In this installment of Civics 101, we’re looking at upcoming federal legislation. But first, a quick Q&A.
How do laws get made?
Bills are introduced in the House or the Senate by a sponsoring Representative or Senator. They are then sent to a committee for study. If the committee releases the bill, a date is set to debate it, amend it, and vote on it. If it passes by a simple majority (218/435 in the House, 51/100 in the Senate) it’s sent to the other chamber, where it goes through the same process.
If the bill passes both chambers, House and Senate committee members negotiate the final language. The bill is then sent to the president, who has 10 days sign the it into law or veto it. If two-thirds of both the House and the Senate vote to override the president’s veto, the bill becomes law.
That’s the simple version of the story anyway. For more details, check out Vote Smart’s informative website.
How long does all this take? How excited/worried should I be about pending legislation?
It’s a pretty involved process, with lots of time for the checks and balances of our democratic system to work. Remember, that while about 5000 bills will be considered this year, only about 4% become law. The bills being brought forth now have until Jan 2019 to become law or they die.
What legislation might interest me as a CCC member? What can I do about it?
We’re so glad you asked! We’ve spent some time compiling that information just for you. Here it is, listed by category, below. The best thing you can do is educate yourself and make your voice known. If you click the links, you will find more information about the specific bill and how to track it.
S 65 Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act of 2017: The president and vice president are currently exempt from any financial conflict of interest rules. And President Trump, with his global business and real estate empire, has created an unprecedented number of White House conflicts of interest. HR 371 does the same thing. Sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren in committee.
HR 670 High Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act: To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to reform the H-1B visa program, and for other purposes. Sponsored by Rep Zoe Lofgren (D) in committee
S 354 RAISE Act to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the Diversity Visa Program, to limit the President’s discretion in setting the number of refugees admitted annually to the United States, to reduce the number of family-sponsored immigrants, to create a new nonimmigrant classification for the parents of adult United States citizens, and for other purposes. Sponsored by Senator Tom Cotton sent to committee.
S 54 Protect American Families Act: would prevent the federal government from creating any “immigration-related registry programs that classify people based on religion, race, age, gender, ethnicity, national origin, or nationality.” Sponsor Sen Cory Booker in committee
HR 170 Protect and Grow American Jobs Act: To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to modify the definition of “exempt H-1B nonimmigrant”. Sponsored by Rep Darrell Issa in committee
HR 352 State Health Flexibility Act: To amend the Social Security Act to replace the Medicaid program and the Children’s Health Insurance program with a block grant to the States, and for other purposes. Sponsored by Rep Todd Rokita, in committee.
HR 586 Sanctity of Human Life Act: To provide that all human life begins at fertilization Sponsored by Rep Jody Hice in committee
HR 175 ObamaCare Repeal Act Sponsored Rep Steve King in committee
HR 277 American Healthcare Reform Act of 2017: To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related reconciliation provisions, to promote patient-centered health care, to provide for the creation of a safe harbor for defendants in medical malpractice actions who demonstrate adherence to clinical practice guidelines, and for other purposes. Sponsored by Rep Phil Roe committee
H.R. 7: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017: Would make permanent policies enacted for more than thirty years on a case-by-case basis that prohibit federal funding of abortion including health insurance subsidized by the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Sponsor Rep Chris Smith in committee. S184 does the same thing
HR 354 Defund Planned Parenthood: Sponsored by Rep Diane Black in committee.
HR 193 American Sovereignty Restoration Act: to end US membership in the UN. Sponsored by Rep Mike Rogers in committee.
Election and Representation Issues
HJ Res. 19 (House Joint Resolution): Proposing an amendment to the US Constitution to abolish the electoral college sponsored by Sen Steve Cohen in committee
HR 26 Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act: To amend chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, to provide that major rules of the executive branch shall have no force or effect unless a joint resolution of approval is enacted into law. Sponsor Rep Doug Collins in committee
HR 804 Protect the National Security Council from Political Interference Act: To amend the National Security Act of 1947 to protect the National Security Council from political interference, and for other purposes. Sponsored by Rep Stephanie Murphy (D) in committee
SJ Res 2: Amend the US Constitution to limit the number of terms a member of congress may serve. Sponsored by Sen Ted Cruz in committee
HR 861: To terminate the EPA sponsored by Rep Matt Gartz sent to committee
HR 38 Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act 2017: To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide a means by which nonresidents of a State whose residents may carry concealed firearms may also do so in the State. Sponsored by Rep Richard Hudson in committee
HR 34 Safe Students Act: To repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 and amendments to that Act. Sponsored by Rep Tom Massie in committee
S 370 To Eliminate the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Dodd-Frank Law) Sponsored by SenatorTed Cruz, sent to committee for consideration before coming out to the floor for votes.