7/26 Weekly Legislative Update


Passed House and Senate

The Senate and House passed their versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2021. (H.R. 6395: William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021; S. 4049: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. Each bill would rename military bases named for former Confederates. Trump has said he would veto any bill with this mandate. At this point each bill passed by veto proof majorities. The House and Senate will now form a conference committee to address differences in the bills and produce a final bill, expected in September or October. (https://www.countable.us/articles/45525-congress-passes-defense-bills-requiring-renaming-confederate-bases-setting-possible-veto-showdown) See how your Representatives voted. See how your Senators voted.

Passed House

H.R. 7573: To direct the Joint Committee on the Library to replace the bust of Roger Brooke Taney in the Old Supreme Court Chamber of the United States Capitol with a bust of Thurgood Marshall to be obtained by the Joint Committee on the Library and to remove certain statues from areas of the United States …Capitol which are accessible to the public, to remove all statues of individuals who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America from display in the United States Capitol, and for other purposes. Passed the House July 22 by a vote of 305 D to 113 and goes to the Senate next for consideration. See your Representative’s vote.

H.R. 7608: Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2021 GovTrak.us: “Making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021, and for other purposes.” See your Representative’s vote.

Passed Senate

S. 3841: A bill to protect 2020 recovery rebates for individuals from assignment or garnishment, and for other purposes. This bill passed in the Senate on July 23, 2020 and goes to the House next for consideration. GovTrak.us: “This bill prohibits the attachment of a 2020 recovery rebate by legal process, including assignment, levy, or garnishment. A 2020 recovery rebate is a stimulus payment made to individual taxpayers and their dependents who have been affected by the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.” The vote was by Unanimous Consent so no record of individual votes was made.

S. 4065: Reinforcing American-Made Products Act of 2020 GovTrak.us: “A bill to make exclusive the authority of the Federal Government to regulate the labeling of products made in the United States and introduced in interstate or foreign commerce, and for other purposes.” This bill passed in the Senate on July 22, 2020 and goes to the House next for consideration. The vote was by Voice Vote so no record of individual votes was made.

Upcoming Legislation

S. 2163: Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act GovTrak.us: “A bill to establish the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys, to study and make recommendations to address social problems affecting Black men and boys, and for other purposes.” This bill passed in the Senate on June 25, 2020 and goes to the House next for consideration. The vote was by Voice Vote so no record of individual votes was made. The House Majority Leader indicated on Jul 24, 2020 that this bill may be considered in the week ahead.

H.R. 2420: National Museum of the American Latino Act The nation’s capital hosts an African American museum and American Indian museum. This bill establishes a Latino museum. The House Majority Leader indicated on Jul 24, 2020 that this bill may be considered in the week ahead.

H.R. 7575: Water Resources Development Act of 2020 GovTrak.us: “To provide for improvements to the rivers and harbors of the United States, to provide for the conservation and development of water and related resources, and for other purposes.” The House indicated that this bill would be considered in the week ahead.

H.R. 7617: Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2021 GovTrak.us: “Making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021, and for other purposes.” The House indicated that this bill would be considered in the week ahead.

H.R. 4686: Sami’s Law GovTrak.us: “To amend title 23, United States Code, to compel States to require illuminated signs and other measures on ride-hailing vehicles, to prohibit the sale of such signs, to require ride-hailing companies to implement an electronic access system on ride-hailing vehicles.”

H.R. 7327: Child Care for Economic Recovery Act GovTrak.us: “This bill provides additional funding in FY2020 for taxpayer services, social services block grants, and infrastructure grants to improve child care safety, including needs assessments.” Read the summary for more details.

H.R. 7027: Child Care Is Essential Act GovTrak.us: “This bill establishes and provides $50 billion in appropriations for the Child Care Stabilization Fund to award grants to child care providers during and after the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) public health emergency. ” Read the summary for more details.

The following hearings will be held next week:

In the House: July 29: The House Committee on Oversight and Reform: Counting Every Person: Safeguarding the 2020 Census Against the Trump Administration’s Unconstitutional Attacks July 28: House Committee on the Judiciary: Oversight of the Department of Justice July 29: Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis on July 29: The hearing will examine the urgent need for a national comprehensive plan to address the coronavirus pandemic with three key officials leading the response: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, and Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services Admiral Brett Giroir.

In the Senate: July 28: US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: Oversight of COVID-19 Financial Relief Packages United States Senate Committee on Finance: Part 1: Protecting the Reliability of the U.S. Medical Supply Chain During the COVID-19 Pandemic

July 28: United States Congress Joint Economic Committee: Reducing Uncertainty and Restoring Confidence during the Coronavirus Recession

For more information about these hearings and to view them, go to Countable.us: https://www.countable.us/articles/45529-congress-honor-rep-john-lewis-coronavirus-relief-negotiations-kickoff

In other news

House Bill 4 has been reintroduced in the Senate as John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This bill was passed in the House in September and as never been introduced in the Senate. GovTrak.us: “To amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to revise the criteria for determining which States and political subdivisions are subject to section 4 of the Act, and for other purposes.” In a speech on the House floor Rep. Teri Sewell called for changing the name of the act to the John Robert Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2020. The purpose of the act is to fully restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (“Rep. Sewell Honors Life and Legacy of Congressman John Lewis.” Congreesswoman Teri Sewell. 23 July 2020: https://sewell.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/rep-sewell-honors-life-and-legacy-congressman-john-lewis) The 2013 Supreme Court decision, Shelby vs. Holder, gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but left open the possibility for Congress to pass a more current version of the bill. Since then a number of states have imposed strict voter suppression laws and closed polling places. (Berman, Ari. “House votes to Restore the Voting rights Act. Mother Jones. 6 December 2019: https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/12/house-votes-to-restore-the-voting-rights-act/ )

Reopening the schools: School Choice Now Act introduced by Sens. Tim Scott and Lamar Alexander https://www.scott.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/pdf.pdf Summary of the bill with historic context: (Ujifusa, Andrew. “GOP Senators Push Big Private School Choice Bill Amid Pandemic Relief Debate.” 25 July 2020: https://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2020/07/gop-senators-private-school-choice-bill-pandemic-relief.html

Coronavirus Relief Bill The Senate this past week began working on another Coronavirus relief bill, but have yet to reach an agreement among themselves and with the President. Two important relief measures that were part of the CARES act are set to expire July 25: the enhanced unemployment benefits and the clause to delay evictions for 120 days. According to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Republicans oppose the extra $600 in unemployment because it disincentivizes people to look for work. He did say, however, that for those who can’t find jobs, there needs to be a reasonable wage replacement and he suggests 70% of the wage the worker was earning before being laid off. An additional $400 per month (versus the extra $600 per week from the CARES Act) has also been suggested. Those who aren’t normally eligible for unemployment benefits, including gig workers, freelancers, independent contractors and small business owners, will completely lose that source of income. There is no indication of when such a measure would be enacted., although a Senate relief bill may be offered sometime next week. (Conner, Katie. “Two Coronavirus Benefits Expire This Weekend. Make Sure You’re Prepared.” . 24 July 2020: https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/two-coronavirus-benefits-end-this-weekend-make-sure-youre-prepared/ ) Under the CARES Act unemployment benefits are still extended for 39 weeks instead of the usual 26. (Smith, Kelly Ann. “The $600 Federal Unemployment Boost Is Set To End July 31. Here’s What Happens Next.” Forbes. 8 June 2020: https://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2020/06/08/the-600-federal-unemployment-boost-is-set-to-end-july-31-heres-what-happens-next/#53d3687816ef ) The HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) passed the house two months ago and would extend the extra $600 per week unemployment compensation through January and provide evicictons protections. (Countable.us)

The Senate Banking Committee approved the nomination of Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve Board on July 22. She is an advocate of the gold standard and an ardent Trump supporter and advisor to his 2016 campaign. Fears are that if elected to the board she will bring more partisan politics to what has traditionally been a fiercely non partisan and independent board. Both conservative and liberal economists oppose a return to the gold standard. It is unknown when her nomination will be brought up for a full Senate vote. https://www.nbcnews.com/business/economy/senate-banking-committee-approves-controversial-nominee-judy-shelton-federal-reserve-n1234518

To find and contact your Members of Congress: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members

POTUS executive orders: Excluding undocumented immigrants from the apportionment base following the 2020 Census. (Liptak, Kevin, Maegan Vazquez and Ariane De Vogue. “Trump signs order targeting undocumented immigrants in the US census. (CNN Politics. 21 July 2020: https://cutt.ly/msznd4x )

On July 24 Trump said he signed four executive orders about drug pricing. They have been called ineffectual and a distraction by some experts and they have received a lukewarm reception by some Republicans. The House passed a bill last year that would provide more substantial relief. (Lupkin, Sydney. “Trump signs Executive Orders on Drug Prices.” NPR. 24 July 2020: https://www.npr.org/2020/07/24/895290378/trump-signs-executive-orders-on-drug-prices) The bill that passed in the house is HR 3: Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act . Its purpose is ‘To establish a fair price negotiation program, protect the Medicare program from excessive price increases, and establish an out-of-pocket maximum for Medicare part D enrollees, and for other purposes.” (GovTrak.com.) The bill is stalled in the Senate.

SCOTUS: Kruzel, John. “Supreme Court denies Dems’ bid to fast-track ongoing fight for Trump financial records.” The Hill. 20 July 2020: https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/508092-supreme-court-denies-dems-bid-to-fast-track-ongoing-fight-for-trump?userid=295338

State of Indiana

Beginning July 30 Census takers are set to start going door to door to those who have not yet filled out their census form. There’s still time to avoid these visits by filling out the form online at 2020census.gov or calling 844-330-2020. Many NWI municipalities have a lower than average participation rate compared with the rest of the state, although St. John has the highest rate in Indiana at 85.7%. (Carden, Dan. “Indiana Census Takers Set to Deploy in NWI Beginning Next Week.” NWI.com 20 July 20: https://cutt.ly/uszb7Gj.)

Indiana’s governor dropped a planned criminal penalty from the statewide face mask mandate that he signed Friday after objections from some law enforcement officials and conservative legislators.  (AP Indiana) For related context see: Finn, John. “The Constitution Doesn’t Have a Problem With Mask Mandates.” The Conversation. 22 July 2020: https://cutt.ly/6szkzv0

White House officials visiting Indianapolis on Friday said it’s imperative students return to school this fall and encouraged decision-makers to consider all aspects of a child’s health. (IBJ)

Indiana’s virus testing falling short on sites, results INDIANAPOLIS (AP)–Indiana’s state-sponsored coronavirus testing program has not…

Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana Republicans are resisting efforts to expand mail-in voting in November similar to what was allowed for the June primary, when an unprecedented half a million Hoosiers voted by mail. (South Bend Tribune)

Gov. Eric Holcomb is leading a group of 21 Republican governors asking the federal government to protect businesses, schools and health care workers from most types of legal liability relating to the coronavirus pandemic. (Times of Northwest Indiana)

 Indiana lawmakers who are part of a committee to decide where, when and how their work can resume during the COVID-19 pandemic outlined early plans and questions for the 2021 legislative session Thursday. (The Statehouse File)

New information on coronavirus-related deaths among Indiana nursing home residents collected by state health officials shows 128 more deaths than previously reported by the facilities. AP Indiana) The dashboard is available here.

To find and contact your Indiana legislators: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/