July 6, 2016

A Very Productive Start to 2016 II

  • The Senate is back to work, and has acted on a broad list of bipartisan bills. This is in addition to the basic functions of funding the government.
  • Democrats continue to delay vital resources for urgent health and security priorities – such as funding for Zika and veterans.
  • In 2016 alone, the Senate has considered 231 amendments, of which 205 passed.

The Republican Senate continues to be productive. In the first half of 2016, the Senate took action on some of the most pressing issues facing American health, security, and freedom. This comes on top of an already long list of accomplishments in 2015. So far this year, the Senate has voted on 231 amendments, and passed 205 of them.

On funding the government, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed all 12 bills out of committee for the second straight year. Last year was the first time all bills had been approved in committee since 2009. The 12 bills were approved on a combined vote of 345-15.

North Korea Sanctions (Feb. 10)

In response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, the Senate passed the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act. It imposes new sanctions and requires more aggressive implementation of existing sanctions against North Korea. The goal is to deprive this rogue regime of the resources it needs to develop weapons of mass destruction or to threaten the U.S. and our allies. Some parts of this bill are specifically directed at North Korea’s illicit financial activities.

Internet tax freedom (Feb. 11)

Adopted as part of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act prohibits any state or local government from imposing taxes on internet access or imposing discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce. This includes a ban on taxes on email, or higher sales tax rates on internet sales than the rate for in-person purchases.

opioid abuse (March 10)

The Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to help prevent opioid abuse and overdose deaths. The bill, which passed 94-1, seeks to improve treatment of substance abuse disorders in the criminal justice system; strengthen law enforcement’s ability to counter the trafficking of illegal drugs; expand prevention and treatment; and limit the availability of opioids through drug buyback and prescription drug programs.

trade secrets (April 4)

The Senate unanimously passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act to provide greater protection for trade secrets. These are confidential, commercially valuable pieces of information that provide a company with a competitive advantage. They include customer lists, methods of production, marketing strategies, pricing information, and chemical formulas. It has been estimated that the U.S. loses as much as 3 percent of our GDP every year due to trade-secret theft.

Reauthorized the Older Americans Act (April 7)

Congress renewed the Older Americans Act, bipartisan legislation that supports services that are important to the health and lasting independence of senior citizens. These include things like meals, transportation, and health promotion. For 50 years, the act has provided grants to states to help seniors live more comfortably at home or ensure high-quality care at a nursing home.

Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization (April 19)

H.R. 636 reauthorized the FAA through fiscal year 2017. The bill improves aviation safety and security, adopts technological innovations, and strengthens passenger rights. Specifically, the bill improves airport security operations; implements recommendations for improving air traffic control technologies known as “NextGen”; address cybersecurity concerns; and deals with federal and local roles for the use of drones.

comprehensive energy policy modernization (April 20)

The Senate passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 by a vote of 85 to 12. The bill updates U.S. energy policies to support affordable and reliable energy, generate economic growth, and enhance energy security. The bill modernizes the electric grid; develops hydropower, geothermal, and other resources; enhances cybersecurity; strengthens mineral security; and streamlines approval of LNG exports. It also reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Funding for Energy and Water Development (May 12)

By a strong bipartisan vote of 90-8, the Senate passed the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill. This was the earliest that the Senate had passed an appropriations bill in 40 years, showing that Republicans are serious about being responsible stewards of the taxpayers’ money. The bill provides funding for the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other activities. It also provides $12.9 billion for the nation’s nuclear security.

Funding for Zika Response and Military Construction/Veterans Affairs (May 19)

In response to the looming Zika crisis, the Senate passed this bipartisan legislation 89-8. This bill provides $1.1 billion for emergency Zika response, partially offset by $750 million in rescissions. The bill also provides a $2.9 billion increase over last year for services to our veterans. Unfortunately, on June 28 Senate Democrats rejected the conference agreement to fund these priorities.

Funding for Transportation/HUD (May 19)

By a vote of 89-8, the Senate passed legislation to fund the nation’s transportation infrastructure, housing for vulnerable populations, and economic development. The bill provides $56.5 billion for these activities, including $16.9 billion for the Department of Transportation and $39.2 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016 (May 23)

The Senate passed the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act to protect and support sexual assault survivors. The act codifies the rights of victims of sexual assault; authorizes funds for victim services and sex offender registries; and extends the statute of limitations for child survivors of sexual assault.

resolution of disapproval of labor FIDUCIARY rule (May 24)

Republicans passed legislation to repeal the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule. This burdensome regulation will significantly limit the availability of financial advice to pension and retirement plans. The rule will cost $31.5 billion over 10 years. It will be particularly harmful to low- and moderate-income workers seeking advice for their retirement planning. President Obama vetoed the resolution of disapproval. 

Toxic Substances Control Act (June 7)

The Senate approved bipartisan legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act by unanimous consent. The legislation, which President Obama signed into law, is the first major update of a federal environmental statute in two decades. TSCA authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate unreasonable risks to health and the environment from potentially dangerous chemicals in U.S. commerce.

Defense Authorization (June 14)

The Senate version of the defense authorization bill passed with a bipartisan majority vote of 85-13. This legislation authorizes national security spending and provides various authorities required to defend the nation. It is directed at sustaining the quality of life and viability of the country’s all-volunteer force, providing the equipment they need, modernizing the force, and reforming the Department of Defense to face 21st century threats. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill.

Puerto rico (June 29)

The Senate acted to prevent a historic default by the territory of Puerto Rico by imposing a strong, Republican-led control board to bring fiscal discipline to the island and by authorizing the island to restructure its debt. It did so without spending a dime of taxpayer money.

obamacare repeal

Republicans committed to repealing Obamacare and sent a bill that does that to the president’s desk this year. Though President Obama vetoed the bill, the preparation done in the process provides a blueprint for “repeal and replace” with a new president.

giving the people a voice on Supreme Court

The Republican Senate has been successfully guarding the American people’s opportunity to have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. The court is the final word on some of the most critical questions confronting our nation. The next justice could shift the Supreme Court in a direction that empowers the justices while undermining the rule of law. Before such a radical shift, the American people deserve to have their voices heard through the electoral process.