POPVOX International Women's Day

Issue Spotlight: International Women’s Day

Today is International Women's Day, a day to celebrate women's social, economic, cultural and political achievements. The day began in 1911 when 15,000 women marched through New York City to "demand voting rights and better working conditions." 

We've highlighted a variety of bills specifically related to women in the United States and abroad. Here's a quick look at bills related to women's veterans, health care, workplace rights, and international affairs. Learn more about bills that interest you, and weigh in on bills you support and oppose.

Workplace

  • Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (H.R. 1439 / S. 786) would create a national insurance program for paid family medical leave, housed under the Social Security Administration. The bill would provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partial income (66% of monthly wages, up to a capped amount) when they take time for medical reasons related to themselves or those of a child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner. The program includes coverage for workers who are self-employeed, work part time, or work for small businesses. Employers and employees would contribute to the fund, paying 0.2 percent of the employee's wages.
  • Healthy Families Act (S. 497 / H.R. 932) would allow businesses with 15+ employees to earn up to 7 job protected paid sick days each year (businesses with <15 employees would earn the same amount of unpaid sick days). The bill would allow victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault to use paid sick days to recover or seek assistance. Workers would earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked (up to 56 hours per year). Employers would have flexibility as to how a "year" is defined (for the purposes of sick time accrual) and could require certification if an employee uses three consecutive paid sick days.
  • Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S. 1512 / H.R. 2654) would provide process for employer and pregnant worker to determine appropriate accomodations and protect pregnant workers from retaliation, coercion, intimidation or interference if pregnant workers request or use such accomodations. Provisions would apply to employers with 15+ employees and to both job applicants and employees. The bill provides an exemption for businesses if an accomodation imposes undue hardship on the employer.
  • Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 862 / H.R. 1619) requires employers to demonstrate that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons.
  • H.R. 1787 Fair Pay Act of 2015 would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on account of sex, race, or national origin. 
  • Women's Pension Protection Act of 2015 (S. 2110 / H.R. 4235) would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to extend spousal consent requirements and allow certain long-term part-time workers to participate in particular pension plans. The bill would also grant awards to community-based organizations working to improve the financial literacy of women who are working age or in retirement.
  • H.R. 4027 The Women's Small Business Ownership Act amends the Small Business Act to direct the Small Business Administration Office of Women's Business Ownership to address issues concerning specified disciplines required for starting, operating, and increasing a small business.
  • H.R. 2773 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act authorizes the Department of Education to provide grants to local educational agencies to encourage the ongoing development of programs and curricula for girls and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and prepare those students to pursue degrees and careers in such fields.

 

International Affairs

 

Health

  • Women's Health Protection Act (S. 217 / H.R. 448) would prohibit any government from imposing on abortion services, such as requiring a medical profession to perform specific tests, implementing a limitation on an abortion provider's ability to prescribe or dispense drugs or services via telemedicine, and limiting the physical plant or facilities where abortions are performed.
  • S.Res. 37 A Resolution supporting Women's Reproductive Health Care Decisions expresses support for efforts to ensure that women have access to the best available health care and information, including comprehensive, affordable insurance coverage and health care that fosters safe childbearing. This bill prohibits employers or government entities from interfering with reproductive health care services guaranteed by law and guarantees the constitutionally protected right to safe, legal abortions.
  • S. 674 21st Century Women's Health Act of 2015 amends the Public Health Service Act to allow the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants for family planning service projects, expansion of family planning preventive health services, and training of nurse practitioners specializing in women's health care. This bill would amend the Social Security Act to require state Medicaid programs to offer free preventive care, including contraceptives. 
  • S. 78 Pregnant Women Health and Safety Act requires a person who performs an abortion to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Exempt from this requirement is a person who performs an abortion that is necessaary to save the life of a other whose life is endangered by a physical condition. This bill would require each abortion clinic that receives federal funds or assistance to be licensed by the state and be in compliance with the requirements for ambulatory surgery centers (under XVII of Social Security Act).
  • H.Res. 47 Supporting Women's Reproductive Health Care Decisions expresses support for efforts to ensure that women have access to the best available health care and information, including comprehensive, affordable insurance coverage and health care that fosters safe childbearing. This bill prohibits employers or government entities from interfering with reproductive health care services guaranteed by law and guarantees the constitutionally protected right to safe, legal abortions.
  • Ensuring Access to Primary Care for Women & Children Act (S. 737H.R. 2253) would amend title XIX (Medicaid) of the Social Security Act to require primary care services furnished in the two years after the Act's enactment by a physician with a primary specialty designation of family medicine, general internal medicine, or pediatric medicine be paid at a rate that is not less than 100% of the payment rate that applies under Medicare Part B, but only if the physician self-attests as being Board certified in those areas. The bill directs the Government Accountability Office to examine the use of alternative payment models in state Medicaid programs and identify opportunities for disseminating successful payment models.
  • H.R. 2355 Women's Preventive Health Awareness Campaign amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Department of Health and Human Services to provide for a national public outreach and educational campaign, including a website, to raise awareness of women's preventive health.
  • S. 2226 Improving Treatment for Pregnant And Postpartum Women Act of 2015 amends the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize the residential treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum women and to establish a pilot program to provide grants to State substance abuse agencies to promote innovative service delivery models for such women. 

 

Military

  • Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2015 (S. 358 / H.R. 742) expands the TRICARE health care program managed by the Department of Defense to entitle additional female beneficiaries and dependents to care related to the prevention of pregnancy. The bill would provide for pregnancy prevention care to include all methods of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling. The bill would also require military treatment facilities to provide emergency contraception (or information about FDA-approved methods of emergency contraception) to any women who states she is a victim of sexual assault or is accompanied by another individual who states that the woman is a victim of sexual assault or is reasonably believed to be a survivor of sexual assault
  • S. 469 Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015 directs the Department of Defense to furnish fertility treatment and counseling, including through the use of assisted reproductive technology to a spouse, partner, or gestational surrogate of a severely wounded, ill, or injured member of the Armed Forces who has an infertility condition incurred or aggravated while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces. The bill would also authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to pay adoption expenses (for up to three adoptions) for a severely wounded, ill, or injured veteran who has an infertility condition incurred or aggravated in the line of duty and who is enrolled in the VA health care system.
  • S. 471 Women Veterans Access to Quality Care Act of 2015 directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish standards to ensure that all VA medical facilities have the structural characteristics necessary to adequately meet the gender-specific health care needs of veterans. The bill would direct the Government Accountability Office to conduct examinations of whether VA medical centers are able to meet the health care needs of women veterans.
  • S. 2437 Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act of 2016 directs the Department of Army to ensure that the cremated remains of persons who served as Women's Air Force Service Pilots are eligible for inurnment in Arlington National Cemetery with full honors.

 

Commemorative

 

Think of a bill that should be included on this list? Tweet us your suggestions @POPVOX.

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.

POPVOX Weekly Update_The Week Ahead in Congress_March_7_11_2016

WEEKLY UPDATE: The Week Ahead in Congress

It will be a slow week in Washington. The House is on recess. The Senate continues work on a bill to address opioid abuse. President Obama talks financial reform with regulators as the Administration prepares regulations that the House has vowed to stop.

'Fiduciary Rule' coming, along with Congressional challenges

President Obama meets Monday with regulators, ahead of the anticipated release of the controversial "Fiduciary Rule." The rule requires brokers to take the best interests of their clients into account when recommending investments and require them to sign a “best-interest” contract with investors to disclose fees or incentives that could influence their recommendations (Source: Bloomberg). 

According to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, investors lose more than $17 billion per year due to "conflicted investment advice." The report contends that brokers are influenced by financial incentives to recommend certain kinds of investments that may not carry the highest potential returns but result in larger fees or commissions. The financial industry has spent millions on intense lobbying and is preparing to oppose the rule.

Opponents of the regulation say that it would increase regulatory costs and discourage financial firms from taking on lower-income clients. Rep. Ann Wagner [R, MO-2] said the rule "could potentially cut access, limit choice and raise costs for that kind of financial advice, putting the goal of retirement even further out of reach."  Last year, a bipartisan group in the House released a series of principles for revising the fiduciary rule and protecting investors. The House has passed a bill from Rep. Wagner to delay implementation of the rule (H.R. 1090), and is expected to take additional action once the rule is released.

H.R. 1090: RETAIL INVESTOR PROTECTION ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Ann Wagner [R, MO-2]
passed House October 27, 2015 
The bill requires the Department of Labor to wait for the SEC's action regarding the fiduciary rule and requires the FEC to submit a report on alternatives to Congress before promulgating its rule.
 

H.R. 4294: STRENGTHENING ACCESS TO VALUABLE EDUCATION AND RETIREMENT SUPPORT (SAVERS) ACT 
Introduced in the House on Dec 18, 2015     BIPARTISAN    
Sponsor: Rep. Peter Roskam  [R, IL-6]

S. 2505: STRENGTHENING ACCESS TO VALUABLE EDUCATION AND RETIREMENT SUPPORT (SAVERS) ACT 
Introduced in the Senate on Feb 4, 2016
Sponsor: Sen. Mark Kirk [R, IL

The SAVERS Act "[expands and strengthens] the definition of a fiduciary and requiring investment advisors to always act in the best interests of their clients when providing investment advice. The legislation creates a new, enforceable best interest requirement, significantly strengthening current legal protections for retirement savers," according to its sponsors.

H.R. 4293: AFFORDABLE RETIREMENT ADVICE PROTECTION ACT
Sponsor: Rep. David Roe [R, TN-1]
Changes the federal statute — The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) — to mirror the SAVERS Act language.


Continued work in the Senate on Opioid Bill 

The bill authorizes almost $80 million in annual funding to address the nation's opioid crisis. At 5:30 PM on Monday, the Senate will hold a cloture vote to proceed. 
 

S. 524: COMPREHENSIVE ADDICTION AND RECOVERY ACT
Sponsor: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D, RI]   
     BIPARTISAN       

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) would be the most expansive federal, bipartisan legislation to date for addiction support services.

The bill includes provisions to:

  • Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other responders to help in the reversal of overdoses
  • Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medicines
  • Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to promote best practices throughout the country
  • Increase resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders 
  • Launch medication assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program
  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs

(Read more from POPVOX about CARA)

Brain Injury Awareness Month

Issue Spotlight: Brain Injury Awareness Month (March 2016)

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) affects over 2.5 million people per year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Brain injuries caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain are a contributing factor to 138 deaths per day

The leading causes of TBI are: falls (35.2%); motor vehicle-traffic crashes (17.3%); struck by/against events (16.5%); and assaults (10%). Blasts are a leading cause of TBI for active duty military personnel in war zones. In 2009, an estimated 248,418 children (age 19 or younger) were treated for sports and recreation-related injuries that included a diagnosis of concussion or TBI.

March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month, a time in which victims, advocates, family members and providers work to raise awareness and work to treat and prevent TBI.

Several related bills are pending in Congress:

H.R. 582 CONCUSSION TREATMENT AND CARE TOOLS ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Bill Pascrall [D, NJ-9]

S. 307 CONCUSSION TREATMENT AND CARE TOOLS ACT OF 2015
Sen. Robert Menéndez [D, NJ]

Directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish guidelines for states on the implementation of best practices for diagnosis, treatment, and management of mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBIs) in school-aged children, including best practices relating to student athletes returning to play after an MTBI.


H.R. 1420 NATIONAL TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY RESEARCH AND TREATMENT IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Bill Pascrall [D, NJ-9]

Requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to: (1) evaluate existing surveillance and data collection systems that track the incidence and circumstances of traumatic brain injury, including concussion; (2) establish a statistically sound, scientifically credible, and integrated National Traumatic Brain Injury Surveillance System; and (3) ensure that the System is designed in a manner that facilitates further research on brain injury.


H.R. 263 THE ADULT DAY CENTER ENHANCEMENT ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee  [D, CA-13]

Requires the Administration on Aging to initiate a comprehensive survey of current adult day programs that provide care and support to individuals, including young adults, living with neurological diseases or conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, or traumatic brain injury. 


H.R. 356 WOUNDED WARRIOR EMPLOYMENT IMPROVEMENT ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Sean Maloney [D, NY-18]

Directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop and publish an action plan for improving the training and rehabilitation services and assistance provided by the VA for veterans with service-connected disabilities, including TBI.


H.R. 146 ENSURING ACCESS TO HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY AT MILITARY MEDICAL FACILITIES
Sponsor: Rep. Walter Jones  [R, NC-3]

Directs the Secretary of Defense to furnish hyperbaric oxygen therapy available at a military medical treatment facility to a member of the Armed Forces who is: (1) prescribed such therapy by a physician, (2) serving on active duty, and (3) diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury.


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.

 

POPVOX Gavel Down_Closing Out the Week in Congress_Feb_29_Mar_4_2016

Gavel Down: Closing out the Week in Congress

Senate continues work on bill to address opioid crisis, budget talks hit snag, and the encryption debate continues.

Top Search on POPVOX this week: "s2242"


Most active bill on POPVOX this week:
S. 524 COMPREHENSIVE ADDICTION AND RECOVERY ACT (CARA) OF 2016
 

Senate Considers Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 (CARA)


On Monday, Senate voted 89-0 to invoke cloture on CARA, a bill that would authorize nearly $80 million in funding to address the opioid epidemic. 

S. 524 COMPREHENSIVE ADDICTION AND RECOVERY ACT OF 2015
SponsorSen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D, RI]
BILL TEXT   |  SECTION-BY-SECTION

Bill sponsor Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D, RI] called for more funding, with Senate Democrats echoing that additional funding is needed. Senate Republicans cited $400 million allocation in the omnibus that passed last December as sufficient funding, specifically $70 million to combat prescription drug overdose abuse.

The Senate spent the week vollying amendments, with both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid pushing for more amendments. The Senate considered several of the 90+ filed amendments, such as:

Towards the end of the week, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats needed more amendments or they'd move to block the bill, but later both Reid and bill sponsor Whitehouse said Democrats will not block the bill over amendments, specifically the failed Shaheen amendment that would have added $600 million to combat heroin and prescription drug abuse.

The bill includes provisions to:

  • Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other responders to help in the reversal of overdoses
  • Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medicines
  • Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to promote best practices throughout the country
  • Increase resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders 
  • Launch medication assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program
  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs

The White House signaled support for the bill, highlighting the bill's education programs, increased supply of opioid overdose-reversal drug, and emergency services in rural areas. In statement of administrative policy, Obama administration said the bill contains several necessary steps to combat the opioid epidemic but lacks the necessary funding.

So what's next?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to end debate on CARA on Thursday evening. Senate will take a first procedural vote on Monday at 5:30 pm, with 60 votes needed to overcome the hurdle.


Budget Talk


Bills on the Move

H.R. 2121: SAFE TRANSITIONAL LICENSING ACT OF 2015
Sponsors: Reps. Steve Stivers [R, OH-15] and Terri Sewell [D, AL-7]

H.R. 2896 TAKING ACCOUNT OF INSTITUTIONS WITH LOW OPERATION RISK (TAILOR) ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Scott Tipton [R, CO-3]

H.R. 2901: FLOOD INSURANCE MARKET PARITY AND MODERNIZATION ACT
Sponsors: Reps. Dennis Ross [R, FL-15] and Patrick Murphy [D, FL-18]

H.R. 3798: DUE PROCESS RESTORATION ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Scott Garrett [R, NJ-5]

H.R. 4096: INVESTOR CLARITY AND BANK PARITY ACT
Sponsors: Reps. Michael Capuano [D, MA-7] and Steve Stivers [R, OH-15]

H.R. 4139: FOSTERING INNOVATION ACT OF 2015
Sponsors: Reps. Kyrsten Sinema [D, AZ-9] and Michael Fitzpatrick [R, PA-8]

H.R. 4166: EXPANDING PROVEN FINANCING FOR AMERICAN EMPLOYERS ACT
Sponsors: Reps. Andy Barr [R, KY-6] and David Scott [D, GA-13]

H.R. 4498 HELPING ANGELS LEAD OUR STARTUPS (HALOS) ACT
Sponsors: Reps. Steve Chabot [R, OH-1], Robert Hurt [R, VA-5], and Kyrsten Sinema [D, AZ-9]

H.R. 4620: PRESERVING ACCESS TO CRE CAPITAL ACT OF 2016
Sponsor: Rep. French Hill [R, AR-2]

H.R. 4638: MAIN STREET GROWTH ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Scott Garrett [R, NJ-5]

 


POPVOX MOBILE Now Senate Commerce

#ViewFromTheHill – March 3, 2016

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation marked up MOBILE NOW Act (S.2555), bill to accelerate the development of 5G wireless gigabit broadband networks. (Photo/Melinda Heim)

Check out our POPVOX View From the Hill on Tumblr


Encryption Discussion Continues

The battle continues over whether Apple can be compelled to assist the FBI in accessing the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter. On Monday, Apple received a favorable ruling in a related case in ew York: a federal magistrate judge ruled that Apple could not be made to provide access to a phone at issue in a drug case. This was the first time a judge had ruled on the government's argument using the "All Writs Act" from 1789, in what Reuters called a "huge win for Apple."

On Tuesday, FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying that encryption is creating "warrant proof" devices. Both Apple and its critics emphasized that Congress should act on the question:
 

Should the FBI have the right to compel a company to produce a product it doesn't already make, to the FBI's exact specifications and for the FBI's use? … The decisions should be made by you and your colleagues as representatives of the people, rather than through a warrant request based on a 220-year-old statute." — Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell in prepared testimony to Congress (NPR).

A new bill from Reps. Ted Lieu [D, CA-33]  and Blake Farenthold [R, TX-27] would preempt new state proposals (most recently in NY and CA) to ban smartphone encryption for phones sold in those states and fine manufacturers for each phone sold.

H.R. 4528 Ensuring National Constitutional Rights of Your Private Telecommunications (ENCRYPT) Act of 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Ted Lieu [D, CA]

On February 29, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul and Senator Mark Warner introduced the Digital Security Commission Act of 2016, which would establish a new “National Commission on Security and Technology Challenges.”

H.R. 4651 Digital Security Commission Act of 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Michael McCaul [R, TX-10]

S. 2604 Digital Security Commission Act of 2016
Sponsor: Sen. Mark Warner [D, VA]

The proposed commission would have sixteen members, eight from each party, with one person representing each of these fields: 

  • Cryptography
  • Global commerce and economics
  • Federal law enforcement
  • State and local law enforcement
  • Consumer-facing technology sector
  • Enterprise technology sector
  • Intelligence community
  • Privacy and civil liberties community

In addition, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr [R, NC] and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein [D, CA], are reported to be working on a bill that would compel companies to override encryption technology when presented with a warrant, an effort seen by many as an uphill climb. 


House passed brick and clay emissions bill

House voted 238-163 to give brick manufacturers a reprieve from Environmental Protection Agency's new emission standards. Seven Democrats crossed party lines to pass the bipartisan Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns (BRICK) Act of 2016 (H.R. 4557), which now heads to the Senate.

The White House said it "strongly opposes" the bill because it would "extend indefinitely deadlines for the brick and structural clay industry to limit mercury and other hazardous air pollution."

POPVOX clay and brick emissions bill House vote


New Bills on the Block


#ICYMI 


COMING SOON
POPVOX/States

popvox states coming soon

Anonymous Survey:

Tell us about your state and what you want to see out of POPVOX/States!


#DataDrop

  • New study: About half of Internet traffic is encrypted.
  • New data: Gun manufacturers made 1.4M fewer guns in 2014 then in previous year — biggest year-over-year drop (by percentage) since 2001.
  • NPR examined the rise of unaffiliated voters.
  • New report: Views on ObamaCare remain mixed, both on individual and state level. 35% of people think the healthcare reform helped people in their state, while 27% think it hurt. 15% of people say they have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act, whereas 56% think ACA has not impacted them directly.
  • China reported latest coal consumption levels, putting the country on track to decrease emissions earlier than promised in Paris climate talks. Coal use is down in both China and the U.S.
  • See how your income compares to other Americans.
  • New data: U.S. added 242,000 jobs in February. Unemployment rate held at 4.9% — lowest mark during the seven-year recovery from the Great Recession
  • New numbers show that non profits added jobs throughout Great Recession.

Legislative Lowdown: States Edition


Weekend Reads

"Patients' Perspectives on Health Care in the United States: A Look at Seven States & The Nation" by NPR, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


"Online Privacy and ISPS: ISP Access to Consumer Data is Limited and Often Less than Access by Others" by Peter Swire, Justin Emmings, and Alana Kirkland, Georgia Tech Institute for Information Security & Privacy

POPVOX Weekly Update_The Week Ahead in Congress_February_29_March_4_2016

WEEKLY UPDATE: The Week Ahead in Congress

This week in the Senate: The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524)


The bill authorizes almost $80 million in annual funding to address the nation's opioid crisis.At 5:30 PM on Monday, the Senate will hold a cloture vote to proceed. Tell Congress what you think:
 

S. 524: COMPREHENSIVE ADDICTION AND RECOVERY ACT
Sponsor: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D, RI]   
     BIPARTISAN     

The bill includes provisions to:

  • Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other responders to help in the reversal of overdoses
  • Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medicines
  • Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to promote best practices throughout the country
  • Increase resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders 
  • Launch medication assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program
  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs

Some Democrats will support adding a bill from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen [D, NH] that would provide an additional $600 million in funding:

S. 2423: A BILL MAKING APPROPRIATIONS TO ADDRESS THE HEROIN AND OPIOID DRUG ABUSE EPIDEMIC...
Sponsor: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen [D, NH]  
     BIPARTISAN     

(Read more from POPVOX about CARA in last week's GavelDown.)


 

In the House: Federal Advisory Committee Transparency and Presidential Transitions


H.R. 2347: FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ACT AMENDMENTS OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. William Clay [D, MO-1]


The bill would amend the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) to improve the transparency and accountability of federal advisory committees. The bill would ensure advisory committee members are selected without regard to political affiliation, require agencies to give those interested the opportunity to suggest potential members, and require members serving as individual experts to fully disclose conflicts of interests and apply the law to subcommittees and committees created by contract. It would also require each agency head to make information about advisory committees available on the agency’s website. Read full committee report.

_________


S. 1172: PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITIONS IMPROVEMENTS ACT 
Sponsor: Sen. Thomas Carper [D, DE]             BIPARTISAN     


The bill would amend federal law to codify the process of transitioning from one presidential administration to another. The bill would establish councils of federal employees to oversee and coordinate transition activities within the White House and across all federal agencies. The bill also would require each agency to appoint staff to manage internal transition activities. Finally, S. 1172 would extend the period of time during which the General Services Administration can spend funds on services and facilities for the incoming administration after the inauguration. Read full committee report.

Listen to a discussion of S.1172 on Federal News Radio. Learn more about the Presidential transition process from the Partnership for Public Service.


Also In the House

H.R. 3716: ENSURING TERMINATED PROVIDERS ARE REMOVED FROM MEDICAID AND CHIP ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Larry Bucshon [R, IN-8]               BIPARTISAN        

The bill responds to a recent report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which found that health care providers who had been terminated from Medicaid in one state continued to participate in the Medicaid and CHIP programs of other states.

_________


H.R. 4557: BLOCKING REGULATORY INTERFERENCE FROM CLOSING KILNS (BRICK) ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Bill Johnson [R, OH-6]              BIPARTISAN         

The bill would pause EPA "maximum achievable control technology" (MACT) standards for toxic pollutants from the brick industry pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the regulations. Environmental and industry groups are challenging the methodology used by the EPA to set the standards.

_________

H.R. 4238: TO AMEND THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ORGANIZATION ACT AND THE LOCAL PUBLIC WORKS CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT ACT OF 1976 TO MODERNIZE TERMS RELATING TO MINORITIES.
Sponsor: Rep. Grace Meng [D, NY-6]             BIPARTISAN       

The bill revises the definition of "minority" as "any U.S. citizen who is an Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, African American, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Native American, or Alaska Native"

_________

H.R. 4444: EPS IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Renee Ellmers [R, NC-2]             BIPARTISAN      

The bill would exclude power supply circuits, drivers, and devices designed to power, light-emitting diodes or organic light-emitting diodes from energy conservation standards for external power supplies,

_________

H.R. 4583: TO PROMOTE A 21ST CENTURY ENERGY AND MANUFACTURING WORKFORCE
Sponsor: Rep. Bobby Rush [D, IL-1]             BIPARTISAN      

The bill calls on the Secretary of Energy to prioritize education and training for energy and manufacturing-related jobs, and to make educating and training underrepresented groups for energy and manufacturing-related jobs a national priority.

_________

H.R. 4401: AMPLIFYING LOCAL EFFORTS TO ROOT OUT TERROR (ALERT) ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Barry Loudermilk [R, GA-11]             BIPARTISAN        

The bill authorizes training for countering violent extremism for representatives at State and local fusion centers.

_________

H.R. 1471: FEMA DISASTER ASSISTANCE REFORM ACT 
Sponsor: Rep. Lou Barletta [R, PA-11]             BIPARTISAN        

According to the House Transportation Committee, "In recent years, the number of lives lost and amount of property damaged in U.S. disasters have been on the rise – as well as federal disaster assistance costs. The FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform Act of 2015 will drive an assessment of the changing costs of disasters and opportunities to reduce future losses, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our Nation’s emergency management capabilities and federal disaster programs, modernize and strengthen critical components of our preparedness and response system, and support our emergency response personnel."
COMMITTEE SUMMARY
_________

S. 1580: COMPETITIVE SERVICE ACT
Sponsor: Sen. Jon Tester [D, MT]             BIPARTISAN     

The bill would allow federal agencies to review and select job candidates from other federal agencies’ “best qualified list” of applicants, cutting down on duplication for applicants who have already undergone a competitive assessment process and are certified as eligible for selection.  Currently, agencies that have similar hiring needs cannot share such applicant information with one another (according to the bill's sponsors.)
_________

H.R. 4084: NUCLEAR ENERGY INNOVATION CAPABILITIES ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Randy Weber [R, TX-14]             BIPARTISAN       

The bill directs the U.S. Department of Energy to prioritize partnering with private innovators on new reactor technologies and the testing and demonstration of new reactor designs.
_________

H.RES. 148: CALLING ON THE GOVERNMENT OF IRAN TO FULFILL THEIR PROMISES OF ASSISTANCE IN THIS CASE OF ROBERT LEVINSON, THE LONGEST HELD UNITED STATES CIVILIAN IN OUR NATION'S HISTORY.
Sponsor: Rep. Theodore Deutch [D, FL-21]             BIPARTISAN        

Read more on Robert Levinson from The New York Times.


 

Naming Federal Buildings

In the longstanding Congressional practice the House will take up several bills under "suspension of the rules" to name federal buildings:

  • H.R. 2814: The Dannie A. Carr Veterans Outpatient Clinic in Sevierville, Tennessee
  • H.R. 3735: The "Maya Angelou Memorial Post Office" in Winston Salem, North Carolina
  • H.R. 136: The "Camp Pendleton Medal of Honor Post Office" in Camp Pendleton, California 
  • H.R. 1132: The "W. Ronald Coale Memorial Post Office Building" in Stockton, California
  • H.R. 2458: The "Lionel R. Collins, Sr. Post Office Building" in Marrero, Louisiana
  • H.R. 3082:  The "Daryle Holloway Post Office Building" in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • H.R. 3274: The "Francis Manuel Ortega Post Office" in Pine Lake, Georgia
  • H.R. 3601: The "Melvoid J. Benson Post Office Building" in North Kingstown, Rhode Island
  • H.R. 4046: The Second Lt. Ellen Ainsworth Memorial Post Office in Glenwood City, Wisconsin
  • S. 1596: The "Specialist Joseph W. Riley Post Office Building" in Grove City, Ohio
  • S. 1826: The Lieutenant Colonel James "Maggie" Megellas Post Office in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

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.

Announcing Something New on POPVOX

In the coming weeks, things will begin to look a little different on POPVOX, starting with the bill page.

Today we kick off a series of changes designed to give you a personalized POPVOX experience, more ways to engage, richer content — and soon, state-level data.

The key to this transition is a new series of POPVOX cards, which are making their debut on bill pages and on your dashboard.

Each of these cards contains an entity (lawmaker, organization, bill, or constituent) that can be followed, and an action (supported, endorsed, sponsored, etc.) that can be appreciated [♡] or shared. 

On Bill Pages, the Feed is like a timeline, displaying activity on the bill since its introduction, including official activity, advocacy input, and constituent comments. 

On your Dashboard, the Feed will display activity by people, organizations or bills you follow, activity by your legislators, and soon, much more!

POPVOX is — and will always be — a work in progress, shaped by your input, ideas, and feedback. There will be many changes in the coming weeks and much will evolve from what we hear from you. Please take a moment to test out the new cards and feed. Tell us what you think. Tell us what you would like to see. And keep checking back!

On behalf of our entire Team POPVOX, we thank you for being a part of this community and for making POPVOX possible!

[ UPDATE: Special note from the tech team at POVOX — You may notice things that appear visually strange or misaligned. This is likely due to caching in your browser. If you "hard refresh" (explained here), it should force your browser to refetch all of our CSS for the page, and then things should look right. But please let us know if that doesn't do it. ]

 

POPVOX Gavel Down_Closing Out the Week in Congress_Feb_22_26_2016

Gavel Down: Closing out the Week in Congress

Top Search on POPVOX this week:  "firearms"


Most Active Bill on POPVOX this week: 

H.R. 2406: Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act
(Passed House 242-161)


 

SHARE Act Advances in the House

On Friday afternoon, the House passed the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act (H.R. 2406) by a vote of 242-161. As we noted, the bill combined several smaller bills related to hunting, wildlife, and public lands.

According to the Congressional Budget Office: 

"H.R. 2406 would amend existing laws and establish new laws related to the management of federal lands. It would authorize the sale of certain federal land and permit the receipts from those sales to be spent. The bill also would authorize the appropriation of $5 million a year to enforce laws related to the illegal trading of ivory. "

The bill now heads to the Senate.


Senate Considering Energy Bill, Flint Assistance 


The bipartisan Senate Energy bill (S. 2012) has been stalled by Democratic Senators demanding consideration of an aid package for Flint, Michigan. This week, a proposed compromise emerged that would make $100 million available to Flint from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (pending approval of state plan), $70 million from the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act fund, and $50 million for health services, including a health registry, advisory committee, and a childhood lead poisoning prevention program. 

The Flint proposal would get a vote as an amendment to Rep. Dan Kildee's bill, the Safe Drinking Water Compliance Awareness Act (H.R. 4470), which would require notice to the public if the EPA finds unsafe water levels.

If Senators accept the deal and agree to "unanimous consent" to expedite the Energy bill, there will be "30 voice vote amendments and eight amendments for a roll call vote… and no amendments to the Flint provisions." (Roll Call reports.)


S. 2012: ENERGY POLICY MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2015
SponsorSen. Lisa Murkowski [R, AK] 
BILL TEXT   |   SECTION-BY-SECTION   |   CBO Score

 


President Obama Signed Customs Bill and Privacy Bill into Law

POPVOX bill signingLeft – Right: Sen. Patrick Leahy [D, VT], Sen. Chris Murphy [D, CT], Sen. Orrin Hatch [R, UT], Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner [R, WI-5]
Source: U.S. News & World Report

This week President Obama signed two bills into law, completing the bill life cycle from legislative branch to executive.


First up, the customs bill, which included the following provisions:


H.R. 644 TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Tom Reed [R, NY-23]
BILL TEXT  |  SUMMARY  |  SECTION-BY-SECTION  |  BILL SIGNING CEREMONY  |  POTUS REMARKS

The Senate passed the customs and trade enforcement bill 75-20. The bill stalled over back and forth regarding an Internet tax ban. In order to secure the ban on Internet access taxes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to bring the Marketplace Fairness Act (S. 698), which would allow any state to require sales tax collection by online out-of-state retailers, to the floor at some point this year. 

Next up, the Judicial Redress Act. The bill focused on data and privacy protections and was introduced in response to European Court of Justice decision, which found that EU citizens' privacy rights were not sufficiently protected when a U.S. tech company kept data about those citizens on servers within the U.S.

Debate centered on Edward Snowden revelations that the NSA was accessing foreigners' personal information in the databases of 9 internet firms, including Facebook and Google. The data transfers had previously been allowed under a "safe harbor" agreement that was invalidated by the court. 

H.R. 1428 JUDICIAL REDRESS ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner [R, WI-5]
BILL TEXT  |  BILL SIGNING CEREMONY  |  POTUS REMARKS

The bill originated in the House and passed in October. The Senate passed an amended version, so the bill returned to the House to resolve differences before heading to the President's desk. The bill grants citizens of certain countries (as determined by the Department of Justice) the same rights that U.S. citizens have to seek redress in court if their personal information is improperly handled.

The bill was once perceived as a "must have" in order to reach a safe harbor agreement before deadline, but a transatlantic data pact was negotiated before the bill's passage. 


FAA Reform Bill Shelved for Short-Term Extension


With funding the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) set to expire March 31, the House Transportation Committee was working to advance an ambitious plan to reauthorize funding and reform the agency with a six-year bill (H.R. 4441). The legislation that passed committee contained a controversial provision to spin off air traffic control services into a private not-for-profit “ATC Corporation” administered by an independent board of directors.

That initiative has met with resistance, leading House Leadership to pursue a short-term extension. In the meantime, the Senate is working on a reauthorization bill that does not include the privatization provision.

H.R. 4441: AVIATION INNOVATION, REFORM, AND REAUTHORIZATION (AIRR) ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Bill Shuster [R, PA-9]    
BILL TEXT  |  SUMMARY  |  COMMITTEE PACKET  

 


Apple/FBI Encryption Case Continues


The question of whether the FBI can compel Apple to assist the FBI in accessing the phone of the San Bernardino shooter continues to garner debate in Washington. As Bloomberg notes, "The only question is whether it will be Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court that breaks the impasse."

For its part, Congress is stepping up to explore the topic, with a House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for March 1, featuring FBI Director James Comey, General Counsel for Apple, and Manhattan District Attorney. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has also invited Apple's CEO and the FBI Director to testify.

The House Judiciary committee will vote next month on email privacy bill (H.R. 699) from Rep. Kevin Yoder [R, KS-3], which would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows government agents to read emails without a warrant if the emails are at least six months old. With 310 cosponsors, the bill is the most popular piece of legislation that has yet to receive a vote in the House.

In the Senate, Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein are reportedly working on a bill that would make it a crime for a company to refuse government orders for access to encrypted data.

FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that the case would be instructive for other courts seeking to address similar issues in a variety of cases. Reports emerged this week that Apple is working on even stronger encryption technology.


 

Lawmakers weigh how to address Opioid Epidemic


The country's opioid epidemic continues to garner attention on the Hill. This week, 5 Senators sent a letter to the FDA calling for opioid risk management strategies. President Obama met with the nation's governors this week and discussed various strategies to combat prescription drug abuse. Several governors suggested a limit on how many painkillers a doctor can prescribe at a single time, but President Obama said a limit can't be implemented without a plan on how to help people in pain.

POPVOX Opioid Epidemic

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Senate will soon move forward with opioid bill. Senate Judiciary unanimously advanced the legislation, with many Democrats still pushing for more funding. The bill devotes money to addiction programs but does not include actual money (an appropriations bill would be necessary to provide actual funds).

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) would be the most expansive federal, bipartisan legislation to date for addiction support services.

The bill includes provisions to:

  • Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other responders to help in the reversal of overdoses
  • Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medicines
  • Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to promote best practices throughout the country
  • Increase resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders 
  • Launch medication assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program
  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs


Sen. Jeanne Shaheen [D, NH] will propose additional funding through a $600M amendment, providing funds for state and local initiatives on drug treatment, prevention, and enforcement programs, as well as block grants for related state programs.

S. 524 COMPREHENSIVE ADDICTION AND RECOVERY ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D, RI]
BILL TEXT   |  SECTION-BY-SECTION

S. 2423 A BILL MAKING APPROPRIATIONS TO ADDRESS THE HEROIN AND OPIOID DRUG ABUSE EPIDEMIC FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING SEPTEMBER 30, 2016, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
Sponsor: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen [D, NH]


New Bills on the Block


#ICYMI 


Coming soon: POPVOX States


Survey:
Tell us about your state and what you want to see out of POPVOX/States


#DataDrop


Legislative Lowdown: States Edition


Weekend Reads


"2016 Distressed Communities Index" by Economic Innovation Group

“Starting from Scratch: A New Federal and State Partnership in Higher Education” by New America Higher Education Policy Program 

Inappropriate Appropriations: How Congress spends without authorization by Kevin R. Kosar, The Weekly Standard

"About half of retiring senators and a third of retiring House members register as lobbyists" by Lee Drutman, Vox

POPVOX Weekly Update_The Week Ahead in Congress_February_22_26_2016

WEEKLY UPDATE: The Week Ahead in Congress

Congress returns from recess with a full plate — taking up the recommendations of the Task Force to Combat Terrorist or Foreign Fighters, a package of hunting and public lands bills, and improving the accountability and reporting of FEMA And the TSA. The Senate picks back up with the Energy Bill and a bill to combat Opioid abuse.


 

House to Consider Sportsmen's Heritage Bill 

The "SHARE Act " from Rep. Robert Wittman [R, VA-1] combines several pending bills into one package.

H.R. 2406: SPORTSMEN'S HERITAGE AND RECREATIONAL ENHANCEMENT ("SHARE") ACT          BIPARTISAN       

According to the Congressional Budget Office: 

"H.R. 2406 would amend existing laws and establish new laws related to the management of federal lands. It would authorize the sale of certain federal land and permit the receipts from those sales to be spent. The bill also would authorize the appropriation of $5 million a year to enforce laws related to the illegal trading of ivory. "

The bill includes:


Bills to Prevent Foreign Fighters, Reform TSA

The House will consider several bills related to Homeland Security, including two from the Chair of the bipartisan Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter TravelRep. John Katko [R, NY-24].

The committee released its 60-page report last September, noting a lack of strategy to prevent foreign fighter travel.

"It is clear that we must do more to protect Americans both at home and abroad," Katko said. "The pieces of legislation take important steps towards the development of a national strategy to address this threat, as well as to ensure that our government agencies collaborate to fight terrorism." Source: AuburnPub.com
 

H.R. 4408: NATIONAL STRATEGY TO COMBAT TERRORIST TRAVEL ACT OF 2016
Sponsor: Rep. John Katko [R, NY-24]          BIPARTISAN       

Requires the creation of a National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel, requiring an “implementation plan” from the President to ensure that our defenses against terrorist travel are streamlined and that existing security gaps are closed.


The House will also consider a bill to change some programs in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), including methods for screening air passengers, vetting certain employees with access to secure areas of airports, conducting maintenance of screening equipment. The bill would also require several administrative analyses and reports.


H.R. 3584: TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION REFORM AND IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. John Katko [R, NY-24]          BIPARTISAN       

CBO REPORT  |  DHS-OIG REPORT TO COMMITTEE

According to the Congressional Budget Office:

Many of the bill’s provisions would effectively codify existing programs, but some provisions would require TSA to undertake new efforts, including:

  • Expand enrollment in the TSA PreCheck program, through which air travelers voluntarily apply to be prescreened using biographic and biometric information to determine whether they qualify for expedited screening at airport security checkpoints;

  • Conduct a pilot program to establish an automated, biometric-based system to verify the identity of travelers enrolled in the PreCheck program;

  • Establish an automated system at all large hub airports to verify travel documents of passengers not enrolled in the PreCheck program;

  • Expand efforts to improve the effectiveness of the Secure Flight Program, through which TSA compares air passengers’ names to lists of trusted travelers and watchlists to identify low and high-risk passengers;

  • Implement a pilot program to evaluate the feasibility of contracting with private firms for explosives-detection services involving canine teams; and,

  • Enhance procedures for vetting airport workers by expanding efforts to share data and terrorist-related information among federal agencies responsible for intelligence and law enforcement.

 

H.R. 4398: DHS ACQUISITION DOCUMENTATION INTEGRITY ACT OF 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman [D, NJ-12]

The bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prepare cost estimates and schedules for its major acquisition programs and to maintain complete and accurate documentation of such projects. According to the CBO, the bill’s requirements are largely consistent with existing DHS procurement policies.

H.R. 4402: FOREIGN FIGHTER REVIEW ACT OF 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Will Hurd [R, TX-23]          BIPARTISAN       

This bill directs the President, through the Department of Homeland Security, to initiate a review of known instances since 2011 in which a person has traveled or attempted to travel to a conflict zone in Iraq or Syria from the United States to join or provide material support or resources to a terrorist organization.

S. 238: ERIC WILLIAMS CORRECTIONAL OFFICER PROTECTION ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Sen. Patrick Toomey [R, PA]          BIPARTISAN       

Requires the Director of Corrections to issue oleoresin capsicum (pepper spray) to any Bureau officer or employee employed in a prison that is not a minimum or low security prison who may respond to an emergency situation.
 


Making the MLK Historic Site in Georgia a National Historical Park


H.R. 2880: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. John Lewis [D, GA-5]          BIPARTISAN       

The bill would redesignate the Martin Luther King, Junior, National Historic Site in the state of Georgia as the "Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park."



Improving FEMA Administrative Processes and Reporting


S. 2109: DIRECTING DOLLARS TO DISASTER RELIEF ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Sen. Ron Johnson [R, WI]

CBO REPORT  |  SENATE COMMITTEE REPORT

FEMA is the primary provider of Federal assistance in response to major disasters. It administers major disaster recovery and relief funds through grant programs. From 2004 through 2013, FEMA-administered $95.2 billion for 650 declared major disasters. Approximately $12.7 billion was used to cover FEMA's administrative costs that support the delivery of disaster assistance. See: Committee report

As recommended but the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the bill would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to develop a plan to reduce the costs of administering programs that provide grants and technical assistance in areas affected by major disasters. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the agency is currently developing a plan to reduce the costs of administering disaster programs that would meet many of the requirements in the bill.

 


In the Senate: Continued work on Energy Bill and Bill to address Opioid Abuse


The Senate will resume consideration of the Energy bill and begin consideration of legislation dealing with opioids.


Energy Bill

S. 2012: ENERGY POLICY MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R, AK]        BIPARTISAN       

Section-by-section analysis   |  Bill Text   |   CBO Score


The bill includes provisions to promote efficiency of homes, buildings, and manufacturing facilities, modernize the electrical grid, enhance cybersecurity safeguards, maintain the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and provide a streamlined process for natural gas export projects. It encourages the development of renewable energy, traditional resources, and non-fuel minerals, including responsible development of American resources – like hydropower geothermal, bioenergy and rare earth elements. The bill includes the reauthorization of certain energy-related components of the America COMPETES Act, interagency coordination of energy/water initiatives, and the repeal of numerous provisions within the U.S. Code. The bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund and permanently reauthorizes the Historic Preservation Fund. It also creates a new National Park Maintenance and Revitalization Fund.

 

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA)

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which authorizes almost $80 million in annual funding to address the nation's opioid crisis.

S. 524: COMPREHENSIVE ADDICTION AND RECOVERY ACT
Sponsor: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D, RI]        BIPARTISAN       

Some Democrats supportive of the bill say that it should include additional funding, and will support adding a bill from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen [D, NH] when it comes to the Senate Floor.

S. 2423: A BILL MAKING APPROPRIATIONS TO ADDRESS THE HEROIN AND OPIOID DRUG ABUSE EPIDEMIC FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING SEPTEMBER 30, 2016, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
Sponsor: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen [D, NH]       BIPARTISAN     


In the Senate: Continued work on Energy Bill and Bill to address Opioid Abuse


The Senate will resume consideration of the Energy bill and begin consideration of legislation dealing with opioids.


Energy Bill

S. 2012: ENERGY POLICY MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R, AK]        BIPARTISAN       

Section-by-section analysis   |  Bill Text   |   CBO Score


The bill includes provisions to promote efficiency of homes, buildings, and manufacturing facilities, modernize the electrical grid, enhance cybersecurity safeguards, maintain the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and provide a streamlined process for natural gas export projects. It encourages the development of renewable energy, traditional resources, and non-fuel minerals, including responsible development of American resources – like hydropower geothermal, bioenergy and rare earth elements. The bill includes the reauthorization of certain energy-related components of the America COMPETES Act, interagency coordination of energy/water initiatives, and the repeal of numerous provisions within the U.S. Code. The bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund and permanently reauthorizes the Historic Preservation Fund. It also creates a new National Park Maintenance and Revitalization Fund.

 

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA)

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which authorizes almost $80 million in annual funding to address the nation's opioid crisis.

S. 524: COMPREHENSIVE ADDICTION AND RECOVERY ACT
Sponsor: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D, RI]        BIPARTISAN       

Some Democrats supportive of the bill say that it should include additional funding, and will support adding a bill from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen [D, NH] when it comes to the Senate Floor.

S. 2423: A BILL MAKING APPROPRIATIONS TO ADDRESS THE HEROIN AND OPIOID DRUG ABUSE EPIDEMIC FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING SEPTEMBER 30, 2016, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
Sponsor: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen [D, NH]       BIPARTISAN     


Also in the House

 

H.R. 812: INDIAN TRUST ASSET REFORM ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Michael Simpson [R, ID-2]        BIPARTISAN       


Directs the Department of the Interior to establish a 10 year Indian trust asset management demonstration project that allows Indian tribes to propose Indian trust asset management plans. Authorizes Interior to establish an Under Secretary for Indian Affairs who is to: (1) report directly to the Secretary of the Interior; (2) assume the functions of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs; and (3) coordinate with the Special Trustee for American Indians to ensure an orderly transition of the functions of the Special Trustee to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, or to any other agency or bureau within Interior.

H.R. 3004: TO AMEND THE GULLAH/GEECHEE CULTURAL HERITAGE ACT TO EXTEND THE AUTHORIZATION FOR THE GULLAH/GEECHEE CULTURAL HERITAGE CORRIDOR COMMISSION. 
Sponsor: Rep. James Clyburn [D, SC-6]
 


H.R. 1296: TO AMEND THE SAN LUIS REY INDIAN WATER RIGHTS SETTLEMENT ACT TO CLARIFY CERTAIN SETTLEMENT TERMS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
Sponsor: Rep. Duncan Hunter [R, CA-50]          BIPARTISAN       

This bill amends the San Luis Rey Indian Water Rights Settlement Act to approve and ratify all provisions of the settlement agreement dated January 30, 2015, and approved by the La Jolla, Rincon, San Pasqual, Pauma, and Pala Bands of Mission Indians (California), the San Luis Rey River Indian Water Authority, the City of Escondido, California, the Vista Irrigation District, and the United States.

H.R. 1475: KOREAN WAR VETERANS MEMORIAL WALL OF REMEMBRANCE ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Sam Johnson [R, TX-3]         BIPARTISAN       

Authorizes a Wall of Remembrance, as part of the previously authorized Korean War Veterans Memorial, to include: (1) a list by name of members of the U.S. Armed Forces who were killed in action; (2) the number of members who were wounded, listed as missing in action, or prisoners of war; and (3) the number of members of the Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army, the Republic of Korea Armed Forces, and the other nations of the United Nations (U.N.) Command who were killed, wounded, missing, or prisoners.
 

 

H.R. 3371: KENNESAW MOUNTAIN NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD PARK BOUNDARY ADJUSTMENT ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Barry Loudermilk [R, GA-11]
Modifies the boundary of the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Georgia to include approximately eight acres identified as Wallis House and Harriston Hill.

 


H.R. 3620: TO AMEND THE DELAWARE WATER GAP NATIONAL RECREATION AREA IMPROVEMENT ACT TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO CERTAIN VEHICLES SERVING RESIDENTS OF MUNICIPALITIES ADJACENT TO THE DELAWARE WATER GAP NATIONAL RECREATION AREA, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
Sponsor: Rep. Tom Marino [R, PA-10]         BIPARTISAN       

Allows the Department of the Interior to establish a fee and permit program for the use of Highway 209 within the boundaries of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania by commercial vehicles, up to $200 per vehicle.

H.R. 3624 FRAUDULENT JOINDER PREVENTION ACT OF 2016 
Sponsor: Rep. Ken Buck [R, CO-4]

This bill amends procedures under which federal courts consider a motion to remand back to a state court a case that was removed from a state court to federal court.


 

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.

 

 

POPVOX Weekly Update

POPVOX Gavel Down_Closing Out the Week in Congress_Feb_15_19_2016

Gavel Down: Closing Out the Week in Congress

Both House and Senate were in recess this week for President's Day. Apple contested a court order involving unlocking the phone of San Bernardino shooter. Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari said many banks are still "too big to fail" and proposed breaking banks up. FCC voted 3-2 to let consumers swap their cable TV boxes for cheaper devices and apps. Public discussion about the process or potential for Justice Scalia's success continued.


Top Search on POPVOX this week:
"abortion"


Most active bill on POPVOX this week:

H.R. 3293 SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST ACT
 

Apple Contesting Court Order to Help FBI Unlock Phone of San Bernardino Shooter

On February 17, a federal judge ordered Apple to comply with an FBI request for technical assistance to access the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooters. Here are some details in the case:

  • The phone belongs to the gunman’s employer, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, which has given the FBI permission to search the phone.

  • However, the FBI has not been able to crack the passcode to open the phone because the phone locks after several incorrect attempts, which means they cannot access messages or photos.

Technical Details:

Trail of Bits blog explains in a breakdown of the technical issues, “the FBI wants Apple to create a special version of iOS that only works on the one iPhone they have recovered. This customized version of iOS will ignore passcode entry delays, will not erase the device after any number of incorrect attempts, and will allow the FBI to hook up an external device to facilitate guessing the passcode.”

Legal Details:

Apple argues that the FBI’s request would compel it to write new code that will compromise the security of its product in the future. U.S. Magistrate Sheri Pym ruled that Apple must comply with the FBI’s request.

Apple CEO, Tim Cook, in a letter to customers, explained that Apple will challenge the ruling:

We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data.

The FBI cites the 227-year old “All Writs” statute from the 1879 Judiciary Act to make its case. That provisions states:

(a) The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.
(b) An alternative writ or rule nisi may be issued by a justice or judge of a court which has jurisdiction.

Ars Technica explains: “While the All Writs Act is not used every day, the act has been successfully invoked by the government to compel telephone companies to install wiretaps, for phone companies to hand over call records, and to obtain CCTV footage, handwriting exemplars, and DNA samples. It has even been cited to force a defendant to cough up his computer password.”

Stanford Law School explains the All Writs Act.

The Justice Department said Apple's refusal is a "marketing strategy" rather than based on legal rationale. Today, DOJ filed a motion asking a federal judge to immediately force Apple to assist in unlocking the phone.

More on the topic from Engadget, Wired, The New York Times, The Verge
 

The Apple FBI debate upped the ante on encryption legislation. Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr [R, NC] is weighing how best to address encryption legislation but has decided against proposal to criminalize a company's refusal to aid decryption efforts as part of a governmental investigation. Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D, CA] will introduce a bill that would give the government access to encrypted communications. Rep. Michael McCaul [R, TX-10] and Sen. Mark Warner [D, VA] are working on a bill that would create a commission to find a solution without creating a "backdoor." House Judiciary Committee announced it will hold encryption hearing on March 1.


Deep Dive: New Minneapolis Fed Chair Proposes Breaking Up Banks

In his first speech as President of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, former Bush official and Goldman Sachs Banker, Neel Kashkari, said that many banks are still “too big to fail” and should be broken up: “I believe the [Dodd-Frank] Act did not go far enough. I believe the biggest banks are still too big to fail and continue to pose a significant, ongoing risk to our economy.”

Kashkari, who led the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial meltdown and recently ran for governor of California, suggested giving “serious consideration” to policies such as (1) breaking up large banks into "smaller, less connected, less important entities,” (2) forcing large banks to hold so much capital that they literally cannot fail and instead act more like public utilities, (3) “Taxing leverage throughout the financial system to reduce systemic risks wherever they lie.”

He listed three lessons learned from the financial crisis:

  1. There is no set definition of “too big to fail” — in normal times a big bank can fail with little impact to the overall system; in a crisis, it takes much less to cause major damage.

  2. Regulators will not see the next crisis — They rarely do, even when they are looking.

  3. “Externalities” (impact on people and things that did not choose to participate in the cause) of bank failures are massive. Kashkari compared it to a nuclear reactor: “The cost to society of letting a reactor melt down is astronomical. Given that cost, governments will do whatever they can to stabilize the reactor before they lose control.”

The speech at Brookings kicks off a series of policy symposiums hosted by the Minneapolis Fed to see input from experts, academics, regulators and financial professionals. Read full remarks.

The speech took some by surprise — Politico said: “Kashkari drops a bomb,” Reuters called the plan “radical”, Business Insider proclaimed it “quite an entrance.

Several proposals are pending in Congress that would impact Dodd-Frank, including proposals to repeal completely, strengthen Dodd-Frank, and implement a new Glass-Stegall Act (separating investment and retail banks).

S. 1709 THE 21ST CENTURY GLASS-STEAGALL ACT
Sponsor: Sen. Elizabeth Warren [D, MA]     BIPARTISAN   

H.R. 3054 THE 21ST CENTURY GLASS-STEAGALL ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Michael Capuano [D, MA-7]     BIPARTISAN   

H.R. 171 REPEALING DODD-FRANK WALL STREET REFORM
Sponsor: Rep. Adrian Smith [R, NE-3] 

H.R. 381 RETURN TO PRUDENT BANKING ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Marcy Kaptur [D, OH-9]      BIPARTISAN   

H.R. 37 PROMOTING JOB CREATION AND REDUCING SMALL BUSINESS BURDENS ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick [R, PA-8]

H.R. 2474 WALL STREET ACCOUNTABILITY THROUGH SUSTAINABLE FUNDING ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Rosa DeLauro [D, CT-3]

H.R. 3118 ELIMINATING THE BUREAU OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION
Sponsor: Rep. John Ratcliffe [R, TX-4]

H.R. 2094 TO REPEAL TITLES I AND II OF THE DODD-FRANK WALL STREET REFORM AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland [R, GA-3]


FCC Proposal to Unlock the Set Top Box

Your home cable box is now the subject of hot debate in Washington. On Thursday, the FCC approved a “notice of proposed rulemaking” to “unlock” the set top box:


U.S. consumers spend $20 billion a year to lease these devices. Since 1994, according to a recent analysis, the cost of cable set-top boxes has risen 185 percent while the cost of computers, televisions and mobile phones has dropped by 90 percent. Congress recognized the importance of a competitive marketplace and directed the Commission to adopt rules that will ensure consumers will be able to use the device they prefer for accessing programming they’ve paid for.”

Read the full proposal.


Supreme Court Nomination Update

Thousands stood in line at the Supreme Court building on Friday, where Justice Antonin Scalia lay in state. Mourners left mementos and reminders of the memorable Scalia phrases that colored his decisions and dissents, including broccoli, applesauce, and fortune cookies. A private ceremony for friends and colleagues was held at the Court in the morning, and the funeral will be 11 AM Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

(Photo/Melinda Heim)

(Photo/Melinda Heim)

The public discussion about the process or potential for a successor to be appointed continues. White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that President Obama has called Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Reid, Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Leahy to talk about the nomination process. (h/t Jennifer Bendery). See: what Senator Grassley has said about holding nomination hearings.

Bloomberg News spoke to noted Constitutional Law professor and dean of the University of California Irvine School of Law, Erwin Chemerinsky (who literally wrote the book[s]) about the issues involved:

[Chemerinsky] said the framers expected the Senate to act. If senators could simply ignore a president’s nomination, they would have the power to undermine the judiciary.

"The Constitution has to be interpreted to make sense, and it doesn’t make sense unless you say the president nominates and the Senate has to give advice and consent," he said.

Chemerinsky said that, even if the Senate is obligated to take up a nomination, the only way to enforce that requirement would be public pressure.

"You can’t sue the Senate to make them hold a hearing or to make them confirm somebody," he said.


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Weekend Reads

"What growing life expectancy gaps mean for the promise of Social Security" by Barry Bosworth, Gary Burtless, and Kan Zhang, Brookings

"Why Apple is Right to Challenge an Order to Help the F.B.I" by The New York Times Editorial Board

"Let's Change the Conversation Around Mental Health" by First Lady Michelle Obama, The Huffington Post


 

POPVOX Weekly Update_The Week Ahead in Congress_February_15_19_2016

WEEKLY UPDATE: The Week Ahead in Congress

Congress is out for the President’s Day Recess. Attention in Washington has turned to the Supreme Court.

 


Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016)

With the news of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday, his life and legacy on the U.S. Supreme Court is the main topic in Washington this week.

Inevitably, the conversation has also turned to the process for filling his seat on the United States Supreme Court.

What happens in the Court?

There are still many cases before the Court for the term that began in October 2015. Decisions that have not yet been issued will now be subject to a vote by only eight justices. Previously considered a 5-4 conservative court, it is now highly likely that we will see divided decisions, with 4-4 votes. When a Supreme Court vote breaks 4-4, the case will be “confirmed by an equally divided court,” meaning the lower court’s decision will stand. (Source: NPR, SCOTUSBlog, Politico)

This dynamic has many re-examining the lower court decision for those cases before the Court. Law Professor Richard Primus notes that the vacancy could bring a leftward shift, given the lower court decisions that will likely now stand.

What happens in Congress?

The President appoints Supreme Court Justices with the advice and consent of the Senate. Under current Senate rules, that advice and consent requires a confirmation vote that must survive a 60-vote cloture threshold. But, it doesn’t look like those votes will happen this year:

Within hours of the report of Justice Scalia’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement that “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman, Chuck Grassley, issued a similar statement saying that Congress should “defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice.”

President Obama said on Saturday that despite these statements, he does intend to submit a nomination to the Senate.

As the majority, Leader McConnell and Chairman Grassley hold the power on whether confirmation hearings are scheduled or whether votes take place though the Senate minority could revolt in protest. Given that the Senate requires 60 votes to proceed to most business, there may be a bumpy ride ahead.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called for the Senate to act: “Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities.”

What about a recess appointment?

Theoretically possible, though as SCOTUSBlog explains, a recess-appointed justice would only serve until the end of the President’s term. Also, the Senate is unlikely to go into recess to give the President that chance. For example, while the Senate is currently in recess until February 22, it has "pro forma" meetings scheduled on Feb 15th and 18th, which would prevent a recess appointment (since Senate must be in recess for at least three days for an appointment to be allowed.)

Still, some are pointing out that the actual adjournment resolution that passed on February 12 (S.Con.Res. 31) only mentions reconvening for legislative business on the 23rd. So is there a chance that President Obama could make an immediate recess appointment for a temporary justice to serve until the end of his term? And if he did, and the appointment was challenged, the deciding forum would be… the Supreme Court. 

Interesting times ahead!


Congress Begins Budget Discussion

This year, House and Senate Majority Leadership have repeatedly expressed a desire to return to “regular order,” in which a budget is passed early in the year, followed by twelve individual appropriations bills approving the spending laid out in the budget.

In a closed-door meeting on Friday, Speaker Ryan reportedly presented the House GOP with three options on the budget, also noting that "the sky won't fall if we don't do a budget this year."

The options were:

  1. Stick with the deal from last year (which set spending above sequester levels)
  2. Return to the sequester levels (but probably not get the budget to pass the Senate)
  3. Sequester with a “plus up” for Defense 

Referring to the third option, Ryan said: "The result — without question — will be that, once again, the Senate blocks all spending bills, and it ends up with a [continuing resolution] or another omni… repeating exactly what happened last year.”


House-passed bills move on to Senate


Before leaving for the President's Day recess, the House passed several bills that now head to the Senate:

 

H.R. 3293: SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST ACT
SPONSOR: REP. LAMAR SMITH [R, TX-21]       BIPARTISAN     

The bill offers a seven-point test of “national interest," if the project: increases the nation’s economic competitiveness, advances Americans’ health and welfare, develops a national science and technology workforce that is globally competitive, increases Americans’ science and technology literacy or engagement, increases academia’s connection with industry, supports national defense, or promotes the progress of science in the U.S.
 

H.R. 3442: DEBT MANAGEMENT AND FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT OF 2015
SPONSOR: REP. KENNY MARCHANT [R, TX-24]        BIPARTISAN     

The bill requires the Treasury Secretary to present: a debt report, plan, and progress update to Congress on the state of the national debt, including its composition and trajectory, as well as the Administration's plans to meet debt obligations in the event that Congress agrees to raise the debt limit.
 

H.R. 2017: COMMON SENSE NUTRITION DISCLOSURE ACT OF 2015
SPONSOR: REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS [R, WA-5]       BIPARTISAN     

The bill would affect new FDA guidelines, scheduled to go into effect in December 2016, requiring fast-food restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores and other locations that sell ready-to-eat single servings of food to list calorie counts on their menus and provide nutritional information to customers on request.

H.R. 3016: VETERANS EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION, AND HEALTHCARE IMPROVEMENT ACT 
SPONSOR: REP. BRAD WENSTRUP [R, OH-2]       BIPARTISAN     


The bill combines over 30 bills, including: considering podiatrists as "physicians,"  providing for an audit of the VA budget, establishing a Chief Business Officer to manage payment of invoices for non-VA medical services provided to vets, piloting a program on dog training therapy for veterans with PTSD, increasing newborn care available for female veterans from seven to 42 days, establishing the Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration, (VEOTA), authorizing eligible servicemembers to transfer unused education benefits under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill to family members. 


When Senate returns: Energy Bill


After recess, the Senate will resume consideration of the Energy Bill. The Senate previously failed to invoke cloture on the energy bill, brought down by disagreements over funding for Flint water crisis. Last week, the House passed a bill addressing the Flint water crisis.

S. 2012 ENERGY POLICY MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2015
SPONSOR: Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R, AK]       BIPARTISAN     

Section-by-section analysis   |  Bill Text   |   CBO Score


The bill includes provisions to promote efficiency of homes, buildings, and manufacturing facilities, modernize the electrical grid, enhance cybersecurity safeguards, maintain the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and provide a streamlined process for natural gas export projects. It encourages the development of renewable energy, traditional resources, and non-fuel minerals, including responsible development of American resources – like hydropower geothermal, bioenergy and rare earth elements. The bill includes the reauthorization of certain energy-related components of the America COMPETES Act, interagency coordination of energy/water initiatives, and the repeal of numerous provisions within the U.S. Code. The bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund and permanently reauthorizes the Historic Preservation Fund. It also creates a new National Park Maintenance and Revitalization Fund.


Also in the Senate: Bill to Combat Opioid Abuse


The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which authorizes almost $80 million in annual funding to address the nation's opioid crisis.

S. 524 COMPREHENSIVE ADDICTION AND RECOVERY ACT
SPONSOR: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D, RI]        BIPARTISAN       

Some Democrats supportive of the bill say that it should include additional funding, and will support adding a bill from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen [D, NH] when it comes to the Senate Floor.

S. 2423 A BILL MAKING APPROPRIATIONS TO ADDRESS THE HEROIN AND OPIOID DRUG ABUSE EPIDEMIC FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING SEPTEMBER 30, 2016, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
SPONSOR: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen [D, NH]       BIPARTISAN     


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. 

 

POPVOX Weekly Update
Bills and issues up for a vote or discussion in Congress.