Banning Masks, Banning Russian Oil, Making Lynching a Federal Hate Crime and Saving Sunshine
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 (HR 2471) – This legislation will fund the federal government through September 2022, but also includes a plethora of other bills folded within for the purpose of quick passage by both the House and Senate. Among them is the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the allocation of $13.6 billion in additional aid to support Ukraine in its conflict against Russia. The bill was signed into law by President Biden on March 15.
STANDUP Act of 2021 (S 1543) – STANDUP is the anacronym for Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention. It authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to give preference to state, tribal and local educational agencies when awarding certain grants for priority mental health needs. Specifically, plans must include evidence-based suicide awareness and prevention training policies. The bill was introduced by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) on May 10, 2021. It passed in the Senate on Dec. 14, 2021, the House on Feb. 28 and was signed by the president on March 15.
Suspending Energy Imports from Russia Act(HR 6968) – This bill was introduced by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) on March 8. It is the bill that bans the import of Russian oil in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The act also gives the president permanent authorization to impose visa- and property-blocking sanctions based on violations of human rights. In addition to oil, the act blocks importation of other Russian products such as mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation, bituminous substances and mineral waxes, with the exception of prior contracts or agreements. Subject to congressional approval, the president may waive this prohibition for national interest reasons. The bill also takes initial steps to suspend Russia’s participation in the World Trade Organization. The legislation passed in the House on March 9 and is currently under consideration in the Senate.
Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 (S 623) – The purpose of this legislation is to make daylight savings time the new, permanent standard time. The bill states the change would begin on Nov. 5, 2023, in order to give airlines and other industries time to adjust their schedules and processes. States that currently contain areas exempt from daylight savings time will have the option to choose standard time for those areas. The bill was introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on March 9 and passed in the Senate on March 15. It is currently under consideration in the House.
Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 (HR 3076) – This bipartisan act was introduced by Rep. Carloyn Maloney (D-NY) on May 11, 2021. It passed in the House on Feb. 8, the Senate on March 15 and is awaiting the president’s signature to become law. The bill will repeal the annual prepayment requirement for future retirement health benefits; establish a Postal Service Health Benefits Program to offer health benefit plans for USPS employees and retirees; coordinate enrollment for retirees under this program and Medicare; and develop a publicly available dashboard that tracks service performance and reports on USPS operations and financial conditions.
Emmett Till Antilynching Act (HR 55) – This act was introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) on Jan. 4, 2021. This act designates lynching as a federal hate crime, and imposes the criminal penalties of a fine, a prison term of up to 30 years, or both. It applies to anyone who conspires to commit a hate crime offense that results in death or serious bodily injury; kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap; aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse; or an attempt to kill. The bill passed in the House on Feb. 28 and the Senate on March 7. It is awaiting the president’s signature to become law.
A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relating to “Requirement for Persons To Wear Masks While on Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs” (SJRes 37) – The purpose of this joint resolution is to nullify the CDC rule issued in February 2021 to require face masks on planes, trains, buses, and other public transportation systems and hubs in order to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. It was introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Feb. 10 and passed in the Senate on March 15. It is currently in the House for consideration.