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Congressional Report: August 20 – August 24, 2018

On Aug. 23 the Senate passed S. 2896, the JACK Act, by unanimous voice vote. If passed by the House, lobbyists would be required to reveal any prior convictions in order to advocate (lobby) on behalf of clients who have an interest in business before our government. That’s good news! The bad news is that, according to govtrack.us, there is a 19% chance of this bill becoming law.

On Aug. 23, the Senate passed S. 2511, the CENOTE Act, which will require the Commerce Department to coordinate and make available NOAA’s assessment of unmanned maritime systems. The bill was passed by a unanimous voice vote and will go to the House. Based on the estimate of govtrack.us, this bill has a 22% chance of becoming law. “By enabling NOAA to further advance its use of unmanned maritime systems, we will be able to tap into a wealth of resources between public-private partnerships,” Congressman Palazzo (D-Calif.) said.

On Aug. 23, Senate passed its version of H.R. 6157, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2019 by a vote of 85-7. Both Sen. Brown and Sen. Portman voted in favor of the bill. Since the Senate version includes changes from the House bill, the House must approve those changes. This “minibus” (as opposed to “omnibus”) spending bill also includes funding for education, labor, and health and human service issues. While the support for National Institutes of Health, Head Start, and the Veterans Employment Training Program are welcome, the provisions related to the Affordable Care Act are of concern.

Legislation to watch: On Aug. 22 with support from the White House, key Republican senators moved to block the progress of the bipartisan Secure Elections Act. One key disagreement was whether the Congress should require states to use voting systems that included a verifiable paper trail in order to receive federal funds for elections. Paper backups are considered essential to audit election results in case of an attack on a state’s election system. Co-sponsor Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) issued a statement that read, in part, “When our nation is under attack from foreign governments there is a federal obligation to act.” Co-sponsor James Lankford (R-Okla) said, “Congressional action is unacceptable.” The future of the legislation is uncertain.

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