Fighting Foreign Terrorism on Homeland Soil, Increased Protections for Clean Water and Low-Income Veterans, and New Appropriations for FY2020

Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise Act of 2019 (HR 1590) – This bill promotes the identification and determent of terrorist activity from reaching the homeland, and enhances the United States government’s ability to respond to terrorism, including emerging threats. Specifically, the legislation requires the Department of Homeland Security to develop and conduct exercises related to foreign terrorism, including the National Incident Management System, National Response Plan, and other related plans and strategies. The legislation was introduced on March 7 by Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS). The president signed the bill into law on Oct. 9.

Alaska Remote Generator Reliability and Protection Act (S 163) – This bill is designed to prevent catastrophic failure or shutdown of remote diesel power engines due to emission control devices in remote areas of Alaska. It instructs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revise particulate matter emissions standards for nonemergency stationary diesel engines, and to report on methods for assisting these areas in meeting specified energy needs. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) on Jan. 16 and signed into law by the president on Oct. 4.

A bill to permit States to transfer certain funds from the clean water revolving fund of a State to the drinking water revolving fund of the State in certain circumstances, and for other purposes (S 1689) – Introduced on May 23 by Rep. Cory Booker (D-NJ), this legislation was enacted on Oct. 4. The bill empowers states with the ability to transfer up to 5 percent of federal grant funds from its clean water fund to its drinking water fund to help address any threats to public health resulting from increased exposure to lead in drinking water. This reallocation is available for only one year.

Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act of 2019 (HR 1058) – This legislation reauthorizes the previous Autism CARES Act of 2014 to expand government programs to include older people with autism who are often misdiagnosed and underdiagnosed. The bill allocates $1.8 billion in funding for autism programs to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and the Health Resources & Services Administration. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). It was introduced on Feb. 7 and signed into law by the president on Sept. 30.

Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2019 (HR 4285) – This legislation reauthorizes funding for programs and services at the Veterans Administration, which were set to expire at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The bill extends funding for two specific programs. 1.) Keeping Our Commitment to Overseas Veterans Act of 2019, to keep the VA Regional Office and Outpatient Clinic in Manila, Philippines, open for business through Sept. 30, 2020. This clinic provides healthcare, benefits and services to thousands of U.S. veterans living in the Philippines. 2.) Supportive Services for Veteran Families program (through Sept. 30, 2021), which provides grants for supportive services to assist very low-income veterans and their families who are either residing in permanent housing or transitioning from homelessness. The bill was introduced on Sept. 11 by Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY) and was signed into law by the president on Sept. 30.

Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020, and Health Extenders Act of 2019 (HR 4378) – Known as a continuing resolution (CR), this bill prevents a government shutdown by continuing fiscal year 2020 appropriations to federal agencies through Nov. 21. The bill was introduced by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) on Sept. 18 and signed into law on Sept. 27.

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (S 1790) – Introduced on June 11 by Rep. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), this is an original bill that authorizes U.S. Military appropriations for fiscal year 2020 for the Department of Defense, military construction and Department of Energy defense activities. The legislation both authorizes appropriations and sets forth policies, requirements and limitations for how funds are used. The legislation was passed by Congress on Sept. 17 and is currently awaiting signature by the president.

Debt Relief for Military Service Members, Veterans, Family Farmers and Small Business Owners

Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (HR 3311) – Scheduled to take effect starting in February 2020, this new law offers small businesses more agreeable terms when filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy status. The bill gives owners:

  • More time (90 days) to file a reorganization plan with easier rules for extension
  • The ability to retain ownership of the company even if debts are not paid in full
  • A new formula for debt payments based on projected disposable income over three to five years
  • Reduced red tape through the appointment of a “standing trustee” (instead of a credit committee) to oversee the reorganization process
  • A more “fair and equitable” process to determine owner and creditor equity interests
  • More protection against creditor ability to take away personal assets, such as a home

This bill was introduced by Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) on June 18 and signed into law by the president on Aug. 23.

HAVEN Act (HR 2938) – Introduced on May 23 by Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), this legislation was enacted on Aug. 23. It stands for “Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need.” The new bill eliminates veterans’ disability benefits (joining the status of Social Security payouts) from being included as income for the purpose of determining how much a veteran who files for personal bankruptcy must pay creditors.

National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Extension Act of 2019 (HR 3304) – This bill was introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) on June 18 and signed into law on Aug. 23. The legislation reauthorizes an exemption to certain bankruptcy means-testing for members of the National Guard and Reserves (serving on active duty or in a homeland defense activity for at least 90 days) who file for bankruptcy.

Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 (HR 2366) – This legislation increases the Chapter 12 operating debt cap to $10 million, which will enable more family farmers to seek relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The bill was introduced on April 3 by Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY) and was signed into law by the president on Aug. 23.

Creating Advanced Streamlined Electronic Services for Constituents Act of 2019 (HR 1079) – This bill mandates the Office of Management and Budget to create a private, secure electronic submission process to request assistance for government services such as Social Security, Medicare, Veterans Affairs or any other federal agency. The legislation was introduced on Feb. 7 by Rep. Garrett Graves (R-LA). The president signed the bill into law on Aug. 22.

Emergency Medical Services for Children Program Reauthorization Act of 2019 (HR 776) – This bill reauthorizes (through fiscal year 2024) the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program. This is a grant program administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration that works to improve emergency healthcare for children who are seriously ill or injured. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Peter King (R-NY). It was introduced on Jan. 24 and signed into law by the president on Aug. 22.

Extending Medicaid Funding, the Debt Limit, Membership into the American Legion, and Support For 9-11 Victims, Law Enforcement Officers, and Breastfeeding Moms

Sustaining Excellence in Medicaid Act of 2019 (HR 3253) – This bill authorizes appropriations through fiscal year 2024 and makes changes to several Medicaid programs and funding mechanisms. Some of the provisions include allowing state Medicaid fraud control units to review complaints regarding noninstitutionalized patients; temporarily extending Medicaid eligibility to protect against spousal poverty for recipients of home and community-based services; repealing the requirement for drug manufacturers to include the prices of authorized generic drugs when determining the average manufacturer price (AMP) of brand name drugs; and excluding manufacturers from the definition of “wholesalers” for purposes of rebate calculations. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI). It was introduced on June 13 and signed into law by the president on Aug. 6.

Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (HR 3877) – Introduced on July 23 by Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), this legislation amends the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 to temporarily suspend the public debt limit through July 31, 2021, and establish a congressional budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. Among other provisions, the bill sets limits for Overseas Contingency Operations funding and requires fiscal year 2020 discretionary spending limits to reflect specified funding for the 2020 Census. The bill was signed into law by the president on Aug. 2.

Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act (HR 1327) – This bill extends authorization for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund through 2090. It was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) on Feb. 25 and signed into law by the president on July 29.

LEGION Act (S 204) – This bill was introduced on Feb. 14 by Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ). It authorizes the extension of membership into the American Legion to all military personnel who served during unrecognized war eras that involved active military personnel. The president signed the bill into law on July 30.

Fairness For Breastfeeding Mothers Act of 2019 (H.R. 866) – This legislation mandates that federal buildings establish a separate room (other than a bathroom) for breastfeeding mothers to be consistent with laws that make such requirements for all employers with 50+ employees and all large- and medium-sized airports. The bill was introduced on Jan. 30 by Rep. Eleanor Norton (D-DC), passed in the House in February and the Senate in June, and was enacted by the president on July 25.

Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis Act of 2019 (S. 998) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Joshua Hawley (R-MO) on April 3. It was passed in the Senate in May and by the House in July and signed into law by the president on July 25. The legislation amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to offer additional support for law enforcement officer family services, stress reduction, suicide prevention and other purposes.