Washington, DC Update

Guns Control Reform Difficulty Among Anti-Terror Legislation

After an unprecedented 26 hour demonstration on the House floor, Democrats in the House continue to push for increased gun control. The provision within the counterterrorism package that is up for a vote in the House would allow the Justice Department to prevent a gun sale to a suspected terrorist if a court order is obtained within three days. Democrats in Congress hope to vote on two amendments to the package that would expand background checks to internet sales and gun shows along with a means at preventing people on terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns.

The Homeland Safety and Security Act, H.R. 5611 would also attempt to address “radical Islamic terror.” The bill calls for the potential withholding of passports to suspected terrorists and requires the FBI to do annual reviews on their screening database and lists. The Department of Homeland Security would also open a new office specifically geared to prevent terrorism and money would be allocated to local communities in order to counter radical Islamic campaigns.

Health Spending Bills
The health spending bills in the House and Senate are moving through the legislative process, despite several differences between the two. The House bill has been met with strong opposition from Democrats over the lack of funding for opioid abuse programs and Zika virus suppression. The House bill also includes provisions to defund a part of the ACA implementation. In contrast, the Senate’s version of the bill largely has bipartisan support.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt
On June 27, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled (5-3) that parts of a Texas law regarding abortion are unconstitutional. The 2013 law required abortion clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery and also required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The Court found that these requirements offered little to no health benefits for women.

The Court found that the Texas law placed an “undue burden” on women seeking legal abortions and was therefore unconstitutional.  The decision was a direct ruling to the law in Texas only, however it will have a nationwide impact as other states’ laws with similar provisions are more susceptible to being challenged as also being unconstitutional.

Crowdsourcing Investment
The House of Representatives voted 394-4 in favor of the Fix Crowdfunding Act on Tuesday, July 5, 2016. This legislation encourages investments in startups by raising the cap for crowdsourcing investment from $1 million to $5 million. This GOP-backed bill is expected to pass in the Senate and no veto threat has been issued by President Obama.

Congressional Appropriations

  • Senate Democrats blocked a McConnell cloture motion on the conference report on H.R. 2577, which has $1.1 billion in Zika funding and a Military Construction-VA compromise, over “poison-pill” insertions into the Zika funding which prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving Zika funding and provisions which defund a part of the Affordable Care Act.
  • The State-Foreign Operations bill, S. 3117, was approved by full committee on June 29.
  • Congress’ priority remains the marking up and passage of the Federal Budget Resolution H.Con.Res.125, and appropriations measures. The House Budget Committee approved the resolution. Below is where each of the 12 discretionary spending bills currently stand in the process:

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Congress in Session
Senate
Week of July 4:                     6, 7, 8
Week of July 11:                  11, 12, 13, 14, 15

House
Week of July 4:                  6, 7, 8
Week of July 11:                11, 12, 13, 14, 15

After the July 15 summer recess, both Houses will be back in session on September 6.

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