NEWS AND RESOURCES

Congress at Work for September 2017

Sanctions on Foreign Adversaries, Breakthrough DNA Technology, and Fast-Tracked Approval for Generic Drugs

Rapid DNA Act of 2017Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (H.R. 3364) – This Act expands U.S. sanctions against Russia (for annexing Ukraine’s Crimea and meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election), Iran and North Korea (for weapons activities). It also establishes a congressional review process to authorize any changes to existing sanctions against Russia, prohibits U.S. persons from involvement in new financing with Russian banks, oil and gas companies, and authorizes secondary sanctions against non-U.S. persons for engaging in certain Russia-related activities. The bill was introduced in Congress on July 24 by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), passed by the House on July 25 – the Senate on the July 27 – and enacted on Aug. 2. Although the president signed the legislation into law, this was paired with an oppositional statement about limiting his executive powers.

Rapid DNA Act of 2017 (H.R. 510) – Sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI), this bill will expand the use of new technology that can analyze DNA samples in about 90 minutes, instead of days or even weeks as has been required in the past. It is expected to help law enforcement agencies perform real-time DNA testing to speed up justice. The bill was introduced on Jan. 12 and signed into law by President Trump on Aug. 18.

FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 2430) – This bill amends the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to revise and extend the user-fee programs for prescription drugs, medical devices, generic drugs and biosimilar biological products, and for other purposes. The bipartisan legislation is designed to promote medical innovations and bring lower-cost drugs to market by giving priority review to generic drug applications that will reduce the price of expensive drugs, devices or biosimilar compounds. The bill was introduced on May 16 by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and was signed into law on Aug. 18.

Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (H.R. 2288) – Introduced on May 2 by Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL), this bill was signed into law by the president on Aug. 23. It is designed to streamline the lengthy process that veterans are subject to when appealing their claims for disability benefits.

Northern Mariana Islands Economic Expansion Act (H.R. 339) – This bill protects established Mariana Islands’ businesses that employ CW-1 workers by barring the use of the CW-1 permits for new construction workers. It ensures that local businesses, the hospital and clinics do not have to compete for CW-1 permits with companies that employ temporary construction workers, and provides funding to train locals seeking jobs in order to curb the number of immigrants required to fill positions. The bill was introduced on Jan. 5 by Gregorio Sablan (Del-Northern Mariana Islands), passed in the House by unanimous consent on Aug. 11 in a special pro forma session and was signed into law by President Trump on Aug. 22.

Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act (H.R. 873) – This bill authorizes the construction of a national memorial honoring those who have fought and died in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 through today. Sponsored by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), this bill was introduced on Feb. 6, passed by both houses this summer and was signed by the president on Aug. 18.

Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (S. 1693) – Introduced by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), this bill is designed to ensure justice for victims of sex trafficking through websites that knowingly facilitate this illegal activity. These websites frequently run classified ads allowing people to advertise prostitution that sometimes involves minors. However, this bill is controversial because it would amend the section of the Communications Decency Act that guarantees protection of free expression on the Internet by both website providers and users. It was introduced on Aug. 1 and sent to committee for review.

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