Congress at Work: New Food-Related Homeland Security Bill, Authorizing Inactivity for an Under-Staffed Agency, and Naming a New Federal Courthouse in Nashville

The Congress at Work series of articles is designed to give you a glimpse of various types of legislation currently under consideration. While either the Senate or the House of Representatives may initiate a bill proposal, be aware that many bills never become law. They may never make it out of committee, be blocked by a Senate filibuster, be delayed, lack sufficient votes, never be agreed upon by the two houses, or be vetoed by the president.

Securing our Agriculture and Food Act (H.R. 1238) – Introduced by Rep. David Young (R-IA) on Feb. 28, this bill authorizes a program to coordinate the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts related to food, agriculture, and veterinary defense from acts of terrorism and other high-consequence events that pose a risk to homeland security. The bill was enacted and signed by the president on June 30.

An Act to Amend Section 1214 of Title 5, United States Code, to provide for stays during a period that the Merit Systems Protection Board lacks a quorum (S. 1083) – The Merit Systems Protection Board is an independent judicial agency tasked with protecting federal merit systems against partisan political personnel practices and abuses against federal employees by agency management. Because the MSPB currently lacks two of its three-member board, Congress passed a bill that automatically extends the period of any stay whenever the committee lacks a quorum. The bill was introduced on May 10 by Rep. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and was signed into law on June 27.

An Act to designate the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 719 Church St. in Nashville, Tenn., as the Fred D. Thompson Federal Building and United States Courthouse (H.R. 375) – Introduced on January 9 by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), this bill was signed into law by the president on June 6.

Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act (H.R. 95) – Sponsored by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), this bill directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide childcare assistance to veterans receiving certain medical services from the VA. The bill was introduced on January 3 and scheduled for consideration by the house majority leader on July 20.

African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017 (H.R. 1927) – The purpose of this bill is to establish an African American Civil Rights Network to preserve the story and significance of the African American civil rights movement within the National Park Service. This includes historic events, court decisions, and legislation. Sponsored by Rep. Lacy Clay Jr. (D-MO), this bill was introduced on April 5 and was sent by the assigned committee to the House for consideration on June 27.

SECRET Act of 2017 (H.R. 3210) – Sponsored by Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA), this bill would require the director of the National Background Investigations Bureau to submit a report on the backlog of personnel security clearance investigations, among other purposes. The bill was introduced on July 12 and sent to the House for consideration on July 19.

Medicare Part B Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 3178) – This Act is designed to improve the delivery of home infusion therapy and dialysis and the application of the Stark Rule under the Medicare program, among other purposes. It was introduced into Congress on July 11 by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX).

SEA Act (H.R. 2772) – Sponsored by Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA), this bill is designed to require approval from the secretary prior to the reassignment of senior executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Twice a year, the secretary must submit to Congress a report detailing approved executive reassignments and the associated costs. The bill was introduced June 6 and sent to the House by its review committee for consideration on July 19.

Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017 (H.R. 1761) – Introduced March 28 by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), this bill passed in the House on May 25 and was sent to the Senate for consideration. The bill proposes treating teenagers charged with “sexting” as sex offenders with a penalty of imprisonment for up to 15 years.