Summer 2007

Legislative Update

In a contentious session of the 110 th Congress, legislation on hot button issues such as visas for foreign workers, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, religious accommodation in employment, hate crimes, foreign assistance for HIV/AIDS, and gun control were introduced.

 

AIDS/HIV

On May 24, Rep. Watson (D-CA) introduced HR 2554, to amend Title 18 of the United States Code to require HIV testing of federal prisoners about to be released and to direct the Attorney General of the United States and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide HIV/AIDS treatment for recently released federal prisoners.  The bill was referred to the Judiciary and Energy and Commerce Committees.

On March 8, Sen. Obama (D-IL) introduced S 823, to amend the Public Health Service Act with respect to facilitating the development of microbicides for preventing transmission of HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The bill was referred to the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committees. A similar bill (HR 1420) was introduced in the House by Rep. Schakowsky (D-IL).

 

Children/Families

On March 17, Sen. Murray (D-WA), introduced S 1136, to promote the economic security and safety of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and for other purposes. The bill was referred to the Education and Labor, Ways and Means, and Financial Services Committees. A similar bill (HR 2395) was introduced in the House by Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA).

On March 8, Rep. Jefferson (D-LA) introduced HR 1411, to provide for the construction and rehabilitation of child care facilities in areas of the Gulf Coast affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The bill was referred to the Financial Services Committee.

 

Civil Rights/Constitutional Law

On May 15, Sen. Lieberman (D-CT) introduced 1397, to increase the allocation of visas for certain highly skilled workers and to reduce fraud and abuse in certain visa programs for aliens working temporarily in the United States. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee.

On May 8, Sen. Akaka (D-HI) introduced S 1345, to affirm that federal employees are protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and to repudiate any assertion to the contrary. The bill was referred to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees. A similar bill (HR 2232) was introduced in the House by Rep. Waxman (D-CA).

On May 1, Rep. Tancredo (R-CO) introduced HR 2100, to provide for equal protection of the law and to prohibit discrimination and preferential treatment on the basis of race, color, national origin, or sex in federal actions. The bill was referred to the Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform, Education and Labor, and House Administration Committees.

On April 24, Rep. Frank (D-MA) introduced HR 2015, to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill was referred to the Education and Labor, House Administration, Oversight and Government Reform, and Judiciary Committees.

On April 19, Sen. Boxer (D-CA) introduced S 1173, to protect, consistent with Roe v. Wade, a woman's freedom to choose to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee.

On March 29, Rep. Rahall (D-WV) introduced H J Res 41, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to clarify that the Constitution neither prohibits voluntary prayer nor requires prayer in schools. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee.

On March 9, Rep. McCarthy (D-NY) introduced HR 1431, to amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to establish provisions with respect to religious accommodation in employment. The bill was referred to the Education and Labor Committees.

On March 8, Rep. Nadler (D-NY) introduced HR 1416, to restore habeas corpus for those detained by the United States and to repeal the prohibition on treaty obligations establishing grounds for certain claims. The bill was referred to the Judiciary and Armed Services Committees.

 

Criminal Justice

On March 12, Sen. Kennedy (D-MA) introduced S 1105, to provide federal assistance to states, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee. A similar bill (HR 1592) was introduced in the House by Rep. Conyers (D-MI).

 

Elder Law

On March 29, Rep. Emanuel (D-IL) introduced HR 1783, to amend the Social Security Act to enhance the social security of the nation by ensuring adequate public-private infrastructure and to resolve to prevent, detect, treat, intervene in, and prosecute elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. The bill was referred to the Ways and Means, Judiciary, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor Committees.

 

Gun Violence

On May 5, Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) introduced S 1316, to establish and clarify that Congress does not authorize persons convicted of dangerous crimes in foreign courts to freely possess firearms in the United States. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee.

On April 30, Rep. King (R-NY) introduced HR 2074, to increase public safety by permitting the Attorney General to deny the transfer of a firearm or the issuance of firearms or explosives licenses to a known suspected dangerous terrorist. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee. A similar bill (S 1237) was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ).

 

Health Law

On April 17, Rep. Lipinski (D-IL) introduced HR 1892, to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide for the establishment and maintenance of a National Amniotic and Placental Stem Cell Bank. The bill was referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee.

On April 12, Sen. Bingaman (D-NM) introduced S 1103, to amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to include costs incurred by the Indian Health Service, a Federally qualified health center, an AIDS drug assistance program, certain hospitals, or a pharmaceutical manufacturer patient assistance program in providing prescription drugs toward the annual out-of-pocket threshold under part D of the Medicare program. The bill was referred to the Finance Committee.

 

Housing and Homelessness

On May 8, Rep. Johnson (D-TX) introduced HR 2216, to amend the Hate Crime Statistics Act to include crimes against the homeless. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee.

On May 8, Rep. Johnson (D-TX) introduced HR 2217, to amend the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to include homeless status in the definition of “hate crime” for the purposes of federal sentencing provisions. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee.

 

Immigration Law

On May 22, Sen. Collins (R-ME) introduced S 31, to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to reduce fraud in certain visa programs for aliens working temporarily in the United States. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee.

On May 21, Rep. Hill (D-IN) introduced HR 2399, to amend the Immigration andNationality Act and Title 18, United States Code, to combat the crime of alien smuggling and related activities, and for other purposes. The bill was referred to the Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees.

On May 17, Rep. Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced HR 2388, to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to enhance protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking. The bill was referred to the Judiciary, Ways and Means, Agriculture, Financial Services, and Energy and Commerce Committees.

On May 8, Sen. Leahy (D-VT) introduced S 1328, to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents and to penalize immigration fraud in connection with permanent partnerships. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee. A similar bill (HR 2221) was introduced in the House by Rep. Nadler (D-NY).

 

International Law

On May 17, Rep. Carnahan (D-MO) introduced HR 2367, to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to authorize assistance to provide contraceptives in developing countries in order to prevent unintended pregnancies, abortions, and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. The bill was referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee.

On April 19, Sen. Durbin (D-IL) introduced S 1175, to end the use of child soldiers in hostilities around the world. The bill was referred to the Foreign Relations Committee.

On March 7, Sen. Durbin (D-IL) introduced S 805, to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to assist countries in sub-Saharan Africa in the effort to achieve internationally recognized goals in the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS and other major diseases and the reduction of maternal and child mortality by improving human health care capacity and improving retention of medical health professionals in sub-Saharan Africa. The bill was referred to the Foreign Relations Committee.

 

National Security

On April 17, Rep. Kennedy (D-RI) introduced HR 1891, to promote the development of disaster plans that will protect the maximum number of citizens; to foster public trust, confidence and cooperation with these plans; and to encourage greater public participation in homeland security by allowing the American people to have a direct and influential role in developing and modifying community disaster preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation plans in collaboration with government officials, emergency managers, health authorities, and professional responders. The bill was referred to the Transportation and Infrastructure, Energy and Commerce, and Homeland Security Committees.

 

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