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December 26, 2022 117th Congress

Term wraps up with significant legal achievements

The 117th Congress has adjourned – marked by the passage of several legislative measures that were important to the American Bar Association and of interest to all lawyers.

The omnibus government spending bill, which included an overhaul of the Electoral Count Act, was among 262 bills passed by the 117th Congress.

The omnibus government spending bill, which included an overhaul of the Electoral Count Act, was among 262 bills passed by the 117th Congress.

The Daniel Anderl Security and Privacy Act, a priority for the ABA, was included in the National Defense Authorization Act. The security act bolsters efforts to protect the federal judiciary and safeguard personal information of federal judges and their immediate families.

The omnibus government spending bill passed before Congress adjourned on December 23. It contains an overhaul of the Electoral Count Act that clears up many ambiguities about how the presidential result is determined and creates new safeguards against interference with the results. The bill also includes $560 million in funding for the Legal Services Corporation, $71 million (14.5%) higher than in fiscal year 2022. LSC funding is always a major issue for ABA Day lobbying efforts.

The Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act amends the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to provide for a periodic financial transaction reporting requirement for federal judicial officers and the online publication of financial disclosure reports of federal judicial officers.

In all, 262 laws were passed in the Congress. Among them:

  • The Respect for Marriage Act repeals the Defense of Marriage Act and codifies the right to same-sex and interracial marriages.
  • The American Rescue Plan provided $1.9 trillion in stimulus to help the economy recover from Covid-19 shutdowns.
  • The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act designated June 19th as a federal holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. 
  • The Honoring our PACT Act of 2022 expanded health care and benefits for more than five million servicemembers who were exposed to dangerous burn pit fumes, Agent Orange and other toxins during their service.
  • The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 aims to curb inflation by reducing the deficit, lowering prescription drug prices, promoting domestic energy production and expanding and modernizing the Internal Revenue Service.

When Congress reconvenes on January 3, Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives. Democrats will continue to control the Senate and could speed approval of federal judicial picks – if the Senate’s three Independents vote with Democrats, as expected.  In the 117th Congress, 99 federal judges were confirmed, including Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

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