Iran Sanctions, ISIS Authorization, Human Trafficking, Electrifying Africa, and Last Vote on Obamacare Repeal?
HR 3662 regarding Iran sanction was voted on in early January but the vote was vacated due to low voter turnout. The bill requires some complicated certifications from the President before sanctions against financial institutions can be lifted. Among the certification requirements are that the ‘institution has not knowingly facilitated a significant transaction or transactions or provided significant financial services for or on behalf of: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, a foreign terrorist organization for or on behalf of a person whose property or property interests have been blocked. Other certifications are required. Passed House.
The President has long asked for congressional authorization specific to fighting ISIS and S.J.Res. 29 would provide that authority; ”The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force in order to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, its associated forces, organizations, and persons, and any successor organizations.” The bill was read for the second time in the Senate and has been put on the legislative calendar.
Under HR 400 “State and USAID rely on contractors to provide services such as construction, security, and facilities maintenance and sometimes employ foreign works who are neither citizens of the US or the host country and are recruited from developing countries”. The potential for human trafficking is high, according to the bill that essentially would regulate…what fee components and amounts are prohibited or are permissible for contractors or their agents to charge workers. Passed House.
S 2152 notes that 70% residents of sub-Saharan Africa are without electricity and the bill promises a goal of providing electricity access to 50 million residents there by 2020 and adding 20,000 megawatts of electricity at the same time. The bill encourages loan assistance and would spend $1 million over four years. Passed Senate
‘Waters of the US’ and Syrian Refugee Veto-overrides Fail in Senate.
Obamacare Veto Override Failed in House
The House failed to override the President’s veto of HR 3762, the bill repealing the Affordable Care Act. (Obamacare).
Banking & Finance
Auditing the Fed
S 2232 repeals law opening the door to a full edit of the Federal Reserve Board; “(the) Government Accountability Office (is directed) to commence and complete an audit of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and of the Federal Reserve Banks within 12 months of enactment of this Act, and report findings and conclusions to Congress within 90 days of completing the audit.’” -crs. Cloture on further debate failed the 60 vote threshold with a 55 to 34 vote. The bill was withdrawn allowing for future consideration. Cloture failed in the Senate.
HR 2187 directs the SEC to provide FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) criteria to use in administering an exam to license as accredited investors natural persons who do not meet certain income and net worth requirements under Regulation D that governs reserve requirements of financial institutions. Passed House.
H.R.2209 requires the appropriate Federal banking agencies to treat certain municipal obligations as level 2A liquid assets. Passed House.
Small Business Advocate
HR 3784 ‘…creates the Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation to assist small businesses and small business investors in resolving significant problems such businesses and investors may have with the Commission or the self-regulatory organization’. Passed House.
Business Capital Formation
HR 4168 amends current law to require an annual review by the Securities and Exchange Commission of the annual government-business forum on capital formation. Passed House.
HR 1675 “Directs the Securities and Exchange Commission to revise regulations to require an issuer to furnish investors with additional specified disclosures regarding compensatory benefit plans…”. Passed House.
HR 766 Prohibits a federal banking agency from influencing a depository institution to terminate specific customer accounts..” Passed House.
Other Senate Action
Energy Bill Stalled
After voting on around 100 amendments to S 2012, the bipartisan energy modernization Act Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked twice for cloture on moving forward with the bill but failed to gather sufficient votes on both occasions. Cloture was not invoked with a 46-50 vote and 43-54.
The sticking point is over what kind of aid will be given to help Flint Michigan with its drinking water pollution problem. Delayed until week of February 8th.
S 607 provides $26 million for a five-year extension of the rural community hospital demonstration program. Passed the Senate.
S 2422 provides $1.1 billion for seismic corrections to VA facilities in California and other construction projects. Passed Senate.
Other House Action
H.R. 3700 would reform certain Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Rural Housing Service programs in order to improve their effectiveness and provide enhanced opportunity for program beneficiaries and the organizations that serve such individuals. Passed House.
HR 515 would establish the Angel Watch Center, headed by the Director of ICE, within the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Center would receive information on travel by child-sex offenders; establish a system to maintain and archive all relevant information, establish an annual review process to ensure that the Center is consistent in procedures regarding providing notification to destination countries; and establish a mechanism to receive complaints from child-sex offenders affected by notifications of destination countries. Passed House, amended by the Senate, agreed to in the House.