Ideologies Surface as Senate Moves Transportation Bill, Planned Parenthood

Transportation Bills at the Cross-roads. Photo by Borge Fagerli

Transportation Bills at the Cross-roads. Photo by Borge Fagerli

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) began last week to find a vehicle for six-year funding for highways and transportation and found Senators agreeable to using HR 22, a bill relieving employers of the Affordable Care act requirement to provide employee health insurance if the employees are on TriCare or military medical programs. McConnell got the votes he needed to use HR 22 but also allowed an amendment to fund the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) the funding of which expired about a month ago. The amendment was agreed to.

The Ex-Im bank is opposed by the Senate’s far right including presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) whose motion to thwart the Ex-Im amendment was rejected. HR 22 Passed the Senate amended.

McConnell’s other political firestorm come from his allowing a vote on a stand-alone bill that would defund Planned Parenthood, a program also opposed by conservatives. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) offered an amendment to HR 22 defunding planned parenthood but the amendment was ruled out of order. S 1881, defunding Planned Parenthood, seeks cloture to continue.

While the Senate worked its way through politics the House prepared to reject the Senate transportation bill with its own bill minus the Ex-Im funding. (HR 3236) The House, not likely to reject HR 22 because it affects veterans and the military, agreed to HJR 61 that would replace HR 22 indicating that the House Leadership is not in line with McConnell’s Senate on ideological and political lines. The Senate agreed to the House three-month extension of highway funding up to $8 billion in HR 3236, will insist on its bill (HR 22), and will go to conference with the House on the matter in September.

HR 22 bill report  /  S 1881 bill report  /  HJR 61 bill report  /  HR 3236 (Current House transportation bill).

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Transportation Security

Pre-Check

Who can apply for Pre-Check status when flying is further defined. Scheduled, Not yet debated.

HR 2127 bill report.

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Pre-Check II

TSA is to publish standards allowing private-sector entities to provide certain support services to increase enrollment in the Pre-Check program. Security vulnerabilities in the vetting process for the PreCheck program include an evaluation of  recurrent fingerprint-based criminal history records checks and recurrent checks against the terrorist screening database could be done in a cost effective manner. Passed House.

HR 2843 bill report.

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Preventive Maintenance

The Administrator shall develop and implement a preventive maintenance validation process for security-related technology deployed to airports. Passed House.

HR 2770 bill report

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Vetting AP Workers

The Administrator shall issue guidance to annually review airport badging office procedures for applicants seeking access to sensitive areas of airports. Passed House.

HR 2750 bill report

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Overturning Regulations

Rep. Todd C Young (R-IN-9th)

Rep. Todd C Young (R-IN-9th)

To increase accountability for and transparency in the Federal regulatory process the bill proposes that Congress review and approve ‘major regulations’ before they are implemented. Passed House.

HR 427 bill report

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Policy-Making Standards

Rep Paul Ryan (R-WI-1)

Rep Paul Ryan (R-WI-1)

The bill seeks the optimal arrangement for which administrative data on federal programs and tax expenditures and related data series may be integrated and made available to facilitate program evaluation, continuous improvement, policy-relevant research, and cost-benefit analyses by qualified researchers and institutions. Passed House.

HR 1831 bill report

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Pre-Clearance in Foreign Countries

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA-7)The bill “Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish U.S. Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance operations in foreign countries. Passed House.

HR 998 bill report

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Veterans Affairs

ObamaCare Waiver

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL-3)

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL-3)

The bill exempt employees with health coverage under TRICARE or the Veterans Administration from being taken into account for purposes of determining the employees to which the employer mandate applies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The budgetary effects of this joint resolution shall not be entered on either PAYGO scorecard. Passed House.

HJR 61 bill report

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VA Accountability and COLA Increases

Accountability

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL-1)

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL-1)

This bill authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to remove or demote a VA employee based on performance or misconduct. To that end the VA may also remove such individual from the civil service or demote the individual through a reduction in grade or annual pay rate. Passed House.

HR 1994 bill report

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Veteran COLA

Rep. Ralph C. Abraham (R-LA-5)

Rep. Ralph C. Abraham (R-LA-5)

The bill would increase the rates of veteran’s disability compensation, provide additional compensation for dependents, increase allowance for certain disabled vets, and increase dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. Passed House.

HR 675 bill report

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Ruth Moore

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1)

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1)

The bill’s namesake waited 7 years for a military sexual assault case to be determined in her favor. The bill aims to shorten the wait. Post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, or any other mental health diagnosis that the Secretary determines to be related to military sexual trauma is considered a covered mental health condition. Passed House.

HR 1607 bill report.

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National Security

Secret Service Improvement

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R_VA_6th)

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R_VA_6th)

The Secret Service (SS) Director must increase the annual number of hours spent training by SS agents, is authorized to construct facilities and hire not fewer than 200 additional officers for the Division and 80 additional agents for the Presidential Detail. Passed House.

HR 1656 bill report

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Interoperable Communications

Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ-10) Sponsor

Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ-10) Sponsor

The purpose of H.R. 2206 is to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to require recipients of State Homeland Security Grant Program funding to preserve and strengthen interoperable emergency communications capabilities. Passed House.

HR 2206 bill report

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Anthrax Protection

Rep. Peter King (R-NY-2)

Rep. Peter King (R-NY-2)

The Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, shall establish a program to provide surplus anthrax vaccines from the strategic national stockpile…to emergency response providers for administration to such providers who voluntarily consent to such administration. Passed House.

HR 1300 bill report

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Border Protection Costs

The Under Secretary is to submit a plan for testing, evaluation, and  use of independent verification and validation resources for border security technology so that new border security technologies are evaluated through a series of assessments, processes, and audits to ensure the effectiveness of taxpayer dollars.  No additional funds are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act and the amendments therein.  Passed House.

HR 1634 bill report

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Miscellaneous

International Fisheries

Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU)

Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU)

“The Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of State, and in cooperation with relevant fishery management councils and any relevant advisory committees, shall take actions to improve the effectiveness of international fishery management organizations, or arrangements made pursuant to an international fishery agreement, in conserving and managing fish stocks under their jurisdiction. Scheduled. Not debated.

HR 774 bill report

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Idaho Land

Rep. Michal Simpson (R-ID-2) HR 2028 sponsor

Rep. Michal Simpson (R-ID-2) HR 2028 sponsor

Idaho land is shuffled to ‘establish certain wilderness areas and to authorize various land conveyances involving National Forest System land and Bureau of Land Management land in central Idaho.’ The bill also concerns itself with Native American and cultural uses, adjacent land management, military overflights, and water rights and additions to the National Forest System. Passed House.

HR 1138 bill report.

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Access to Education

Senator Chuck Grassleu (R-IN)

Senator Chuck Grassleu (R-IN)

The Need-Based Educational Aid Act of 2015 allows colleges and universities that admit students on a need-blind basis to collaborate on the formula they use to determine how much families can pay for college. To that end the bill makes extensions relating to applying anti-trust laws to need-based educational aid. Passed Senate. Passed House.

S 1482 bill report.

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