S.415 – A bill to nullify the effect of the recent Executive order that makes the vast majority of unauthorized individuals priorities for removal and aims to withhold critical Federal funding to sanctuary cities.
Sponsor: Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV)
Cosponsors: Sen. Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Coons (D-DE), Sen. Hirono (D-HI), Sen. Franken (D-MN), Sen. Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Markey (D-MA), Sen. Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Harris (D-CA), Sen. Murray (D-WA), Sen. Kaine (D-VA), Sen. Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Van Hollen (D-MD), Sen. Warren (D-MA), Sen. Duckworth (D-IL), Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Brown (D-OH), Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Carper (D-DE), Sen. Cardin (D-MD)
Synopsis: This bill would rescind Executive Order 13768, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” which among other things ends “sanctuary cities” by voiding funding to those that fail to comply.
Action: Introduced in Senate on 2/16/2017
Sponsor Comments: “President Trump’s divisive and racist executive order is a threat to the safety and security of our hardworking families and immigrant communities, and must be rescinded,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “As the proud granddaughter of immigrants who came to America for the opportunity to succeed, I know firsthand how essential it is that we continue to provide that same opportunity for hardworking families who come to America from all over the world. Every new generation of immigrants further enriches the fabric and culture of our nation, and without them this country would not be what it is today. President Trump is carrying out an unprecedented massive deportation agenda, without regard to the American values of family unity and fairness. This approach is wrong. Instead of instigating fear through insensitive and ill-suited executive orders, we should be working together to find a permanent solution to our serious immigration problems.”
Jessica’s Take: According to nonprofit, nonpartisan, independent research firm PRRI, “There is no state in the country in which a majority prefers deportation over citizenship or permanent residency as the solution for immigration reform. And not even most conservative Republicans, or states that voted overwhelmingly for Trump, support deportation—majorities support a path to citizenship. Most (64 percent) Americans say immigrants living in the U.S. illegally should be allowed a way to become citizens…” Despite these numbers, however, we do have a Republican-controlled Congress, many of whom ran campaigns on their firm stance on immigration policies. Of course, it’s impossible to predict, but this Democrat-sponsored bill will likely have as much success as other Democratic efforts have had since the new president took office.
H.R. 2102 – More JOBS for Rural Areas Act
Sponsor: Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-NV)
Synopsis: Requires the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue a report on access to capital in rural areas for small businesses. The report would seek to identify best practices for small businesses seeking access to capital, assess possible barriers for small businesses in rural areas seeking capital, provide recommendations to improve communications between investors and small businesses, and offer information on how to raise awareness about venture capital funding opportunities for rural small businesses
Action: Introduced in House on 4/17/2017. Referred to the House committee on Financial Services on 4/17/2017.
Sponsor Comments: “Starting a small business brings a unique set of obstacles for every owner. But in a rural community running a small business is even more of a challenge, complicated by limited access to capital and difficulty connecting and communicating with investors. Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy — we should make every effort to foster entrepreneurship and innovation wherever it exists.”
Jessica’s Take: Rural jobs bills have been proposed in at least 11 states this year, according to the Pew Charitable Trust; subsidies and tax credits are often a showpiece of such bills. But research by Pew shows that these subsidized approaches, popularized over the last 30 years or so, have not worked as promised. So what does work to bring jobs and new businesses to rural areas? That’s what Democrat Ruben Kihuen hopes to discover in this bill he proposed, which not only addresses issues that his district grapples with but which also may address some of the rural issues that helped Donald Trump and Republicans win over such a broad swath of rural America. The bill calls for an investigation into and report on barriers to business creation in rural areas. Job creation is the name of the game right now in Congress, and a bill that simply calls for an investigation into how to do this seems like a no-brainer in terms of passage. Time will tell whether his compatriots in the House agree.
H.R.2033 – Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act
Sponsor: Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-NV)
Co-sponsors: Rep. Bradley Schneider (D-IL), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. James Langevin (D-RI), Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
Synopsis: This legislation would strengthen current federal law designed to prevent the production of plastic firearms that can be carried through a metal detector and into secure areas undetected.
Action: Introduced in House on 4/6/2017, with Kihuen’s introductory remarks. Referred to House Committee on the Judiciary.
Sponsor Comments: “Security checkpoints are a critical line of defense, helping protect our most secure areas from the threats posed by criminals and terrorists. The Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act would make modest tweaks to current law to protect the safety of all Americans while allowing for continued technological advances in firearms production. We need to be making it harder for terrorists and criminals to acquire dangerous weapons that can pass through security checkpoints undetected, and enacting these meaningful reforms will be a big step in the right direction.”
Jessica’s Take: The original Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 made it illegal to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive any firearm that is not detectable by walk-through metal detectors. It was signed into law by President Reagan, with a sunset clause to expire on November 10, 1998. Congress renewed the act in 1998 for five years, in 2003 for 10 years, and in 2013 for another ten years. Up to that point, the NRA has continued to support the law but has opposed any enhancement to its scope. Kihuen’s introductory remarks to the House indicate that at the time the new bill was signed, fully-plastic guns were a thing of “science fiction.” Today, they not only exist but can be made at home with little training or expertise. The act has not been updated since 1988, and gaps exist. Kihuen calls for a slight modernization that “fully adheres to the spirit of the law,” replacing the existing language that refers to specific parts of guns or metal detection equipment with language that fully encompasses parts of modern guns and detection equipment, to address modern weaponry. The changes are fairly minor and do little to enhance the scope of the law, meaning that this bill may stand a slightly better chance of passing than other previously failed efforts.
H.R. 2062 – Defend Israel Act
Sponsor: Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
Co-Sponsor: Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
Synopsis: Bill would accelerate appropriations funding of $705.8 million in FY 2018 for the State of Israel’s development, maintenance, enhancement, sustainment, and procurement of anti-missile defense systems.
Action: Introduced in Senate on 6/28/16, read and referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Committee hearing held on 9/22/16.
Sponsor Comments: “I’m proud to work across the aisle to reaffirm our country’s long-standing support for the State of Israel,” said Congresswoman Jacky Rosen. “As our only democratic ally in the Middle East, it is imperative that we provide Israel with the funding that it needs to defend itself from the frequent barrage of attacks Israeli civilians face on a constant basis. Beyond championing democratic values, both the U.S. and Israel have benefitted from a strategic partnership in which they share vital intelligence information and innovative technology to help strengthen our armed forces and fight against global threats.”
Jessica’s Take: On February 27, 2017, Hamas launched several high-trajectory rocket attacks on Israel followed by numerous rocket launches over the last two and a half years. Experts estimate that Hamas has thousands of rockets in its arsenal. Meanwhile, the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus was launched in late April in order to revitalize U.S. engagement with the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Congress’ support for Israel over Palestine has been and continues to be unilateral and bipartisan. This bill serves as a nice companion to Senator Lindsay Graham’s (R-SC) bill S.474, referred to as the Taylor Force Act, which would prohibit U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority until terrorist salaries and payment cease. Congress is allied on very few issues these days, but support for Israel seems to be one, which would seem to improve Rosen’s bipartisan bill’s chance of passing.