The House is adjourned until September 4th. The Senate is adjourning on August 11th. If the Senate votes on substantive legislation before adjourning it will be updated here. Otherwise the next edition of TheWeekinCongress.com will be published Thursday evening, September 7, 2017
HRes 317 Calls for the unconditional release of United States citizens and legal permanent resident aliens being held for political purposes by the Government of Iran. Passed House
Aid to Capital Police
HR 3298 allows for money to be dispersed to those and other injured police employees from the police Memorial Fund. Passed House and Senate.
Small Business Investments
HR 2333 amends the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 by increasing the Individual Leverage Limit from $150 million to $175 million for those participating in the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program. Passed House
H.R. 2056, the “Microloan Modernization Act of 2017,” would amend the Small Business Act by granting microloan intermediaries greater flexibility in providing loans and technical assistance to small dollar borrowers. Passed House.
Main Street Help
H.R. 2364, the “Investing in Main Street Act of 2017,” increases the amount of capital and surplus that a financial institution and federal savings association can invest in an SBIC from 5 percent to 15 percent. Passed House.
HR 2182 requires the Comptroller General of the United States to submit a report to Congress on the alternatives for the final disposition of Plum Island, Florida including preservation of the island for conservation, education, and research. Passed House.
H.R. 2370 would authorize Escambia County in Florida to convey to private entities certain property that it received from the federal government. The specified properties were formerly part of the Santa Rosa Island National Monument and were transferred from the National Park Service. Passed House
Healthcare Debate Ends
‘Skinny’ Bill Loses
Russia Sanctions Clear House and Senate
The circuitous route Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has taken to move a healthcare bill out of the Senate to the House for passage or conference, before the August break, resulted in what is called a ‘Skinny’ repeal bill. After modifying two versions of his Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) but withdrawing them from debate when he lost necessary votes to pass the bills with 51 votes, McConnell considered a straight repeal bill that would give Congress two years to come up with a replacement but found, too, he did not have those votes.
McConnell ended up with his original plan; to take the House-passed bill, HR 1628 and amend it with one of his versions of the BCRA. But his two beginning amendments, needing 60 votes to pass, to do that failed 43-57. An amendment to simply repeal the ACA also failed on a 45 to 55 vote.
McConnell finally brought forth the ‘Skinny’ repeal bill without actually revealing the contents of the bill at first. The ‘Skinny’ had the ‘repeal’ tag on it perhaps so Senators promising to repeal the ACA could face constituents back home but it did little to repeal the ACA.
At that point all the talk of partisanship was abandoned when McConnell went again behind closed doors to further develop the bill as the Senate waited into the evening to vote on a bill the contents of which they had not yet read.
McConnell came from behind closed doors with what he calls the Healthcare Freedom Act. The bill amends HR 1628 as such; the individual and employer mandates to buy and provide insurance, respectively, are repealed; deductibles on healthcare savings accounts are increased; organizations such as Planned Parenthood would be defunded and $422 million would be provided to community health centers; states are given more flexibility when determining the use of federal funds (implement reforms); and the medical device tax is suspended for three years.
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) moved to send the bill back to committee and have discussion on alternatives. The motion failed 48 to 52.
The McConnell amendment to replace the text of HR 1628 with the text of his Healthcare Freedom Act failed 48 to 51. The three dissenting Republicans were Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME). All three have supported addressing healthcare under regular order.
Other motions made on Thursday-
The Senator Donnelly Motion to Commit H.R. 1628 to the Committee on Finance with instructions to report back with changes that strike provisions within the bill that reduce or eliminate benefits or coverage for individuals who are currently eligible for Medicaid. was not agreed to by a vote of 48-52.
Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) offered the amendment to institute a single-payer healthcare system but the amendment was soundly defeated in a 43 to 57 vote.
All amendments to the bill can be read here
In June, the Senate passed S 722 by a vote of 98–2.. But the bill was rejected by the House because it violated a procedural rule. Ultimately the House took up and passed HR 3364 that included Senate sanctions on Iran and Russia and expanded those sanctions and added others on North Korea. That bill passed the House 419 – 3. The Senate is expected to quickly approve the bill and send it to the White House. White House approval is uncertain because the bill requires congressional approval if the president attempts to waive sanctions against Russia. The significant support in both bodies assures that if there is a veto Congress will easily override it.
The bill imposes a wide variety of sanctions most centered on actors who are responsible for humanitarian violations and support of terrorism and seeks control of their banking assets in or available to the US.
The Russian sanctions concern themselves with matters in Ukraine, how Russia behaves in Europe and arms trafficking to Syria.
Iran sanctions also focus on human rights violations as well as support for terrorism extending to the Middle East, and its development of a missile system.
North Korea faces sanctions due to its developing missile program and violations of human rights. That part of the bill takes aim at other countries that enable North Korea’s behavior. Passed House and Senate
Maneuverings – ‘The Long and Winding Road’ –
Our take on how things get done on the Hill. Here
HR 3178 aims to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to improve the delivery of home infusion therapy and dialysis and the application of the Stark rule under the Medicare program. Passed House.
HJR 111 rolls back from Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, under which the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection is issuing a final rule to regulate arbitration agreements in contracts for specified consumer financial product and services. Passed House.
Under HR 3210 not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, and quarterly thereafter for 5 years, the Director of the National Background Investigations Bureau of the Office of Personnel Management shall submit to Congress a report on the backlog of security clearance investigations that includes the size of the personnel security clearance investigation process backlog. Passed House.
Civil Rights Network
HR 1927 requires the Department of the Interior to establish within the National Park Service (NPS) a U.S. Civil Rights Network that encompasses: all NPS units and programs that relate to the African American civil rights movement during the period from 1939 through 1968; other federal, state, local, and privately owned properties that relate to the African American civil rights movement and that are included in, or eligible for, the National Register of Historic Places; and other governmental and nongovernmental facilities and programs of an educational, research, or interpretive nature that are directly related to such movement.” – crs Passed House.
DoD Appropriations and then some
HR 3219 provides appropriations for most military functions of the Department of Defense. The defense provisions in Division A do not provide appropriations for military construction, military family housing, civil defense, and military nuclear warheads, for which requirements are considered in connection with other appropriations Acts. Those provisions are found in other divisions within the bill.
The bill also provides funds for the Legislative Branch, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Energy and Water. Passed House.
Veterans and Military matters
S 114 requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit an annual report regarding performance awards and bonuses awarded to certain high-level employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Passed House.
HR 3218 increases access to many educational assistance programs including work study programs and the pursuit of independent study programs at certain educational institutions. Passed House.
HR 282 permits the spouse of a service-member to elect to use the same residence as the service-member for purposes of taxation and voting, regardless of the date on which the marriage of the spouse and the service-member occurred.’ Passed House
HR 1058 includes podiatrists within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) definition of physician, and increases their pay grade to match other VA physician compensation. Passed House
Vet Bonus II
HR 1690 require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit an annual report regarding performance awards and bonuses awarded to certain high-level employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Passed House.
HR 2006 requires the Secretary shall record information on the amount of any cost or price savings realized by using competitive procedures in awarding such contract.’ Passed House.
Under HR 272 ‘No senior executive at the Veterans Department may be reassigned to another such position at the Department unless such reassignment is approved in writing and signed by the Secretary. Passed House.
HR 2781 directs the Secretary of VA to certify the participation of small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans with service-connected disabilities in contracts under the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative. Passed House.
HR 2749 would amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the oversight of contracts awarded by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans. Passed House
HR 1848 would create a two-year pilot program under which VA will increase the use of medical scribes in emergency department and specialty care settings at 10 VA medical centers. Passed House
Vet Ed Training
H.R.3262 requires the Secretary of VA to carry out a pilot program to provide educational assistance to veterans for education and training as physician assistants of the Department of Veterans Affairs.Passed House.
Vet Child Care
HR 95 would ‘amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide child care assistance to veterans receiving certain medical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Passed House