Sanctuary Cities

October 17, 2015 / By: Rachna Choudhry
 

This week, the Senate will continue considering a bill to restrict “sanctuary cities.” The issue became a flashpoint after the death of Kathryn Steinle, who was fatally shot on July 1 in San Francisco by a Mexican national with a criminal record who had been deported several times.

Earlier this year, the House passed the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act (HR 3009), which “would deny funding for states or local governments that fail to enforce immigration laws that protect Americans,” according to the House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

The Senate is working on S. 2146 from Senator David Vitter.

Tell Congress what you think:

S. 2146: Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act
Sponsor: Sen. David Vitter, [R, LA]

 “Would withhold certain federal funding from sanctuary states or cities that fail to comply with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued detainer requests for illegal aliens. The bill would redirect these funds to states and localities that follow the law,” according to the bill sponsor. (Bill text)


What is a Sanctuary City?

The term sanctuary city is given to cities that have policies designed to shelter immigrants who are in the United States illegally. These practices can be by law (de jure) or they can be by practice (de facto) Generally, these cities do not allow municipal funds or resources to be used to enforce federal immigration laws, usually by not allowing police or municipal employees to inquire about an individual's immigration status.
 
As the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained, “one of the characteristic elements of our broken immigration system is the significant challenges that the federal government and federal law enforcement officials have had in enforcing the law by working closely with local law enforcement officials. And this is something that the United States Congress had the opportunity to fix in the context of comprehensive immigration reform legislation. But this fix was blocked by Republicans in the House of Representatives.” 
 
When comprehensive immigration reform efforts failed in Congress last year, President Obama “acted on his own; and in acting on his own, the President actually scrapped the Secure Communities Program” in November 2014. This was the program that previously codified the relationship between the federal government and local law enforcement that actually caused a number of cities to declare themselves sanctuary cities.
 
The Secure Communities Program was then replaced by the Priority Enforcement Program, which focuses on convicted criminals and others who pose a danger to public safety. The Program enables the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to work with state and local law enforcement to take custody of individuals who pose a danger before those individuals are released into our communities. (Source: DHS)


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system. 

 

School Choice in the District of Columbia

October 17, 2015 / By: Rachna Choudhry

The highly debated school voucher program in Washington, DC will get a vote in the House this week.

The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), which provides scholarships to attend private schools—commonly called “vouchers”—for grades K-12 for low-income children in the District of Columbia, is up for reauthorization. It was first passed in 2004 and expanded in 2011 for five additional years. For school year 2014-15, individual scholarship awards are up to $12,572 for high school and up to $8,381 for elementary and middle school. 1,442 students used scholarships to attend private schools this year school. (Source)

The bill “reauthorizes the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides low-income students, many of whom attend persistently underperforming public schools, with the opportunity to receive a scholarship to attend a private school of their parent’s choice,” according to the bill sponsor, outgoing Speaker John Boehner. “HR 10 improves and reauthorizes the program through 2021.”  (Bill text)

There is only one program in America where the federal government allows parents to choose the best schools for their kids, it is right here in Washington, DC, and it is working… This program gets the kind of results parents dream of for their kids.  It is a model for how we can break the status quo that deprives too many students of a great education.  This program was established with bipartisan support, and I am proud that we have bipartisan support for its renewal.  – John Boehner

From our Hill Sources: Opponents of the program say that the program diverts $20 million per year from public to private schools. Additionally, a recent US Department of Education report on the DC program found that the majority of participating private schools have tuition costs that exceed the scholarship amount. 
 
Eight DC Council members sent a letter to the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), stating their concerns about diverting money away from public schools:

We have serious concerns about using government funds to send our students to private schools that do not have to adhere to the same standards and accountability as do public and public charter schools. For example, private religious schools, which 80 percent of students with vouchers attend, operate outside the non-discrimination provisions of the D.C. Human Rights Act.Morever, the voucher proposal is inequitable: if fully funded, the authorization would provide many more dollars per student for vouchers than is allocated per student in public schools and public charter schools. – Letter from eight DC Council Members

Tell Congress what you think:

H.R. 10: To reauthorize the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act —Bipartisan— 
Sponsor: Rep. John Boehner [R, OH-8]     

 


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system. 

 

Gavel Down: Closing Out the Week in Congress — 10.16.15

POPVOX This Week

Top Search on POPVOX: H.R. 3698

Most Active Issues on POPVOX:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement

from The Obama Administration

“The United States is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement with 11 other Asia-Pacific countries (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam). TPP is a comprehensive agreement that will open markets, set high-standard trade rules, and address 21st-century issues in the global economy.”

Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act

from Senator David Vitter [R, LA]

“S. 2146 is a bill to hold sanctuary jurisdictions accountable for defying Federal law, to increase penalties for individuals who illegally reenter the United States after being removed, and to provide liability protection for State and local law enforcement who cooperate with Federal law enforcement and for other purposes.”


#ViewFromTheHill
OCTOBER 8, 2015

Members of Congress made nice with stormtroopers and Darth Vader at Movie & TV Magic Day, hosted by the Creative Rights Caucus.
Check out POPVOX’s Capitol Hill eyes and ears for everyone

 


#HFC Joins Twitter

Twitter was a buzz this week with the House Freedom Caucus becoming a member. Check out all 21 congressional caucuses on Twitter.


#DemDebate

On Tuesday, Democrats held their first Presidential Debate. POPVOX live-tweeted the debate with bills related to candidates’ mentions. Here are five bills pending in Congress that relate to the topics that got a mention in the first Democratic Debate.


#LWCF & Efforts to #LiftTheBan on Crude Oil Exports

We’re hearing rumblings that the Land and Water Conservation Fund (which ended on October 1 without Congressional reauthorization) could be added to a bill to lift the ban on crude oil exports, when it comes up in the Senate. (But President Obama has indicated a possible veto on that bill.)


#BudgetTalks

Recess is the perfect time for staffers to get together and hammer out complex bargains… and this round of budget negotiations was no different. While Members were home on holiday, reports emerged about Majority Leader McConnell floating entitlement changes and House Democrats ruling that out. We expect to hear a lot more in the coming week.


#DebtCeiling

November 3rd is now the big day, when the U.S. reaches its borrowing limit. (Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew delivered the bad news to Speaker John Boehner in a new letter this week.)
Most of Washington expects John Boehner to work a deal with Democrats to raise the debt limit. Senate Majority Leader McConnell sent hints that he wants other concessions to raise the limit (but is not expected to risk breaching the debt limit). The House Freedom Caucus has threatened to call a vote to remove John Boehner immediately if he goes through with the bipartisan approach.
Could this happen?


No #SocialSecurity Increase Next Year

While no inflation and low gas prices can be seen as a good thing, for seniors it means that for only the third time in 40 years, social security benefits will not have a cost of living increase next year. (The amount is tied to the consumer price index, which did not increase this year, in large part due to low gas prices.)


#RepealObamaCare?

Before the House left town for recess, The House Budget Committee approved a reconciliation package to repeal key elements of the Affordable Care Act: the “cadillac tax”, the individual and employer mandates, medical device tax and employer auto-enrollment. It would also defund Planned Parenthood for a year. This bill will soon head for a vote on the House Floor and then off to the Senate, where it can be considered without a 60-vote cloture requirement (assuming the package passes muster with the Senate “Byrd Rule.”) The President is then expected to veto, setting up a veto override vote in Congress.


#TPP – not until Lame Duck?

It seems Congress may not take any action on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement until after the 2016 Election.  President Obama has said he wants action on the trade agreement before the year is over.


Weekend Reads

Will the Default Prevention Act make debt ceiling standoffs less dangerous?  – Philip A. Wallach, Brookings

TPP – Big Business for Lobbyists – LobbyBlog

The Budget Reconciliation Process: The Senate “Byrd Rule” – Congressional Research Service


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.


 

Five Bills on Topics Mentioned in the #DemDebate

You don't have to wait until the Presidential election to weigh in on the issues that are getting discussed on the campaign trail!  Many of the issues that candidates discuss are already bills pending in Congress.

POPVOX has a long history of "Live-tweeting" the debates in real-time, highlighting bills that get a mention. In addition, for the rest of the 2016 cycle, we will follow up with a list of top bills on topics that get a mention. 

Please note — for the candidates that are not currently serving in Congress, their positions may not completely correspond with the pending bills, so any mention or connection we make does not imply their explicit endorsement. 

And, as always, POPVOX does not endorse or oppose bills. We highlight a range of bills and proposals to help YOU share your opinion (in support or opposition) with your Member of Congress!


Five Bills on Topics that Got a Mention at the #DemDebate:

Paid Leave

S. 786: FAMILY & MEDICAL INSURANCE LEAVE ACT
Sponsor: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D, NY)

S. 786 would establish the Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave within the Social Security Administration and provide paid family and medical leave to certain individuals.

Gun Control

H.R. 3411: THE FIX GUN CHECKS ACT  
Sponsor: Rep. Jackie Speier (D, CA)

According to the sponsor, H.R. 3411 would ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale.

Financial Reform

S. 1709: THE 21ST CENTURY GLASS-STEAGALL ACT 
Sponsor: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D, MA)

According to its sponsor, S. 1709 would reduce risks to the financial system by limiting banks’ ability to engage in certain risky activities and limiting conflicts of interest by reinstating certain Glass-Steagall Act protections that were repealed by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

International Trade

THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (TPP) TRADE AGREEMENT  

The TPP was one of the first discussion topics of the debate. Agreement on the 12-nation deal, the largest regional trade accord in history, was announced earlier in October. Final language will be available publicly (for sixty days) after an initial 30-day private Congressional review period.

Minimum Wage

S. 1832: PAY WORKERS A LIVING WAGE ACT
Sponsor: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I, VT)

S. 1832 would increase the federal minimum wage for employees to $9.00 an hour in 2016, gradually rising to $15.00 per hour after four years.

 

The Week Ahead: Oct. 12 – Oct. 17

It’s Columbus Day recess: House Republicans contemplate their future, President Obama pitches TPP; the Senate prepares to vote on Sanctuary Cities bill & CISA — and bipartisanship is briefly spotted on Capitol Hill last week with a successful discharge petition on the Export-Import bank. Is this the future of governing or a temporary fever? And POPVOX spotlights Mental Health bills in Congress.


Columbus Day Recess or "Indigenous People's Day"

Member of Congress are back home in their districts for Columbus Day recess, to return October 19. Some jurisdictions now celebrate “Indigenous People's Day” on the second Monday in October, including Albuquerque; Portland, Oregon; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Olympia, Washington.

POPVOX highlights bills related to Native American issues


Race for Speaker of the House Continues

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy removed himself from consideration in the Speaker’s race, announced he would stay on as Majority Leader, and set off a scramble for a new frontrunner. 

Paul Ryan appears to be the default choice of many in the caucus, along with Daniel Webster [FL] and Jason Chaffetz [UT], the other announced candidates for the seat — though Ryan insists he does not want the job.

Reactions to the “chaos” include some pundits declaring that it is healthy for the party or even could open up an opportunity for a bipartisan “Coalition Speakership,” — a notion even floated by Illinois Republican Rep. Robert Dold.

Update on the POPVOX Speaker Poll

As of Sunday, October 11, over 700 people have weighed in on the POPVOX poll asking who should be the next Speaker. Rep. Paul Ryan was added to the poll on Friday, Oct. 9, while other non-announced candidateswere removed from the list.

 

 


Trans-Pacific Partnership begins its long journey

President Obama began laying out his case for the agreement in his weekly address. The agreement has a long journey to passage, including: 30 days for private Congressional review, 60 days for public review, up to 105 days for economic review by the U.S. International Trade Commission. 

Tell Congress what you think about the TPP:

THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (TPP) TRADE AGREEMENT

Read details of the agreement from the U.S. Trade Representative.


Senate to consider bill to limit "Sanctuary Cities"

"Sanctuary cities" are jurisdictions that "have policies designed to not prosecute unauthorized immigrants." (Wikipedia). As reported by the LA Times, the issue of Sanctuary Cities received nationwide attention after the death of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco, who was killed by a man with a criminal record who had been deported several times.

When the Senate returns after the recess, it will take up a bill from Senator David Vitter [LA] to increase penalties on these cities.

Tell Congress what you think:

S. 2146 STOP SANCTUARY POLICIES AND PROTECT AMERICANS ACT

"A bill to hold sanctuary jurisdictions accountable for defying Federal law, to increase penalties for individuals who illegally reenter the United States after being removed, and to provide liability protection for State and local law enforcement who cooperate with Federal law enforcement…"

Cybersecurity Bill on Tap after Recess

In the wake of several high-profile cyber breaches, the Senate may consider its cybersecurity bill after recess. The House passed its own bill (H.R. 1731) in April.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, recently said that passing a bill "is critical to improving the nation’s digital defenses."

As Politico reports, the bill faces considerable hurdles, opponents, and 22 amendments that will be considered as a part of the Senate process. "The Senate bill has been heavily contested by privacy groups that say the measure could expose too much personally identifiable data to the government, as well as by legislators concerned about government surveillance." – FCW

Tell Congress what you think:

S. 754 CYBERSECURITY INFORMATION SHARING ACT OF 2015

H.R. 1731 NATIONAL CYBERSECURITY PROTECTION ADVANCEMENT ACT OF 2015

 


Ex-Im Discharge Petition: One-time anomaly or a new way to cut through gridlock?

Congress watchers are still processing what it means that 41 Republicans joined with Democrats to push through the first successful discharge petition since 2002.

"One reason that discharge petitions are rarely approved is that they generally require bipartisanship. After all, the majority party can generally move things through the process as it sees fit. It's the minority party that needs to force the issue." – Philip Bump, The Washington Post

With 218 signatures, the petition forces the bill out of committee and onto a Floor Vote when Congress returns.

"The broader significance of the move is that dozens of House Republicans dared to try it at all," writes The Atlantic. "
 

Source: The Washington Post

Tell Congress what you think:

H.R. 3611 EXPORT-IMPORT BANK REFORM AND REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2015

 


VIEW FROM THE HILL:

 

View from: First St. NE, October 5, 2015.

(Photo/Whitney Wyszynski)


Mental Health Awareness Week

Since 1990, the first week in October has been designated "Mental Health Awareness Week" to educate the public and raise awareness about the challenges facing those with mental illnesses such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Over forty bills have been introduced in the 114th Congress on the topic.

In the wake of the Oregon school shooting, several Members of Congress have called for action on mental health issues to help stem the violence. "Momentum is building for legislation to reform the U.S. mental health system, which has stalled for several years over disagreements concerning patient privacy and involuntary mental health treatment policies." – Morning Consult

Tell Congress what you think:

H.R. 2646 THE HELPING FAMILIES IN MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS ACT

"To make available needed psychiatric, psychological, and supportive services for individuals with mental illness and families in mental health crisis, and for other purposes."


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system. 

 

Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples

The United States celebrates Columbus Day on the second Monday in October. In recent years, some cities have redesignated the holiday  "Indigenous People's Day." These cities include: Albuquerque; Portland, Oregon; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Olympia, Washington.

This week, POPVOX highlights some bills introduced in Congress related to Native American  health, education, language, and culture.


Bills are listed in order of number of co-sponsors. Click through to find out more and tell Congress what you think.

Native American Indian Education Act

Sponsor: Rep. Scott Tipton Cosponsors: 41

To help fulfill the Federal mandate to provide higher educational opportunities for Native American Indians.

 

Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Michael Honda Cosponsors: 34

To amend the Trademark Act of 1946 regarding the disparagement of Native American persons or peoples through marks that use the term "redskin", and for other purposes.

 

Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Stevan Pearce Cosponsors: 17

To reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996, and for other purposes.

 

Native American Languages Reauthorization Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Ben Luján Cosponsors: 10

To amend the Native American Programs Act of 1974 to provide flexibility and reauthorization to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native American languages.

 

NATIVE Act

Sponsor: Sen. Brian Schatz Cosponsors: 10

A bill to enhance and integrate Native American tourism, empower Native American communities, increase coordination and collaboration between Federal tourism assets, and expand heritage and cultural tourism opportunities in the United States.

 

Native American Languages Reauthorization Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Tom Udall Cosponsors: 6

A bill to amend the Native American Programs Act of 1974 to provide flexibility and reauthorization to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native American languages.

 

NATIVE Act

Sponsor: Rep. Markwayne Mullin Cosponsors: 5

To enhance and integrate Native American tourism, empower Native American communities, increase coordination and collaboration between Federal tourism assets, and expand heritage and cultural tourism opportunities in the United States.

 

Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act

Sponsor: Sen. Jon Tester Cosponsors: 4

A bill to promote the academic achievement of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children with the establishment of a Native American language grant program.

 

Native American Indian Education Act

Sponsor: Sen. Cory Gardner Cosponsors: 4

A bill to help provide relief to State education budgets during a recovering economy, to help fulfill the Federal mandate to provide higher educational opportunities for Native American Indians, and for other purposes.

 

Building upon Unique Indian Learning and Development Act

Sponsor: Rep. Ben Luján Cosponsors: 2

A bill to strengthen Indian education, and for other purposes.

 

Native Hawaiian Education Reauthorization Act

Sponsor: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Cosponsors: 2

Amends the Native Hawaiian Education Act to revise the duties and composition of the Native Hawaiian Education Council. Includes charter schools as eligible recipients of Native Hawaiian Education program grants, in addition to Native Hawaiian education organizations, Native Hawaiian community-based organizations, and public and private nonprofit entities.

 

“A bill to exempt the Indian Health Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and certain other programs for Indians from sequestration”

Sponsor: Sen. Jon Tester Cosponsors: 1

This bill amends the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 to exempt Indian health facilities and services, programs administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and programs under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 from sequestration. Sequestration is a process of automatic, usually across-the-board spending reductions under which budgetary resources are permanently cancelled to enforce specific budget policy goals.

 

Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act

Sponsor: Sen. Jeff Merkley Cosponsors: 1

A bill to increase awareness of the Federal student loan income-based repayment plan, and for other purposes.

 

Building upon Unique Indian Learning and Development Act

Sponsor: Sen. Tom Udall Cosponsors: 1

A bill to strengthen Indian education, and for other purposes.

 

Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. John Barrasso Cosponsors: 0

A bill to reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996, and for other purposes.


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system. 

Mental Health Bills in Congress

Since 1990, the first week in October has been designated "Mental Health Awareness Week" to educate the public and raise awareness about the challenges facing those with mental illnesses such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Over forty bills have been introduced in the 114th Congress on the topic.

Source: NAMI

In the wake of the Oregon school shooting, several Members of Congress have called for action on mental health issues to help stem the violence. "Momentum is building for legislation to reform the U.S. mental health system, which has stalled for several years over disagreements concerning patient privacy and involuntary mental health treatment policies." – Morning Consult

(See: "Mass Shootings and a Mental-Health Disgrace" — opinion article in the Wall Street Journal by Rep. Tim Murphy [R, PA].

 


Here are the bills pending in Congress about mental health treatment, care, and caregiving:

Bills are listed by number of cosponsors. Click on the links below to weigh in and tell Congress what you think about the proposals.

 

Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Tim Murphy Cosponsors: 141

To make available needed psychiatric, psychological, and supportive services for individuals with mental illness and families in mental health crisis, and for other purposes.

 

Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Doug Collins Cosponsors: 61

To increase public safety by facilitating collaboration among the criminal justice, juvenile justice, veterans treatment services, mental health treatment, and substance abuse systems.

 

Clay Hunt SAV Act

Sponsor: Sen. John McCain Cosponsors: 52

A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide for the conduct of annual evaluations of mental health care and suicide prevention programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to require a pilot program on loan repayment for psychiatrists who agree to serve in the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

 

Mental Health in Schools Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Grace Napolitano Cosponsors: 50

To amend the Public Health Service Act to revise and extend projects relating to children and violence to provide access to school-based comprehensive mental health programs.

 

Enhancing Veterans' Access to Treatment Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Tim Murphy Cosponsors: 50

To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to furnish non-formulary drugs and medicines to veterans diagnosed with mental health disorders, and for other purposes.

 

Expressing the sense of Congress that conversion therapy, including efforts by mental health practitioners to change an individual's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, is dangerous and harmful and should be prohibited from being practiced on minors.

Sponsor: Rep. Jackie Speier Cosponsors: 40

Expressing the sense of Congress that conversion therapy, including efforts by mental health practitioners to change an individual's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, is dangerous and harmful and should be prohibited from being practiced on minors.

 

Clay Hunt SAV Act

Sponsor: Rep. Timothy Walz Cosponsors: 39

To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide for the conduct of annual evaluations of mental health care and suicide prevention programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to require a pilot program on loan repayment for psychiatrists who agree to serve in the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

 

Ruth Moore Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Chellie Pingree Cosponsors: 31

To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the disability compensation evaluation procedure of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for veterans with mental health conditions related to military sexual trauma, and for other purposes.

 

Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Alan Franken Cosponsors: 31

A bill to increase public safety by facilitating collaboration among the criminal justice, juvenile justice, veterans treatment services, mental health treatment, and substance abuse systems.

 

Expressing support for designation of the first full week of May as \National Mental Health No Stigma Week\"."

Sponsor: Rep. Scott Peters Cosponsors: 30

Expressing support for designation of the first full week of May as \National Mental Health No Stigma Week\"."

 

Safer Communities Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Mike Thompson Cosponsors: 30

To protect individuals by strengthening the Nation's mental health infrastructure, improving the understanding of violence, strengthening firearm prohibitions and protections for at-risk individuals, and improving and expanding the reporting of mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

 

Expressing support for the designation of May 2015 as \Mental Health Month\"."

Sponsor: Rep. Tim Murphy Cosponsors: 27

Expressing support for the designation of May 2015 as \Mental Health Month\"."

 

Stop Harming Our Kids Resolution of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Cory Booker Cosponsors: 27

A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that conversion therapy, including efforts by mental health practitioners to change the sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression of an individual, is dangerous and harmful and should be prohibited from being practiced on minors.

 

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that gun violence is a public health issue and Congress should enact by the end of the 114th Congress comprehensive Federal legislation that protects the Second Amendment and keeps communities safe and healthy, including expanding enforceable background checks for all commercial gun sales, improving the mental health system in the United States, and making gun trafficking and straw purchasing a Federal crime.

Sponsor: Rep. Alan Lowenthal Cosponsors: 23

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that gun violence is a public health issue and Congress should enact by the end of the 114th Congress comprehensive Federal legislation that protects the Second Amendment and keeps communities safe and healthy, including expanding enforceable background checks for all commercial gun sales, improving the mental health system in the United States, and making gun trafficking and straw purchasing a Federal crime.

 

Mental Health First Aid Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Lynn Jenkins Cosponsors: 23

To amend section 520J of the Public Health Service Act to authorize grants for mental health first aid training programs.

 

Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Lamar Alexander Cosponsors: 22

A bill to reauthorize and improve programs related to mental health and substance use disorders.

 

Veterans' Mental Health Care Access Act

Sponsor: Rep. Tom MacArthur Cosponsors: 20

To amend the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 to expand the eligibility of veterans to receive mental health care at non-Department of Veterans Affairs facilities.

 

Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Christopher Gibson Cosponsors: 20

To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for the coverage of marriage and family therapist services and mental health counselor services under part B of the Medicare program, and for other purposes.

 

Mental Health First Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Kelly Ayotte Cosponsors: 17

A bill to amend section 520J of the Public Service Health Act to authorize grants for mental health first aid training programs.

 

Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act

Sponsor: Rep. Julia Brownley Cosponsors: 17

To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to identify mental health care and suicide prevention programs and metrics that are effective in treating women veterans as part of the evaluation of such programs by the Secretary.

 

Student Support Act

Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee Cosponsors: 14

To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to direct the Secretary of Education to make grants to States for assistance in hiring additional school-based mental health and student service providers.

 

Ruth Moore Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Jon Tester Cosponsors: 13

A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the disability compensation evaluation procedure of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for veterans with mental health conditions related to military sexual trauma, and for other purposes.

 

End Purchase of Firearms by Dangerous Individuals Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. David Cicilline Cosponsors: 13

To incentivize State reporting systems that allow mental health professionals to submit information on certain individuals deemed dangerous for purposes of prohibiting firearm possession by such individuals, and for other purposes.

 

Mental Health Awareness Semipostal Stamp Act

Sponsor: Rep. CarloSen. Curbelo Cosponsors: 12

To provide for the issuance of a Mental Health Awareness Semipostal Stamp.

 

Mental Health in Schools Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Alan Franken Cosponsors: 11

A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to revise and extend projects relating to children and violence to provide access to school-based comprehensive mental health programs.

 

Mental Health Reform Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Bill Cassidy Cosponsors: 10

A bill to make available needed psychiatric, psychological, and supportive services for individuals with mental illness and families in mental health crisis, and for other purposes.

 

Classified Veterans Access to Care Act

Sponsor: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema Cosponsors: 8

To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the mental health treatment provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to veterans who served in classified missions.

 

Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Glenn Thompson Cosponsors: 8

To amend title 10, United States Code, to provide an individual with a mental health screening before the individual enlists in the Armed Forces or is commissioned as an officer in the Armed Forces, and for other purposes.

 

Prioritizing Veterans Access to Mental Health Care Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Joni Ernst Cosponsors: 7

A bill to expand eligibility for health care under the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 to include certain veterans seeking mental health care, and for other purposes.

 

Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. John Barrasso Cosponsors: 7

A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for the coverage of marriage and family therapist services and mental health counselor services under part B of the Medicare program, and for other purposes.

 

To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to improve access to mental health services under the Medicare program.

Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee Cosponsors: 7

To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to improve access to mental health services under the Medicare program.

 

To strengthen our mental health system and improve public safety.

Sponsor: Rep. Martha McSally Cosponsors: 7

To strengthen our mental health system and improve public safety.

 

A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for a review of the characterization or terms of discharge from the Armed Forces of individuals with mental health disorders alleged to affect terms of discharge.

Sponsor: Sen. Gary Peters Cosponsors: 3

A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for a review of the characterization or terms of discharge from the Armed Forces of individuals with mental health disorders alleged to affect terms of discharge.

 

Expanding Opportunities for Recovery Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Bill Foster Cosponsors: 3

To authorize the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, acting through the Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, to award grants to States to expand access to clinically appropriate services for opioid abuse, dependence, or addiction.

 

Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Robert Portman Cosponsors: 2

A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide an individual with a mental health screening before the individual enlists in the Armed Forces or is commissioned as an officer in the Armed Forces, and for other purposes.

 

Recognizing the important contribution and added value of mental health and psychosocial support services and the importance of building such capacity in humanitarian and development contexts.

Sponsor: Rep. Betty McCollum Cosponsors: 2

Recognizing the important contribution and added value of mental health and psychosocial support services and the importance of building such capacity in humanitarian and development contexts.

 

Examining America's Mental Health Services Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. David McKinley Cosponsors: 1

To provide for a study by the Institute of Medicine on gaps in mental health services and how these gaps can increase the risk of violent acts.

 

Military and Veterans Mental Health Provider Assessment Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Joe Donnelly Cosponsors: 1

A bill to improve the provision of mental health care to members of the Armed Forces and veterans from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

 

Community Provider Readiness Recognition Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Joe Donnelly Cosponsors: 1

A bill to designate certain non-Department mental health care providers who treat members of the Armed Forces and veterans as providers who have particular knowledge relating to the provision of mental health care to members of the Armed Forces and veterans, and for other purposes.

 

Youth Mental Health Research Act

Sponsor: Rep. Chaka Fattah Cosponsors: 1

To provide for a Youth Mental Health Research Network.

 

A bill to amend part B of title IV of the Social Security Act to ensure that mental health screenings and assessments are provided to children and youth upon entry into foster care.

Sponsor: Sen. Roy Blunt Cosponsors: 1

A bill to amend part B of title IV of the Social Security Act to ensure that mental health screenings and assessments are provided to children and youth upon entry into foster care.

 

A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to improve access to mental health services under the Medicare program.

Sponsor: Sen. Debbie Stabenow Cosponsors: 1

A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to improve access to mental health services under the Medicare program.

 

A resolution recognizing the importance of mental health globally and highlighting the contributions and value of mental health, psychosocial support, and human capacity, particularly in development contexts and humanitarian settings.

Sponsor: Sen. Christopher Murphy Cosponsors: 1

A resolution recognizing the importance of mental health globally and highlighting the contributions and value of mental health, psychosocial support, and human capacity, particularly in development contexts and humanitarian settings.

 

Safer Communities Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Richard Blumenthal Cosponsors: 0

A bill to protect individuals by strengthening the Nation's mental health infrastructure, improving the understanding of violence, strengthening firearm prohibitions and protections for at-risk individuals, and improving and expanding the reporting of mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

 

Mental Health and Safe Communities Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. John Cornyn Cosponsors: 0

A bill to strengthen our mental health system and improve public safety.


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.

Discharge Petition

Bill status: stuck in committee

If you have paid attention to the “bill status” tab on POPVOX bills pages, you know that many have the same not-very-encouraging status:

This bill or resolution was assigned to a congressional committee on [x date] which will consider it before possibly sending it on to the House or Senate as a whole. The majority of bills never make it past this point.

In the House, most rank-and-file Members of Congress have very little to say about whether a bill moves past this point. They can wait for the committee to take it up or hope that it catches the attention of House Leadership (which is rare for a bill introduced by a member of the minority party.)

Busting out of Committee

There actually IS one way that a bill can be brought for a vote even if it does not get reported out of committee and is not selected by Leadership: a discharge petition.

If at least half of the Members of the House (218) sign onto the petition to discharge a bill, it is brought to the Floor for a vote.

Discharge petition successful on Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization

For the first time since 2002, a discharge petition has reached 218 signatures and the House will on reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank.

H.R. 450: Providing for the consideration of the bill (H.R. 597) to reauthorize the export-import bank of the United States
Sponsor: Rep. Stephen Fincher (R, TN)

H.R. 597:The Reform Exports and Expand the American Economy Act
Sponsor: Rep. Stephen Fincher (R, TN)

H.R. 3611:Export-Import Bank Reform and Reauthoriztion Act
Sponsor: Rep. Stephen Fincher (R, TN)

More from the Wall Street Journal.

 

 

 

Closing Out the Week in Congress — 10.09.15

House GOP Leadership Scramble

On Thursday, Speaker heir apparent, Kevin McCarthy, announced that he would remove himself from consideration and remain as House Majority Leader. Crying in the Cloakroom turned to chaos and speculation, and the week finishes up with a concerted effort to draft Wisconsin Representative (Ways and Means Chairman and former Vice Presidential Candidate) Paul Ryan.

When asked who could unite the GOP Caucus, Rep. Trey Gowdy (whose name has also been floated) named Paul Ryan: “Either him or the fellow who just spoke to us,” he said, “but he went back to Italy.” (referring to Pope Francis, who recently addressed a joint meeting of Congress.)

Utah representative Jason Chaffetz and Florida representative Daniel Webster are the only members who have announced they are seeking the position.  Webster received the endorsement of House conservatives before McCarthy announced his withdrawal and garnered twelve votes in the Speaker's election in January 2015. Chaffetz has said he would support Paul Ryan if Ryan enters the race.

 

 

   WHO SHOULD BE THE NEXT SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE?   


 

In Case You Missed It

A lot happened this week that had nothing to do with the race for House Speaker — here's a taste:


POPVOX This Week

Top Search on POPVOX: "firearms"

Most Active Bill on POPVOX:

The Mental Health Reform Act of 2015

from Senator Bill Cassidy [R, LA]

"A bill to make available needed psychiatric, psychological, and supportive services for individuals with mental illness and families in mental health crisis, and for other purposes.


#ViewFromTheHill
OCTOBER 5, 2015

First Street NE — Visitors gather outside Supreme Court as new term begins today, October 5, 2015. (Photo/Whitney Wyszynski)
SEE MORE


Weekend Reads

Could the modern Senate manage an open-amendment process? – R Street

Technically Speaking: Making Sense of Discharge Petitions, Cloture and Filibusters – For Effective Gov

How much does the United States Congress spend on technology and digital media? – Congressional Data Coalition


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.

The Week Ahead: Oct. 5 – Oct. 10

Congressional drama crescendos this week with a closed-door House GOP Leadership election. A discharge petition may force a vote on the Export-Import Bank and the debt ceiling fight is closer than expected — and while a government shutdown was avoided, several key programs were not renewed.


Washington Responds to the Tragedy in Oregon

 

 

 

In the wake of another tragic school shooting, we have seen an increase in searches on POPVOX for bills related to gun control and Second Amendment issues.

 

Congress may soon consider two mental health bills that would "make available needed psychiatric, psychological, and supportive services for individuals with mental illness and families in mental health crisis."

Possible markup in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee:

S. 1945: The Mental Health Reform Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Bill Cassidy [R, LA]

Possible House Floor consideration:

H.R. 2646: Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act

Sponsor: Rep. Tim Murphy [R, PA-18]


GOP House Leadership Election Drama

On Thursday, House Republicans are scheduled to gather for a closed-door leadership election to choose a new Majority Leader, Whip, and other positions, as well as a GOP nominee for Speaker, chosen by secret ballot.

The actual election for Speaker, however, will occur after John Boehner’s retirement, in a public voice vote on the House Floor, with all Members of the House getting a vote.

  • There are currently three announced Republicans seeking the Speaker’s gavel: Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy; Florida Rep, Daniel Webster; and Utah Rep Jason Chaffetz (who just announced on Sunday.)
  • Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has announced that she will also seek the position of Speaker, with most if not all of the 188 Democratic votes expected to go her way.
  • Speaker Boehner won re-election on January 6, with 216 of the 408 votes cast. (Rep Daniel Webster received 12 votes)
  • The Speaker does not have to be a Member of Congress — or even an elected official.
  • No vote for speaker has gone to a second ballot since 1923.

Update on the POPVOX Speaker Poll

As of Sunday, October 4, over 200 people have weighed in on the POPVOX poll asking who should be the next Speaker.

Here are the results so far:

We will keep the poll open until the election, and will update results weekly.


Debt Ceiling fight sooner than expected

November 5 is the next Congressional deadline: According to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, if the federal borrowing limit is not lifted by then, the U.S. will not be able to pay its bills. Raising the debt ceiling has been a point of contention for House conservatives. The race to reach an agreement will either be one of the last deals cut under Speaker Boehner or one of the first battles awaiting a new Speaker.

H.R. 692: Default Prevention Act

Sponsor: Rep. Paul Ryan [R, WI]

The bill seeks to reassure international markets and would allow the Treasury to "continue to borrow to pay the principal and interest on certain obligations" if the debt limit is reached.

Bipartisan Budget Negotiations between, Obama, McConnell, and Boehner

The debt ceiling issue *could* be rolled into a larger budget deal if reports of a "last stab" effort by President Obama, Speaker Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader McConnell come to fruition. Obama has warned that he “won’t sign another short-term spending bill” when the current Continuing Resolution expires on December 11, 2015, creating even more incentive for a budget deal to be cut now before Boehner departs.

Shutdown Avoided but Key Programs Lapse

While Congress passed a funding bill before the October 1 deadline, several other key programs expired at midnight.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF): The 50-year old fund took revenues from offshore oil and gas development and directed them to state parks, recreation, and conservation programs. The program could be included in a future transportation bill, budget bill, or even the bill to lift the ban on oil exports (H.R. 702).

A Proposal for Full and Dedicated Funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund

 

The World Trade Center Health Program: The program originally established as the James Zadroga Act providing services to over 70,000 first responders, expired on October 1, 2015. Sponsors are working to reauthorize the program:

H.R. 1786: James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act

 

Sponsor: Rep. Carolyn Maloney [D, NY]

S. 928: James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act

Sponsor: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [D, NY]


Discharge Petition Gains Steam for Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization

A rarely used procedural move can bring a bill up for a vote on the House Floor against the wishes of the Speaker if 218 signatures can be secured on a "Discharge Petition." The petition "discharges" the bill from committee. Reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank may take this route to the House Floor, as Sponsor Rep. Stephen Fincher [R-TN] pushes forward with the petition. Top Republicans and Democrats have indicated support for the procedural move.

H.R. 3611: To reauthorize and reform the Export-Import Bank

Sponsor: Rep. Stephen Fincher [R, TN]


Lifting the Ban on Oil Exports?

The ban on U.S. crude oil exports dates back to the Saudi oil embargo of the 1970s.

This week, the House will vote on a bill to remove those restrictions:

H.R. 702: To adopt to changing Crude Oil Market Conditions

Sponsor: Rep. Joe Barton [R, TX]

A similar bill recently passed in the Senate Banking Committee:

S. 1372: American Crude Oil Export Equality Act

Sponsor: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp [D, ND]


Fireworks Ahead on the Defense Authroization (NDAA) bill

The House and Senate have reached a deal on a $612-billion Defense Authorization bill, combining versions that passed each chamber into one. The White House, however, has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches the President's desk.

 

H.R. 1735: The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Sponsor: Rep. Mac Thornberry [R, TX]

Up for a Vote This Week:

H.R. 538: Native American Energy Act

Sponsor: Rep. Don Young [R, AK]

H.R. 1553: Small Bank Exam Cycle Reform Act

Sponsor: Rep. Scott Tipton [R, CO]

H.R. 1525: Disclosure Modernization and Simplification

Sponsor: Rep. Scott Garrett [R, NJ]

S. 896: Albuquerque Indian School Land Transfer Act

Sponsor: Sen Tom Udall [D, NM]

H.R. 1839: RAISE Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Patrick McHenry [R, NC]

H.R. 2091: Child Support Assistance Act of 2015

Sponsor:Bruce Poliquin [R, ME]

H.R. 2168: West Coast Dungeness Crab Management Act

Sponsor: Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler [R, WA]

S. 1300: Adoptive Family Relief Act

Sponsor: Sen. Diane Feinstein [D, CA]

H.R. 3032: Securities and Exchange Commission Reporting Modernization Act

Sponsor: Rep. Krysten Sinema [D, AZ]

H.R. 3012: Airport Access Control Security Improvement Act

Sponsor: Rep. John Katko [R, NY]

H.R. 3192: Homebuyers Assistance Act

Sponsor: Rep. French Hill [R, AR]

H.R. 3510: Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Strategy Act

Sponsor: Rep. Cedric Richmond [D, LA]

S. 2078: United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Reauthorization Act

Sponsor: Sen. Bob Corker [R, TN]


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system. —