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Congress at Work for July, 2019

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Disaster Relief Funding, Expanded Benefits for Neglected Vietnam Veterans, and Bipartisan Reforms for the IRS

Disaster Relief Funding, Expanded Benefits for Neglected Vietnam Veterans, and Bipartisan Reforms for the IRSNational Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2019 (S 1693) – This bill reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program, which was set to expire on May 31, through June 14. The bill was introduced by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on May 23, passed the Senate and the House in one week and was signed into law by the president on May 31.

Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, 2019 (HR 2157) – This bill adds $17.2 billion to this year’s budget for supplemental emergency funding available to many federal departments and agencies for expenses related to wildfires, hurricanes, volcanos, earthquakes, typhoons and other natural disasters. This supplemental funding basically extends the National Flood Insurance Program until Sept. 30, at which point Congress will have to reauthorize the program. The bill was introduced by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) on April 9 and signed into law by the president on June 6.

Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019 (S 1379) – This bill reauthorizes certain programs under the Public Health Service Act and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to assure preparedness and response with regard to public health security and all hazards. The legislation was introduced on May 8 by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). It was passed by both the House and the Senate on June 4 and is currently awaiting signature by the president.

Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 (HR 299) – Until recently, veterans who served on ships in the Vietnam War were not eligible for the same disability benefits as those who served on land inside Vietnam.This legislation authorizes the extension of these benefits to  service members who served off the Vietnam coastline during the war and were exposed to the toxic chemical Agent Orange.It was introduced by Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) on Jan. 8, passed in the House and Senate on June 12 and is currently waiting to be enacted by the president.

Taxpayer First Act (HR 3151) – Introduced on June 6 by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), this bipartisan IRS reform bill is designed to improve services for taxpayers, including creating a new IRS Independent Office of Appeals, seizure modifications, improved customer service, and provisions for cybersecurity and identity theft protection. The bill was passed by both Houses in Congress on June 13 and is currently awaiting signature by the president.

A resolution condemning all forms of antisemitism (SRes 189) – In response to an alarming trend in public anti-Semitic comments and hate crimes, this simple resolution condemns and commits to combatting all forms of antisemitism. It was introduced on May 2 by Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), and was agreed to by the Senate on June 13.

Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act of 2019 (S 395) – Introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) on Feb. 7, this bill requires every federal agency that establishes a new rule to include a link to a 100-word plain language summary of the proposed rule. The bill passed in the Senate on June 11 and is currently with the House for consideration.

Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act of 2019 (HR 1289) –This legislation would require the Secretary of Commerce to conduct an assessment and analysis of the effects of broadband deployment and adoption on the economy of the United States. It was introduced on May 2 by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), passed in the Senate on June 5 and is with the House for consideration.

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