House Dems to Senate: Pass our bills
By Jasmine Sachar - 03/08/14 04:45 PM EST
House Democrats are urging their Senate counterparts to move their bills in the upper chamber this year.
Out of the 195 House-passed bills that are now stalled in the Senate, 31 were written by Democrats, and many have been awaiting Senate approval for close to a year.
Most of these Democratic bills are non-controversial. But House Democrats are stressing the importance of passing them.
GOP House leaders and Senate Democrats have engaged in a back-and-forth blame game on the gridlock in Washington.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has set up a website showcasing all bills “stuck in the Senate." President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), meanwhile, have criticized the House for not acting on immigration reform, which passed the Senate last year.
But the fact that House Democratic bills are sitting in the Senate gives GOP leaders political ammunition.
“Democratic bills, Republican bills, bipartisan bills — the House has moved scores of legislation to help hard-working families and build an America that works,” Cantor Deputy Chief of Staff Doug Heye said. “Harry Reid's do-nothing Senate must not have gotten the memo that President Obama declared 2014 a year of action.”
Reid's office did not respond to requests for comment.
Only half of the stalled Democratic bills have a companion measure in the Senate. All but one are being sponsored by Democratic senators. The exception is Rep. George Miller’s (D-Calif.) Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predator’s Act, which has a companion bill crafted by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
Three of the stalled Democratic bills deal with veterans and the military.
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) has two House-passed bills awaiting action in the Senate. The Ruth Moore Act aims to improve the disability claims process for veterans with mental health problems due to sexual trauma experienced in the military.
Pingree spokesman Willy Ritch said he doesn't know when, or if, the bill will come up on the other side of the Capitol.
“Absolutely, it is frustrating to [Pingree] that this bill passed House and hasn’t passed the Senate,” Ritch said.
If it doesn’t move in the Senate, Ritch said Pingree might seek an administrative remedy.
“She's been pushing this issue for a few years now. The end result may be legislation, but it may also be putting pressure on [the Department of Veterans Affairs] to act on their own,” Ritch said.
Several of the bills are on their second or third Senate run, after having passed the House in previous sessions of Congress only to die in the upper chamber.
Eni Faleomavaega (D), a non-voting delegate from American Samoa, has now introduced his bill on stopping tobacco smuggling in the territories twice. It passed the Republican-controlled House in the 112th Congress with the support of then Judiciary Committee Chairman Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and passed again in the current Congress.
The Rota Cultural and Natural Resources Study Act, sponsored by Gregorio Sablan (D), a delegate from the Northern Mariana Islands, has now passed the House without dissent three times — in 2010, 2012 and 2013 — but has never cleared the Senate.
“Congressman Sablan would very much like to see the Senate pass H.R. 674,” spokesman Bob Schwalbach said. “It’s not controversial.”
Some of these bills might be bundled in larger legislation later this year, though there aren't a lot of vehicles moving through Congress.
A bill penned by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) regarding the Coconino National Forrest is anticipated to be included in a package of Natural Resources bills that will come for a full Senate vote later this year, her office said.
“[The bill] fixes a problem — caused by the federal government —that has unfairly burdened Coconino County property owners,” Kirkpatrick told The Hill. “I urge the Senate to pass it and help folks in my district who've been stuck in limbo far too long."
Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) has sponsored a bill aimed at naming an outpatient clinic after the late Major General William H. Gourley. It cleared the House in November.
“It's nothing more than a bill to name a building so I am not sure why it's being held up,” Farr said. “I'd love to see it move.”.
Read more: http://thehill.com/homenews/house/200228-house-dems-to-senate-dems-pass-our-bills#ixzz2vYXyXZti
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