Restricting Trade Relations with Russia, Enhancing U.S. Export Pathways, and Bearing Down on Cybercrime and Human Trafficking
Suspending Normal Trade Relations with Russia and Belarus Act (HR 7108) – This legislation suspends normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus. The president may restore normal trade relations pending Congressional approval, and this authority is scheduled to end on the last day of 2023. The bill also permanently authorizes the president to impose visa- and property-blocking sanctions based on violations of human rights, as well as increase duty rates on products from these countries. These actions are designed to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by urging other World Trade Organization (WTO) members to suspend trade concessions to Russia and Belarus, and consider steps to suspend Russia’s participation in the WTO. The bill was introduced on March 17 by Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA). It passed in the House on the same day, passed in the Senate on April 7, and was signed into law by President Biden on March 17.
Modernizing Access to Our Public Land Act (HR 3113) – This bill was introduced by Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT) on May 11, 2021. It requires the Dept. of the Interior, the Forest Service, and the Corps of Engineers to digitize geographic information system mapping data relating to public access to Federal land and waters for outdoor recreation. This information, which must be made publicly available, will include status as to whether roads and trails are open or closed; the dates on which roads and trails are seasonally opened and closed; the types of vehicles allowed on each segment of roads and trails; the boundaries of areas where hunting or recreational shooting is regulated or closed; and the boundaries of any portion of a body of water that is closed to entry, watercraft or has horsepower limitations for watercraft. The bill passed in the House on March 15, the Senate on April 6, and is awaiting signature by the president.
Better Cybercrime Metrics Act (S 2629) – This bill authorizes various requirements to improve the collection of data related to cybercrime. For example, the Department of Justice must collect cybercrime reports from federal, state and local officials; include questions about cybercrime in the annual National Crime Victimization Survey; and evaluate current cybercrime data collection and reporting systems. The bill was introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) on Aug. 5, 2021. It passed in the Senate on Dec. 7, 2021, the House on March 29, and is awaiting the president’s signature to become law.
Bankruptcy Threshold Adjustment and Technical Corrections Act (S 3823) – The primary purpose of this legislation is to modify the eligibility requirements for a debtor to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13. Specifically, only an individual (or an individual’s spouse, except a stockbroker or a commodity broker) with regular income that owes aggregated debt of less than $2,750,000 may file as a debtor under Chapter 13. The bill was introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on March 14 and passed in the Senate on April 7. It is currently under consideration in the House.
Countering Human Trafficking Act of 2021 (S 2991) – This bill authorizes the establishment of a Department of Homeland Security Center for Countering Human Trafficking. The goal is to address human trafficking with a victim-centered approach to increase the focus on and effectiveness of investigating and prosecuting forced labor cases. Specifically, the legislation centers on eradicating forced labor from both corporate and government agency supply chain contracts and procurement. The act was introduced by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) on Oct. 18, 2021. It passed in the Senate on April 16 and is under consideration in the House.
Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (S 3580) – This bipartisan act was introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on Feb. 3. The bill increases the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to investigate late fees charged by common ocean carriers and otherwise find ways to promote the growth of U.S. exports through a more effective and economical ocean transportation system. For example, the bill prohibits common ocean carriers, marine terminal operators, and ocean transportation intermediaries from unreasonably refusing cargo space when available. This legislation passed in the Senate on March 31 and is under consideration in the House.