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Congress at Work for November 2014

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Congress at Work: Approaching the End of the 113th Congress

Each congressional term lasts two years. At any point when Congress is in session, a sitting member of Congress may introduce legislation. Once a bill has been introduced, it is alive and may be considered at any time during the session. However, at the end of the two-year cycle, all bills that have been introduced in either the House or the Senate that have not made it through the entire legislative process and signed into law are dead. This includes bills that may have passed both the House and the Senate but were never finalized and sent to the President for signature. The 113th Congress will officially end on Jan. 3, 2015.

Equal Employment for All Act (S. 1837) – This bill modifies the Fair Credit Reporting Act to prohibit employers from using consumer credit reports to make job hiring decisions. This version was introduced in the Senate under the premise that jobseekers should be able to compete on their merits, not on whether they already have enough money to pay all of their bills.

Equal Employment for All Act (H.R. 645) – This is the House version of the credit report limitation bill, which includes further exceptions for jobs with financial responsibilities.

Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 5212) – This billseeks to strengthen personal property rights with regard to asset forfeiture laws. Under current law, agencies like the IRS and the Department of Justice may take property suspected to be in connection with a crime without charging the property owner of a crime.The bill raises the burden of proof for a legitimate forfeiture from a preponderance of the evidence to clear and convincing evidence, requiring the government to have more concrete proof of the property’s connection to a crime. The bill also shifts the burden of proof from the owner of the property to the government.

Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980) –This bill, which was enacted on Sept. 29, is designed to prevent and address sex trafficking of children in foster care, to extend and improve adoption incentives, and to improve international child support recovery. The bill also authorizes a state, at its option, to identify and document any individual under age 26 without regard to whether the individual is or was in foster care under state responsibility

Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2014 (S. 2259) – Enacted on Sept. 26, this bill directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the rates of veterans’ disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. Each increase will be the same percentage as the increase in benefits provided under Social Security. It becomes effective on Dec. 1.

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