Weekly Legislative Update 12/26/2023

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Enacted, signed into law by the President

Enacted, signed into law by the President

H.R. 2670: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024
This bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent. But it passed with changes (see below for some of them) so it went back to the House.
“The House passed the annual Defense authorization bill Thursday, sending the $886 billion Pentagon policy and funding package to President Biden’s desk.
The vote was 310-118, with 45 Democrats and 73 Republicans opposing the measure. The House passed the legislation under a suspension of the rules, which means it needed a two-thirds majority.” (The Hill) All Indiana representatives voted yea except Reps Spartz and Baird who voted nay. View the vote.
“Congress has approved legislation that would prevent any president from withdrawing the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) without approval from the Senate or an Act of Congress. 
The measure, spearheaded by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), was included in the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which passed out of the House…” (The Hill

H.R. 1734: TRANQ Research Act of 2023
H.R. 3315: National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Extension Act of 2023
S. 2747: A bill to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to extend the Administrative Fine Program for certain reporting violations.
S. 2787: 5G SALE Act


Passed the House and Senate, President next

H.R. 6503: Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2023, Part II
Passed the Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.


“For House Republicans, the first year of their new majority was a lesson in humility, plagued by infighting, historic expulsions and dashed exceptions…The internal dysfunction is…reflected in the key metrics. Just 31 pieces of legislation became law in 2023, the lowest number in the modern era, going back more than 50 years…” (The Hill)
H.Res. 927: Condemning antisemitism on University campuses and the testimony of University Presidents in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
The vote was 303-126 with all Indiana Reps voting yea except Rep. Carson who voted nay. View the vote.
This simple resolution was agreed to on December 13, 2023. That is the end of the legislative process for a simple resolution.
H.Res 578 Providing for the expulsion of Representative George Santos from the United States House of Representatives
Passed 211-114 with 6 voting present and 2 not voting. Passed with far more than the 2.3 required. Indiana Reps Buschon, Carson, Houchin, Mrvan, Pence and Yakym voted yea; all other Indiana reps voted nay.
“The House voted to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) on Friday, leaving the GOP conference with one fewer lawmaker in an already slim majority.
Santos was booted from Congress in a 311-114-2 vote, just weeks after the House Ethics Committee’s damning report said there is “substantial evidence” showing the New York Republican committed serious federal crimes.” (The Hill)

Passed the House, Senate next

H.R. 1147: Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2023
Passed 330-99 with all Indiana reps voting yea except Rep. Carson who voted nay. View the vote.
H.R. 357: Ensuring Accountability in Agency Rulemaking Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill requires, subject to a limited exception, that any agency rule promulgated under notice and comment procedures must be issued and signed by an individual who was appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.” A White House statement said President Biden would veto the bill if it came to his desk, saying in part, “The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 357, a bill that would require that notice-and[1]comment rulemaking be initiated by a “senior appointee” and be issued and signed by a Senate[1]confirmed Presidential appointee. This bill would result in unnecessary delays in the regulatory process when Senate-confirmed positions are temporarily filled by senior officials while nominees await confirmation.” (Office of the President)
Passed by recorded vote: 218 – 203 with Indiana reps Carson and Mrvan voting no and all other Indiana reps voting aye. View the vote.
H.R. 5378: Lower Costs, More Transparency Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 320 – 71, 1 Present
H.R. 1547: One Seat Ride Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 356 – 61. All Indiana Reps voted yea except Rep. Spartz who did not vote. View the vote.
H.R. 3848: Housing our Military Veterans Effectively Act of 2023
Passed 408-10. View the vote.
H.R. 542: Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act of 2023
Passed 414-5. View the vote.
H.R. 5524: Foreign Affiliates Sharing Pilot Program Extension Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 396 – 28 
H.R. 4531: Support for Patients and Communities Reauthorization Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 386 – 37


Passed the Senate, House next

S. 310: Disaster Contract Improvement Act
Passed by Unanimous Consent
S. 679: GAO Database Modernization Act of 2023
Passed by Unanimous Consent
S. 1414: National Weather Service Communications Improvement Act
Passed by Unanimous Consent
S. 484: Combating Human Rights Abuses Act of 2023
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.
S. 1416: NWR Modernization Act of 2023
Passed by Unanimous Consent
S. 2073: Eliminate Useless Reports Act of 2023
Passed by Unanimous Consent
S. 2685: Reuse Excess Property Act
Passed by Unanimous Consent
S. 3427: Overtime Pay for Protective Services Act of 2023
Passed by Unanimous Consent
S. 474: REPORT Act
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.
S. 229: Securing Semiconductor Supply Chains Act of 2023
Passed by Unanimous Consent
S. 265: SIREN Reauthorization Act
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.
S. 318: Save Our Seas 2.0 Amendments Act
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.
Failed cloture
H.R. 815: RELIEVE Act Removing Extraneous Loopholes Insuring Every Veteran Emergency Act
Last Action: Cloture on the motion to proceed to the measure not invoked in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 49 – 51. Both Indiana senators voted nay. View the vote.
Explanation: This bill is provisionally dead due to a failed vote for cloture on December 6, 2023. Cloture is required to move past a Senate filibuster or the threat of a filibuster and takes a 3/5ths vote. In practice, most bills must pass cloture to move forward in the Senate.

To find and contact your Members of Congress:  https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials 

In other news

President Joe Biden ordered the U.S. military to carry out retaliatory airstrikes against Iranian-backed militia groups after three U.S. servicemembers were injured in a drone attack in northern Iraq.” (Associated Press)

“A jury cleared three Washington state police officers of all criminal charges Thursday in the 2020 death of Manuel Ellis, a Black man who was shocked, beaten and restrained face-down on a Tacoma sidewalk as he pleaded for breath.” (NewsNation)

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the state’s legislative maps, which heavily favor Republicans, are unconstitutional. It ordered new maps drawn before the 2024 election.”
(New York Times)

“A Colorado jury on Friday convicted two paramedics in the death of Elijah McClain, a Black pedestrian who was given a lethal dose of ketamine in 2019 after a confrontation with police.” (NBC News)

“A new law that makes it a state crime in Texas to enter the state illegally is “incredibly extreme,” the White House said … The law has sent ripples of fear throughout the Latino community in Texas, who make up about 40% of the state’s population, and raised concerns about racial profiling from civil rights organizations and immigration advocacy groups…
Democrats have said they believe the law is unconstitutional and civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas on Tuesday challenging the law.” (CNN)

“Nearly 200 countries agreed Wednesday to move away from planet-warming fossil fuels — the first time they’ve made that crucial pledge in decades of U.N. climate talks though many warned the deal still had significant shortcomings.” (Associated Press)
“ The U.N. climate summit clinched an early victory…with delegates adopting a new fund to help poor nations cope with costly climate disasters.” (Reuters)

“Whatever the reason, Americans seem to have a very hard time accepting the fact that “Bidenomics”–which harks back to New Deal principles–has produced an economy better than anyone predicted.
Yet the economy is ending the year in a remarkably better position than almost anyone on Wall Street or in mainstream economics had predicted, having bested just about all expectations time and again. Inflation has dropped to 3.1 percent, from a peak of 9.1. The unemployment rate is at a hot 3.7 percent, and the economy grew at a healthy clip in the most recent quarter. The Fed is probably finished hiking interest rates and is eyeing cuts next year. Financial markets are at or near all-time highs, and the S&P 500 could hit a new record this week, too.
…The GOP demanded reductions in government spending. The White House disagreed, arguing that funding programs on infrastructure, domestic semiconductor production and clean energy would help inflation by expanding the economy’s productive capacity. The White House was right…
Biden clearly understands: national budgets are nothing like household budgets, and failure to understand the difference leads to bad policy.” (Subscriptions: Sheila Kennedy)

“U.S. employers added a healthy 199,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell, fresh signs that the economy could achieve an elusive “soft landing,” in which inflation would return to the Federal Reserve’s 2% target without causing a steep recession…
The unemployment rate dropped from 3.9% to 3.7%, not far above a five-decade low of 3.4% in April…Average pay is now growing faster than inflation, which should support consumer spending.” (Associated Press

November’s gains snapped a three-month losing streak. The S&P and Nasdaq rallied 8.9% and 10.7%, respectively, to notch their best monthly performances since July 2022. The Dow surged 8.8% for its best month since October 2022. (CNBC)

Israel-Hamas War
“Israeli officials have warned that its war on Hamas will continue deep into the new year…’, [alarming] those signals have alarmed the international community, as the death toll in the besieged enclave continues to rise.” Read updates and more about the war and worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza at the Associated Press.

President Biden announced an additional $4.8 billion in student loan forgiveness Wednesday, with the relief targeted at federal borrowers working in public service fields.
The debt relief will assist about 80,000 borrowers, approximately half of whom should have already qualified for relief through their public service jobs, but had not yet received it due to clerical errors, the White House said
“The remaining funds will “fix” the Income-Driven Repayment Plan, accurately accounting for loan forgiveness already earned, the Department of Education said.

“The U.S. Supreme Court reentered the abortion debate Wednesday, agreeing to review a lower court decision that would make mifepristone, the commonly used abortion pill, less accessible.” (NPR)

“The Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an attempt to remove former President Trump from the state’s primary ballot under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection ban.” (The Hill)

“In a stunning and unprecedented decision, the Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday removed former President Donald Trump from the state’s 2024 ballot, ruling that he isn’t an eligible presidential candidate because of the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban.”” (CNN)

“During then-President Donald Trump’s final days in office, a 10-inch-thick binder of raw Russian intelligence transported from the CIA went missing after it was last seen at the White House, CNN reported Friday.” (CNN)

“Former Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani has been ordered to pay a staggering $148 million to two former Georgia election workers he spread lies about following the 2020 election.
The decision on Friday comes at the end of a week-long federal civil trial in Washington, D.C., where an eight-person jury heard from the workers — Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman — about how 2020 election conspiracies spread by Giuliani and former President Donald Trump turned their lives upside down.” (NPR)
“Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, the two Georgia election workers who won a nearly $150 million verdict against Rudy Giuliani for defamation on Friday, have sued him again, asking a federal judge to permanently prohibit him from lying about them.” (CNN)

Women’s rights
A Black woman in Ohio has been criminally charged after a miscarriage at 20 weeks. The fetus was nonviable, and her doctor sent her to the hospital to be induced because if the pregnancy was not ended, she faced significant risk of death.
After multiple trips to the hospital she miscarried at home into a toilet. She has been charged with abuse of a corpse. (Associated Press)

“A Texas woman sued her home state for the right to obtain an abortion in a new kind of challenge to the bans that most Republican-controlled states have begun enforcing in the last year and a half since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
The Texas Supreme Court denied Katie Cox’s request on Monday.
But by then, her lawyers said, she had already traveled out of state for an abortion.”
(Associated Press)


“The state’s April Medicaid expenditure forecast missed the mark by roughly $984 million due to a combination of state budget reversions and unexpected growth of services for aging and disabled Hoosiers, leaving a state agency scrambling for a solution as lawmakers consider how much to cover from the state’s reserve funds.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

United States Rep. Frank J. Mrvan, D-Highland, vowed federal antitrust scrutiny of Nippon Steel’s proposed $14.9 billion acquisition of U.S. Steel, one of the pillars of the Region economy that helped drive the industrialization of Northwest Indiana more than a century ago.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

The Greater Lafayette Commerce announced Tuesday that the state of Indiana ceased all action on the development of a pipeline to transport water from Tippecanoe County to the Lebanon LEAP district until the Indiana Finance Authority completes its major water study.  (Journal & Courier) 

Members of the military won’t have to pay income tax in Indiana, starting next year, while the rate goes down for all other Hoosiers.  (Louisville Public Media)

“The Board of Public Works and Safety [in Gary] has awarded a $4.5 million contract to help improve internet speeds throughout the city. 
The contract was awarded to Gary Digital Equity, which will install fiber optic cable infrastructure that will help make internet speeds faster… Currently, many homes in Gary have internet speeds under 25 megabits per second, or Mbps. According to Broadband Now, 100 Mbps is considered an average internet speed for a home with 3-4 users. Data from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration show that across Gary’s 12 census tracts, the percentage of residential users not subscribed to a broadband service ranges from 26.2% to 50.5%…” The money comes from the American Rescue Plan, passed by democrats only in 2021. (NWI Times)

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