Congress at Work for February 2015

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Congress at Work: Reviving Jettisoned Bills and Reversing Previous Legislation

The new 114th Congress is dominated by Republicans in both houses. The Senate is comprised of 54 Republicans and 46 Democrats. In the House of Representatives, there are now 247 Republicans and 188 Democrats. The new Congress started up aggressively in January, re-introducing past bills that had been squashed and new legislation to reverse current laws.

Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 26) – This bill was enacted after being signed by the President on Jan. 12. The bill extends the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) program, which expired at the end of 2014, for another six years. It retroactively restores the federal reinsurance backstop for policyholders and the insurance market in the event of a catastrophic terrorist act. Furthermore, the bill re-establishes the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB II) as an independent nonprofit corporation. This is the first step to reversing current regulation that requires insurance agents and clients to live in the same state in order to do business together. The Act is designed to promote greater consistency across state licensing, thereby increasing competition and consumer choice.

Keystone XL Pipeline Act (S. 1) – Sponsored by Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), this bill authorizes the construction, operation and maintenance of the pipeline and cross-border facilitation by the

TransCanada Corporation. This bill was set to be voted on in the Senate in mid-January. A similar bill, H.R. 3 (same name) sponsored by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), passed in the House on Jan. 9.

Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act (H.R. 37) – This bill is supposed to reduce over-regulation of the small business industry by revising many provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Its provisions include delaying the Volcker rule that limits high-risk trading by commercial banks and exempting some private equity firms from having to register as brokers. The bill passed in the House on Jan. 14 and went to the Senate for consideration. It is considered a reversal of many of the restraints placed on practices believed to have contributed to the financial crisis and economic recession in 2007.

To amend title 49, United States Code, to provide for limitations on the fees charged to passengers of air carriers. (H.R. 5462 [113th]) – This Act revises aviation passenger security fee requirements to limit per round trip fees to $11.20. It was signed into law by the President on Dec. 19.

Save American Workers Act of 2015 (H.R. 30) – This Act would alter the employer mandate imposed by the healthcare law to change the definition of a full-time employee to one who works 40 hours per week instead of 30. The bill passed in the House on Jan. 8 and went to the Senate for consideration.

Hire More Heroes Act of 2015 (H.R. 22) – Passed in the House on Jan. 6 and now in the Senate, this bill would exempt employees with health coverage under TRICARE or the Veterans Administration from being taken into account when calculating the number of employees to apply the employer health insurance mandate.

Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders (H.R. 33) – This bill also exempts emergency services volunteers from being taken into account when calculating the number of employees to apply the employer health insurance mandate. It was passed in the House on Jan. 12 and is now in the Senate.