WHAT’S CONGRESS UP TO?

Major Legislation Updates (as of July 22):

  • The House Committee on Natural Resources held a second hearing on June 16 on the dueling House bills for Puerto Rico statehood, H.R. 1522 and H.R. 2070.
  • H.R. 983, the “Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act”, passed in the House on June 22.
  • S. 1095, the “Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act”, passed in the Senate on June 24.
  • H.R. 239, the “Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act”, passed in the House on June 24.
  • H.R. 3385, the “HOPE for Afghan SIVs Act”, passed in the House on June 29.
  • H.R. 2441, the “Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Act”, passed in the Senate on June 24 and was signed into law by President Biden on June 30.
  • H.R. 3985, the “Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act”, passed in the House (407 - 16) on July 22.

Voting and Statehood Legislation

H.R. 51: The “Washington, D.C. Admission Act” would admit the city of Washington, D.C. into the union as the 51st state and redefine the “Capitol” to a selection of streets and federal buildings where Government business is conducted. Status: Passed in the House on April 22 and received by the Senate.

H.R. 1522 / S. 780: The “Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act” would provide for the admission of Puerto Rico as a state following the 2020 statehood referendum where 52.5% of Puerto Rican voters voted for statehood. Status: The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on H.R. 1522 on June 16. S. 780 was referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on March 16.

H.R. 2070: The “Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act” would direct the Puerto Rican legislature to hold a status convention that would determine a selection of choices for Puerto Rico’s political status (statehood, continue to be a territory, independence, etc) and hold another referendum with the full slate of choices. Ranked choice voting would be authorized for this referendum. Status: Referred to the House Rules Committee on March 18. The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on June 16.

H.R. 2358: The “Voter Empowerment Act” takes a comprehensive approach to closing the gaps in voting access and ensuring that every American can participate in the electoral process. Specifically, it would ensure ballots are counted from Americans serving in the military or overseas. Status: Referred to six House Committees on April 5.

H.R. 3646: The “Reducing Barriers for Military Voters Act” would direct the President’s team to develop and implement a plan to provide end-to-end electronic voting services for absent uniformed services voters who are deployed or mobilized to locations with limited postal services. Status: Referred to the House Committee on House Administration on May 28.

Veteran Deportation and Military Family Naturalization Legislation

H.R.163: The “Protect Patriot Spouses Act” includes new language to allow eligible veteran spouses who have been removed from or have left the United States to apply for an immigrant visa and return home. Status: Referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship on March 4.

H.R. 1182: The “Veteran Deportation Prevention and Reform Act” would:  

1) require the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) to maintain data on potentially removable noncitizen veterans. The Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary would be directed to establish an annual training program for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel on handling noncitizen veterans;

2) direct DHS to establish a Military Family Immigration Advisory Committee that would make recommendations on whether an individual should be granted a stay of removal, deferred action, or parole, or should be removed from the country;

3) provide a streamlined pathway to citizenship for spouses and children of members of the Armed Services through a joint DoD/DHS program; and

4) require DHS to establish a program and application procedure that allows eligible veterans to be admitted as noncitizens lawfully admitted for permanent residence. It also directs the Attorney General to reopen removal proceedings concerning any non-citizen veterans and, where appropriate, rescind any orders of removal already issued. 

Status: Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services (February 18) and the House Subcommittees on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (March 22) and on Immigration and Citizenship (April 28).

S. 2261: The “Healthcare Opportunities for Patriots in Exile (HOPE) Act” would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow certain non-citizen veterans to be paroled into the United States to receive health care furnished by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on 24 June.

S. 2265: The “Veterans Visa and Protection Act” would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a veterans visa program to permit veterans who have been removed from the United States to return as immigrants. Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on 24 June.

S. 2268: The “Immigrant Veterans Eligibility Tracking System (I-VETS) Act” would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to identify each non-citizen service member or veteran when they apply for an immigration benefit or are placed in an immigration enforcement proceeding. Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on 24 June.

 

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