This is just a short list of things that caught my eye. The following legislation has either passed in the House or been introduced in the House. Those passed will go to the Senate for a vote (or a committee referral for a floor vote). If you wish to make your voice hear on the matter, the next step is to contact your Senator*.
Introduced: H.R.804 – “To amend the National Security Act of 1947 to protect the National Security Council from political interference, and for other purposes.”
This bill, largely a reaction to the recent (perhaps unwitting) placement of White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon to the National Security Council Principals Committee, was introduced on Feb. 1 and has been referred to House Intelligence Committee.
Passed: H.J.Res 57: Passed 234-190.
This bill overturns a regulation released by the Department of Education that sought to guide the states in implementation of the Every Child Succeeds Act. Supporters of this bill thought the regulation limited individual states flexibility in accountability standards. Read the full text of the regulation in the link above; it’s my understanding that the regulation clarified portions of the bill to give states a better understanding of how to set up their own standards in a more measurable, consistent way.
“Whereas the ESEA…required a State educational agency (SEA) to hold schools accountable based solely on results on statewide assessments and one other academic indicator, the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, requires each SEA to have an accountability system that is State-determined and based on multiple indicators, including, but not limited to, at least one indicator of school quality or student success and, at a State’s discretion, an indicator of student growth.”
Passed: H.J.Res 40: Passed 235-180.
This bill repeals a regulation that prevents those with mental “deficiencies” and receiving disability benefits with the Social Security Administration from purchasing a firearm. The law provides an ability for any affected individual to petition for their right to own a firearm, making it a case-by-case basis of review.
A friend who works in a law office whose clients are primarily veterans and that would be subject to such a rule offered this insight:
I work in federal administrative law and this rule made so much sense. The rule called for the Social Security Administration to notify the National Instant Criminal Background Check System of those individuals who had been found disabled and entitled to disability benefits based on the fact that they either met a listing under listing 12.00 Mental Disorders or had a primary diagnosis of a mental impairment AND had been deemed incapable of managing their own benefits and a representative payee had been appointed to manage their funds for them.
The smear campaign against the rule made it sound like the SSA was coming for your guns.
To get reported to the system a person had to be not only mentally ill or intellectually impaired but also deemed incompetent to handle their own money.
If you can’t handle a debit card you really shouldn’t have a gun.
On the President’s Desk
H.J. 38, passed 228-194. Passed in Senate 54-45. Presented to the President on Feb. 6.
Read full text, Countable summary. This bill revokes an EPA regulation known as the Stream Protection Rule, which tightens exceptions to a rule requiring 100-foot buffer between coal mining and streams, as well as compel coal mining companies to restore/reclaim streams and areas affected by mining.
H.J. Res. 41, passed 235/41. Passed in Senate 52-47. Presented to the President on Feb. 6.
Read Full Text, Countable Summary. This bill revokes the “Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers” rule, which requires resource extraction issuers to disclose payments made to governments for the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals. It is a transparency issue.
Quick caveat: If you support how your Rep voted in the bill, let them know, too. They get so many calls that are demoralizing. When I called Sen. Graham’s Lowcountry office to thank him for issuing the press release with Sen. McCain condemning the executive order on immigration, she thanked me. She told me the call she got before me and several before that were angry people demanding that Graham act like a Republican; that the people want this and the people voted for President Trump so Graham should lock step with that mission. As a daughter of Holocaust refugees, this type of speech was very frightening to the local aid, and she started crying. So, yeah. Just don’t be a garbage person to whomever answers the phone.