Congress at Work for February 2018

rss feed

Spying, a Temporary Budget, Restitution for Child Porn Victims and a Possible Solution for Dreamers

Congress-FEB-2018An Act to Amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to improve foreign intelligence collection and the safeguards, accountability and oversight of acquisitions of foreign intelligence, to extend Title VII of such Act, and for other purposes (S. 139) – The text for this original bill was replaced with language for the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017. The bill extends Section 702 government surveillance authorization under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on Jan. 3, and was signed into law by the President on Jan. 19.

Extension of Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018; HEALTHY KIDS Act; Federal Register Printing Savings Act of 2017 (H.R. 195) – Sponsored by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) on Jan. 3, the language for this original legislation was replaced to become the stop-gap bill to reopen the government and continue appropriations until February 8, 2018. It was enacted after the three-day government shutdown, and includes the following provisions:

  • Extends funding for government programs at existing levels through Feb. 8, 2018
  • Extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for another six years
  • Continues the suspension of the Affordable Care Act’s taxes on medical devices through 2019, and “Cadillac” employer-sponsored health coverage through 2021
  • Passes the original bill’s (unrelated) provision to restrict the distribution of free printed copies of the government’s daily publication of agency notices and new regulations (the Federal Register) to members of Congress and other officials, for a savings of $1 million

The bill was enacted after being signed by the President on Jan. 22.

Amy, Vicky and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2017 (S. 2152) – Sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on Jan. 3, this bill authorizes restitution to victims of child pornography by every perpetrator who contributed to the criminal act. Specifically, each defendant convicted of trafficking in child pornography shall pay the victim (through the appropriate court mechanism) compensation as determined by the court. The amount will be between $3,000 and 1 percent of the full amount of the victim’s losses, which may include medical services relating to physical, psychiatric or psychological care; physical and occupational therapy or rehabilitation; necessary transportation, temporary housing and child care expenses; and lost income. The restitution amount will be limited to not more than $17,000, $35,000 or $50,000 depending on the offense for which the defendant was convicted. The bill passed in the House on Jan. 23 and is currently being considered by the Senate.

USA Act of 2018 (H.R. 4796) – Sponsored by Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), this bill is intended to provide relief from the threat of deportation and adjust the status of “Dreamers” who have been long-term United States residents, having entered the country before age 18. Specifically, the bill contains language to address concerns related to “chain migration” and would require that parents who stayed in the United States without legal status for more than one year leave the U.S. for a minimum of 10 years before being considered for a family-based visa. The legislation also includes provisions to improve border security through the use of technology, addresses issues in Central America that contribute to migration, and provides measures to reduce delays in immigration court, such as adding immigration judges. The bill was introduced on Jan. 16 and is to be considered by committee before possibly being sent to the House or Senate as a whole.