What Happened in Congress This Week

Congressional Week March 6 - 10

H.R. 725 – The Innocent Party Protection Act would make it easier for corporations to move a suit to courts that are usually friendlier to them. Congressman Garamendi voted NO.

H.R. 985 – The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act would make it more difficult for you to participate in class action lawsuits against corporations. Congressman Garamendi voted NO.

H.R. 1301 – The Department of Defense Appropriations bill is the defense spending bill for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017 and supports the missions at Travis AFB and Beale AFB. This defense appropriations bill is actually President Obama’s final defense budget and was reintroduced this session of Congress. Congressman Garamendi voted YES.

The Republican Affordable Care Act replacement plan, otherwise known as the “American Health Care Act”:

  • This bill eliminates the Medicaid expansion and could kick 11 million people, including at least 3.5 million Californians, off their health insurance plans.
  • Allows insurers to charge people 130% of their normal premiums if their coverage lapses for any reason whatsoever.
  • Eliminates the requirement for Medicaid to cover essential benefits such as outpatient care and maternity care, making Medicaid worth less to those who can still get it.
  • Let’s insurers charge those aged 55-64 five times more than anyone else.
  • Eliminates the individual mandate, which will drive younger people out of the insurance market, and bend the cost curve upwards for older Americans who tend to use more medical services.
  • Repeals $300 billion worth of taxes over 10 years, with the vast bulk of the money going to the rich.
  • Gives the 400 wealthiest families in America an average tax break of $7 million a year.

Congressional Week February 27 - March 3

H.J. Res. 83 – Overturns a rule created to standardize the Occupation Safety and Health Administration’s record keeping of work-related injuries and illnesses. Keeping track of these injuries is a necessary tool to make sure we have safe workplaces. Congressman Garamendi voted NO.

H.R. 998 - The Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome Act or the SCRUB Act, this bill makes it easier to roll back health and safety protections. It creates an unelected commission that could tie the hands of agencies responsible for workplace safety, environmental safeguards, and consumer protections. The commission would cost taxpayers $30 million and consist of nine members recommended by congressional leaders, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. That's a bad idea. Amendments that would have exempted protections for student loan borrowers, lower income school districts, clean air, tribal communities, and government whistleblowers were rejected by the majority. Congressman Garamendi voted NO.

H.R. 1009 – The OIRA Insight, Reform, and Accountability Act could make it harder for consumer protection agencies to protect the public against fraud and negligence by hindering the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission. Congressman Garamendi voted NO.

Moving on to the White House, the President signed into law H.J.Res. 40, a bill that weakens mental health tests for gun ownership. Time was, if someone was registered with Social Security as being too mentally ill to manage their own finances, that information would be passed on to the national background check for gun purchases. Under the new law, Social Security can no longer pass on this information. That increases the odds that someone with severe mental illness could buy firearms. That endangers everyone.

This week, Congressman Garamendi also introduced two bills. The first is H.R.1241, the American Food for American Schools Act with Congressman LaMalfa. This bill would require school food providers to request a waiver from Buy American requirements if they decide to use your tax dollars to buy food for school lunches from foreign sources instead of the United States. Congressman Garamendi believes American schools should serve American food—and if they don’t, the public should have a right to know.

The other is H.R.1251, the Fair COLA Act. This bill would change how cost-of-living adjustments, or COLA, are calculated by Social Security. Right now, the current method doesn’t reflect how seniors and retirees actually spend their money. Using a fairer method will increase benefits to keep up with rising costs in sector, like healthcare, that affect retirees more than other people.

Congressional Week February 13 - 17

H.J. Res. 42 - Overturns a current regulation that defines a very limited group of occupations for which states can require drug tests in order for workers to collect earned unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. If this regulation is overturned, the Trump administration would be able to issue a replacement regulation allowing states to pass laws requiring drug testing without cause for an even larger group of unemployed workers, a violation of the unreasonable search and seizure clause of the Constitution. Congressman Garamendi voted NO.

H.J. Res 43 - Congress voted to allow states to discriminate against women’s healthcare providers on the basis of political ideology rather than the quality of their care. H.J. Res 43 Invalidates a rule that ensures that patients can access critical family planning and preventive services through any Title X-qualified provider. Since 2011, 13 states have restricted certain providers from the Title X program for reasons other than their ability to provide care. This regulation was finalized in response to ongoing litigation in those states over these restrictions, which has led to inconsistency in how states may choose Title X providers. This will hurt women by restricting their health care options. Congressman Garamendi voted NO.

H.J. Res 66 - Nullifies a regulation that allows states to establish automatic retirement savings plans. California was the first state to implement this critical system, responding to the 57% of Californians that do not have access to an Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and this rule allows them to access a state plan that can ensure their financial security. Overturning this rule helps Wall Street pad their profits while denying Americans of a prosperous future. Congressman Garamendi voted NO.

H.J. Res 67 - Nullifies a nearly identical rule that allows large cities or counties (populations greater than 700,000) to create their own IRA systems as long as their state does not have a system. Congressman Garamendi voted NO. 

H.J. Res 69 - Congress voted to allow inhumane predator control methods, like killing mother bears with cubs, killing wolf pups in their dens, and shooting bears from a helicopter. H.J. Res. 69 repeals the Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Protection Rule which prohibits so-called “predator control” activities on National Refuges unless they are consistent with federal law and the purposes of the Refuge, and are based on sound science in response to a conservation concern. The rule also bans the use of some of the most decimating and inhumane killing tactics on Refuges, including killing black and brown bear cubs or mothers with cubs, killing brown bears over bait, killing wolves and wolf pups in their dens, and shooting bears from a helicopter.That’s cruel. Congressman Garamendi voted NO. 

H.R. 428 - Strips the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of its survey authority along a 116-mile stretch of the Red River along the border between Texas and Oklahoma. The bill hands federal authority to survey public domain lands to the States of Texas and Oklahoma, without oversight or approval of the final survey by the Interior Secretary. Transferring BLM's survey authority over public domain land is unprecedented and would create even more ambiguity in an already complicated situation. The federal government maintains a trust responsibility to Native American tribes. Transferring consultation authority to the states, and then dismissing federal approval of the survey results, is a dereliction of that duty. Congressman Garamendi voted NO.

Congressional Week February 6 - 10

Congressional Review Act Repeals in House

*Note about the Congressional Review Act: not only does it repeal rules, but it prohibits the adoption of a “substantially similar” rule anytime in the future, essentially blocking future rulemaking on a given issue. 

H.J. Res. 44Blocks implementation of BLM’s “Planning 2.0” rule which modernizes the regulatory framework for updating and maintain Resource Management Plans (essentially landscape level land use plans). This will lock in place Reagan-era planning framework and eliminate the BLM’s ability to take climate change into account in Resource Management Plans. Congressman Garamendi voted "NO."

H.J. Res. 57 -  Rolls back a rule that gave state and local educational agencies greater flexibility to set education standards, including accountability measures used to demonstrate the quality of education provided. This rule implements provisions from the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act. Repeals a rule that provides states and LEAs (local education agencies) greater flexibility and autonomy, and ensures the civil rights legacy of the law through key equity protections. Congressman Garamendi voted "NO." 

H.J. Res. 58 - Removes a rule that requires states to report specific information on teacher preparation programs, such as student learning outcomes, and rate their effectiveness. This will seriously hinder the quality, effectiveness, and transparency of teacher preparation programs across the nation. Congressman Garamendi voted "NO."

Congressional Week January 30 - February 3

Congressional Review Act Repeals in House

*Note about the Congressional Review Act: not only does it repeal rules, but it prohibits the adoption of a “substantially similar” rule anytime in the future, essentially blocking future rulemaking on a given issue. 

H.J.Res. 38 – Removes regulations on coal mining and protections for clean water. Repeals the Interior Department’s stream protection rule, which prohibits mining activities that would cause “material damage” to streams outside of the mining permit area. Congressman Garamendi voted "NO." This bill has also passed the Senate.

H.J.Res. 41 – Removes Dodd-Frank transparency requirements for oil and gas companies. Repeals a rule that requires companies to disclose payments to the U.S. and foreign governments for the development of oil, natural gas or minerals. Congressman Garamendi voted "NO." This bill has also passed the Senate.

H.J.Res. 40 – Removes mental health background check requirements for potential firearm buyers. The Social Security Administration wouldn’t be able to report disability insurance recipients of the FBI’s background check system for prospective gun buyers under an as-yet-unnumbered resolution. Congressman Garamendi voted "NO."

H.J.Res. 37 – Removes a rule requiring prospective federal contractors to disclose their labor violations. Congressman Garamendi voted "NO."

H.J.Res. 36 – Removes clean air protections. Repeals a BLM rule that requires oil and gas production operations on federal land to reduce wasted methane. Congressman Garamendi voted "NO."