Foreign Affairs

US – Israel Collaborations

Cyber Security Research

Rep. James Langevin (D-RI-4)HR 5843 provides a grant program for joint ventures to research cyber security and to  commercialization of cybersecurity technology. Passed House.

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Advanced Cyber Security Research

Rep John Ratcliff (R-TX-4)

Rep John Ratcliff (R-TX-4)

Under HR 5877  the DHS Under Secretary may enter into cooperative research activities with Israel to strengthen preparedness against cyber threats and enhance capabilities in cybersecurity. Passed House.

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Israel-Palestinian Conflict Resolution

Rep Ed Royce (R-CA-39)

Rep Ed Royce (R-CA-39)

HCR 165 affirms US policy in support of a direct bilaterally negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but opposites UN Security Council resolutions imposing a solution to the conflict. Passed House.

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Korean Families

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY-13)

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY-13)

HCR 40 encourages North Korea to allow Korean Americans to meet with their family members from North Korea; and  calls on North Korea to take concrete steps to build goodwill that is conducive to peace on the Korean Peninsula. Passed House.

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SS Pay

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT-3)

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT-3)

HR 6302 would increase premium pay to US Secret service Agents who are performing protective services in 2016. The bill does not cover uniformed secret service employee or officers, employees, agents, or law enforcement officers of any other Federal agency. Passed House.

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Medals of Honor

OSS

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO)

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO)

S 2234 authorizes a gold medal of appropriate design in commemoration to the members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), in recognition of their superior service and major contributions during World War II. Passed House.

Philippines

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

S 1555 aims to award a Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the Filipino veterans of World War II, in recognition of the dedicated service of the veterans during World War II. Passed House.

Merchant Marines

Rep Susan Brooks (R-IN-5)

Rep Susan Brooks (R-IN-5)

HR 2992 aims to award a Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the Filipino veterans of World War II, in recognition of the dedicated service of the veterans during World War II. Passed House.

Intelligence Authorization Passed, Focus on Russia

Dodd – Frank Modified

Iran Sanctions Bill in the Senate

House Passes Senate Rail Safety and Northern Border Bills

Funding for the Committee to Investigate Planned Parenthood

Intelligence Authorizations

Rep Devin Nunes (R-CA-22)

Rep Devin Nunes (R-CA-22)

HR 6393 is the authorization for funding the intelligence communities but the full amount is classified. Notable this year is the increased effort to establish within the executive branch an interagency committee to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence to include covert broadcasting, media manipulation, and disinformation and forgeries. The bill also creates the position of the Director of Counterintelligence and requires a five-year investment strategy for outreach and recruiting efforts in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), to include cybersecurity and computer literacy. The bill also requires declassification reviews of intel of past terror actions of the individuals scheduled to be transferred from Guantanamo Bay. . Passed House.

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Dodd-Frank

Rep Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO-3)

Rep Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO-3)

HR 6392, the Systemic Risk Designation Improvement Act of 2016 modifies Dodd-Frank and has all the appearances of imposing regulations on bank holding companies to determine if they are stable enough to not  pose a threat  the financial stability of the United States. Banks categorized as such would be subject to ‘enhanced supervision’ and prudential standards by the Board of Governors using the indicator-based measurement approach involving indicators that reflect what generates negatives and makes a bank critical for the stability of the banking system. However, the way the bill is worded it only verifies that some banks already a potential risk are so categorized while those that could be a potential risk at $50 billion in assets are considered to have been considered.  Passed House.

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Iran Sanctions

Senate Agrees with Iran Sanctions Extension

Rep Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO-3)

Rep Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO-3)

HR 6297 reauthorizes the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 and extends its expiration date of December 31, 2016 to December 31, 2026. The bill is in keeping with the Joint Agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions agreed to by Iran, the US and four other countries. Passed House .Passed Senate.

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Rail Safety

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)

S 546 would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to establish the Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) Subcommittee of the National Advisory Council. The RESPONSE Subcommittee shall evaluate the following topics and develop recommendations, as appropriate, for improving emergency responder training and resource allocation for hazardous materials incidents involving railroads. Passed Senate and House.

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Northern Border

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)

House Members voted to support S 1808, the Senate-passed bill  improves the security of the northern border by requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security (“the Secretary”) to submit a northern border threat analysis to Congress. This threat analysis will focus on the threats posed to the northern border by current and potential terrorist and criminal organizations; improvements needed at and between the ports of entry on the northern border, including the maritime border; and vulnerabilities in law, policy, and cooperation among law enforcement entities that threaten effective and efficient border security along the northern border. Passed Senate and House.

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Planned Parenthood, Inc.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7)

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7)

H Res 933 would provide $800,000 to the Committee on Energy and Commerce to continue a Select Panel to investigate inflammatory videos created by David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress investigation into Planned Parenthood, Inc., the organization that was accused of selling fetal tissue although the allegations were not proven. Planned Parenthood provides abortions but is funded by the Federal government to provide pregnancy-relate health services to women as well as contraceptives and advise. The panel has subpoena power and has spent up to $790,000 but has produced no results. Passed House.

 

Other Matters

Human Trafficking

Rep Ted Poe (R-TX-2)

Rep Ted Poe (R-TX-2)

HR 5422 amends current law to eliminate the provision that Department of Health and Human Services national human trafficking hotline grants be funded by amounts made available to the Department of Justice for trafficking victim services grants. Passed House.

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Security Background Security

Sen Jon Tester (D-MT)

Sen Jon Tester (D-MT)

S 434 provides that a federal employee would be deemed unfit for employment I it is determined that the employee has engaged in misconduct regarding a background investigation to include falsifying information. Passed Senate.

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Fire Prevention

Senator John Thune (R-SD) sponsor

Senator John Thune (R-SD) sponsor

S 3395 prohibits a prescribed burn on Forest Service land if, for the county or contiguous county in which the land is located, the national fire danger rating system indicates an extreme fire danger level. Passed Senate.

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Federal Mail

Rep Steve Russell (R-OK-5)

Rep Steve Russell (R-OK-5)

HR 6009 aims to ensure the effective processing of mail by Federal agencies by designating the General Services Administration to provide guidance to federal agencies to establish effective mail processing. Passed House.

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Federal Register Printing

Rep Steve Russell (R-OK-5)

Rep Steve Russell (R-OK-5)

Under HR 5384 The Federal Register, a daily publication showing government business opportunities may not be provided as a free print copy to any Member of Congress or other US offices unless a copy of a specific date is requested. Passed House.

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Following the Rules

Rep. Sean P. Duffy (R-WI) HR 1265 Sponsor

Rep. Sean P. Duffy (R-WI) HR 1265 Sponsor

Under HR 6186 an individual is prohibited from taking a personnel action against someone who refuses to obey an order that would result in the person violating the law or regulation. Passed House.

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HHS Improvement

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

Under S 2873 the Secretary if Health and Human Services, in collaboration with the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, shall examine technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models and the ability of such models to improve patient care and provider education. Passed Senate.

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Law Enforcement Pay

Rep William Hurd (R-TX-23)

Rep William Hurd (R-TX-23)

HR 4902  standardizes premium pay and expanding law enforcement availability pay applicability so that it covers all air and marine operations  law enforcement officers to ensure pay is standardized swiftly, Passed House and Senate.


 

Veterans Affairs

TRICARE Enrollment

Under HR 5458 an individual who is eligible for TRICARE and is not on active duty may elect to be ineligible, may make payments to a heath savings account but may enroll in TRICARE in the future when there is an enrollment period. Passed House.

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Vet Tombstones

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL-1)

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL-1)

HR 4757 amends title 38, United States Code, to expand the eligibility for headstones, markers, and medallions furnished by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for deceased individuals who were awarded the Medal of Honor and are buried in private cemeteries. Passed House.

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Vet Ethics

Rep. David P. Roe (R-TN-1)

Rep. David P. Roe (R-TN-1)

HR 5399 would ‘amend title 38, United States Code, to ensure that physicians of the Department of Veterans Affairs fulfill the ethical duty to report to State licensing authorities impaired, incompetent, and unethical health care activities. Passed House.

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Vet Employment

Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA-8)

Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA-8)

HR 3286 would require the Department of Labor to establish the HIRE Vets Medallion Program, to annually recognize businesses for their efforts to employ veterans.’…’ Awards would be made of gold or platinum based on the number of veterans they employ and their efforts to hire and train veterans. Passed House.

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Treating PTSD

Rep. Stephen Knight (R-CA-25)

Rep. Stephen Knight (R-CA-25)

HR 5600 aims to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program to provide access to magnetic EEG/EKG-guided resonance therapy technology to certain veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, chronic brain or opioid addiction. Passed House.

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Vet Automobiles

HR 3471 directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that an eligible disabled veteran provided an automobile or other conveyance is given the opportunity to make personal selections relating to the automobile or other conveyance. Passed House.

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Vet Education

Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA-10)

Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA-10)

HR 5047 would “direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Labor to provide information to veterans and members of the Armed Forces about articulation agreements between institutions of higher learning. Passed House.

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Tracking VA Cases

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL-3)

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL-3)

HR 5166 amends the US Code to provide certain employees of Members of Congress and State or local governmental agencies with access to case-tracking information of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Passed House.

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Senate Action

Urban Search and Rescue

Rep. Rob Portman (R-OH) Bill sponsor.

Rep. Rob Portman (R-OH) Bill sponsor.

S 2971, the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System Act of 2016, aims to improve the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System (US&R; System or System). This would be achieved through codifying the System’s operational requirements and codifying workers’ compensation and liability protections for its members while they are deployed. Passed Senate.

Safe Ticket Purchases

fixed hair & eyes

fixed hair & eyes

S 3183 ‘prohibits the circumvention of a security measure, access control system, or other technological measure on an Internet website or online service of a ticket issuer that is used to enforce posted event ticket purchasing limits or to maintain the integrity of posted online ticket purchasing order rules for a public event with an attendance capacity exceeding 200 persons. Passed Senate.

Program Management

Senator Joni Earnst (R-IA)

Senator Joni Earnst (R-IA)

S 1550 would amend federal law with the aim to improve program and project management in the federal government. The legislation would establish a council to be the primary interagency forum for program and project management. The legislation also would add additional responsibilities to the Office of Management and Budget Passed Senate.


The Economy

CBO says Deficit up this Year, 10 Years Out Things Aren’t Much Better

“In real terms (that is, with adjustments to exclude the effects of inflation), GDP rose at an annual rate of 1.0 percent in the first half of calendar year 2016. However, CBO expects that the economy will expand more rapidly in the coming months, with GDP growing by 2.0 percent over the whole of 2016 and by 2.4 percent in 2017—mainly because the major forces restraining the growth of investment, such as a decline in oil prices, have begun to subside… . Economic growth is expected to slow in 2018 and fall below but remain close to the growth of potential (maximum sustainable) GDP in 2019 and 2020. Most of the growth in output during the coming years will be driven by consumers, businesses, and home builders, CBO anticipates.”  Full Report.

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Defense Authorization Conference Report in Play

“The Conference Report would authorize funding for the Department of Defense and other related agencies, programs, and operations for Fiscal Year 2017. It authorizes approximately $611.2 billion in discretionary budget authority in total.  This includes $523.7 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) base budget and $19.4 billion for the defense-related activities of the Department of Energy (DOE).  It authorizes more than $67.8 billion in discretionary budget authority for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).  That includes $3 billion of base, non-war spending that the Majority deemed as funding for OCO in order to circumvent the Budget Control Act’s defense discretionary spending cap for FY17 agreed to last fall.  The initial House-passed bill included $18 billion in non-war funding deemed as funding for OCO.

“The Conference Report supports a 2.1 percent pay increase for military personnel and also updates the Uniform Code of Military Justice to include new protections for victims of military sexual assaults.  The Conference Report removes language in the House-passed bill that would have discriminated against LGBT employees.  It also removes language blocking the application of the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” Executive Order to DOD as well as Senate language that would have exempted the DOD from numerous other executive orders related to labor rights.  Language that would have prohibited funds from being used to enforce executive orders aimed at combatting climate change was also dropped.

“The Conference Report provides $1.2 billion to combat ISIL and provides authority to train and assist vetted Syrian opposition forces through December 31, 2018, and maintains congressional oversight over those efforts. It provides $3.4 billion for the European Reassurance Initiative to bolster relationships with European allies and partners and to deter Russian aggression, as well as $350 million to train and equip Ukrainian security forces.  $600 million will be allocated for the Israeli missile defense system.  The Conference Report also authorizes $25 million for the advancement of women in the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, as well as renews authority to issue special visas through 2020 for Afghans who supported U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and increases the number of available visas to 1,500 visas.

“The legislation maintains existing restrictions on domestic transfers of Guantanamo detainees and prevents the use of funds for construction or modification of U.S. facilities to house Guantanamo detainees.” – Minority Whip’s OfficeS 2943 report and votes. Passed House.