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Washington Letter December 2016


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Federal Government

Continuing resolution will fund government programs through April

President Obama signed legislation Dec. 10 that continues funding for the federal government through April 28, 2017, preventing a government shutdown but leaving major decisions about fiscal year 2017 funding for the next Congress. P.L. 114-254 (H.R. 2028), the Further Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act for 2017, maintains funding at fiscal year 2016 levels for most of the federal government while providing an additional $5.1 billion in counterterrorism funds and $4 billion in emergency funds to address damages caused by recent natural disasters.

Legislation & Lobbying

Family First provisions dropped from Cures legislation

Despite a last-minute push from child advocacy groups during the final days of the 114th Congress, Congress failed to pass the Family First Prevention Services Act, which would have taken crucial steps toward reforming the federal child welfare financing structure to support keeping children safely with their families. The bipartisan legislation, H.R. 5456 and S. 3085, unanimously passed the House in June but stalled in the Senate as the 114th Congress was coming to a close.

Federal Government

Justice for All Reauthorization Act signed by the president

President Obama signed bipartisan legislation Dec. 16 that includes ABA-supported provisions to improve victims’ rights and increase resources for reducing the substantial backlog for forensic testing of rape kits. The legislation, the Justice for All Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2577) – which cleared Congress on Dec. 1 – amends and strengthens provisions in the Justice for All Act of 2004, the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, the DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act of 2004 and the Innocence Protection Act of 2004.

Federal Government

Defense authorization awaits president’s signature; preserves rights for accused

A $619 billion fiscal year 2017 national defense authorization bill presented to the president Dec. 14 includes proposals that substantially reform court-martial procedures in the military but also retain procedures of interest to the ABA. S. 2943, which passed the House by a 375-34 vote on Dec. 2 and the Senate by a 97-2 vote on Dec. 8, aligns with ABA policy by retaining an accused’s right in a court-martial to choose whether to be sentenced by court members or by a military judge in non-capital offense cases.

Federal Government

Bipartisan group of senators introduces BRIDGE Act

A bipartisan groups of senators, bracing for attempts by President-elect Donald J. Trump to eliminate the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, introduced legislation Dec. 9 that would provide eligible individuals with protection from deportation so they can continue working and studying in the United States. More than 750,000 individuals, known as DREAMers, are currently participating in the DACA program, which was created in 2012 by President Obama and supported by the ABA to provide temporary deferment of deportation for undocumented individuals who were brought to the United States as children and meet certain criteria.

Federal Government

President-elect Trump makes progress in forming his Cabinet; confirmation hearings already set for attorney general nominee

President-elect Donald J. Trump continued to make progress this month as he put forth numerous proposed nominees for top positions in his Cabinet and White House staff. While the president-elect continues to roll out nominees, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced plans for the first confirmation hearings to be held Jan. 10 and 11 to consider the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to be the next U.S. attorney general.