certain which health care bill will get a vote in the Senate this week (and the options are very different) though the best guess so far is that the Senate will vote on a motion to proceed to the American Health Care Act (the bill that passed the House).

H.R. 1628 The American Health Care Act (Revised) – AHCA

If the Senate can get the 51 votes needed to proceed, then the debate n the bill would begin, with many different amendments offered, possibly including the many health plans proposed by various senators… but a successful motion to proceed is far from likely. Senator Susan Collins of Maine remains a firm "no" on the MTP, as does Rand Paul of Kentucky (though he previously indicated he would vote for the MTP if one of the first amendments to be considered was a "clean repeal.") With Senator McCain still out recovering from surgery to treat brain cancer, the numbers start to look very shaky for the MTP, much less final passage of a bill.

The president, for his part, launched a Sunday tweetstorm encouraging senators to vote for the bill. He also raised many eyebrows by encouraging members of the military to contact their members of Congress about the health bill, as he spoke aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford. (Civilian control of the U.S. military requires the Commander in Chief to avoid issuing what could be construed as a political order to troops under his command.)

Pay attention to the "Byrd Bath"!

The Senate Parliamentarian threw a significant wrench in Senate plans on Friday, by releasing a list of provisions that would violate the "Byrd Rule" (named after former Senator Robert Byrd) if considered as an amendment under reconciliation rules. Any provision that doesn't pass Bryd Rule muster must get 60 votes rather than a simple majority (and none of the provisions impacted would be able to garner that kind of support).

These provisions (that would require 60 votes) include:

  • Defunding Planned Parenthood
  • Abortion Restrictions for Tax Credits
  • Sunset of Essential Health Benefits Requirement for Medicaid
  • Funding for Cost-Sharing Subsidies
  • Stabilizing the Individual Insurance Markets (“Six Month Lock Out”
  • Medical Loss Ratio changes
  • Availability of Rollover Funds
  • Decrease in Target Expenditures for Required Expenditures by Certain Political
    Subdivisions (“Buffalo Bailout”)
  • Grandfathering Certain Medicaid Waivers; Prioritization of HCBS Waivers
  • Reporting of CMS-64 Data – Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System (T-MSIS)
  • Coordination with States

Staffers spent the weekend attempting to rewrite provisions to conform to Byrd Rule requirements.

  



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.

Weekly Update

WEEKLY UPDATE: The Week Ahead in Congress (Jul 17-21, 2017)

House and Senate are in. While the voting schedule looks light, a lot of work is going on under the surface.

The House will attempt to pass all twelve appropriations bills out of committee this week, for a possible omnibus funding bill vote before the August recess. (While the Senate has postponed its recess for two weeks, the House has not yet made an announcement.)

The Senate planned for this week to focus on the health bill but that has been delayed after Senator McCain underwent surgery. Negotiations on the health package will continue, while committees will work on appropriations bills, vote on the FBI director nomination, and examine the road ahead for tax reform.


 

In the House

 

ENERGY BILLS


H.R. 2910 – Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act
Sponsor: Rep. Bill Flores [R, TX-17]

H.R. 2883 – Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act
Sponsor: Rep. Markwayne Mullin [R, OK-2]

H.R. 806 – Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Pete Olson [R, TX-22]

H.R. 2786 – To amend the Federal Power Act with respect to the criteria and process to qualify as a qualifying conduit hydropower facility
Sponsor: Rep. Richard Hudson [R, NC-8]


H.R. 2828 – To extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project
Sponsor: Rep. Dan Newhouse [R, WA-4]

H.R. 3050 – Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Fred Upton [R, MI-6]

MISCELLANEOUS

H.R. 2210 – To designate the community living center of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Butler Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, as the Sergeant Joseph George Kusick VA Community Living Center
Sponsor:  Rep. Mike Kelly [R, PA-3]

H.J.Res. 92 – Granting the consent and approval of Congress for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia to amend the Washington Area Transit Regulation Compact
Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Comstock [R, VA-10]

H.J.Res. 76 – Granting the consent and approval of Congress for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia to enter into a compact relating to the establishment of the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission
Sponsor: Rep. Steny Hoyer [D, MD-5]

H.R. 218 – King Cove Road Land Exchange Act
Sponsor:  Rep. Don Young [R, AK-0]

 


In the Senate

The Senate was scheduled to begin consideration of the health care bill this week, which is now delayed while Senator John McCain recovers from surgery. The Senate will turn to other priorities, including presidential nominations. 

Hearings of note:

  • The Judiciary Committee will vote on the nomination of Christopher Wray to be director of the FBI.
  • The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the prospects and challenges of comprehensive tax reform.
 

ICYMI

 

  • Senate health vote delayed because Sen. McCain recovering from surgery in Arizona

  • May provide enough time for Congressional Budget Office to score Cruz amendment

  • Also, gives opponents more time to organize

  • White House preemptively characterizing nonpartisan CBO report on Senate health bill “fake news”

  • Health care legislation is hard (Part 874)

  • Senate will turn focus to other legislative priorities and nominations while awaiting Sen. McCain’s return

  • OK what’s all this talk about blue slips in the Senate?

    • For judicial nominations, the Judiciary Committee traditionally sends a blue piece of paper to home state senators asking if they approve; an unreturned blue slip kills the nomination

    • Senate strictly enforced this since 2009 (some exceptions before then)

    • President Obama was unable to fill 17 district and circuit court seats due to blue slip issues

    • This year, Democratic senators have not returned any blue slips for Trump nominees

    • Senators now considering killing the blue slip tradition altogether

  • Not to be confused with “blue slipping” in the House

  • All 12 appropriations bills will clear committee by end of this week; could be combined into $1 trillion omnibus that would get vote before August recess

  • House may move its own sanctions bill that would include North Korea, along with Iran and Russia (which were included Senate-passed legislation)

  • Yes, Congress can actually be bipartisan when it wants to be

  • What Kushner’s Office of American Innovation actually does

  • Some Dem lawmakers asking what Ivanka knew about Trump campaign’s Russia interactions

  • White House announces “Made in America Week”; prompting questions about Trump family manufacturing overseas (including recent deep dive into Ivanka Trump’s supply chain)

  • USPS released epic stamp to mark the August 21st total solar eclipse

  • Decorum update: judge tossed out disorderly conduct conviction of woman who laughed loudly at AG Sessions’ confirmation hearing

  • In first speech, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton committed to carrying out DoL fiduciary rule

  • Last week, House subcommittee held hearing on Rep. Wagner draft to gut the rule

  • DoD Algorithmic Warfare Cross Function Team prepping plan to incorporate artificial intelligence into military operations

  • Elon Musk warns that it’s time to regulate A.I.

  • Are short-term rentals turning “God’s country” into “renter’s hell”?

  • Mike Flynn is surfing

  • James Comey is writing a book

  • Why Star Wars fans will be going to Disneyland next year

  • Today is World Emoji Day, set at July 17 because that was the original date on the “calendar” emoji

  • And the top most used emoji worldwide is…..

  



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.

Weekly Update

WEEKLY UPDATE: The Week Ahead in Congress (Jul 10-14, 2017)

Welcome back! We hope you had a wonderful 4th of July week and are enjoying your summer.

Congress is back after a week-long recess with a lot to get done before August recess: pass a budget (or not?), pass 12 spending bills (or a continuing resolution), raise the debt ceiling. And all of that was supposed to come after the health care bill that appears stalled in the Senate. Several members are calling for canceling the annual break altogether.

Here's what's up on Capitol Hill this week:


 

In the House


BUDGET: The House Budget Committee may hold a markup this week, according to Chairwoman Diane Black [R, TN].  FY18 Budget Year starts October 1, 2017. 

  • Chairwoman Black is pushing for a 1% spending cut ($339 billion from mandatory programs over ten years)
  • There is disagreement among Republicans about where cuts should be made and also about increasing funds for the military
  • Budget normally sets spending levels for appropriations bills; but this year, without a budget, appropriators are having to craft bills with no spending levels.
  • Speaker Ryan previously said that appropriations bills would not be considered before a budget was approved.
  • Republicans are looking to pass a budget that sets up a "reconciliation" process for tax reform (which would only need 50 votes in the Senate.)


APPROPRIATIONS: In the absence of a Budget, appropriators are moving ahead with their work. This week in the House:

  • Defense Appropriations (passed by committee June 29 – House vote THIS WEEK)
  • Legislative Branch Appropriations SUMMARY  (passed by committee June 29)
  • Energy and Water Development Appropriations SUMMARY (full committee markup Wednesday)
  • Agriculture Appropriations SUMMARY (full committee markup Wednesday)
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations (subcommittee markup Tuesday)
  • Interior Appropriations (subcommittee markup Wednesday)
  • Financial Services and General Government Appropriations SUMMARY
  • Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations SUMMARY


House Votes this Week:


Defense Appropriations Bill
H.R. 2810 – National Defense Authorization Act (#FY18NDAA)
COMMITTEE REPORT

H.R. 23 – Gaining Responsibility on Water Act
Sponsor: Rep. David Valadao [R, CA-21]
requiring regulators to comply with the bipartisan Bay-Delta Accord

Bills to Address Human Trafficking
 

H.R. 2664 – Enhancing Detection of Human Trafficking Act
Sponsor: Rep. Tim Walberg [R, MI-7]
To direct the Secretary of Labor to train certain Department of Labor personnel how to effectively detect and assist law enforcement in preventing human trafficking during the course of their primary roles and responsibilities


H.R. 2480 – Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act
Sponsor: Rep. Vicky Hartzler [R, MO-4]
expanding grant availability to include "programs to reduce the demand for trafficked persons"
 

H.R. 2200 – Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act
Sponsor: Rep. Christopher Smith [R, NJ-4 
reauthorizing several programs within the Departments of Justice (DOJ), Health and Human Services (HHS), Homeland Security (DHS), Labor, and State, and the U.S Agency for International Development that combat trafficking in persons.

Public Lands Bills

H.R. 1988 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1730 18th Street in Bakersfield, California, as the Merle Haggard Post Office Building

H.R. 954 – To remove the use restrictions on certain land transferred to Rockingham County, Virginia

H.R. 1397 – To authorize, direct, facilitate, and expedite the transfer of administrative jurisdiction of certain Federal land

H.R. 1404 – Pascua Yaqui Tribe Land Conveyance Act

H.R. 1541 – To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to acquire certain property related to the Fort Scott National Historic Site in Fort Scott, Kansas

H.R. 1719 – John Muir National Historic Site Expansion Act

H.R. 1913 – Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act

H.R. 1306 – Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act

H.R. 2156 – Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial Act

H.R. 597 – Lytton Rancheria Homelands Act of 2017

 


 

In the Senate


The big question of the week is whether the Senate will release a new version of the Republican health care bill and how soon it will come up for a vote.

The Senate will start the week voting on presidential nominations:

  • Neomi Rao to be Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
  • David C. Nye to be United States District Judge for the District of Idaho
  • William ("Bill") Hagerty IV to be Ambassador to Japan


President Trump's FBI Director nominee, Christopher Wray, will have his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee this Wednesday.

 

  



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.

Weekly Update

WEEKLY UPDATE: The Week Ahead in Congress (Jun 26-30, 2017)

Negotiations continue on the Senate health bill. The tone of the week will largely be determined by the CBO Score for the Senate Health — expected “early” this week.

The House will vote on a variety of topics, including increased penalties for convicted felons who return after deportation, a bill capping noneconomic losses in medical malpractice suits to $250,000, and a resolution reaffirming the U.S. commitment to Article V of NATO, among others.


 

In the Senate: Health Care Bill

The "score" from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected Monday or Tuesday, with estimates on total costs and coverage impacts of the bill.

Negotiations over the Senate health bill were in full swing this weekend. Potential swing votes were the center of attention – none more so that Sen. Heller [R, NV], who wound up the subject of a Twitter hashtag war after announcing opposition to the bill. The bill was written specifically with room to negotiate – a bit like leaving "room for cream" in your coffee order. This week we will find out if there is enough room to get the 51 votes needed to pass the bill. An end-of-week goal for a vote is looking very optimistic, according to Majority Whip John Cornyn [R, TX], though he puts August 1 as a "drop-dead" deadline.
 

Resource: How will your premiums and tax credits change under the BCRA?
 

Tell your Senators what you think:


Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the Senate Republican health care bill (discussion draft)
 


In the House

 


Immigration Enforcement

 

H.R. 3004: Kate’s Law

Sponsor:
Rep. Bob Goodlatte [R, VA-6]

The bill would increase penalties for undocumented immigrants convicted of felonies who return to the United States after deportation

 

H.R. 3003: No Sanctuary for Criminals Act

Sponsor:
Rep. Bob Goodlatte [R, VA-6]

The bill would withhold certain federal grants from jurisdictions that have adopted "sanctuary city" (or state) policies

Tort Reform

H.R. 1215 Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017

Sponsor: 
Rep. Steve King [R, IA-4]

The bill would set a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in a medical liability lawsuit
 


International Affairs

H.Res. 397 Solemnly reaffirming the commitment of the United States to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's principle of collective defense as enumerated in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

Sponsor: 
Rep. Paul Ryan [R, WI-1]


 

H.Res. 351: Condemning the violence and persecution in Chechnya

Sponsor: 
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [R, FL-27]

 


Veterans' Skills Certification

H.R. 2547: Veterans Expanded Trucking Opportunities Act

Sponsor: 
Rep. Rob Woodall [R, GA-7]

The bill would allow advanced practice nurses, chiropractors, physician assistants, and other qualified medical professionals at the VA to certify that veterans meet the physical standards required to operate commercial motor vehicles. 

H.R. 2258: ADVANCE Act

Sponsor: 
Rep. Pete Aguilar [D, CA-31]


The bill would exempt active-duty members or reservists of the armed forces from certain testing requirements to obtain a state commercial driver’s license if they have qualifying military experience.

 

Miscellaneous


H.R. 1684: Disaster Assistance Support for Communities and Homeowners Act 

Sponsor: 
Rep. Jerrold Nadler [D, NY-10]


The bill  requires the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide recommendations on how common areas of condominiums and housing cooperatives may be eligible for disaster assistance. Specifically, FEMA must provide technical assistance to Common Interest Communities to ensure they are eligible to apply for public assistance.  In addition, FEMA must provide legislative proposals to Congress in order to make condos and co-ops eligible for disaster assistance in the future.

H.R. 1967: Bureau of Reclamation Pumped Storage Hydropower Development Act

Sponsor: 
Rep. Doug Lamborn [R, CO-5]

Under current law, nonfederal entities that propose to develop facilities for pumped storage hydropower at reservoirs administered by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) must enter into a lease contract with the bureau; at some reservoirs those entities need to obtain a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). (Pumped storage hydropower is a type of storage for hydroelectric energy used by electric power systems for load balancing.) H.R. 1967 would make the BOR the sole regulatory authority for pumped storage developers that are currently subject to regulation by both BOR and FERC.

 

 

H.R. 1726: Coast Guard Improvement and Reform Act

Sponsor: 
Rep. Duncan Hunter [R, CA-50]


H.R. 1726 would reorganize, but not substantively alter, provisions of law that govern the authority of the U.S. Coast Guard. The bill would clarify the duties and defense-related responsibilities of that agency and establish a uniform administrative framework for its advisory committees. 

H.R. 497: Santa Ana River Wash Plan Land Exchange Act 

Sponsor: 
Rep. Paul Cook [R, CA-8]

 

 

H.R. 220: To authorize the expansion of an existing hydroelectric project

Sponsor: 
Rep. Don Young [R, AK-0]

 

 

H.R. 1073: To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to establish a structure for visitor services on the Arlington Ridge tract

Sponsor:  
Rep. Don Beyer [D, VA-8]

H.R. 1135: To reauthorize the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Preservation program

Sponsor:  
Rep. James Clyburn [D, SC-6]

H.R. 1500: Robert Emmet Park Act

Sponsor: 
Rep. Joseph Crowley [D, NY-14]

  



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.

Gavel Down

GAVEL DOWN: Closing out the Week in Congress (Jun 19-24, 2017)

Gavel Down - Closing out the week in Congress

All about the Senate Health Bill


This week in Congress was all about the health bill – from speculation about the content and complaints about the opaque process in the beginning of the week to analysis and commentary after the Thursday release.

Also this week: the President signed the VA Accountability Act and new revelations surfaced about Russian efforts to hack the 2016 election.



Senate Health Bill Released

On Thursday, Senate GOP Leadership released the "Better Care" health care discussion draft, the Senate's amendment to the House-passed American Health Care Act.

Let's take a look at three big angles on the bill:

  1. The Content (What's in it? What would it do?)
  2. The Politics (What are the chances it gets 50 votes in the Senate?)
  3. The Process (What comes next?)


1. The Content (What's in it? What would it do?)

The bill would:

  • Repeal the individual mandate
  • Repeal the employer mandate
  • Repeal ACA taxes on wages above $200,000, medical devices, prescription drugs and indoor tanning
  • Medicaid: phases out states' expansion starting in 2021, caps federal funding per enrollee
  • Eliminates subsidies for out-of-pocket costs after 2019
  • Lowers income level for premium subsidies from 400% of federal poverty level ($47,550 annual income) to 350% FPL $42,000
  • Allows states to apply for waivers to eliminate requirement of coverage for "essential benefits" (like ambulance, emergency services, hospitalizations, maternity care, mental health, prescription drugs, rehabilitation, lab services, prevention and wellness, pediatric services)
  • Preserves ban on lifetime limits (but states can apply for waivers to eliminate)
  • Preserves requirement that insurers offer coverage regardless of preexisting conditions
  • Allows insurers to charge older people up to five times as much as younger ones (only 3x allowed currently)
  • Increases amount that can be put tax-free into health savings account
  • Keeps ability for children to stay on parents' plans until age 26

More Resources: The Hill, RollCall, WaPo, USAToday, Chicago Trib, NYTimes

Source: New York Times

2. The Politics (What are the chances it gets 50 votes in the Senate?)

As a reconciliation bill, the Better Care plan only needs 50 votes to pass (with VP Pence as the tie-breaker). That means two Republicans could defect and the bill still pass. The question is – will the bill move left to pick up moderates or right to pick up conservatives? 
 

Follow the "Whip Counts" from NYTImes, CNN


This divide is clear even from the comments that have been registered on POPVOX – a majority of constituents oppose the bill: some think it goes too far in repealing the existing system, some think it does not go far enough.


Constituent sentiment registered on POPVOX on 
Senate Republican Health Care
bill (discussion draft)


Right now the Senators on the fence are:

Moderates:

Dean Heller [R, NV]: "I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes away insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans" 

Susan Collins [R, ME]: "It's going to be an open amendment process and I'm sure many of us are going to have amendments. In addition, I want to see that CBO analysis because I don't know the exact impact yet." (link)

Rob Portman [R, OH]: "I continue to have real concerns about the Medicaid policies in this bill, especially those that impact drug treatment at a time when Ohio is facing an opioid epidemic" 

Conservatives:

Joint statement from Sens. Rand Paul [R, KY], Mike Lee [R, UT], Ted Cruz [R, TX], Ron Johnson [R, WI]:

Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor… There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs"

 


3. The Process (What comes next?)

  • The Senate will negotiate informally over the next few days, hearing concerns from members and looking to secure 50 votes.
  • A CBO score (explaining how much the bill will cost, how many will be covered, and other analysis of its impacts) will come out next Monday or Tuesday
  • The Senate will vote on a "motion to proceed" to the bill (requires 51 votes)
  • Senators will vote on amendments
  • After amendments, the Senate will vote on the actual bill (no 60-vote cloture requirement) – it needs 50 votes to pass, with VP Mike Pence potentially casting a tie-breaking vote
  • The bill will then head back over to the House, where it could either be amended again – or, if the House has enough votes, it could pass with no further changes
  • It would then be signed into law by President Trump

 



Questions from POPVOX Nation


You sent some great questions about the health bill! 

Tom W: How much is it going to cost in lost taxes?
Great question! This is information we can expect to learn from the Congressional Budget Office report, expected Monday or Tuesday. This nonpartisan agency runs the bill through its mathematical model to predict its impacts and costs. Stay tuned!

Cathy H: I'm covered under my employer's health care insurance. How will this affect me?
The Senate bill like the American Health Care Act in the
House, would eliminate the “employer mandate” that requires employers to provide health insurance or pay a fine. While your employer may opt to continue to provide a health insurance plan for employees, there will be no penalty if they choose not to.

I want to know how the proposed Senate Health Care bill addresses services to illegal/undocumented people in the US.  Will they "qualify" for : Marylyn B
Undocumented immigrants are currently not eligible to buy Marketplace health coverage, or for premium tax credits and other savings on Marketplace plans. The Senate bill applies to "qualified aliens" as defined in Section 431 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA).
healthcare under this new law? 

Steve BWhy does this bill have to be so complicated? I have tried to read the summary and some of the text of the Bill and it reads like a bunch of drunk lawyers wrote it.
We loved this ;-)… and YES, while the bill language is complicated, it's really the only way to actually change existing laws.. you have to go in and delete and edit parts of them, and that gets messy. That's why analyses like what's coming from the Congressional Budget Office next week become so important. They show how these changes impact other laws and what the overall cost will be.

 

Tell Congress what you think:
 


VA Accountability Act Becomes Law

On Friday, President Trump signed the VA Accountability Act. As reported by Federal News Radio, the bill will:

  • Shorten the time employees have to respond to a disciplinary action,
  • Shorten the time grievance process to 21 days,
  • Expedite the appeals process for rank-and-file employees with the Merit Systems Protection Board,
  • Eliminate the MSPB as an avenue for senior executives to appeal disciplinary actions. Instead, SES can appeal directly to the VA secretary and challenge the decision in the courts,
  • Codify and strengthen the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, which President Donald Trump created in a recent executive order, and
  • Prohibit bonuses and relocation expenses for employees who have been found guilty of wrongdoing or abuse.

Russia Investigation (Highlights)

  • Must-read in-depth report on what the Obama administration knew about Russian hacking of the election and how it responded
  • House Intelligence Committee met with special counsel Robert Mueller to "deconflict" the investigations
  • Former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson told House and Senate Intelligence Committees that Russia "at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our Nation for the purpose of influencing our election — plain and simple."
  • Senate Intelligence Committee will also investigate Russian meddling in European elections

 


In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) / DC

 

Some good news: Majority Whip Steve Scalise has been transferred out of Intensive Care

  • White House not allowing cameras to cover briefings, so CNN using courtroom sketch artist
  • Must-read in-depth report on what the Obama administration knew about Russian hacking of the election and how it responded
  • Press team “Bad News Babes” defeated the Member team in the Congressional Softball Game
  • Softball star and retiring Rep. Ros-Lehtinen “has no regrets
  • House Freedom Caucus picking up a new member in SC-5 Rep-elect Norman
  • With Karen Handel win in GA-6, the House will soon have 241 Republicans & 194 Democrats (and be back to 218 as threshold for passing bills)
  • Handel adds to number of women in the GOP caucus, which had been declining
  • Sen. Manchin [D, VA] signed pledge “to Return to Era of Bipartisan Cooperation and Agreement” and called on colleagues to do the same
  • Senate Finance Chairman Hatch [R, UT] asking for feedback on tax reform ideas
  • Senators met by health care protesters at Washington’s DCA airport as they left Washington Thursday afternoon
  • More than 60 lawmakers and staffers showed up for a “no-politics” bipartisan workout to mark Men’s Health Month


In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) /Nation

  • If you are a registered voter, your personal data was likely exposed in the Deep Root Analytics leak
  • Data exposed include individuals’ positions on gun ownership, stem cell research, and the right to abortion, religious affiliation, ethnicity – and possibly even Reddit profiles
  • It’s really hot in Arizona right now
  • President Trump pledged full support for LA’s bid to host the Summer Olympics
  • Ooops: Caltech staffer accidentally sent out alert for 1925 earthquake
  • Tick that makes you allergic to red meat is spreading
  • Uber CEO out
  • “Tech giants” met with the Trump Administration’s American Technology Council yesterday
  • Dept. of Interior may cut 4,000 jobs in reorganization, including 1,000 at Bureau of Land Management

     

     


In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) / World

  • European Union and Japan close to trade deal roughly the size of NAFTA
  • Bono met with staffers to talk international affairs funding – and signed the get well card for Rep. Scalise
  • NATO jet intercepted Russian defense minister’s plane
  • White House lobbying to water down Russia sanctions language in the House
  • King of Saudi Arabia changed the line of succession, 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman, now next in line
  • Is the Queen making a political statement with her hat?
  • Qatar’s neighbors issued their demands

     

     


Please keep in mind that highlighting specific legislation 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.

Weekly Update

WEEKLY UPDATE: The Week Ahead in Congress (Jun 19-24, 2017)

The focus of the week will be health care, as the Senate works toward an agreement on a bill that GOP leadership hopes can get a vote before July 4. Senate Democrats plan to make speeches and hold the Senate Floor until midnight on Tuesday to protest the closed process for crafting the bill.

The House will vote on several workforce development bills, including a renewal of the Perkins Act, which provides financial assistance for technical education.
 
The House will also take up a series of bills that impact families in the foster care system and bills concerning the Department of Homeland Security.


 

In the Senate: Health Care Bill

No language has yet been released for the Senate version of the health care bill, which will eventually be an amendment to the House-passed "American Health Care Act."

Timing is critical for the health bill this week because, unlike the House, the Senate cannot vote on a bill without a score from the Congressional Budget Office (under requirements for the bill to follow the "reconciliation" procedure). If the Senate indeed wants to vote on the bill by July 4, it will need to submit the proposal to CBO this week.

Senators from both sides have complained about the process for crafting the Senate bill (though with only a two-vote Republican margin of error, GOP senators have tremendous power to impact the process and content of the bill). Senate Democrats plan to hold the floor on Monday through midnight Tuesday

H.R. 1628 The American Health Care Act (Revised) – AHCA

Sponsor: 
Rep. Diane Black [R, TN-6]

 


In the House: Health Care changes


Workforce Development
 

H.R. 2842: Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act

Sponsor:
Rep. Carlos Curbelo [R, FL-26]

The bill would make grants to states for demonstration projects that provide wage subsidies to enable low-income individuals to enter and retain employment. 

 

H.R. 2353: Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

Sponsor:
Rep. Glenn Thompson [R, PA-5]

The bill would amend the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 and reauthorize secondary and postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) programs through fiscal year 2023.  

 

H.R. 1393: Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act of 2017

Sponsor:
Rep. Mike Bishop [R, MI-8]

The bill would establish consistent criteria for states to determine state taxation and employer withholding for nonresidents who work in a state. 

 

 

Foster Families

H.R. 2847: Improving Services for Older Youth in Foster Care Act

Sponsor: 
Rep. John Faso [R, NY-19]

Maximizes the availability of support for older foster youth making the transition to adulthood by updating the Chafee Foster Care program

 

H.R. 2866: Reducing Barriers for Relative Foster Parents Act

Sponsor: 
Rep. Lloyd Smucker [R, PA-16]

Reinforces flexibility in foster care licensing rules to place more children with relatives rather than with foster parents

 

H.R. 2742: Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act

Sponsor: 
Rep. Jackie Walorski [R, IN-2]

Reduces the time it takes to place foster children across state lines with a family member, foster parent, or adoptive parent by requiring states to implement the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE) system for exchanging information

 

H.R. 2834: Partnership Grants to Strengthen Families Affected by Parental Substance Abuse Act

Sponsor: 
Rep. Danny Davis [D, IL-7]

Strengthens regional partnership grants to more effectively help communities address the impacts of substance abuse

 

H.R. 2857: Supporting Families in Substance Abuse Treatment Act, as amended

Sponsor:
Rep. Kristi Noem [R, SD-0] 

Allows children to remain with a parent who is in a residential-based family substance abuse treatment facility

 

 

Department of Homeland Security


H.R. 2132: Traveler Redress Improvement Act of 2017

Sponsor:
Rep. John Katko [R, NY-24]

The bill would require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to ensure that appropriate redress procedures are available to adjudicate inquiries by individuals who believe they have been wrongly identified as being a threat to aviation security.

 

H.R. 625: REPORT Act

Sponsor:
Rep. Pete Aguilar [D, CA-31]


The bill would require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to ensure that appropriate redress procedures are available to adjudicate inquiries by individuals who believe they have been wrongly identified as being a threat to aviation security. The bill would specify requirements for that process and direct the agency to complete various reports and administrative requirements related to it. 

 

H.R. 2131: DHS FIRM Act

Sponsor:
Rep. Clay Higgins [R, LA-3]


The bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to standardize its policies on handling employee misconduct and discipline and to ensure the consistent application of those policies throughout its component agencies (such as the Coast Guard and the Secret Service).

 

H.R. 2283: DHS MORALE Act

Sponsor:
Rep. Bennie Thompson [D, MS-2]


The bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a plan to improve employee morale and enhance communications within the department. The bill also would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate and assess the consistency and fairness of disciplinary actions imposed on DHS employees.  


H.R. 1282: DHS Acquisition Review Board Act of 2017

Sponsor:
Rep. Thomas Garrett [R, VA-5]


The bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish an Acquisition Review Board to review major acquisition programs and enhance accountability and uniformity in the review process for DHS acquisitions.

 

H.R. 2190: Streamlining DHS Overhead Act

Sponsor:
Rep. Pete Aguilar [D, CA-31]


The bill would direct the Under Secretary for Management of the Department of Homeland Security to make certain improvements in managing the Department's real property portfolio.

 

Miscellaneous
 

H.R. 1873: Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act

Sponsor:
Rep. Doug LaMalfa [R, CA-1]

The bill would allow electric utilities to submit to the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) long-term plans that would guide vegetation management and maintenance activities on or adjacent to rights-of-way containing electrical infrastructure on federal lands. 
 

H.R. 1551: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the credit for production from advanced nuclear power facilities

Sponsor:
Rep. Tom Rice [R, SC-7]

The bill changes the tax credit for the production of electricity from advanced nuclear power facilities, to: (1) establish requirements for the allocation of unutilized portions of the national megawatt capacity limitation, and (2) allow public entities to transfer the credit to project partners.


 

H.R. 1654: Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act

Sponsor:
Rep. Tom McClintock [R, CA-4]


The bill would direct the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to act as the lead federal agency for coordinating with 17 western states for issuing permits to construct new water storage projects on land managed by the Department of the Interior or the Department of Agriculture. The bill also would impose deadlines for carrying out certain activities related to each project. 

 

H.R. 2484: Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017 

Sponsor: 
Rep. Kristi Noem [R, SD-0]


The bill would require the President to develop a strategy to promote the participation of women abroad in conflict prevention, management, resolution, and recovery.


 

 



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.

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The most active bill on POPVOX for the week of Mar. 3-10, 2017 was: the American Health Care Act (House Republicans' plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act).

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The most active bill on POPVOX for the week of Feb. 23 – Mar. 3, 2017 was: H.R. 998 Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome Act (SCRUB Act) sponsored by Rep. Jason Smith [R, MO].

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The most active bill on POPVOX for the week of Feb 11-18, 2017 was: H.R. 367 Hearing Protection Act of 2017 sponsored by Rep. Jeff Duncan [R, SC-3].