WHAT’S CONGRESS UP TO?

Major Legislation Updates (as of Sept 23):

  • H.R. 1448, the “Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act”, was signed into law by President Biden on 25 August.
  • S. 189, the “Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act”, passed in the House on September 20 and will go to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. 
  • The House passed H.R. 4350, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022”, 316-113 (Roll no. 293) on 23 September after days of debate and amendments. It is a 1,350+ page omnibus bill that contains many parts of the legislation we are tracking. Our very own legislation tracker, Anthony “Mike” Nitz, will be examining the bill more in depth in October to determine what all is in it.

Voting and Statehood

The following bills deal with the admission of Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico into the Union as the 51st and 52nd States and comprehensive voting rights issues.

H.R. 4: The “John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act” would establish new criteria for “pre-clearance,” a policy from the 1965 Voting Rights Act that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013 on the grounds that the coverage formula used was unconstitutional.
Sponsor: Representative Terri Sewell (D-AL-7).
Co-Sponsors: 223 Democratic members of the House (including Delegates).
Votes: Passed in the House 219-212 (Roll no. 260) on August 24.
Status: Received in the Senate on 14 September and awaiting action.

H.R. 51 / S. 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.
Sponsor: Delegate Eleanor Norton (D-DC-at-Large). Senate version sponsored by Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE).
Co-Sponsors: 216 Democratic members of the House. Senate version co-sponsored by 46 Democratic Senators.
Votes: Passed in the House 216-208 (Roll no. 132) on April 22.
Status: Received in the Senate on April 22. Senate version referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on June 22 with hearings held.

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.
Sponsor: Representative Darren Soto (D-FL-9). Senate version sponsored by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 74 members of the House (57 Democrats, 17 Republicans), including the Delegate from Puerto Rico. Senate version co-sponsored by 3 Democratic Senators.
Votes: None.
Status: The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on H.R. 1522 on June 16. Senate version referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on 16 March.

H.R. 2070 / S. 865: 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.
Sponsor: Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-NY-7). Senate version sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
Co-Sponsors: 76 Democratic members of the House. Senate version co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 9 Senators (7 Democrats, 2 Republicans).
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the House Rules Committee on March 18. The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on June 16. Senate version referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on 18 March. 

H.R. 2358 / S. 954: 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.
Sponsor: Representative James Clyburn (D-SC-6). Senate version sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Co-Sponsors: 36 Democratic members of the House. Senate version co-sponsored by Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA).
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to six House Committees on April 5. Senate version referred to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration on March 24.

H.R. 3646 / S. 2328: 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.
Sponsor: Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC-2). Senate version sponsored by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 14 members of the House (8 Democrats, 6 Republicans). Senate version co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 10 Senators (7 Democrats, 3 Republicans).
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the House Committee on House Administration on May 28. Senate version referred to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration on July 13. 

S. 2747: The “Freedom to Vote Act” is a comprehensive voting rights bill crafted by a group of Democratic Senators built off of a chassis proposed by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). Provisions included in the bill are automatic voter registration for eligible individuals, Election Day as a legal public holiday, across-the-board internet and same day voter registration, better access for voters with disabilities and absent military voters, and across-the-board regulations on early voting and mail voting.
Sponsor: Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
Co-Sponsors: 7 Democratic Senators.
Votes: None.
Status: Introduced in the Senate on September 14 and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar.  

Veteran Deportation and Military Family Naturalization

The following bills would streamline access to naturalization for veterans and military families, repatriate eligible deported veterans, and prevent most deportations of veterans.

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 to return home and would make eligible military spouses eligible for permanent residency.
Sponsor: Representative Darren Soto (D-FL-9).
Co-Sponsors: 7 Democratic members of the House.
Votes: None.
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. 

Sponsor: Representative Mark Takano (D-CA-41).
Co-Sponsors: 53 Democratic members of the House.
Votes: None.
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).

H.R. 4382: The “Repatriate Our Patriots Act” would protect certain veterans from removal from the United States and provide them with an expedited procedure for naturalization.
Sponsor: Representative Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX-15).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 24 members of the House (21 Democrats, 3 Republicans).
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the House Judiciary Committee on July 9.

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.
Sponsor: Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).
Co-Sponsors: 5 Democratic Senators.
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on 24 June.

S. 2265 / H.R. 4137: 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.
Sponsor: Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). House version sponsored by Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-3).
Co-Sponsors: 6 Democratic Senators. House version co-sponsored by 16 Democratic members of the House.
Vote: None.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on 24 June. House version referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and Armed Services on 24 June and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on September 7.

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.
Sponsor: Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).
Co-Sponsors: 7 Democratic Senators.
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on 24 June.

Criminal Justice and Law Reform

The following bills would create new legal protections for veterans and service members.

H.R. 983: The “Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act” would establish a new criminal offense for knowingly scheming to defraud an individual of veterans’ benefits.
Sponsor: Representative Theodore Deutch (D-FL-22).
Co-Sponsors: 3 Republican members of the House.
Votes: Passed in the House 416-5 (Roll no. 174) on June 22.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on June 23.

H.R. 1491: The “Fair Debt Collection for Servicemembers Act” would prohibit debt collectors (credit card companies, payday lenders, etc.) from telling service members that failure to cooperate with them will result in a reduction of rank, a revocation of security clearance, or military prosecution.
Sponsor: Representative Madeleine Dean (D-PA-4).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 6 members of the House (3 Democrats, 3 Republicans).
Votes: Passed in the House unanimously under suspension of the rules on April 20.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on April 22.

​​S.1520 / H.R. 4104​​​: The “Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act”​ is a bill to reform the disposition of charges and convening of courts-martial for certain offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and increase the prevention of sexual assaults and other crimes in the military.
Sponsor: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). House version sponsored by Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA-14).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 65 Senators (44 Democrats, 21 Republicans). House version co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 215 members of the House (203 Democrats, 12 Republicans).
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 29. House version referred to the House Committee on the Armed Services on June 23.

Special Immigrant Visas

The following bills deal with the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program that was originally created to allow Iraqi and Afghan allies of the U.S. to apply for visas to the United States.

​​H.R. 2838​​​​: The “Syrian Partner Protection Act” would provide special immigrant status for Syrian Kurds and other Syrians who partnered with the United States Government in Syria. These individuals include interpreters and others. This program would be similar to the Special Immigrant Visa program that was created for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.​
Sponsor: Representative Jason Crow (D-CO-6).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 11 members of the House (7 Democrats, 4 Republicans).
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to House Committees on the Judiciary and on Foreign Affairs on April 26.

H.R. 3385 / S. 2083: The “HOPE for Afghan SIVs Act” would waive the requirement for Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants to complete a medical examination for eligibility in an effort to streamline the process ahead of the planned exit from Afghanistan by September 11th.
Sponsor: Representative Jason Crow (D-CO-6). Senate version sponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 94 members of the House (65 Democrats, 29 Republicans). Senate version co-sponsored by 2 Democrats and 1 Republican.
Votes: Passed in the House unanimously under suspension of the rules on June 29.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on July 12 along with the Senate version (June 16).

H.R. 3985: The “Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act” would amend the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 to expedite the special immigrant visa process for certain applicants from Afghanistan.
Sponsor: Representative Jason Crow (D-CO-6).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 140 members of the House (104 Democrats, 36 Republicans).
Votes: Passed in the House 407-16 (Roll no. 218) on July 22.
Status: Received in the Senate on July 22 and awaiting further action.

H.R. 5134: The “Showing American Values by Evacuating (SAVE) Afghan Partners Act” would make available an additional 10,000 Special Immigrant Visas for qualified Afghans until all such visas have been issued.
Sponsor: Representative Jason Crow (D-CO-6).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 2 Democrats and 1 Republican.
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary on August 31. 

The VA and Veterans Health Care

The following bills seek to improve the VA and veterans’ health care access and quality.

H.R. 234: The “Korean American VALOR Act” amends existing laws to treat those members of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces who served as allies to the U.S. in the Vietnam War as veterans of the United States Armed Forces for the purpose of granting them access to healthcare provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Sponsor: Representative Mark Takano (D-CA-41).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 7 members of the House (5 Democrats, 2 Republicans).
Votes: None.
Status: Pending a vote in the House since May 4.

H.R. 239: The “Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act” would prohibit the Dept. of Veterans Affairs from requiring veterans to pay for contraceptives that are required to be covered by health insurance plans without a cost-sharing requirement.
Sponsor: Representative Julia Brownley (D-CA-26).
Co-Sponsors: 76 Democratic members of the House.
Votes: Passed in the House 245-181 (Roll no. 184) on June 24.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs on July 12.

H.R. 475 / S. 1972: The “Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act” is legislation that would allow young adults to stay on their parents’ TRICARE until they are 26, mirroring the current provision in private civilian healthcare policies. By extending the policy for young adults in military families, we can relieve the financial burdens brought on by healthcare and ensure they receive quality insurance while they transition into adult life.
Sponsor: Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA-2). Senate version sponsored by Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 87 members of the House (58 Democrats, 29 Republicans). Senate version co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 5 Senators (3 Democrats, 2 Republicans).
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the House Armed Services Committee on January 25. Senate version referred to the Senate Committee on the Armed Services on June 8. 

H.R. 958 / S. 796: The “Protecting Moms Who Served Act” would improve maternal health care for veterans and aims to eliminate maternal mortality, morbidity, and disparities among veterans.
Sponsor: Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14). Senate version sponsored by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 43 members of the House (41 Democrats, 2 Republicans). Senate version co-sponsored by 1 Democrat and 1 Republican.
Votes: Passed in the House unanimously under suspension of the rules on May 12.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on May 13. Hearings held on June 23.

H.R. 1123: The “Veteran Suicide Prevention Act” would require the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to complete a review of veteran suicides during the 5 year period prior to the enactment of the bill. The report will be made publicly available.
Sponsor: Representative Andrew Garbarino (R-NY-2).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 13 members of the House (7 Republicans, 6 Democrats).
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health on March 22.

H.R. 1448: The “Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act” would create a pilot program to provide service dogs to veterans diagnosed with PTSD and other mental illnesses.
Sponsor: Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH-15).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 317 members of the House (120 Democrats, 197 Republicans).
Votes: Passed in the House unanimously under suspension of the rules on May 12. Passed in the Senate by voice vote on August 6.
Status: Signed into law by President Biden on 25 August.

S. 771 / H.R. 1948: The “VA Employee Fairness Act” would ensure that the VA’s Title 38 healthcare professionals—including nurses, physicians, dentists, and physician assistants who serve our veterans— have the same workplace rights currently granted to other VA clinicians and federal employees.
Sponsor: Representative Mark Takano (D-CA-41). Senate version sponsored by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Co-Sponsors: 137 Democratic members of the House. Senate version co-sponsored by 10 Democratic Senators.
Votes: None.
Status: House version pending a vote in the House since May 4. Senate version referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs on March 16.

H.R. 2775 / S. 1319: The “VA Quality Health Care Accountability and Transparency Act” would require the VA to make data on patient wait times, effectiveness of care, staffing and vacancy information, and other elements publicly available on a specified VA website. The VA will be responsible for self-auditing the accuracy and completeness of the data presented.
Sponsor: Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-7). Senate version sponsored by Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ).
Co-Sponsors: Co-sponsored by 1 Democrat and 1 Republican member of the House. Senate version co-sponsored by 1 Republican Senator.
Status: Referred to the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health on 14 July with hearings held. Senate version released favorably from committee and awaiting a vote since July 28. 

H.R. 3452 / S. 1779: The “Veterans Preventive Health Coverage Fairness Act” would expand the definition of preventive health services and eliminate veterans’ copayments for medication, hospital care, and medical services provided related to preventive care.
Sponsor: Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14). Senate version sponsored by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 20 members of the House (17 Democrats, 3 Republicans). Senate version co-sponsored by 1 Democrat and 1 Republican Senator.
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs on May 20 with hearings held. Senate version referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

H.R. 3942 / S. 2088: The “Brandon Act” would improve the process by which a member of the Armed Forces may be referred for a mental health evaluation. This bill was spurred by the suicide of a Sailor in 2018.
Sponsor: Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ). House version sponsored by Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA-6).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 6 Senators (5 Democrats, 1 Republican). House version co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 10 members of the House (8 Democrats, 2 Republicans).
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on the Armed Services on June 16. House version referred to the House Committee on the Armed Services on June 16. 

H.R. 5170: The “Securing the Rights our Veterans Earned (SERVE) Act” would guarantee and protect VA benefits for LGBTQ+ veterans discharged from the Armed Forces due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Sponsor: Representative Chris Pappas (D-NH-1).
Co-Sponsors: 52 Democratic members of the House.
Votes: None.
Status: Introduced to the House on September 20.

S. 189: The “Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act” would require that, whenever there is a cost-of-living increase in benefits for Social Security recipients, the VA shall increase veterans’ disability compensation and other types of compensation by the same percentage.
Sponsor: Senator John Thune (R-SD).
Co-Sponsors: 9 Democratic Senators.
Votes: Passed unanimously in the Senate on July 21. Passed in the House 423-0 (Roll no. 262) on 20 September.
Status: Will be sent to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. 

VA Benefits for Burn Pit and Other Toxic Exposures

The following bills would streamline the process for obtaining VA benefits for burn pit and other toxic exposures or allow citizens other forms of redress for toxic exposures. Under current law, a veteran who has an illness or disability must establish a direct service connection in order to be eligible for VA benefits. Veterans exposed to burn pits face a cumbersome “burden of proof” to provide enough evidence to establish a direct service connection between their health and burn pit exposure. These bills would remove this burden of proof.

H.R. 2192: The “Camp Lejeune Justice Act” would allow eligible individuals to sue for damages and harm from exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, NC from August 1953 through the end of 1987.
Sponsor: Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-8).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 57 members of Congress (42 Democrats, 15 Republicans).
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary on 26 March.

H. R. 2372 / S. 952: The “Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act” would provide for a presumption of service connection for certain diseases associated with exposure to burn pits and other toxins.
Sponsor: Representative Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36). Senate version sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 29 members of the House (19 Democrats, 10 Republicans). Senate version co-sponsored by 2 Republicans and 1 Democrat.
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor on April 5 and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on June 22. Senate version referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs with hearings held.

S. 437 / H.R. 2436: The “Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act” would officially recognize exposure to airborne hazards and toxins from burn pits under certain circumstances (such as service in Iraq from August 1990 - February 1991).
Sponsor: Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK). House version sponsored by Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-8).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 37 Senators (23 Democrats, 14 Republicans). House version co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 46 members of the House (32 Democrats, 14 Republicans).
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs with hearings held. House version referred to the House Committee on the Armed Services on April 8 and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on July 14. 

S. 1188 / H.R. 2601: The “SFC Heath Robinson Burn Pit Transparency Act” would implement reporting requirements and policies related to the treatment and documentation of veterans who have been exposed to open burn pits.
Sponsor: Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). House version sponsored by Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH-13).
Co-Sponsors: Co-sponsored by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). House version co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 19 members of the House (9 Democrats, 10 Republicans).
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on 28 April with hearings held. House version referred to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on July 14. 

S. 927 / H.R. 2127: The “Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act” would improve the provision of health care and other benefits from the VA for veterans who were exposed to toxic substances.
Sponsor: Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). House version sponsored by Representative Mike Bost (R-IL-12).
Co-Sponsor: Bipartisan group of 12 Senators (7 Democrats, 5 Republicans). House version co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 52 members of the House (8 Democrats, 44 Republicans).
Votes: None.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on April 28 with hearings held. House version referred to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Subcommittees on Health and Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on June 16.

Other Important Legislation

H.R. 2093 / S. 2195: The “Veterans and Family Information Act” is a bipartisan bill that would direct the Department of Veterans' Affairs to make versions of all of its fact sheets available in the ten most commonly spoken languages in our nation, including Tagalog and Spanish, and also require the Department of Veterans' Affairs to establish a website that provides links to all fact sheets of the Veterans Benefits Administration, Veterans Health Administration, and National Cemetery Administration.
Sponsor: Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-8). Senate version sponsored by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI).
Co-Sponsors: 2 Republican members of the House. Senate version has no co-sponsors.
Votes: Passed in the House unanimously under suspension of the rules on June 15.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on June 16 with the Senate version (June 23).

S. 1095 / H.R. 2457: The “Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act” would amend Title 38 to allow the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to disapprove courses of education offered by colleges and universities that do not charge veterans the in-State tuition rate for purposes of the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program.
Sponsor: Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS). House version sponsored by Representative Barry Moore (R-AL-2).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 4 Senators (3 Democrats, 1 Republican). House version co-sponsored by Representative David Trone (D-MD-6).
Votes: Passed in the Senate by voice vote on June 24.
Status: Received in the House on June 28. House version referred to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity on April 28.

S. J. Res. 10 / H.R. 256 / H.R. 3261: This series of bills would repeal the authorizations for use of military force against Iraq. H.R. 256 repeals the 2002 authorization and H.R. 3261 repeals the 1991 authorization.
Sponsor: Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA). H.R. 256 sponsored by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA-13). H.R. 3261 sponsored by Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-7).
Co-Sponsors: Bipartisan group of 38 Senators (28 Democrats, 10 Republicans). H.R. 256 co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 134 members of the House (125 Democrats, 9 Republicans). H.R. 3261 co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 35 Representatives (25 Democrats, 10 Republicans).
Votes: H.R. 256 passed in the House 268-161 (Roll no. 172) on June 17. H.R. 3261 passed in the House unanimously under suspension of the rules on June 29.
Status: Placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar. H.R. 256 referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on June 17 with H.R. 3261 (July 12).





Possible later additions:

HR 1183 (Immigration)

S 2032 (SIVs)

S 2391 (War Powers)

 


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.

 

Criminal Justice Reform

H.R. 983: The “Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act” would establish a new criminal offense for knowingly scheming to defraud an individual of veterans’ benefits. Status: Passed in the House (416 - 5) on June 22. Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on June 23.

H.R. 1491: The “Fair Debt Collection for Servicemembers Act” would prohibit debt collectors (credit card companies, payday lenders, etc.) from telling service members that failure to cooperate with them will result in a reduction of rank, a revocation of security clearance, or military prosecution. Status: Passed in the House on April 20. Referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on April 22.

​​S.1520​​​: The “Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act”​ is a bill to reform the disposition of charges and convening of courts-martial for certain offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and increase the prevention of sexual assaults and other crimes in the military. Status: Referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 29.

Special Immigrant Visa Legislation

​​H.R. 2838​​​​: The “Syrian Partner Protection Act” would provide special immigrant status for Syrian Kurds and other Syrians who partnered with the United States Government in Syria. These individuals include interpreters and others. This program would be similar to the Special Immigrant Visa program that was created for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.​ Status: Referred to House Committees on the Judiciary and on Foreign Affairs on April 26.

H.R. 3385: The “HOPE for Afghan SIVs Act” would waive the requirement for Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants to complete a medical examination for eligibility in an effort to streamline the process ahead of the planned exit from Afghanistan by September 11th. Status: Passed in the House on June 29. Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on July 12.

H.R. 3985: The “Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act” would amend the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 to expedite the special immigrant visa process for certain applicants from Afghanistan. Status: Passed in the House (407 - 16) on July 22. Received in the Senate.

VA and Veterans Health Care Legislation

H.R. 234: The “Korean American VALOR Act” amends existing laws to treat those members of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces who served as allies to the U.S. in the Vietnam War as veterans of the United States Armed Forces for the purpose of granting them access to healthcare provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Status: Pending a vote by the House of Representatives since May 4.

H.R. 239: The “Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act” would prohibit the Dept. of Veterans Affairs from requiring veterans to pay for contraceptives that are required to be covered by health insurance plans without a cost-sharing requirement. Status: Passed in the House (245 - 181) on June 24. Referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs on July 12.

H.R. 475: The “Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act” is legislation that would allow young adults to stay on their parents’ TRICARE until they are 26, mirroring the current provision in private civilian healthcare policies. By extending the policy for young adults in military families, we can relieve the financial burdens brought on by healthcare and ensure they receive quality insurance while they transition into adult life. Status: Referred to the House Armed Services Committee on January 25.

H.R. 958: The “Protecting Moms Who Served Act” would improve maternal health care for veterans and aims to eliminate maternal mortality, morbidity, and disparities among veterans. Status: Passed in the House on May 12. Referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on May 13.

H.R. 1123: The “Veteran Suicide Prevention Act” would require the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to complete a review of veteran suicides during the 5 year period prior to the enactment of the bill. The report will be made publicly available. Status: Referred to the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health on March 22.

S. 771/H.R. 1948: The “VA Employee Fairness Act” would ensure that the VA’s Title 38 healthcare professionals—including nurses, physicians, dentists, and physician assistants who serve our veterans— have the same workplace rights currently granted to other VA clinicians and federal employees. Status: H.R. 1948 is pending a vote by the House of Representatives since May 4. S. 771 was referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs on March 16.

H.R. 2441: The “Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Act” would direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study to assess mental health resources available to veterans who live in rural areas and would expand a program designed to serve them. Status: Passed in the House on May 18. Passed in the Senate on June 24. Signed into law by President Biden on June 30.

H.R. 2775: The “VA Quality Health Care Accountability and Transparency Act” would require the VA to make data on patient wait times, effectiveness of care, staffing and vacancy information, and other elements publicly available on a specified VA website. The VA will be responsible for self-auditing the accuracy and completeness of the data presented. Status: Referred to the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health on 14 July. A hearing on this bill was held on July 14.

H.R. 3452: The “Veterans Preventive Health Coverage Fairness Act” would expand the definition of preventive health services and eliminate veterans’ copayments for medication, hospital care, and medical services provided related to preventive care. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs on May 20. A hearing on this bill was held on July 14.

VA Benefits for Burn Pit and Other Toxic Exposures

The following 4 bills would streamline the process for obtaining VA benefits for burn pit and other toxic exposures. Under current law, a veteran who has an illness or disability must establish a direct service connection in order to be eligible for VA benefits. Veterans exposed to burn pits face a cumbersome “burden of proof” to provide enough evidence to establish a direct service connection between their health and burn pit exposure. These bills would remove this burden of proof.

  • H. R. 2372, the “Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act” 
  • S. 437, the “Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act”
  • S. 1188, the “SFC Heath Robinson Burn Pit Transparency Act”
  • S. 927, the “Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act”

Other Important Legislation

H.R. 2093: The “Veterans and Family Information Act” is a bipartisan bill that would direct the Department of Veterans' Affairs to make versions of all of its fact sheets available in the ten most commonly spoken languages in our nation, including Tagalog and Spanish, and also require the Department of Veterans' Affairs to establish a website that provides links to all fact sheets of the Veterans Benefits Administration, Veterans Health Administration, and National Cemetery Administration. Status: Passed in the House on June 15. Referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on June 16.

S. 1095: The “Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act” would amend Title 38 to allow the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to disapprove courses of education offered by colleges and universities that do not charge veterans the in-State tuition rate for purposes of the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program. Status: Passed unanimously in the Senate on June 24. Referred to the House on June 28.

S. J. Res. 10: Senate Joint Resolution 10 would repeal the authorizations for use of military force against Iraq. Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on March 3. A committee hearing was held on July 12.