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Congress at Work for May 2018

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Aid for African countries, national wildlife refuges, Social Security beneficiaries and Secret Service Agents

Aid for African countries, national wildlife refuges, Social Security beneficiaries and Secret Service AgentsStrengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 (H.R. 4547) – Sponsored by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), this bill is designed to protect Social Security beneficiaries (approximately 8 million) whose mental or physical condition prevents them from being able to manage their benefits. These individuals are assigned a representative to manage their benefits. This new legislation prohibits people with certain types of criminal convictions from acting as representative payees; it also includes new accountability measures and greater oversight. The bill was introduced in December 2017 and signed into law by the President on April 13.

Secret Service Recruitment and Retention Act of 2018 (H.R. 3731) – Prior to this law, Secret Service agents were prohibited from being paid overtime after reaching the maximum annual salary for the pay rate of GS-15. However, because the service recently reported that more than 1,000 agents – a third of its workforce – had maxed out on their annual overtime and salary for this year, this law will expand those overtime pay limits. The law is retroactive for both 2017 and 2018. This legislation was introduced by Rep. John Katko (R-NY) in September 2017 and was signed by the President on April 3, 2018.

EGO Act (S. 188) – This new legislation prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for the cost of painting portraits of officers and employees of the federal government, including the President, the Vice President, a Member of Congress, the head of an Executive agency or the head of an office of the Legislative Branch. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in January 2017 and enacted on March 27, 2018.

Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act (S. 772) – This bill amends the PROTECT Act to merge tribal AMBER Alert systems into state AMBER alert systems and make Indian tribes eligible for AMBER Alert grants, as well as other program features. The bill was introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in March 2017 and signed into law by the President on April 13, 2018.

Keep America’s Refuges Operational Act (H.R. 3979) – This Act authorizes appropriations to provide for volunteer, community partnership and educational activities of national wildlife refuges. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) in October 2017 and signed by the President on April 23, 2018.

AGOA and MCA Modernization Act (H.R. 3445) – Sponsored by Rep. Edward Royce (R-CA), this bill represents the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The legislation directs the President to establish a website to collect and disseminate information regarding AGOA and urges him to facilitate transboundary trade among eligible sub-Saharan African countries. It also establishes new assistance criteria for a low-income or a lower/middle income candidate country to enter into a Millennium Challenge Compact with the United States. The bill was signed into law by the President on April 23, 2018.            

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