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Congress at Work for August 2016

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Planning for America's 250th Birthday, Overdose Prevention, and Beefing up Benefits for Vets

Congress - Aug 2016United States Semiquincentennial Commission Act of 2016 (H.R. 4875) – On July 22, President Obama signed this bill into law. The Act establishes a commission authorized to plan, develop and coordinate the commemoration of U.S. history leading up to the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States in 2026. The commission will give particular attention to the people, locations and ideas that have had a significant impact on U.S. history starting with the Declaration of Independence. The commission will also study actions to further preserve and develop historic sites and battlefields in preparation for the celebration. The commission shall terminate at the end of 2027. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA).

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (S. 524) – Also signed into law on July 22, this Act was sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). According to the Centers for Disease Control, heroin, prescription drugs and opioid pain reliever overdoses have now surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death in America. This bill authorizes the Attorney General and Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to address the national epidemics of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use. It also established an interagency taskforce to review, modify and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication.

POLICE Act of 2016 (S. 2840) – The full title of this bill is Protecting Our Lives by Initiating COPS Expansion, known by its acronym POLICE. Sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on April 21, this bill amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to expand the use of grant funds for active shooter training and other purposes. It was signed into law on July 22.

Summaries for the Veterans’ Compensation COLA Act of 2016 (H.R. 5588) – This bill authorizes the same percentage as the increase in benefits provided under the Social Security Act for certain VA benefits. These include veteran’s disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for qualified disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. This rate plan will begin on Dec. 1, 2016. Introduced by Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), the bill was signed into law on July 22.

Global Food Security Act of 2016 (S. 1252) – This bill authorizes a comprehensive strategic approach for U.S. foreign assistance to developing countries to reduce global poverty and hunger; achieve food and nutrition security; promote inclusive, sustainable, agricultural-led economic growth; improve nutritional outcomes, especially for women and children; build resilience among vulnerable populations; and for other purposes. The Act states that it is U.S. policy to fully leverage available U.S. humanitarian resources to mitigate the effects of manmade and natural disasters by delivering aid, and permits the President to provide assistance under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to prevent or address food shortages. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and signed into law on July 20.

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