There were 27 bills introduced in the House and Senate yesterday even though the House was only minimally present in a pro forma session. Three of those bills and a Senate Amendment may be of specific interest to readers of this blog:
HR 3583 To reform and improve the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Office of Emergency Communications, and the Office of Health Affairs of the Department of Homeland Security, and for other purposes. Rep. McSally, Martha [R-AZ-2]
HR 3584 To authorize, streamline, and identify efficiencies within the Transportation Security Administration, and for other purposes. Rep. Katko, John [R-NY-24]
HR 3586 To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to improve border and maritime security coordination in the Department of Homeland Security, and for other purposes. Rep. Miller, Candice S. [R-MI-10]
S Amdt 2669 Making continuing appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes. Sen. Cochran, Thad [R-MS] To H J Res 61, Hire More Heroes Act of 2015
Very Brief Summaries
I’ll be watching HR 3583 for possible effects on the chemical safety programs under OHA.
HR 3584 will be of potential interest for changes to surface transportation security programs.
HR 3586 will watched for changes to the MTSA program.
This amendment to HJ Res 61 will be the first pass at a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11th. This will almost certainly be stalled by the Democrats because this version includes defunding of Planned Parenthood programs. The Republicans did try to defuse that issue by making those funds available to other women’s health programs, but the name ‘Planned Parenthood’ is as much a positive keystone for the Democrats as it is a negative keystone for the Republicans. There will be a cloture vote today on this amendment.
Pro forma sessions of the House are typically attended by just three members; the acting speaker and a floor representative from each party and only involve administrative matters like receiving messages and introducing bills and resolutions. Every once in a while, however, there are actual legislative activities that take place and the results are the same as if the whole House was in attendance.
Yesterday was one of these occasions. During the six minute long session the Foreign Affairs Committee was discharged from responsibility for H Res 50 that was introduced yesterday. The resolution was then brought to the floor for consideration, amended twice, and adopted by unanimous consent.
The resolution was introduced by Rep. Levin (D,MI) in response to concerns of the Ukrainian community in Michigan about the Russian treatment of Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukranian military pilot, that was captured by pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.
This is not an earth shattering bill and its passage obviously had the support of the leadership of both sides of the aisle in the House. It does show, however, that pro forma sessions in the House do need to be watched as legislative matters can be dealt with under unanimous consent rules without a quorum being present.