Congress at Work for March 2017

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Promoting Jobs for Government Contractors, Women, Vets and Making an Exception for the New Administrative Cabinet

Congress - March 2017Tested Ability to Leverage Exceptional National Talent Act of 2017 (TALENT) (H.R. 39) – This is the last law that was signed by President Obama, just an hour before he left the White House to attend the inaugural proceedings on Jan. 20. This nonpartisan Act made permanent a program the Obama Administration pioneered in 2012. It permits unconventional innovators to contract with the government for short-term rotations (usually between 6-month and 2-year terms) as part of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. The bill was introduced on Jan. 3 by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act (H.R. 255) – This bill was introduced on Jan. 4 by Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT). It is designed to authorize the National Science Foundation to encourage its entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world. The Act was passed by both chambers of Congress and is presently awaiting the President’s signature.

BRAVE: Boosting Rates of American Veteran Employment Act (H.R. 974) – Sponsored by Rep. Kathleen M. Rice (D-NY), this bill would authorize the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to give preference, when awarding contracts, to companies that employ a large percentage of veterans. It was introduced on Feb. 7 and passed the House on Feb. 13. The bill presently is with the Senate for consideration.

GAO Access and Oversight Act of 2017 (H.R. 72) – Introduced on Jan. 3 by Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and signed into law on Jan. 31, this bill grants the Government Accountability Office access to the National Directory of New Hires. The agency can use this national repository of employment, unemployment insurance, and quarterly wage information to evaluate fraudulent programs and pursue litigation if an entity in the executive branch improperly denies GAO access to information.

A bill to provide for an exception to a limitation against appointment of persons as Secretary of Defense within seven years of relief from active duty as a regular commissioned officer of the Armed Forces (S.84) – This bill was introduced on Jan. 10 by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), passed in both chambers and was signed into law on Jan. 20, the first day of the Trump Administration. The Act basically authorizes a one-time exception to the long-standing rule that no military service member can serve as Defense Secretary within seven years of separating from service. The exception applies specifically to President Trump’s Secretary of Defense appointment of James Mattis, a four-star Marine general who has been separated from the service for less than four years. The reason the law exists is to ensure that the Defense Secretary, who is the top-ranking official of the Pentagon and most of the American military, be a non-uniformed civilian. This provides a counterbalance to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is America’s top-ranking military official.

Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule (HJ Res. 38) – The original rule created by President Obama sought to protect the nation’s waterways from debris generated by a practice called surface mining. This resolution to roll back the stream protection rule was introduced on Jan. 30 by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH). It passed in the House on Feb. 1, passed in the Senate on Feb. 2 and was signed into law on Feb. 16.