From our Hill Sources: Congress' "crazy busy" Awful Autumn is upon us, as Members make their way back to Washington to work on a long list of outstanding issues with very few legislative days scheduled (15 for the Senate, 10 for the House.) Avoiding a government shutdown and a vote on the Iran Deal, are on the short-term agenda, with much more ahead in the coming weeks.
Congress Expected to Disapprove — But Not Stop — the Iran Deal
On August 4, 2015, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russia, and the European Union announced a nuclear agreement with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On July 19, the State Department officially transmitted the agreement to Congress, triggering the 60-day Congressional review period set by legislation passed by Congress in May. During this review period, Congress must vote on a joint resolution of approval or disapproval (or opt to do nothing). The 60-day review period expires on Sept. 17, 2015.
This week, the House and Senate will vote on a joint resolution to disapprove the Iran Deal. The President has said he will veto the resolution. Last week, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) became the 34th Senator to support the deal, ensuring that the Senate will not have sufficient votes to override a Presidential veto. See "A Guide to Congress' Upside-Down Vote on Iran" from the AP.
Disapproving of the agreement transmitted to Congress by the President on July 19, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran (HJRes 64)
Sponsor: Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA-39) States that Congress does not favor the nuclear agreement with Iran (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) transmitted by the President to Congress on July 19, 2015, for purposes of prohibiting the taking of any action involving statutory sanctions relief by the United States pursuant to such agreement.
Avoiding a Government Shutdown – Substance or Symbolism on Planned Parenthood Funding?
Government funding runs out on September 30. To avoid a shutdown, Congress will need to pass a temporary "continuing resolution" (CR). Several GOP Members have indicated that they will not vote for a CR if it does not include a provision to de-fund Planned Parenthood; President Obama says he would veto any bill that contains such a provision. If a senator decides to block a CR without the defunding provision, the delay could result in a government shutdown. With many predicting Senate "fireworks" on the topic in the coming days. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said "funding the government is the top challenge facing him when he returns to the Capitol."
All four presidential candidates currently serving in the Senate (Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX)) support defunding Planned Parenthood, according to The Hill, though they differ on whether a shutdown threat is the best tactic.
Several bills have been introduced to prohibit federal funding of Planned Parenthood. S. 1881 from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), failed to achieve cloture in the Senate before Congress left for recess. (The final tally was 53-46.)
Sponsor: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) prohibits federal funding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America or its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics.
The Defund Planned Parenthood Act (HR 3134)
Sponsor: Rep Dianne Black (R-TN) freezes Planned Parenthood funding for one year.
Also in the House
The House will also vote on the following legislation this week:
Sponsor: Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY-2) would reauthorize the federal authority for hearing tests and intervention programs for newborn babies, which were first authorized through the Newborn Infant Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 1999. "Early detection of hearing loss is just like the early detection of any other disease or illness – it can dramatically change the outcome of one’s prognosis. By reauthorizing these screening and intervention programs, and by shifting our focus to ensure there is less loss to follow-up, we can ensure all newborn babies are being evaluated and receiving any necessary treatment." said Rep. Guthrie.
Protecting Our Infants Act (HR 1462) –bipartisan–
Sponsor: Rep. Katherine Clark (R-MA-5) directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify and make available best practices for the diagnosis and treatment of NAS, evaluate and coordinate federal efforts to research and respond to NAS, and assist state health agencies with their data collection efforts. "There is nothing political or partisan about the opiate epidemic or the babies who are suffering its devastating effects… The partners we’ve made across the aisle, across chambers, and with doctors throughout the country are ready to fight for the children and families impacted by this epidemic, and we’re pushing Congress to take action. The Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015 is a common sense approach to determining how to best care for these newborns while also addressing the enormous cost of that care," said Rep. Clark.
National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Authorization Act (HR 1725) –bipartisan–
Sponsor: Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY-1) bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act, or NASPER Act. NASPER provides grant funding to States to foster the use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in the fight against the growing prescription drug abuse epidemic. "Prescription drug abuse continues to takes lives, ruin families, and drain on our health care system and its resources. Tragically, drug overdose death rates in the United States have increased five-fold since 1980, and drug overdose now kills more Americans than automobile accidents. The NASPER program will provide States with the necessary investments to build upon the success PDMPs have had in reducing prescription drug abuse through streamlined access to timely, accurate, and secure patient prescription history. This will allow physicians to properly treat their patients while cracking down on the interstate trafficking of prescription medications and patients who are simply doctor shopping," said Rep. Whitfield.
Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Authorization Act (HR 2820) –bipartisan–
Sponsor: Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ-4) provides that two collaborative programs that support treatment and therapies derived from adult stem cell lines will not expire at the end of the federal fiscal year. Under the legislation, the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program will be authorized for five years at $20 million annually, while the National Cord Blood Inventory is authorized at $23 million annually for a five-year period. "This important bipartisan legislation is needed to expand and extend two great research and therapy programs that are already saving lives… Cord blood and bone marrow adult stem cells have applicability and potential that is proven and invaluable. People are being cured each and every day by these therapies—continuing federal support offers a lifeline to thousands more. We look forward to seeing this bill quickly pass the House and Senate and be signed into law," said Rep. Smith.
E-Warranty Act (HR 1359) –bipartisan–
Sponsor: Rep. Deb Fischer (R-NE-0) streamlines warranty notice rules and provides explicit direction to manufacturers that they have the option to meet their warranty requirements on their company’s website. "The world is changing, and our technology is getting smaller, faster, and more efficient. Our laws must follow suit. That’s why I’ve teamed up with Senator Bill Nelson to introduce a new, bipartisan bill to provide manufacturers the option of posting their warranty information online," said Rep. Fischer.
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.