July 23, 2019

A Look Ahead: The 116th Congress Post Recess

Following August Recess, the 116th Congress has several updated legislative priorities, with a series of key pieces of legislation to watch. Issues of interest to the ABA involve education, labor, and immigration.

Regarding education, three key bills already introduced in Congress will probably get attention soon. Of particular interest to the ABA is the What You Can Do For Your Country Act (S.1203/H.R.2241). This bill would allow borrowers of all federal loans to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), as well as borrowers enrolled in any federal repayment plan. Under current law, borrowers enrolled in the extended or graduated repayment plans become ineligible.

For labor, there are also three bills that may get attention this fall. The Paycheck Fairness Act is of most interest to the ABA (H.R. 7/S. 270). This bill would ban employers from asking job candidates about their salaries at previous jobs, eliminate employer rules that prohibit employees from discussing salary information, and require employers to share salary data with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

Congress has also been working on several bills involving immigration matters. The Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act (H.R. 3401) was signed into law on July 1st and provides much needed funding for humanitarian services and security at the border, including funding for the Legal Orientation Program training. The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 1044) would increase the per-country cap on family-based immigration visas and eliminate the per-country cap for employment-based visas. The House has already passed this bill with a strong bipartisan vote (224 Ds; 140 Rs; 1 Independent), but the Senate has taken no action on it.  The Senate has also not acted on a bill introduced earlier this year by the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that would provide provisional protected status for DACA recipients and provide additional funding for border security (S.166). With increasing scrutiny on immigration issues at the U.S. borders, we expect immigration to continue to merit congressional attention this fall. 

In addition to the bills mentioned above, the House intends to continue advocating for changes to voting rights, campaign finance, and background checks for gun purchases. Pending bills include H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019, which would expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, and H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which would require universal background checks preceding commercial gun sales and close the loopholes left open by current laws. The Senate will continue to focus on judicial confirmations and consider climate change, including S.J. Res. 8, which is a joint resolution recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal that would achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, invest in infrastructure, and more, over ten years.

To keep up with legislation as it moves through Congress, visit our resources page on the Grassroots Action Center.

To sign up for more articles like this sent directly to your email inbox via the Washington Letter, click here.