A summary of all the bills that passed at least one branch of Congress in February, including six bills destined for a veto and one new law.
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Information Discussed in this Episode
Read Jennifer Briney's Reddit Ask Me Anything from March 23, 2015.
- Check out The Marketers Guide to Reddit AMAs, written by Paul and David DiGiovanni.
Listen to the details of Jen's front-page of Reddit experience on Episode 145 of The Pursuit Podcast
H.R. 203: Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act
- Requires annual independent evaluations of Veteran's Administration mental health programs
- Requires the Veteran's Administration to create a website for information about their mental health services that needs to be updated at least every 90 days.
- Creates a three year pilot program to repay psychiatrists' loans ($30,000 a year) if they work for at least two years at the Veteran's Health Administration.
- Prohibits any additional money to get this done.
- Written by Democrat Rep. Timothy Walz of Minnesota
S.1: Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act
- Authorizes TransCanada to construct, operate, and maintain the KeystoneXL pipeline.
- Deems the environmental impact analysis complete
- Forces all challenges in court to be heard in Washington D.C. or in the Supreme Court.
- Orders the Department of Energy to create a website to coordinate Federal assistance for making schools energy efficient
- Expresses a "sense of the Senate" that Congress should tax bitumen as oil for the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund
- Requires the General Services Administration to develop commercial leasing provisions that encourage tenants to invest in energy and water efficiency
- Requires the EPA to develop a voluntary "Tenant Star" program to recognize commercial tenants who achieve high standards of energy efficiency.
- Makes it illegal for people to tamper with grid-enabled water heaters
- Passed 62-36 in the Senate, with nine Democrats joining all Republicans. It passed 270-152 in the House, with all but Justin Amash of Michigan voting yes on the Republican side and with 29 Democratic yes votes.
- Sponsored by Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, whose top contributing industry is Oil and Gas, which has given him over $330,000
- President Obama vetoed the bill and the Senate failed to over-ride that veto by the two-thirds majority they would need to do so.
H.R. 596: To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
- Repeals the Affordable Care Act, effective 6 months after it would become law.
- The effects this would have on the budget would not be counted.
- Would require three House Committees to write replacement bills. There is no deadline.
- Would be vetoed by the President
- Written by new Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama, whose #1 contributor) in his first election was Blue Cross/Blue Shield, who gave him over $30,000 that we know of. In total, he took over $180,000 from the Insurance and Health industries.
- Forces the government to consult with the private sector when creating regulations.
- Would be vetoed by the President
- Sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina in the House and Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska.
H.R. 527: Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015
- Would make creating regulations harder and make the government analyze a regulations effect on businesses finances.
- Blog: Deregulating big business in the name of small business by Amit Narang. The Hill. February 2015.
- Passed 260-163 in the House.
- Would be vetoed by the President
- Written by Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio
H.R. 644: Fighting Hunger Incentive Act of 2015
- Makes permanent a tax deduction for businesses that donated food inventory to charity
- Increases the amount corporations can deduct for food inventory they donate to charity
- Passed 279-137, with 39 Democrats joining all but one Republican (Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina).
- Would be vetoed by the President because it would increase the budget deficits by about $2.2 billion over the next 10 years.
- Written by Rep. Tom Reed of New York
H.R. 636: America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2015
- Makes permanent a tax credit for depreciable business property, and increases the credit every year with inflation.
- Expands the eligible business property to include computer software, actual property, air conditioning and heating units.
- Cuts in half the amount of time certain gains are taxable, from 10 years to 5 years.
- The effects of this on the budget will not be counted.
- The bill would increase the deficit by $77 billon over the next 10 years
- Passed 272-142, with all but one Republican (Walter Jones of North Carolina) voting yes, along with 33 Democrats.
- Would be vetoed by the President because it would increase federal deficits by about $77 billion over the next 10 years.
- Sponsored by Rep. Pat Tiberi of Ohio
H.R. 361: Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act
- Allows Urban Area Security Initiative and State Homeland Security Grant Program money to be used for pharmaceutical stockpiles.
- Written by Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida; he has taken over $750,000 from "health professionals" and over $120,000 from pharmaceuticals.
H.R. 623: Social Media Working Group Act of 2015
- Authorizes a group within the Department of Homeland Security, made up of government officials and private sector employees, to report on how to use social media during emergencies.
- Passed 328-51 in the House, with most no votes coming from Republicans, along with Democratic Rep. Jared Polis.
- Written by Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana
H.R. 212: Drinking Water Protection Act
- Orders the EPA to make a plan to study algae in drinking water supplies
- Passed with 37 Republicans voting no
- Written by Rep. Robert Latta of Ohio
H.R. 529: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to improve 529 plans.
- Allows computers and Internet access to be paid for with tax-advantaged college savings plan funds
- Changes the way taxes are calculated
- Would increase the deficit by $51 million over 10 years.
- Passed 401-20
- Written by Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas
H.R. 615: Department of Homeland Security Interoperable Communications
- Gives the Under Secretary of Management of the Department of Homeland Security the job of making sure that DHS departments can communicate with each other in emergencies.
- Written by Rep. Donald Payne of New Jersey
H.R. 1020: STEM Education Act of 2015
- Changes definition of STEM education to include computer science
- Creates one-year grants for math and science teachers to get master's degrees
- Passed 412-8
- Written by Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas
H.R. 719: TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2015
- Changes the job classification standards of criminal investigators in the TSA to make them tougher, which would theoretically result in less people being paid the higher wages associated with that title
- Passed 410-0
- Sponsored by Rep. John Katko of New York
H.R. 710: Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act
- Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to review the effectiveness of the transportation security card program, which are biometric identification cards for maritime DHS workers.
- Prohibits the Secretary of Homeland Security from requiring the use of security card readers until the assessment is finished and a card reader is identified that will work with existing security cards
- Appropriates no additional money
- Passed without a recorded vote
- Sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas
H.R. 734: Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act
- Consolidates FCC reports into one assessment to be done every two years
- Passed 411-0
- Written by Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana
S. 295: Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act of 2015
- Expands the definition of "full amount of the victim's losses" to include medical services, rehabilitation, and loss of income for the victim's lifetime.
- Passed 98-0
- Sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah