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House Legislative Update for September 15, 2014

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The House is expected to finish its legislative business and wrap up.  It may reconvene if needed based upon Senate action.

GAO Report:  Several House leaders requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent watchdog agency, investigate abortion in ObamaCare.  This week, the GAO released its report that showed that all Americans, even in states that have excluded abortion from their exchanges, are being forced to subsidize abortion services.  The report also discovered that when Americans tried to determine whether abortion coverage is included in their plan, that information was not readily available.  To read the full report online, click here.

To read Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) press release, click here.

Benghazi Hearing: This week, the House special committee investigating the Benghazi terrorist attacks held its first public hearing.  The hearing focused on determining what progress has been made since the attacks in implementing security improvements at U.S. embassies and other missions abroad.

Preserving Welfare for Needs Not Weed Act: The House by voice vote passed legislation that closes a loophole and ensures that taxpayers will not be funding welfare recipients’ marijuana use.  Welfare benefits were designed to help low-income families make ends meet.  These benefits should not be used to subsidize drug use.  Congress has prohibited welfare funds from being used for alcohol and gambling.  Similarly, taxpayer monies should not be used for marijuana.  Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) supported this legislation and will include this vote in our annual scorecard.

Continuing Resolution: This week, the House passed a clean continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11 by a vote of 319-108.  The continuing resolution included all of the current pro-life provisions.  Some of the changes to existing law include:

  • A provision to extend expiring Department of Defense activities, including counter-drug operations, support to the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq, and rewards for assistance in combating terrorism.
  • A provision to continue a surge in funding for State Department programs to counter regional aggression toward Ukraine and other former Soviet Union countries.
  • Several provisions to ensure appropriate treatment of veterans and continued oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs, such as additional funds for disability claims processing and funds for investigations into potential improper conduct, including “wait list” and “whistleblower” allegations.
  • A provision allowing funding flexibility for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to maintain staffing levels, border security operations, detention space, and immigration enforcement activities.
  • Provisions to address the recent Ebola crisis, including additional funding to accelerate HHS research on Ebola therapies and additional funding for the Centers for Disease Control’s response to the growing outbreak in Africa.
  • A provision allowing additional funds to offset food price increases in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program to ensure that no current recipients are removed from the program.
  • A provision allowing funding flexibility to maintain weather satellite programs, ensuring the continuation of data for weather warnings and forecasts, including forecasts of severe weather events.
  • A provision allowing the continuation of current funding for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.
  • A provision extending the operating authority for the Export-Import Bank through June 30, 2015.
  • A provision extending the Internet Tax Freedom Act through the period of the CR ending on December 11, 2014.

ISIS: As part of the continuing resolution to fund the government, the House approved President Obama’s plan to arm and train rebels in Syria to fight ISIS.  The vote was 273-156.  This was not a comprehensive plan to address the situation and CWALAC is continuing to urge Congress and the Administration to do more to protect women, children, and our fellow Christians in the region.  The House this week held more hearings on ISIS, including hearings in the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.