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House Legislative Update for July 25, 2014

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Sexual Exploitation: On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed five bills designed to fight human trafficking.  Collectively, these resolutions amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and aim to further “deter, detect, and disrupt” the vast trafficking network manifested on our soil.  Highlights of the legislation passed include H.R. 5116, which requires that Department of Homeland Security employees working within anti-trafficking units participate in advanced trainings and attend comprehensive briefings on trafficking detection tactics.  This is a vital step in light of the current crisis at our southern border.  Additionally, H.R. 5135 calls for in-depth surveys to be conducted, aimed at obtaining new data regarding sex trafficking of runaway and homeless youth — vital information never before collected or analyzed.  H.R. 2283 designates the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Office an official Bureau, putting it on equal footing with the other Bureaus in the State Department.

National Sovereignty & Support for Israel: H.R. 4411, the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2014, passed without opposition this week.  This bill has many noteworthy provisions centered on the ultimate goal of protecting both the American and Israeli governments from this dangerous terrorist organization.  Not only does H.R. 4411 aim to sever Hezbollah’s access to the international financial system, but this resolution also enacts U.S. sanctions on foreign groups that are knowingly funding Hezbollah’s efforts.  With Israel under constant attack in recent days, it is right and proper that this type of legislation be initiated in an attempt to isolate and extinguish the ever-present threat of Hezbollah.

Tax Extenders: H.R. 4935, offered by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas), is being considered this week by the House of Representatives.  This resolution helps families by adjusting the child tax credit for inflation.  It also eliminates the penalties currently incurred by married couples filing for these types of tax credits.  Now, mothers and fathers are encouraged to file as individuals (and both be at tax return thresholds of $75,000 each) rather than as a married couples (where they would be capped at $110,000 collectively).  The “Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014” disincentivizes cohabitation by raising the cap from $110,000 to $150,000.  This bill eliminates any monetary penalty for filing as a married couple or fiscal incentive for remaining unwed and promotes strong, stable, unified families.

Reps. Diane Black (R-Tennessee) and Danny Davis (D-Illinois) sponsored a bipartisan tax extender bill that came out of the Rules Committee and was considered on the House floor this week.  H.R. 3393, the Student and Family Tax Simplification Act, consolidates and simplifies a myriad of “tax benefits for educational expenses” such as tuition and other costs.  Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Alabama) summarized it well when she stated, “You shouldn’t need a degree in tax law to understand what tax credits are available for college tuition.  H.R. 3393 ensures that you don’t.”