Friday, January 13, 2017

First Responders, Transparancy, Sanctuary Cities, Whistleblowers, Tsunamis, Russia and Weather

U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) took to the House floor to speak on his legislation, the Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act (H.R. 437). The bill would help boost medical countermeasures for first responders in the event of an emergency, like a terrorist attack or hurricane.


H.R. 5 was passed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, January 11, 2017. The six bills included in H.R. 5 include:
Regulatory Accountability Act: Requires agencies to use less costly regulations to achieve a given objective. (Title I—Regulatory Accountability Act )

Separation of Powers Restoration Act: Repeals the Chevron and Auer doctrines and enables judges to “end judicial deference to bureaucrats’ statutory and regulatory interpretations.” (Title II – Separation of Powers Restoration Act)

Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act: Requires agencies to explain how their actions affect small business owners, employees, and customers. (Title III—Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act)

REVIEW Act: Prevents new rules with billion-dollar annual costs from taking effect until litigation against them has been resolved. It would not affect current regulations. (Title IV—REVIEW Act)

ALERT Act: Requires agencies to publish already-mandatory transparency reports that they regularly dodge. (Title V—ALERT Act)

Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act: Requires agencies to publish summaries of their new rules in plain English. (Title VI—Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act)

Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-01) introduced H. J. Res. 100, a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that would provide states with the authority to repeal any federal rule or regulation if two-thirds of the states are in agreement.


Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) and Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act on Wednesday, January 11, 2017. The legislation, introduced with the support of 59 House cosponsors and the backing of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), would withhold key federal funding streams from jurisdictions that forbid their law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal immigration officials.


The House of Representatives unanimously approved Congressman Rod Blum’s legislation to protect whistleblowers in the federal government by reauthorizing the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) through 2021.

The Office of Special Counsel is responsible for protecting federal employees from retaliation for whistleblowing on violations of law, mismanagement of funds, abuse of authority, or other prohibited practices within the federal government.


Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) has introduced bipartisan legislation to help prepare coastal communities for tsunami. Several other Congressional members have sponsored the bill with Bonamici, including Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Don Young (R-AK), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Denny Heck (D-WA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Charlie Crist (D-FL), and Derek Kilmer (D-WA). This legislation will strengthen tsunami detection and warning systems, improve response and resiliency, and better protect communities vulnerable to tsunami. The legislation would complement local and state efforts to prepare for tsunami.


Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (PA-13), a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House Oversight Committee, released the following statement regarding the recent allegations of Russian possession of incriminating material involving President-elect Donald Trump and his campaign’s coordination with Russian officials:

“If true, the intelligence report outlining allegations of Russia’s possession of compromising personal and financial information about President-elect Donald Trump is beyond unsettling and sheds great light on Mr. Trump’s oddly sympathetic approach to Russia and its meddling in our election, as determined by our intelligence community. If substantiated or verified, I will call for a formal, bipartisan congressional investigation into these scandalous and disturbing allegations.”


On January 4, 2017, the U.S. House passed H.R. 21, the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017, a bill designed to provide greater congressional oversight of burdensome regulations issued during the final days of a president’s term.


The U.S. House unanimously approved H.R. 353, the Lucas-Bridenstine Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act. This legislation prioritizes protecting lives and property.

This legislation is the product of a bipartisan effort. It directs the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to focus resources and effort to:

  • Rebalance NOAA funding to place a higher priority on weather-related research and activities;
  • Emphasize developing accurate forecasts and timely warnings of high impact weather events;
  • Create programs to extend warning lead times and improve forecasts for tornadoes and hurricanes;
  • Develop a plan to utilize advanced technology to regain U.S. superiority in weather modeling and forecasts;
  • Increase focus and continue development of seasonal forecasts and how to maximize information from these forecasts; and
  • Enhance coordination among various federal government weather stakeholders.

    The legislation also authorizes and extends a NOAA pilot program already under way thanks to a partnership between the House Science Space and Technology and the House Appropriations Committee. Under this pilot program, NOAA has already issued two contracts to procure commercial satellite weather data. This pilot program could bring about a paradigm shift in how NOAA makes decisions about future procurement of critical weather data.