News From the US Congress

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The US Congress - source: FreeImages.com/Harrison Keelyl
The US Congress - source: FreeImages.com/Harrison Keelyl

Weekly Congress legislation update

While the House didn’t pass any bills this week, the Senate managed to pass five. The house introduced twenty-seven bills, while the Senate did twenty-six.

Introduced Senate Bills

  • Oct 04: A resolution supporting the designation of September 2018 as “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month”.
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  • Oct 04: A resolution designating October 6, 2018, as “National Coaches Day”.
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  • Oct 04: A resolution designating October 5, 2018, as “Energy Efficiency Day” in celebration of the economic and environmental benefits that have been driven by private sector innovation and Federal energy policies.
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  • Oct 04: A resolution condemning persecution of religious minorities in the People’s Republic of China and any actions that limit their free expression and practice of faith.
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  • Oct 04: A bill to adopt a certain California flammability standard as a Federal flammability standard to protect against the risk of upholstered furniture flammability, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 04: A bill to modify the procedures for issuing special recreation permits for certain public land units, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 04: A bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 901 N. Francisco Avenue in Mission, Texas, as the “Mission Veterans Post Office Building”.
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  • Oct 04: A bill to establish the Palestinian Partnership Fund to promote joint economic development and finance joint ventures between Palestinian entrepreneurs and companies in the United States, Israel, and countries in the Middle East to improve economic cooperation and people to people exchanges to further shared community building, peaceful coexistence, dialogue, and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.
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  • Oct 04: A bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 122 W. Goodwin Street in Pleasanton, Texas, as the “Pleasanton Veterans Post Office”.
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  • Oct 04: A bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 400 N. Main Street in Encinal, Texas, as the “Encinal Veterans Post Office”.
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  • Oct 03: A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to improve home health payment reforms under the Medicare program.
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  • Oct 03: A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the rate of tax on corporations participating in labor lockouts and to prohibit deductions and credits for wages and benefits paid to temporary workers during labor lockouts.
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  • Oct 03: A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to establish limitations on cost-sharing for out-of-network services, to prohibit balance billing for such services, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 03: A bill to break up large financial entities.
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  • Oct 03: A bill to protect the voting rights of Native American and Alaska Native voters.
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  • Oct 02: A resolution designating October 2018 as “National Employee Ownership Month”.
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  • Oct 02: A bill to provide a coordinated regional response to manage effectively the endemic violence and humanitarian crisis in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
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  • Oct 02: A bill to establish pilot programs for, and require the development of policies with respect to, the use of body-worn cameras by officers and agents of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: A bill to prohibit the General Services Administration from awarding contracts to certain insured depository institutions that avoid doing business with certain companies that are engaged in lawful commerce based solely on social policy considerations.
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  • Oct 02: A bill to provide an increased allocation of funding under certain programs for assistance in persistent poverty counties, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: A bill to amend the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act to clarify seasoning requirements for certain refinanced mortgage loans, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 01: A resolution recognizing the 40th anniversary of the first delivery of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to the Army.
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  • Oct 01: A resolution designating October 8, 2018, as “National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day”.
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  • Oct 01: A bill to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate certain river segments within the Wood-Pawcatuck watershed as components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 01: A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to clarify the treatment of technical errors in applications for Federal TRIO programs, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 01: A bill to redesignate the New River Gorge National River in the State of West Virginia as the “New River Gorge National Park”.
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Introduced House Bills

  • Oct 02: To provide an increased allocation of funding under certain programs for assistance in persistent poverty counties, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To impose enhanced penalties for conduct relating to unlawful production of a controlled substance on Federal property or while intentionally trespassing on the property of another that causes environmental damage, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To amend title VII of the Tariff Act of 1930 to provide for the treatment of core seasonal industries affected by antidumping or countervailing duty investigations, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To protect the information obtained by the Secretary of Health and Human Services for the placement of unaccompanied alien children from being used for any purpose other than providing safe and secure placements, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To establish a Federal standard in order to improve the Nation’s resilience to current and future flood risk.
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  • Oct 02: To direct the Secretary of Defense to conduct a study of the potential application of smart technology on military installations.
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  • Oct 02: To require the Secretary of Transportation to modify the final rule relating to flightcrew member duty and rest requirements for passenger operations of air carriers to apply to all-cargo operations of air carriers, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To reauthorize and amend the program of block grants to States for temporary assistance for needy families and related programs.
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  • Oct 02: To authorize the United States Postal Service to provide certain nonpostal property, products, and services on behalf of State, local, and tribal governments.
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  • Oct 02: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a demonstration program to expand the availability of telemedicine services for veterans living in rural areas with certain mental health disorders, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program to improve the ability of Members of Congress to assist constituents with respect to benefits for veterans.
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  • Oct 02: To provide for greater transparency in the HUD-VASH supported housing program for homeless veterans, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To establish a task force to address the national security and safety issues presented by the manufacturing of prohibited firearms, munitions, and related materials through the use of 3-D printing technology, to prohibit the use of 3-D printing technology to make a firearm, ammunition, or a component of a firearm or ammunition, and to prohibit the possession or transfer of a firearm, ammunition, or component so made, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To amend part B of title IV of the Social Security Act to provide grants to develop and enhance, or to evaluate, kinship navigator programs, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To authorize the District of Columbia to enter into multi-year agreements to carry out certain public-private partnership projects and make payments for the termination costs under such agreements in any fiscal year, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To amend title 10, United States Code, to improve the Transition Assistance Program for members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to provide for greater spousal protection under defined contribution plans, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to clarify the definition of employee as it relates to direct sellers, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To establish pilot programs for, and require the development of policies with respect to, the use of body-worn cameras by officers and agents of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for distributions from 529 plans to pay certain early education expenses.
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  • Oct 02: To support the preparation and retention of outstanding educators in all fields to ensure a bright future for children and youth in under-resourced and underserved communities in the United States, and for other purposes.
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  • Oct 02: To improve the procedures of the national instant criminal background check system in the case of firearm transfers by federally licensed firearms importers, manufacturers, and dealers before the completion of the related criminal background check, and to provide for annual reports on default firearm transfers.
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  • Oct 02: Expressing support for designation of the week of October 7, 2018, through October 13, 2018, as “Latex Allergy Awareness Week”.
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  • Oct 02: Calling on the Government of Cameroon, armed separatist groups, and all citizens to respect human rights and adopt nonviolent approaches to conflict resolution.
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  • Oct 02: Congratulating Mt. Zion Baptist Church upon the occasion of its 160th anniversary.
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  • Oct 02: Expressing support for the designation of October 16 as World Food Day.
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  • Oct 02: Expressing support for the recognition of October 1, 2018, through October 7, 2018, as “Smart Cities Week” and supporting the further research, development, and adoption of technology designed to improve efficiency, connectivity, sustainability, and mobility in transportation, infrastructure, and workforce opportunity in American cities and communities.
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Passed Senate Bills

Oct 04: A bill to establish a procedure for the conveyance of certain Federal property around the Jamestown Reservoir in the State of North Dakota, and for other purposes.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee:
This bill directs the Bureau of Reclamation to provide to the holder of a permit for any cabin site located on specified federal land associated with the Jamestown Reservoir, North Dakota, the first option to purchase that property for fair market value, provided that the permittee pays to the Stutsman County Park Board any outstanding permit fees. Reclamation shall convey such property and sole use perpetual easements for access to such property to a permittee who elects such option. The conveyance shall end five years after this bill’s enactment. If a permittee fails to exercise the option to purchase within five years, the commissioner shall transfer the property to the board without cost. If the board sells such a property within three years after such a transfer, it shall pay all proceeds in excess of its costs to Reclamation. Five years after the date of enactment of this bill, Reclamation shall transfer, without cost: (1) to the board federal land associated with the reservoir and managed by the board on which no cabin is located; and (2) to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department land leased by such department as of that date. Each conveyance to a permittee, and each transfer to the board or department, shall be made subject to specified oil, gas, and other mineral rights, and specified permits, reversions, and easements. Any revenues from a sale of federal land shall be made available to the commissioner, without further appropriation, for: (1) the costs to the commissioner of carrying out this bill, and (2) deferred maintenance activities relating to the operation of the dam in the reservoir.
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Oct 03: To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of the Department of Homeland Security, and for other purposes.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee:
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2017 (Sec. 2) This bill amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to redesignate the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) National Protection and Programs Directorate as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). CISA will be headed by the Director of National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security, and CISA’s responsibilities will include: leading cybersecurity and critical infrastructure security programs, operations, and associated policy; coordinating with non-federal and federal entities, including Sector-Specific Agencies; and carrying out DHS’s responsibilities concerning chemical facilities antiterrorism standards. CISA shall be composed of DHS components reorganized as: (1) the Cybersecurity Division; (2) the Infrastructure Security Division; and (3) the Emergency Communications Division, which was previously the Office for Emergency Communications. The agency will also have a privacy officer to ensure compliance with relevant federal laws. (Sec. 3) The bill transfers within DHS the Office of Biometric Identity Management to the Directorate for Management, and authorizes the transfer of the Federal Protective Service to any DHS component, directorate, or other office that DHS deems appropriate. (Sec. 5) No additional funds are authorized to carry out this bill’s requirements. Such requirements shall be carried out using amounts otherwise authorized.
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Oct 04: A bill to provide for equitable compensation to the Spokane Tribe of Indians of the Spokane Reservation for the use of tribal land for the production of hydropower by the Grand Coulee Dam, and for other purposes.
Senate Indian Affairs Committee:
Spokane Tribe of Indians of the Spokane Reservation Equitable Compensation Act This bill establishes the Spokane Tribe of Indians Recovery Trust Fund to compensate the Spokane Business Council for the use of tribal lands for the generation of hydropower from the Grand Coulee Dam. The council must prepare a plan for the use of those payments to promote any combination of: (1) economic development; (2) infrastructure development; or (3) educational, health, recreational, and social welfare objectives of the tribe and its members. The Bonneville Power Administration must make specified settlement payments to the tribe. Payments made to the council or tribe may be used or invested by the council in the same manner as other tribal governmental funds. Deposit of amounts in the fund extinguishes all monetary claims that the tribe may have against the United States to a fair share of the annual hydropower revenues generated by the Grand Coulee Dam.
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Oct 04: A bill to establish a procedure for the conveyance of certain Federal property around the Dickinson Reservoir in the State of North Dakota.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee:
This bill directs the Commissioner of Reclamation to: (1) provide to the holder of a permit for a cabin site located on federal property around the Dickinson Reservoir in North Dakota the first option to purchase the site for fair market value, provided that the permittee first pay to Dickinson Parks & Recreation (the Department) any outstanding permit fees before exercising such option; and (2) convey to a permittee who exercises such option all U.S. interest in the site, easements for access to the site, a dock for the site, and the improvements on it. The fair market value of a property shall be determined by a local, third-party appraiser, valuing the property as unimproved residential property, excluding all improvements. Beginning two years after enactment of this bill: (1) if a permittee has not exercised such option, the Commissioner shall transfer the site to the Department, without cost; and (2) the Commissioner shall transfer to the Department, without cost, land currently managed by the Department on which no cabin is located. Each such conveyance and transfer shall be made subject to specified mineral rights and rights-of-way of third parties. A permittee may not build any new permanent structure below an elevation of 2,430 feet. If a permittee builds such a structure, the permittee’s site shall revert to the Department. Revenues from a sale of federal land pursuant to this bill shall be made available to the Commissioner for: (1) the costs of carrying out this bill, and (2) deferred maintenance activities relating to the operation of the dam in the Dickinson Reservoir.
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Oct 01: To require the Surface Board of Transportation to implement certain recommendations of the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation.
Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee:
STB Information Security Improvement Act (Sec. 2) This bill requires the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to develop a timeline and plan to implement the recommendations of the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation in Report No. FI2018002 concerning information security. The STB must report annually to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Commerce on progress in implementing the recommendations until the implementation is complete. (Sec. 3) No additional funds are authorized to carry out the requirements of this bill.
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