September 1, 2020

Laws to Enhance Benefits for Service Members, First Responders, Veterans and to Restore National Parks and Public Lands

A bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to extend lease protections for servicemembers under stop movement orders in response to a local, national, or global emergency, and for other purposes (S 3637) – This bill extends the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to protect service members who were previously issued orders to change duty stations but had those orders rescinded because of the pandemic. A stop movement order may leave them with a housing and/or car lease in two different locations. This extension allows families who are unable to relocate due to pandemic-related travel restrictions to be released without penalty from their leases. It is retroactive to March 1, 2020. The bill was introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) […]
August 1, 2020

Relief and Funding for Human Rights, Emergency Aid, Cash-Flow Assistance and New Infrastructure Projects

Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act (S 2746) – This bill authorizes the establishment of a new Law Enforcement Officers Suicide Data Collection Program to be administered by the FBI. The program will gather data related to suicides and attempted suicides of current and former officers, as well as the wrongful detainment of U.S. nationals abroad. The purpose of the Act is to help understand and prevent law enforcement suicides. The bill was introduced by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) on Oct. 30, 2019. It was passed by the House and the Senate in May and was signed into law on June 16. Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 (S 2744) – Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced this legislation […]
July 1, 2020

Helping Small Business Owners, Seniors and U.S. Hostages, and Limiting Intrusive Domestic Surveillance

Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (HR 7010) – Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) introduced this legislation on May 26. This Act modifies provisions related to small business loans issued under the original Paycheck Protection Program. Specifically, the bill permits forgiveness of loans used to pay expenses incurred over a 24-week period, longer than the original eight-week limit, and extends the timeframe to pay off unforgiven loans from two to five years. This bill also increases the limit on non-payroll expenses up to 40 percent when used to pay for rent, utilities, mortgage interest, and similar fixed costs. Loan recipients have until the end of 2020 to rehire employees with full access to payroll tax deferment. The bill was signed […]
June 1, 2020

In the Wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Congress Passes the Most Expensive Single Spending Bill in American History

Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (HR 266) – This is a multilayered legislative bill divided into four distinct sections. Phase 1 authorized funding for coronavirus preparedness and response; specifically, for measures such as vaccine development and public health funding. Most of the money was allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services. Approximately 81 percent of funds were allocated domestically, with the other 19 percent allocated internationally. Phase 2 allocated $104 billion for three specific objectives: 1) Require private health insurance plans and Medicare to cover COVID-19 testing; 2) Expand unemployment insurance by $1 billion and loosen up eligibility requirements; 3) Provide for paid sick leave at an employee’s full salary, up to $511 per day, […]
May 1, 2020

More Coronavirus Relief, Plus Beefed-Up Security for Technology, the Elderly, and Children Born to U.S. Citizens Serving Overseas

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (HR 748) – This legislation provided $2 trillion of stimulus relief in response to the coronavirus crisis. Provisions of the bill include: $1,200 for each American making up to $75,000 a year Additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits for up to four months $100 billion available for hospitals and health providers; increase Medicare reimbursements for treating COVID-19 $750 million for food banks and food assistance to American Indian reservations, Puerto Rico and other territories $500 billion in loans or investments to businesses, states, and municipalities $32 billion in grants to the airline industry Relief for homeowners with federally backed mortgages Delay for student loan payments This bipartisan bill was signed into law […]
April 1, 2020

Focused Almost Exclusively on Mitigating the Health and Economic Impact of the Coronavirus

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (HR 6074) – Introduced by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), this was the first bill passed to authorize funding in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. It was introduced on March 4 and signed into law on March 6. The legislation provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. It includes appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services, the State Department and the Small Business Administration for the development, manufacture and procurement of vaccines and other medical supplies; grants for state, local and tribal public health agencies and organizations; loans for affected small businesses; evacuations and emergency preparedness activities at U.S. embassies and other State […]
March 1, 2020

Supporting Veteran Careers, Protecting the Food Supply, and Reducing Wasted Government Spending

Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act (S 153) – This bill encourages veterans to participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields in a variety of ways, including making veterans eligible for certain National Science Foundation (NSF) programs. The Act directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy to establish an interagency working group to improve veteran and military spouse representation in STEM fields, and authorizes funding for the Government Accountability Office to study 1) the academic success rates of student veterans pursuing an undergraduate degree in STEM and related fields; and 2) the barriers faced by such students in pursuing such degrees. This legislation was sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio (D-FL) on Jan. 16, 2019. It was passed […]
February 1, 2020

Blocking Robocalls, Stepping Up Suicide Prevention for Vets, and Appropriating Funds for a New Space Force

Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (S 151) – Approximately 58.5 billion robocalls were made in the United States last year, a 22 percent increase over 2018. That works out to an average of 178.3 robocalls per person, per year. Perhaps it’s no wonder then that this law was passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress. The legislation requires that phone companies ensure all calls come from real numbers, do not charge extra to block robocalls, and authorize government regulators to punish scammers with fines of up to $10,000 per call. This legislation was sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Frank Pallone Jr (D-NJ); it was signed into law by the president on Dec. 30, […]
January 1, 2020

Protecting TV Viewers, Whistleblowers and Supreme Court Justices; New Status Provisions for Immigrant Workers; and OTC Drugs

Reauthorizing Security for Supreme Court Justices Act of 2019 (HR 4258) – This bill reauthorizes the Marshal of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court Police to protect the Justices of the Supreme Court, their employees and official guests outside of the Supreme Court grounds. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ). It was introduced on Sept. 9, 2019, and signed into law by the president on Nov. 27, 2019. Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 (HR 5038) – This bill amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for terms and conditions for nonimmigrant workers performing agricultural labor. Under this law, certified agricultural worker (CAW) status may be granted to someone who 1) performed at least 1,035 […]
December 1, 2019

Hanging Flags, Awarding Geniuses, Supporting Hong Kong Protestors and Criminalizing Animal Cruelty

National POW/MIA Flag Act (S 693) – This bill amended title 36 of the United States Code to require that the POW/MIA flag be displayed on all days that the flag of the United States is displayed on certain federal properties. Previously, the POW/MIA flag was displayed only on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day. The legislation was introduced by Sen. Elizbeth Warren (D-MA) on March 7. It was passed in the Senate on May 2, passed in the House on Oct. 22 and signed into law by the president on Nov. 7. Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act (HR 1396) – This legislation awards Congressional Gold Medals to Katherine […]
November 1, 2019

Fighting Foreign Terrorism on Homeland Soil, Increased Protections for Clean Water and Low-Income Veterans, and New Appropriations for FY2020

Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise Act of 2019 (HR 1590) – This bill promotes the identification and determent of terrorist activity from reaching the homeland, and enhances the United States government’s ability to respond to terrorism, including emerging threats. Specifically, the legislation requires the Department of Homeland Security to develop and conduct exercises related to foreign terrorism, including the National Incident Management System, National Response Plan, and other related plans and strategies. The legislation was introduced on March 7 by Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS). The president signed the bill into law on Oct. 9. Alaska Remote Generator Reliability and Protection Act (S 163) – This bill is designed to prevent catastrophic failure or shutdown of remote diesel power engines […]
October 1, 2019

Debt Relief for Military Service Members, Veterans, Family Farmers and Small Business Owners

Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (HR 3311) – Scheduled to take effect starting in February 2020, this new law offers small businesses more agreeable terms when filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy status. The bill gives owners: More time (90 days) to file a reorganization plan with easier rules for extension The ability to retain ownership of the company even if debts are not paid in full A new formula for debt payments based on projected disposable income over three to five years Reduced red tape through the appointment of a “standing trustee” (instead of a credit committee) to oversee the reorganization process A more “fair and equitable” process to determine owner and creditor equity interests More protection against creditor […]
September 1, 2019

Extending Medicaid Funding, the Debt Limit, Membership into the American Legion, and Support For 9-11 Victims, Law Enforcement Officers, and Breastfeeding Moms

Sustaining Excellence in Medicaid Act of 2019 (HR 3253) – This bill authorizes appropriations through fiscal year 2024 and makes changes to several Medicaid programs and funding mechanisms. Some of the provisions include allowing state Medicaid fraud control units to review complaints regarding noninstitutionalized patients; temporarily extending Medicaid eligibility to protect against spousal poverty for recipients of home and community-based services; repealing the requirement for drug manufacturers to include the prices of authorized generic drugs when determining the average manufacturer price (AMP) of brand name drugs; and excluding manufacturers from the definition of “wholesalers” for purposes of rebate calculations. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI). It was introduced on June 13 and signed into law by the […]
August 1, 2019

Relief for Immigrants, Attempts to Deter Foreign Election Interference and Failed Resolutions to Condemn Foreign Arms Sales

Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act, 2019 (HR 3401) – This legislation provides $4.5 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to federal departments and agencies for humanitarian assistance and security to respond to migrants attempting to enter the United States at the southern border for the rest of the fiscal year. This funding is available for appropriations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services for the Administration for Children and Families. The bill also includes requirements and restrictions for how the funds may be used. It was introduced on June 21 by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and […]
July 1, 2019

Disaster Relief Funding, Expanded Benefits for Neglected Vietnam Veterans, and Bipartisan Reforms for the IRS

National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2019 (S 1693) – This bill reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program, which was set to expire on May 31, through June 14. The bill was introduced by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on May 23, passed the Senate and the House in one week and was signed into law by the president on May 31. Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, 2019 (HR 2157) – This bill adds $17.2 billion to this year’s budget for supplemental emergency funding available to many federal departments and agencies for expenses related to wildfires, hurricanes, volcanos, earthquakes, typhoons and other natural disasters. This supplemental funding basically extends the National Flood Insurance Program until Sept. 30, at […]
June 1, 2019

Enhanced Funding for Shooting Practice and Bulletproof Vests

Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (H.R. 1222 – The Pittman-Robertson Act, passed in 1937, imposes an excise tax on the sale of firearms, archery gear and ammunition. Those proceeds are used to fund hunter education programs, land acquisition and improvement of wildlife habitat. This new bill allocates a higher portion of these federal funds to cover the cost for construction and expansion of public target ranges. The act is designed to encourage states to develop additional shooting ranges for marksmanship training. It was introduced on Feb. 14 by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), passed in both the House and Senate and was signed into law by the president on May 10. To Reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program […]
May 1, 2019

Vetoes, Resolutions and Recognition

Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on February 15, 2019 (H.J.Res. 46) – This resolution was an effort to block the national emergency declared by President Trump to redirect funds to build a wall at the Mexico border. It was introduced on Feb. 22 by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), passed in both the House and Senate but was then vetoed by the president on March 15. An attempt to override the president’s veto failed in the House on March 26. A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress (S.J.Res. 7) – This joint resolution was designed to prevent the […]
April 1, 2019

Blocking Emergency Funds, Protecting Land, Withdrawing Troops, Spying on Russia

Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on Feb. 15 (H.J.Res. 46) – This resolution was an effort to block the national emergency declared by President Trump for the purpose of using funds previously allocated for other initiatives to build a border wall along the southern border shared with Mexico. The resolution, which was introduced on Feb. 22 by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), represents the first ever Congressional challenge to the 1976 National Emergencies Act. The initiative passed in both the House and the Senate but was then vetoed by the President on March 15. John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (S. 47) – This bill (renamed from Natural Resources Management Act) sets forth provisions […]
March 1, 2019

A Final Budget Bill, Military Support in the Middle East and Campaign Finance Reform

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 (H.J.Res. 31) – This is the budget appropriations bill that was finally agreed upon in order to avoid a second government shutdown in February. The bill authorizes funding for government agencies through the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2019). Among its hundreds of provisions, the bill appropriates the following: $1.375 billion to build a physical barrier along 55 miles of the southern border in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas $415 million for humanitarian relief for medical care, transportation, food and clothing at the southern border $12 billion for federal disaster relief $3.16 billion for agricultural research $3.64 billion for rural development $3.3 billion for highway and bridge rehabilitation and construction This legislation was […]
February 1, 2019

Congress at Work: Reimbursing Unpaid Federal Workers, Fact-Based Policy Making and Fighting Human Trafficking

Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019 (S. 24) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) on Jan. 3 and signed into law on Jan. 19. It requires federal employees who are furloughed or working without pay to be compensated for the time of the government shutdown. Workers are to be paid as soon as possible after the government is reopened, irrespective of pay schedules. Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2017 (H.R. 4174) – This legislation mandates that agencies of the federal government use available scientific data, statistics and fact-based evidence when making policy decisions. The bill authorizes each agency to appoint a chief data officer to manage relevant data assets and determine how to incorporate […]
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