CR, Energy & Jobs Bills Top House Agenda
War Funding Added to Continuing Resolution
Although the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through December 11, 2014 passed it was not without significant divides in each party based mostly on one issue; the McKeon amendment regarding US intervention in Syria and the the Islamic State (ISIS). With the mid-term elections less than two months away Party positions pretty much cover all possibilities from opposing any escalation in the Middle East to prohibiting ground troops to escalating against a threat perceived by some as significant to the Homeland. The amendment is narrow in the sense that it does not authorize US Armed Forces intervention but does give specific guidelines on involvement with militants and others in Syria. The amendment requires significant reporting on the outcome of arming some Syrian groups and providing non-military support to others due to the confusion about which group is ultimately tied to terrorist organizations that might divert military aid to another terrorist organization.
Energy Bill Combines Nearly 20 Previously-passed Bills
Seen by supporters as the solution to significant job creation that has been hindered by government regulations and seen by opponents as little more than political messaging, HR 2 does, in fact, bring to life several recurring political issues. Among those issues is approval of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast as well as cross-border energy transmission at both borders. The other issue is opening the Outer Continental Shelf to energy exploration.
Job Efforts Resurface
The bill is made of several previously-passed House bills and aims to reduce or modify government actions, such as regulations, supporters believe will make life easier for businesses and create jobs. The bill does repeal previously debated issues to include repeals of several provisions in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and makes permanent or increases several business tax credits. Those sections also include a waiver prohibiting the financial results of those changes from inclusion on the Paygo scorecard. The scorecard keeps track of decreases in the deficit due to spending amounts in all bills that affect revenues and spending. Waiving the inclusion of the cost of those changes, then, would add to the deficit unless the changes are paid for otherwise. Payment for those changes appears to be beyond the scope of this legislation.
3 Bills Address Political Wrangling, 1 Makes Life Easier
No officer or employee of the IRS may use a personal email account to conduct any official business of the Government.
HR 5418 Bill Report & Vote
IRS Investigation Transparency
The Secretary may disclose to a person reporting a violation the status of the complaint.
Administrative Appeal Standards
The Secretary shall prescribe procedures to appeal an adverse determination of an investigation.
Free File Extended
The IRS may continue to implement and operate the Internal Revenue Service Free File program.
The bill requires; “Fees imposed…shall be $5.60 per one-way trip in air transportation or intrastate air transportation that originates at an airport in the United States, except that the fee imposed per round trip shall not exceed $11.20.” The term `round trip’ means a trip on an air travel itinerary that terminates or has a stopover at the origin point (or co-terminal).
The Fed Audit, Dodd-Frank Revisions & Saving More Money
Auditing the Fed
The bill requires an audit of the Board of Governors and the Federal Reserve banks.
The bill clarifies the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform bill to alleviate unintended consequences the bill created for businesses.
Federal Employee Retirement
Employees can choose to invest entirely in any one of the funds or in a mix.
A Lottery at Your Bank
Some financial institutions may conduct a “savings promotion raffle,”; Deposit a certain amount in savings for a chance to win prizes.
Law School Clinic
“The Law School Clinic Certification Program of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, as implemented by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is established as a program entitled the `Law School Clinic Certification Program’. The Program shall be in effect for 10-years beginning on enactment of this Act.”
Pot & Food Stamps
A bill to prevent assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Food Stamps) program from being used in any electronic benefit transfer (via a card) at any establishment that offers marijuana for sale.
Under the bill the Internal Revenue Code is amended to exclude from gross income, for income tax purposes, the value of an Indian general welfare benefit as long as they are not “lavish or extravagant, and are not compensation for services.”
Any person having reasonable cause to believe that the substance or product is or contains an anabolic steroid faces 10 years, and / or a fine of $500,000 if the defendant is an individual or $2,500,000 if the defendant is otherwise.
Traumatic Brain Injury Care Improvement
The bill amends the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 to extend for 8 years the pilot program to assess the effectiveness of providing assistance to eligible veterans with traumatic brain injury to enhance their rehabilitation, quality of life, and community integration.
VA Construction Assistance
The bill expresses the sense of Congress that the management of the major medical center construction projects of the Department of Veterans Affairs has been an abysmal failure and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should fully implement all recommendations made by the Comptroller General in an April 2013 report to improve VA construction procedures.
VA Authority Extended
Various VA authorities are extended under this bill. Those authorities are related to veteran healthcare, veteran homelessness, and veteran benefits.
Buy American (Flags)
Any flags of the US used by the federal government must be entirely made in the United States from articles, materials, or supplies entirely grown, produced, or manufactured in the United States.
Options for At-Risk Kids
The bill would reward and incentivize evidence-based State policies that improve educational continuity and limit juvenile court involvement and incarceration for youth through certain competitive Federal grants.
EMS for Kids
The bill would reauthorize the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program under the Public Health Service Act to reduce child and youth mortality and morbidity sustained due to severe illness or trauma.
Boys Town Coin
Treasury is directed to issue up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, 350,000 $1 silver coins and 300,000 half dollar clad coins to commemorate the centennial of the founding of Father Flanagan’s Boys Towns, nationally.
the United States is strongly committed to the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
The Secretary shall establish a team of experts to develop energy action plans for energy and environmental needs of each of the insular areas.
Fed Records Protection
An employee of an agency who has willfully and unlawfully concealed, removed, mutilated, obliterated, falsified, or destroyed any record shall be suspended. HR 5170 Bill Report.
Cessation of a Fed Facility
The meaning of a substantial cessation of operations is a permanent end of operations at a facility resulting in a workforce reduction of eligible employees. HR 2511 Bill Report.
Suspending SES Employees
Senior Executive Service employees can be suspended for 14 days or less without duties and pay for such including to promote the efficiency of the Service.
Medicare Post-Acute Services
Post-acute care providers are require to report standardized patient assessment data, data on quality measures, and on resource use. HR 4994 Bill Report.
Public Land Matters
Nevada Land Deal
The bill combines seven bills and would “…authorize certain land conveyances involving public lands in northern Nevada to promote economic development and conservation, and for other purposes.” HR 5205 Bill Report
Arizona Land Deal
The bill “Directs the Secretary of the Interior to convey to River Bottom Farms of La Paz County, Arizona, specified Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in Riverside County, California, in exchange for two specified parcels of non-federal land.
Mississippi Land Deal
The Yellow Creek Port Project is an industrial port development project at the juncture of the Tennessee and Tombigbee Rivers to stimulate economic growth in the northern Mississippi area on the condition it be developed for industrial purposes. HR 3044 Bill Report
S. 476 would change the termination date of the Commission from 40 years to 50 years after January 8, 1971. The Commission’s authority to operate terminated on January 8, 2011. S. 476 would extend the authority to operate to January 8, 2021.
The bill amends the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate specified segments of the Missisquoi River and Trout River in Vermont as components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
In the case of the Acadia land the requirement was that it be used only for ‘school’ purposes. The bill waives that requirement allowing Tremont to use the land otherwise without the reversion to US ownership.
HR 4527 Bill Report and Vote.
Addendum – Bills Added in Session – After publication
The bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a three-year special resource study of the historic West Hunter Street Baptist Church located at 775 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, S.W., Atlanta, Georgia
Requires the heads of specified federal agencies to submit to the Administrator for the Office of E-Government and Information Technology each fiscal year a comprehensive inventory of data centers owned, operated, or maintained by such agency.
S 1611 Bill Report
would reform the pay system for Border Patrol agents by updating it to reflect the number of hours those agents regularly work and the way in which those hours are scheduled and saving taxpayers an estimated $100 million annually.
S 1691 Bill Report
Queens, NY House
The bill directs “the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of the John Bowne House in Queens, New York, the Friends Meeting House at 137-17 Northern Boulevard, Queens.
The bill would rectify border changes to the Fort Hall Reservation following the realignment of the Blackfoot River and would allow the local Flood Control District to compensate non-Indian landowners for the land swapped with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
S 2040 Bill Report
The bill prohibits awarding a contract to an entity to conduct quality review processes for background investigation fieldwork and support services that are being conducted by the same entity.
S 2061 Bill Report
Condemns all forms of anti-Semitism and rejects attempts to justify anti-Jewish hatred or violent attacks as an acceptable expression of disapproval over political events.
HRes 707 Bill Report
US & Israel
The bill expresses the sense of Congress that Israel is a major U.S. strategic partner and provides for military and non-military aid, energy technology and engineering.
S 2673 Bill Report
Payments to the Dead
The bill seeks to reduce the inadvertent and improper payment of federal benefits to deceased individuals by directing the Social Security Administration to share its most complete database of deceased individuals with other federal agencies and improving the sharing of best practices.
S 1360 Bill Report
The bill strongly condemns the barbaric and deplorable murders of James Foley and Steven Sotloff and salutes them for their unwavering and courageous pursuit of journalistic excellence.
HRes 734 Bill Report
WW I Medal
Notwithstanding the time limitations in the US Code regarding awarding of certain medals to persons who served in the Armed Forces, the President may award the Medal of Honor to Henry Johnson for the acts of valor during World War I.”
S 2793 Bill Report
Reward for Killers
$10 million reward for furnishing information leading to the arrest or conviction of any individual for involvement in the commission of the kidnapping and murder of James Foley or Steven Sotloff.”
S 2778 Bill Report
House bills the Senate acted on; cleared for the President
H.R. 594 (Federal Research on Muscular Dystrophy). Agreed to by unanimous consent.
H.R. 2600 (To amend the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act to clarify how the Act applies to condominiums). Agreed to by unanimous consent. (9/26/13).
H.R. 3043 (Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014). Agreed to by unanimous consent. (Current)
H.R. 3716 (Water Settlement Agreement). Agreed to by unanimous consent. (7/24/14)
H.R. 4994 (Provide for Post-Care Assessment Data). Agreed to by unanimous consent. (Current)
H.R. 5062 (Amend Consumer Financial Protection Act). Agreed to by unanimous consent. (Current)
H.R. 5404 (Extend Provisions of Law by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs). Agreed to by unanimous consent. (Current)
H.R. 4980 (Prevent Sex Trafficking and to Improve Support Recovery for Victims). Agreed to by unanimous consent. (7/24/14)