Senate Back To Work: FAA & Energy

The Stack Of Significant Legislation Passed By The Republican Senate Solving ‘Big, Entrenched Problems’ Continues To Grow


FAA: ‘Passenger-Friendly’ & Will ‘Ramp Up Airport Security’

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD), Commerce Committee Chairman: “Passage of this bipartisan legislation is a win for airline passenger rights, advancing responsible drone usage, boosting the competitiveness of the aerospace industry, and making our skies safe.” (Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, Press Release, 3/16/2016)

“[T]he Senate released one of the most passenger-friendly Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bills in a generation.” (“…Wave Of Consumer-Friendly Legislation Gives Travelers New Hope,” The Washington Post, 3/16/2016)

“The government would standardize the way airlines disclose fees for basic services like checked bags, seat assignments and ticket changes so that passengers can more easily comparison-shop the full cost of flights under a bipartisan Senate bill introduced Wednesday.” (“Bill Would Standardize The Way Airlines Disclose Fees,” The Associated Press, 3/09/2016)

  • “The measure includes requirements for airlines to refund customers for lost or delayed baggage, new standardized fee disclosures, and added protections for disabled passengers.” (Morning Consult, 3/16/2016)

‘Ramp Up Airport Security’ “Senators backed a package of amendments to the long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration that would ramp up airport security…” (“Senate Adopts Airport Security Amendments In FAA Bill,” The Hill, 4/7/16)

  • Improved Defenses Outside Of Secure Areas: “…lawmakers voted to raise the number of Visible Intermodal Prevention Response, or VIPER, teams within the Transportation Security Administration from 31 to 60. VIPER teams, which are intended as a visible deterrent to attacks, can be deployed at airports and train or bus stations.” (“U.S. Senators Vote To Bolster Travel Security In FAA Bill,” Reuters, 4/7/16)



ENERGY BILL: A ‘Significant Step Forward For The Nation’s Energy Policy’

“After two months of talks to clear out roadblocks, Senate leaders are looking to wrap up the bipartisan energy bill (S. 2012) this week.” (“Senate Looks To Finish Bipartisan Package This Week,” E7E Daily, 4/18/2016)

“…comprehensive energy bill… represents the first major energy bill to come to the Senate floor since the Bush administration.” (“Senators Reach Deal To Act On Comprehensive Energy Bill,” The New York Times, 4/16/16)

SEN. MURKOWSKI (R-AK): “We have not taken up energy reform or any real energy legislation in over 8 years now, and in those intervening 8 years, much has happened in the energy space. Our policies as they relate to energy, whether it is LNG exports or renewables, haven’t advanced. And the commitment that Senator Cantwell and I made to one another over a year ago to try to move legislation—not just to move messages but to move legislation—was a commitment that held us through a lot of hearings, a lot of discussion, a lot of debate going back and forth, but to the point where we are today with an agreement to move forward to final passage on a very significant energy bill for the country.” (Sen. Murkowski, Congressional Record, S. 2017, 4/13/2016)

  • SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): ‘It is an important piece of legislation’ “Mr. President, I am very happy we are at this point. This legislation has taken 3 years. It has been hard to get to where we are today... I am gratified we are able to reach this agreement, and that is an understatement. It is an important piece of legislation.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S. 2017, 4/13/2016)



CARA: ‘Senators Rob Portman Of Ohio And Kelly Ayotte Of New Hampshire Spent Weeks Promoting The Measure’

“The Senate passed a major piece of legislation Thursday aimed at combating a growing heroin and prescription drug epidemic by an overwhelmingly bipartisan margin of 94-1.” (“Senate Passes Bill Addressing Heroin, Opioid Crisis,” RealClearPolitics, 3/10/2016)

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): “I want to thank the authors of CARA for their leadership in crafting the legislation and working with me to move it through the judiciary committee and out of that committee unanimously. … Real lives will be saved … that's not something that we can say every day around this Senate.” (Sen. Grassley, Floor Remarks, 3/10/16)

“Responding to an urgent drug crisis that has contributed to more American deaths than car crashes, the Senate Thursday overwhelmingly passed a broad drug treatment and prevention bill, the largest of its kind since a law in 2008 that mandated insurance coverage for addiction treatment. … Republican Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire spent weeks promoting the measure on the floor after seeing opioid-related crime and addiction soar in their states. It was threatened by Democrats…” (“Senate Passes Broad Bill To Combat Drug Abuse,” The New York Times, 3/10/16)

  • “The Senate on Thursday passed legislation to combat the growing epidemic of opioid and heroin abuse, queuing up an accomplishment… Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), for instance, have taken a lead role in the debate and have emphasized how critical the opioid bill’s programs will be in their states.” (“Senate Passes Bill To Combat Opioid Abuse,” The Washington Post, 3/10/2016)


TRADE SECRETS: ‘Defending The Processes, Blueprints, And Recipes That Underpin Hundreds Of Billions Of Annual Revenues And Millions Of Jobs’

“The Senate on Monday passed legislation to authorize companies to go directly to federal court to fight trade-secret theft, an avenue that has been unavailable when defending the processes, blueprints, and recipes that underpin hundreds of billions of annual revenues and millions of jobs.” (“Senate Passes Trade-Secrets Bill,” The Wall Street Journal, 4/4/16)

“After languishing for more than three years... The Defend Trade Secrets Act sailed through the Senate this past week with no opposition.” (“Lawyers Ready to Reap Work From Federal Trade Secrets Act,” The Recorder, 4/8/16)


INTERNET TAX FREEDOM: ‘For Years, The Drive In Congress To Permanently Bar Taxes On Internet Service Has Languished’

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): “For successful 21st century innovators and entrepreneurs, the Internet is their lifeblood… We should be celebrating their success, not taxing the tools they use to achieve it. Our bill… would permanently ban Internet taxation…” (Sen. Thune, Press Release, 2/10/15)

“State and local governments would be permanently barred from taxing access to the Internet under a bipartisan compromise that Congress is a step away from sending to President Barack Obama. The Senate was expected to vote Thursday to approve the language, part of a wide-ranging measure that would also revamp trade laws.” (“Congress Likely To Give Final Ok To Local Internet Tax Ban,” AP, 2/11/16)

  • “Since 1998, in the Internet's early days, Congress has passed a series of bills temporarily prohibiting state and local governments from imposing the types of monthly levies for online access that are common for telephone service. … For years, the drive in Congress to permanently bar taxes on Internet service has languished…” (“Congress Likely To Give Final Ok To Local Internet Tax Ban,” AP, 2/11/16)


NORTH KOREA: ‘Senate Approves New North Korea Sanctions’

“The Senate voted unanimously to ratchet up sanctions on North Korea on Wednesday, less than a week after the country launched a long-range rocket that sparked fresh alarm about its nuclear program. … ‘North Korea poses a serious and growing threat,’ said Sen. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.), who introduced the bill…” (“U.S. Senate Passes North Korea Sanctions Legislation,” Wall Street Journal, 2/10/16)

“The legislation comes in response to frustration on both sides of the aisle that President Barack Obama's policies toward North Korea have failed to stop its outlaw behavior. The bill passed 96-0.” (“Senate Approves New North Korea Sanctions,” CNN, 2/10/16)

“Most of the bill’s new sanctions on North Korea are mandatory, forcing the president to freeze the assets and impose travel bans on anyone engaging in trade or financial transactions that support the country’s nuclear, weapons, precious metals and raw materials industries, human rights abuses, and cyber threats.” (“Senate Passes North Korea Sanctions Bill As Nuclear Worries Grow,” The Washington Post, 2/10/16)


JUDICIAL REDRESS ACT OF 2015: ‘Will Improve Transatlantic Business, Privacy, And Security’

“The Judicial Redress Act of 2015 Becomes Law: Passage of the Act facilitates two data-sharing agreements between the European Union and United States that will improve transatlantic business, privacy, and security. On February 24, the Judicial Redress Act of 2015 (the Act) was enacted into law.” (“The Judicial Redress Act of 2015 Becomes Law,” The National Law Review, 3/3/16)



“The Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill to expand the public's access to government records… The Senate's move means both chambers have now passed similar proposals to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). … The legislation led by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Leahy would update the open-records law used by journalists, researchers and the public. Many who have dealt with the process complain about delays and unnecessary redactions from agencies.” (“Senate Passes FOIA Reform Bill,” The Hill, 3/15/16)

“When it comes to providing government records the public is asking to see, the Obama administration is having a hard time finding them. In the final figures released during President Barack Obama's presidency, the U.S. government set a record last year for the number of times federal employees told disappointed citizens, journalists and others that despite searching they couldn't find a single page of files requested under the Freedom of Information Act. In more than one in six cases, or 129,825 times, government searchers said they came up empty-handed, according to a new Associated Press analysis.” (“US Gov’t Sets Record for Failures to Find Files When Asked,” AP, 3/18/16)


2015: ‘In Its First Year, The 114th Congress Solved Big, Entrenched Problems…’

(“Beneath The Battles, A Congress That Worked,” National Journal, 12/18/15)

“…Senate Republicans racked up a series of legislative accomplishments last year, including a transportation infrastructure bill, a major education bill and the two-year budget deal…” (“For Reid, Supreme Court Vacancy Offers A Final Fight Before Retirement,” The New York Times, 3/14/16)

“You Can’t Call It A Do Nothing Congress… Congress has struck deals on major highway and education bills. ... Don’t look now, but Congress is actually about to get a lot done.” (“You Can’t Call It A Do Nothing Congress Anymore,” Fortune, 12/2/15)

  • “…Senate Republicans Look to Rack Up More Wins: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate is on a roll — and he wants to make sure it stays that way. After reviving Trade Promotion Authority, the Kentucky Republican opted to move next to a bipartisan rewrite of the No Child Left Behind education law in a bid to maintain the chamber’s legislative momentum.” (“After Trade Triumph, Senate Republicans Look To Rack Up More Wins,” Roll Call, 7/7/15)


FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY: First Significant Reforms To Social Security Since 1983

‘Senators … Clamoring For Entitlement Reform Should Welcome These Changes’

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY REFORMS: “In a political era more known for conflict than compromise, the two-year budget deal that emerged the following Monday came as something of a surprise. The $80 billion package reverses sequester cuts to the Pentagon and other domestic accounts. The agreement also prevents an increase in premiums for seniors on Medicare and halts looming cuts to Social Security Disability recipients. And it raises the debt limit through March 2017 -- well after Obama will have left the White House.” (“In Getting A Budget Deal Passed, Boehner And McConnell Faced A Pivotal Choice,” LA Times, 10/31/15)

MEDICARE REFORMS: “The annual charade of blocking Clinton-era cuts to Medicare has officially ended.” (“The ‘F’ Word: Could Congress Become Functional?,” Fox News, 4/15/15)

  • SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): “The bill also represents a step forward in the effort to reform our nation's entitlement programs. The bill contains bipartisan reforms to the Medicare program - and it's not limited to fixing the broken SGR system. To go along with the permanent SGR fix, the bill includes a meaningful down payment on Medicare reform, without any accompanying tax hikes. These reforms include a limitation on so-called Medigap first-dollar coverage, more robust means testing for Medicare Parts B and D, and program integrity provisions that will strengthen Medicare's ability to fight fraud. …any Senators who, like me, have been clamoring for entitlement reform should welcome these changes.” (Sen. Hatch, Press Release, 4/13/15)


TAX RELIEF: Breaking ‘Congress’ Habit Of Extending Lapsed Tax Breaks Retroactively’

“…on track to win permanent renewal of tax breaks for individuals and businesses.” (“Winners, Losers In Congress' Year-End Budget And Tax Endgame,” AP, 12/16/15)

“…businesses seeking permanent tax breaks are the big winners as lawmakers finalize the sprawling, last-train-leaving-Congress spending and tax deal.” (“Winners, Losers In Congress' Year-End Budget And Tax Endgame,” AP, 12/16/15)

“The tax bill would permanently extend nearly two dozen tax breaks for businesses and individuals while temporarily extending others. … The credits being permanently extended include:

  • An expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income earners;
  • The Child Tax Credit for low and moderate income workers;
  • The American Opportunity Tax Credit to help students under age 40 pay college tuition and expenses;
  • Low income housing credits;
  • An expanded research and experimentation credit;
  • Section 179 business expensing, which allows businesses to fully deduct the price of equipment and software investments;
  • State and local sales tax deduction;
  • Tax deductions for food inventory donated to food banks;
  • A deduction for land donated for conservation; and
  • A tax break for individuals to donate to charity from qualified retirement accounts.”

(“Congress Reaches Year-End Deal On Taxes And Spending,” Washington Post, 12/15/15)


HIGHWAY Bill: First Long-Term Bill Since 2005, Longest Since 1998

‘A Legislative Coup A Decade In The Making’

“Congress reaches deal on 5-year highway bill …a legislative coup a decade in the making… delivering a long-term, fully funded highway and transit bill to the White House would be a major coup — the first time Congress has accomplished the feat since George W. Bush was in the White House.” (“Congress Reaches Deal On 5-Year Highway Bill,” Politico, 12/1/15)

  • “…legislative feat that lawmakers and President Barack Obama have struggled throughout his administration to achieve. The bill, unveiled Tuesday, would also put an end to the cycle of temporary extensions and threatened shutdowns of transportation programs that have bedeviled Congress for the past seven years, making it difficult for states to plan long-term projects.” (“Congress Reaches Deal On 5-Year Transportation Bill,” AP, 12/1/15)


EDUCATION: First Significant Reforms Since 2001

‘The Largest Devolution Of Federal Control To The States In A Quarter-Century’

EDUCATION REFORMS: “A bipartisan compromise has emerged from the Senate and House that ... would represent the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century. It’s far better than the status quo that would continue if nothing passes.” (Editorial, “No Child Left Behind’s Successor,” The Wall Street Journal, 11/29/2015)


TRADE: First Broad TPA Bill Since 2002

‘TPA-2015 Expands On Administration Transparency And Consultation Obligations’

TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY: “The Republican-controlled Congress delivered… passing a six-year renewal of trade promotion authority intended to advance one of the largest trade pacts in history later this year. ‘This is a critical day for our country. In fact, I'd call it an historic day,’ said Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who co-authored the bill the Senate approved on Wednesday, 60 to 38. ‘This is perhaps the most important bill we'll pass in the Senate this year.’” (“‘Fast Track’ Trade Bill Renews,” USA Today, 6/25/15)


‘The Senate Put Our Veterans First’

HOLDING THE VA ACCOUNTABLE: “A sweeping independent review of the Department of Veterans Affairs health-care system made public Friday shows the multibillion-dollar agency has significant flaws, including a bloated bureaucracy, problems with leadership and a potentially unsustainable capital budget. … The assessments, weighing in at more than 4,000 pages total, were mandated by the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, commonly known as the Veterans Choice Act, a more than $16 billion emergency funding measure passed last summer in the wake of a systemwide scandal at the VA.” (“A Needs ‘Systemwide Reworking,’ Independent Report Finds,” The Wall Street Journal, 9/18/15)

CLAY HUNT SUICIDE PREVENTION FOR AMERICAN VETERANS ACT: “The bill requires independent reviews of VA and Department of Defense programs aimed at preventing suicide, creates peer support and community outreach pilot programs, and forms a program to repay loan debt for psychiatry students to incentivize them to work in the VA health system. It also creates a website to provide veterans with information about mental health services and allows the VA to collaborate with nonprofit mental health organizations on suicide prevention.” (“Obama Signs Suicide Prevention Bill To Aid Veterans,” U.S. News, 2/12/15)

VETERANS CHOICE ACT: “What is the Veterans Choice Act? This federal program sets aside $10 billion throughout three years for veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or who find themselves waiting more than 30 days for an appointment. The program allows them to be seen at a participating community health center.” (“VA Opens More Doors To Rural Veterans In Virginia,” Daily Press, 12/7/15)



NDAA: ‘Contains Hundreds Of Provisions To Assist The Military’

DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT: “The Senate overwhelmingly passed a revised annual defense policy bill, sending the measure to President Obama's desk for a second time.  The Senate voted 91-3 on the $607-billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which lays out broad defense policy requirements and restrictions. … The legislation, which passed the House by a 370-58 vote last week, includes restrictions on transferring detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, adding roadblocks to a long-standing campaign pledge from Obama to close the facility.” (“Senate Sends Revised Defense Bill To Obama's Desk,” The Hill, 11/10/15)



‘Senate … Passed A Major Piece Of Cybersecurity Legislation’

MAJOR CYBER SECURITY REFORM: “The Senate on Tuesday passed a major piece of cybersecurity legislation intended to stem the flood of cyberattacks on both government agencies and private companies. The so-called Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a piece of legislation years in the making, passed 74-21. The House approved companion legislation in April, so the cybersecurity measure is now on track to reach President Obama’s desk and be signed into law...” (“Senate Passes First Major Cyber Bill In Years,” The Hill, 10/27/15)



Related Issues: Back to Work, Free Trade, NDAA, Entitlement Reform, National Security, Education, Restoring the Senate, North Korea, Taxes, Trade Promotion Authority, Energy, Homeland Security, Highway Bill, Veterans, FAA, Opioid Abuse