Delaware

Congressional Update – March 21, 2017

Not much action over the past week as Congress was on break most of the time.  Still, we have some action to look at.   The more important votes are coming up, as you can see below.

Recent Senate Votes
Disapprove Unemployment Benefit Drug Testing Rule – Vote Passed (51-48, 1 Not Voting)
The resolution would disapprove the rule issued by the Labor Department on Aug. 1, 2016, that defines the occupations for which states can require individuals applying for unemployment benefits to undergo drug testing.
Sen. Thomas Carper voted NO
Sen. Chris Coons voted NO


Confirmation of Dan Coats to be Director of National Intelligence – Vote Confirmed (85-12, 3 Not Voting)
The Senate confirmed the nomination of Dan Coats to be the director of National Intelligence.
Sen. Thomas Carper voted YES
Sen. Chris Coons voted YES


Confirmation of Herbert R. McMaster, Jr. to be Lieutenant General – Vote Confirmed (86-10, 4 Not Voting)
The Senate confirmed the nomination of Herbert R. McMaster, Jr. to be a lieutenant general in the U.S. Army.
Sen. Thomas Carper voted YES
Sen. Chris Coons voted YES


Recent House Votes
VA Personnel Accountability – Vote Passed (237-178, 14 Not Voting)
The bill would provide the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) with additional tools to fire or demote VA employees based on performance or misconduct, and would modify the appeals process to provide for the appeals of decisions by administrative law judges. It also would include provisions to protect VA whistleblowers against retaliation by supervisors, authorize the department to recoup employee bonuses and relocation expenses, and allow the pensions of VA employees to be reduced if convicted of certain felonies.
Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester voted NO


Mentally Disabled Veterans and Guns – Vote Passed (240-175, 14 Not Voting)
The bill would clarify the conditions under which individuals who receive federal benefits from the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) may be declared mentally incompetent for purposes of being added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and thereby prevented from purchasing guns or ammunition – requiring that an affirmative declaration be made by a judge that the person is dangerous.
Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester voted NO


VA Medical Professional Staffing – Vote Passed (412-0, 17 Not Voting)
The bill would establish new staffing, recruitment and retention programs at the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) to enable the VA to help recruit and retain a strong medical professional workforce. It would create a recruiting database to make high-quality potential employees aware of positions at the VA, provide for additional opportunities for career training and advancement for current VA employees through fellowship positions and establish a promotional track for technical experts. It also would require the department to train human resources employees in recruitment and retention methods.
Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester voted YES


Upcoming Votes
Confirmation of Charles Breyer to the U.S. Sentencing Commission – PN86
The Senate will take up the nomination of Charles Breyer to be a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
Confirmation of Danny Reeves to the U.S. Sentencing Commission – PN85
The Senate will take up the nomination of Danny Reeves to be a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
End Health Insurance Anti-Trust Exemption – HR372
The bill would generally eliminate the federal antitrust exemption for health insurance providers that are regulated at the state level, thereby allowing federal regulators to take actions against insurers for coordinated activities that could harm consumers. By subjecting insurers to federal antitrust laws, the measure is intended to promote further competition between health insurers and lower costs.
Association Health Insurance Pools – HR1101
The bill would expand the ability of trade and business associations to sponsor association health plans (AHPs), through which member companies can offer group health insurance to their employees. To encourage the creation of new plans, it would exempt AHPs from most state laws and regulations and allow AHPs to set their own health insurance standards, with few mandated requirements.
Reconciliation Health Care Law Repeal and Replace – HR1628
The measure would repeal key elements of the 2010 health law and include legislative text to begin replacing the national health care system created by that law. Among its provisions, it would effectively repeals the law’s requirements that most individuals obtain health insurance or face tax penalties, and that employers with more than 50 employees provide health insurance or face tax penalties, by setting the penalties for violations at $0; replace current health insurance subsidies with a less generous refundable tax credit beginning in 2020; roll back the 2010 law’s expansion of Medicaid; modify that program to provide payments to states based on the number of patients enrolled in the program rather than services provided; allow children to stay on their parents’ policies until 26 years of age; and prohibit insurance companies from charging more or denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions. The legislation was developed under reconciliation instructions in the fiscal 2017 budget resolution (S Con Res 3), which protects it from filibuster and allows the Senate to pass it by simple majority vote.

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