HR 897 aims to address the control of the Zika virus by prohibiting the EPA from rejecting a permit that would allow approved pesticides from entering US waters from point-sources. Exempt from the bill’s requirements are a discharge resulting from the application of a pesticide in violation of FIFRA that is relevant to protecting water quality, if the discharge would not have occurred but for the violation or the amount of pesticide or pesticide residue contained in the discharge is greater than would have occurred without the violation Failed House.
HR 5243 is the funding bill providing $600 billion to fight Zika through prevention, preparation and response to Zika. The bill also provides for preclinical and clinical development of vaccines to develop necessary countermeasures and vaccines. Passed House.
S 1335 would implement the Convention on the Conservation and Management of the High Seas Fisheries Resources in the North Pacific Ocean, as adopted at Tokyo on February 24, 2012. Passed House.
New York Land
Under HR 1887 GAO would be prohibited from selling federal property and assets supporting the Department of Homeland Security’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York, citing the US has invested in the property and the program runs well. Passed House.
S 1492 authorizes transfer a nine acre parcel of U.S. property in Anchorage, AK at 400 East Fortieth Avenue to the CIty of Anchorage. Passed Senate and House.
IRS and ID Theft
Under HR 3832 the IRS is given tools to prevent User ID theft. Among the tools are; helping the IRS prevent and detect identity theft tax fraud, establishing a centralized point of contact at the IRS for victims of identity theft; requiring the IRS to notify a taxpayer if the IRS determines that there was unauthorized use of the taxpayer’s identity. Passed House.
House Moves Defense Authorization and Military Construction
Senate Completes Work on Transportation HUD
While the House has not yet brought a budget resolution to the floor this fiscal year it has begun again to allow debate on specific spending and authorization bills.
HR 4909 the Department of Defense authorization bill would authorize appropriations totaling an estimated $603.3 billion for the military functions of the Department of Defense and for certain activities of the Department of Energy. the bill also sets personnel strengths for each active-duty and selected-reserves.
The funding mount for the bill paralleled last years effort where some basic operating funds were transferred to Overseas Contingency Programs to fight terror. The transfer circumvented budget caps put in place several years ago. Another point of contention was resistance to an amendment that prohibited flying the Confederate flag over some federal cemeteries. Passed House.
HR 4974, the bill appropriating funds for military construction and related matters provides $184.1 billion in budget authority for the fiscal year 2017 programs and activities funded in the bill, an increase of $13,050,419,000 above the fiscal year 2016. Passed House.
Debate and amendment activity rejected an effort to expose US women to the military draft but failed by one vote to prevent a provision that appeared to some as giving government contractors the freedom to waive an Executive Oder regarding the hiring of lesbian, gay, trans sexual and other sexual orientations. Passed House.
HR 2577 providing funding levels for Transportation, HUD, VA and Military Construction has continued under Senate debate. The House-passed bill met some complications with funding for Zika Virus. Three amendments contended with one requiring $1.9 billion, the President’s request, $1.2 billion and paying for the funding through adjustments to the Affordable Care Act, and $1.1 billion, the amount that prevailed. Passed House and Senate.
Budget Actions for FY 2017
Absent a debated and agreed to House budget resolution there has been some appropriation activity so far this year. Of the 12 bills appropriating funds to operate the departments of government the House has passed HR 5054 (Agriculture), HR 2028 (Energy and Water), HR 4974 (Military Construction), HR 4909 (Defense), and HR 2577 (Transportation, HUD). The senate just completed amending HR 2577 and HR 2028.
Remaining on the list are Commerce, Justice, Science; Financial Services, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor, HHS, Education, State and Foreign Operations, and Legislative Branch appropriations.
The budget process usually begins with the President’s budget proposal in February followed by the House and / or Senate budget resolution. Next comes the authorization bills for each department and then the appropriation bills. The process is to be completed by the end of the fiscal year, October, but Congress has not made that deadline in several years.
This year the House failed to consider the President’s budget which is more of a political statement than anything else. Budget resolutions do not become law. Appropriation and authorization bills can become law but are subject to a presidential veto.
The President usually signals a veto action even before a bill is debated giving the House or Senate the opportunity to find common ground with the White House or pass a bill using it as a messaging bill that will later have to be compromised anyway.
While vetoes usually come from disputes over spending amounts, appropriation bills often include elements of a partisan political nature that the White House finds unacceptable.
The Bridges to Mexico
S 2143 authorizes ownership and expansion of two bridges between the US and Mexico. Passed Senate and House.
HCR 88 reaffirms the Six Assurances between the US and Taiwan focusing largely on arms sales and avoiding any related negotiations with China. Passed House.
HR 4407 creates a board to coordinate and integrate DHS’s intelligence, activities, and policy related to its counter-terrorism mission and functions. The board shall advise the Secretary of DHS on the issuance of terrorism alerts. Passed House.
HR 4743 establishes a National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium to engage academic, nonprofit, private industry, and federal, state, and local government partners to address cybersecurity risks. Passed House.
HR 4780 directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to submit a comprehensive three-year strategy for international programs in which DHS personnel and resources are deployed abroad for vetting and screening persons seeking to enter the United States. Passed House.
HR 1150 requires the President to take specified actions against foreign persons responsible for committing or supporting systemic violations of religious freedom, or supporting violence or terrorist acts targeting members of religious groups. Passed House.
Day in Court
S 2040 provides civil litigants with the basis to seek relief against persons, entities, and foreign countries, wherever, that have provided material support, directly or indirectly, to foreign organizations or persons that engage in terrorist activities against the United States. Passed House.