Senate and House are Adjourned until November 14th
Veto of Saudi Suit Bill Overridden
ACA Mandate Relief Passed House, Scheduled in Senate
The Continuing Resolution to fund the government through December passed the Senate and was approved by the House with little contention although Democrats managed to hold out for some provisions. Under HR 5325 the government is funded at FY 2016 levels until December 9th when Congress will again address the matter of a budget for FY 2017. Defense is funded at FY 2017 levels. The bill provides the sought after $1.1 billion for Zika research and vaccine development and funds to help with the Louisiana flooding but does not contain funds for Flint, Michigan’s problem with lead in the drinking water. Leadership reports that the Senate plans on including money for Flint in the Water Resources Development Act to be decided after the presidential elections.
Suing Saudi –
The House and Senate approved and the President vetoed S. 2040, a bill establishing that ‘a foreign state shall not be immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States in any case in which money damages are sought against a foreign state for physical injury to person or property or death occurring in the United States and caused by an act of international terrorism in the US; and a tortuous act or acts of the foreign state regardless where the tortuous act occurred.”
The bill was pushed by survivors of victims of the 911 attacks at the World Trade Centers in New York City. The President vetoed the bill on the basis that it may open the door to law suits against Americans or those America supports for actions taken in other countries. The President held that the bill “would neither protect Americans from terrorist attacks nor improve the effectiveness of our response to such attacks.” The bill to override the veto passed the Senate 97 to 1 and the House 348 to 77 with 1 voting ‘Present’.
HR 954 passed the House to relieve participants in the mandated healthcare program of any penalties if their coverage plan fails. The plans at issue would be provided through an ACA program, the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) Program, intended to foster the creation of qualified nonprofit health insurance issuers to offer competitive health plans in the individual and small group markets. Passed House.
Senate-Passed House-Passed bills –
H.R. 3004 (To amend the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Act to extend the authorization for the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission). Agreed to by Unanimous Consent.
H.R. 5147 (BABIES Act). Agreed to by Unanimous Consent.
H.R. 5883 (Clarification of Treatment of Electronic Sales of Livestock Act of 2016). Agreed to by Unanimous Consent.
H.R. 5944 (To amend title 49, United States Code, with respect to certain grant assurances). Agreed to by Unanimous Consent.
H.R. 2360 (Omnibus Territories Act of 2015). Committee substitute agreed to by Unanimous Consent. The bill, as amended, is agreed to by Unanimous Consent.
H.R. 5946 (United States Appreciation for Olympians and Paralympians Act of 2016). Agreed to by Unanimous Consent.
H.R. 2959 (To amend the White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act of 2010 to clarify the use of amounts in the WMAT Settlement Fund). Committee substitute agreed to by Unanimous Consent. The bill, as amended, is agreed to by Unanimous Consent.
H.R. 2733 (Nevada Native Nations Land Act). Agreed to by Unanimous Consent.
H.R. 5578 (Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act of 2016). The bill was read for a third time and agreed to by Unanimous Consent.
Politician in the Spotlight
Governor Scott Continues a Falsehood Even After the Problem Was Solved
“Governor Rick Scott’s op-ed in USA Today this morning is deeply misleading. To allege that both parties in Congress are equally responsible for the delay in federal Zika funding represents either a fundamental misunderstanding of our current politics or, worse, a willful attempt to exploit fears of Zika’s spread for partisan purposes.”
“The reason why the President’s request for emergency funds to combat the spread of Zika has not yet been enacted is not because Congress is ‘incompetent,’ as the Governor claims, but because those funds have been blocked for months by his own Tea Party allies”
“Floridians – as well as Americans across the country and in Puerto Rico – deserve to know that their leaders are doing everything to prevent Zika from spreading and to help researchers identify a vaccine. When House Republicans stand up and say ‘no’ to the President’s emergency Zika funding request, Floridians ought to take note. The same goes for when Governor Scott slashes funding for mosquito control, which he did by 40% after taking office. ” House Minority Whip
National Security / Foreign Affairs
1st Responder Grants
Under HR 5460 FEMA is given guidelines to consider grant requests from first responders for equipment that may not meet national voluntary standards providing FEMA considers past uses and the absence of any such standards. Passed House.
HR 5459 amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to expand the responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) State, Local, and Regional Fusion Center Initiative to include serving as a point of contact to ensure the dissemination of cybersecurity risk information within the scope of its information sharing environment with state, local, and regional fusion centers. Passed House.
H.R. 5391, the Gains in Global Nuclear Detection Architecture Act, directs the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) to develop and maintain documentation that provides information on how the Office’s research investments align with gaps in the Global Nuclear Detection Architecture (GNDA) and the research challenges identified by the DNDO Director. Passed House.
No Loans for Nicaragua
HR 5708 establishes that it is the policy of the United States to support the rule of law and an independent judiciary and electoral council in Nicaragua; independent pro-democracy organizations in Nicaragua; and free, fair, and transparent elections under international and domestic observers in Nicaragua in 2016 and 2017. Passed House.
Concerns Over Venezuela
Under H. Res. 851 the deterioration of basic governance and the economic crisis in Venezuela have reached deeply troubling levels, which in turn have led to an unprecedented humanitarian situation in Venezuela where millions of people are suffering from severe shortages of essential medicines and basic food products are concerns requiring Venezuela to release political prisoners and a dialogue that leads to respect for Venezuela’s constitutional mechanisms and resolves the country’s political, economic, social, and humanitarian crisis and other actions. Passed House.
HR 5943 amends the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 to clarify certain allowable uses of funds for public transportation security assistance grants and establish periods of performance for such grants. Funds provided pursuant to a grant awarded under this section for a use specified in subsection (b) shall remain available for use by a grant recipient for a period of not fewer than 36 months. Passed House.
Health, Veterans & the Environment
Mental Health Grants
HR 1877 establishes a program of grants via the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grants would be intended to initiate and sustain mental health first aid training and would be available to States, political subdivisions, Tribes, and non-profit entities. Passed House.
HR 3537 amends the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to modify the definition of “controlled substance analogue” to mean a substance that has a similar (previously, substantially similar) chemical structure and pharmacological effect to a schedule I controlled substance. “The requirements, prohibitions, and restrictions with respect to schedule I controlled substances apply to the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale (but not possession) of a such controlled substance. Passed House.
Eugenic Victims Compensated
Under S 1698 some 300 people in North Carolina and Virginia would be compensated for having been subjected to a program decades ago that sterilized individuals with some diseases and mental challenges who are considered a burden on society. Passed House.
H.R. 5713 would modify Medicare’s payments to Long-Term Care Hospitals (LTCHs) and would prohibit Medicare from paying for items or services furnished by certain newly enrolled providers in select areas of the country. A State shall not be required to comply if it would adversely impact beneficiaries’ access to medical assistance. Passed House.
Under HR 5978 the USCG Commandant may not award a contract for design of an unmanned aerial system for use by the Coast Guard; and may acquire an unmanned aerial system only if such a system has been acquired by, or has been used by, the Department of Defense or the department in which the Coast Guard is operating, or a component thereof, before the date on which the Commandant acquires the system; and through an agreement with such a department or component, unless the unmanned aerial system can be obtained at less cost through independent contract action. Passed House.
“S. 253 would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to prepare a biennial report for the Congress that assesses certain characteristics of the communications industry. The report would analyze the state of competition in the markets for voice, video, and data services, as well as the availability of high-speed and high-quality telecommunications services. Passed Senate and House.
Water and Public Land –
Under HR 845 the Secretary shall study opportunities to improve trail maintenance by addressing opportunities to use fire crews in trail maintenance activities in a manner that does not jeopardize firefighting capabilities, public safety, or resource protection. Passed House.
H.R. 1296 helps bring closure to the decades-old San Luis Rey Water Settlement and related litigation and uncertainty in southern California. The US shall not be subject to judicial review or give rise to any claim for relief against. Passed House.
HCR 122 Supports efforts to stop the theft, illegal possession or sale, transfer, and export of tribal cultural items of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians in the United States and internationally. Passed House.
HR 5162 would authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to disclose to non-Department of Veterans Affairs health care providers certain medical records of veterans who receive health care from such providers. Passed House.
No missed Calls
HR 5392 directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop a quality assurance document for carrying out the toll-free Veterans Crisis Line including at backup call centers so calls are answered in a timely manner by a person. Passed House.
More Non-VA Providers
Under HR 3216 if a veteran enrolled with the VA requests a medical examination or treatment at a VA medical facility the veterans shall receive a screening to determine if an emergency condition exists, stabilizing the treatment, or transfer to a non-VA facility. Passed House.
HR 5963 assists State, tribal, and local governments to address juvenile crime through the provision of technical assistance, research, training, evaluation, and the dissemination of current information on effective programs for combating juvenile delinquency. Passed House.
Other Action –
SS Number Protection
Under HR 3779 no department or agency of the Federal Government may include a persons social security number on any document sent by mail unless necessary. Passed House.
HR 5883 amends law to expand the definition of “marketing agency” to include any buying or selling livestock in commerce through online, video, or other electronic methods. Passed House
HR 5065 requires notification of the Transportation Security Administration of such Administration’s guidelines regarding permitting baby formula, breast milk, and juice on airplanes. Passed House.