Enacted Legislation During the 113th Congress
The 113th Congress had 296 bills enacted into law from 2013 to 2015, just barely surpassing the number of enacted bills during the 112th and narrowly avoiding the label of "least productive Congress in history." But while over 40 of the 296 enacted bills did nothing more than rename post offices or other government facilities, substantive legislation did make it through.
The following provides a look back at significant issues brought forth by congressional committees and legislation that made it through Congress in the last two years.
Key issues examined by the Agriculture Committees in the 113th Congress centered around addressing how Dodd-Frank regulations affect the agricultural sector and ensuring child nutrition programs achieve their goals. A number of House bills also addressed Republican concerns over how regulations affect agriculture and activities on federal lands:
President Obama signed the following agriculture and gaming bills into law during the 113th Congress:
H.R. 2642 - the Agricultural Act of 2014 – a bill that directly affects the more than 16 million Americans who work in agriculture-related occupations which include farmers, ranchers, and the food processing and export industries. The bill also trimmed the Food Stamp program by more than $8 billion over the next ten years. Other critical issues in agriculture included addressing how Dodd-Frank regulations affect the agricultural sector and ensuring child nutrition programs achieve their goals.
H.R. 803 – Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act;
H.R. 5069: Federal Duck Stamp Act of 2014
H.R. 1206, the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2013
Appropriations and Budget
House and Senate Appropriations and Budget Committees, which develop congressional spending, revenue, and debt-limit bills every year, focused on both partisan, philosophical budget proposals, and coming up with compromise appropriations bills to keep the government running. In the House, the Budget Committee put forth HCONRES.96 - Establishing The Budget For The United States Government For Fiscal Year 2015 And Setting Forth Appropriate Budgetary Levels For Fiscal Years 2016 Through 2024. The bill, entitled “The Path to Prosperity,” provided a “congressional blueprint” to establish revenue and appropriation levels in response to the President’s Budget Request for FY2015, and the budgetary levels for FY 2016 through 2024, including revenues, new budget authority, outlays, debt limits, and public debt. The proposal authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was largely considered a Republican political proposal to address the nation's debt. The bill would cut spending by $5.1 trillion over the next ten years, address tax reform, Medicaid reform, and would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the health-care related provisions of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Given the clearly partisan provisions, the bill was never considered in the Senate.
President Obama signed the following appropriations bills into law during the 113th Congress:
In mid-January 2014, Congress passed H.R. 3547 - The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, the $1.012 trillion spending bill to fund every agency in the federal government for the rest of the 2014 fiscal year, which ends on September 30. The omnibus bill was the compromise that ended the government shutdown that resulted from seemingly irreconcilable differences over the President's health care law and balancing the federal budget. The bill expired a few weeks after Congress returned in September, and was extended until mid-December.
While no one in Congress wanted another threat of a government shutdown, both the House and the Senate narrowly avoided a standoff over several provisions in the 2015 funding bill before passing another last-minute compromise bill. President Obama signed H.R. 83: Making consolidated appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes -- on December 16, 2014. The $1.1 trillion spending bill funds all government agencies through the fiscal year, except for the Department of Homeland Security, which it funds through February.
Armed Services and National Security
Congress focused on a variety of armed services and national security issues in 2014, including Armed Services Committee hearings on Russia's compliance with a long standing weapons treaty, military acquisition and contracting, and the President's release of several Guantanamo Bay, Cuba prisoners in exchange for a captured American soldier in Afghanistan. Senators also focused heavily on military sexual assault as well as the increase in militarization in and around Russia and Iraq. Both Committees spent much time writing and negotiating the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.
Other key issues affecting national security included improving physical and cyber infrastructure to protect against terrorist attacks, and improving emergency response capabilities by improving interoperability among different types of first responders, including federal, state and municipal areas.
President Obama signed the following armed services and national security bills into law during the 113th Congress:
H.R. 4681: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015
H.R. 4199: To name the Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Waco, Texas, as the “Doris Miller Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center”.
H.R. 4276: Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Care Improvement Act of 2014
S. 3008: Foreclosure Relief and Extension for Servicemembers Act of 2014
H.R. 4812: Honor Flight Act
H.R. 3682: To designate the community based outpatient clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs located at 1961 Premier Drive in Mankato, Minnesota, as the “Lyle C. Pearson Community Based Outpatient Clinic”.
H.R. 3375: To designate the community-based outpatient clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs to be constructed at 3141 Centennial Boulevard, Colorado Springs, Colorado, as the “PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic”.
S. 1434: A bill to designate the Junction City Community-Based Outpatient Clinic located at 715 Southwind Drive, Junction City, Kansas, as the Lieutenant General Richard J. Seitz Community-Based Outpatient Clinic.
S. 229: Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Act of 2013
S. 2921: A bill to designate the community based outpatient clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs located at 310 Home Boulevard in Galesburg, Illinois, as the “Lane A. Evans VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic”.
H.R. 5441: To amend the Federal charter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States to reflect the service of women in the Armed Forces of the United States.
H.R. 5404: Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2014
S. 2258: Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2014
H.R. 4809: To reauthorize the Defense Production Act, to improve the Defense Production Act Committee, and for other purposes.
H.R. 3230: Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014
H.J.Res. 76: Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Resolution, 2014
H.R. 1216: To designate the Department of Veterans Affairs Vet Center in Prescott, Arizona, as the “Dr. Cameron McKinley Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Center”.
S. 1681: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014
H.R. 1726: To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers.
H.R. 685: American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal Act
H.R. 1209: To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the World War II members of the “Doolittle Tokyo Raiders”, for outstanding heroism, valor, skill, and service to the United States in conducting the bombings of Tokyo
H.R. 3304: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014
H.R. 1402: VA Expiring Authorities Extension Act of 2013
S. 1471: Alicia Dawn Koehl Respect for National Cemeteries Act
S. 893: Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2013
H.R. 3302: To name the Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Bay Pines, Florida, as the “C.W. Bill Young Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center”
H.J.Res. 91: Department of Defense Survivor Benefits Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014
H.R. 3210: Pay Our Military Act
H.R. 1412: Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2013
H.R. 258: Stolen Valor Act of 2013
Education and Health
Key issues in education centered around K-12 education policies and college affordability – namely, student loans. According to a January 2014 Gallup poll, Eighty-one percent of Americans said it was “extremely/very important” that the president and Congress deal with education, second as the top priority only behind the economy. Still, Congress passed and President Obama signed only two education bills over the last two years.
President Obama signed the following education and health bills into law during the 113th Congress:
S.1241: Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013
H.R. 5134: To extend the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity and the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance for one year.
H.R. 669: Sudden Unexpected Death Data Enhancement and Awareness Act
H.R. 1281: Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2014
H.R. 5185: EARLY Act Reauthorization of 2014
S. 2917: Adding Ebola to the FDA Priority Review Voucher Program Act
H.R. 4067: To provide for the extension of the enforcement instruction on supervision requirements for outpatient therapeutic services in critical access and small rural hospitals through 2014.
S. 2141: Sunscreen Innovation Act
S. 2539: Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act of 2014
H.R. 4994: IMPACT Act of 2014
S. 2154: Emergency Medical Services for Children Reauthorization Act of 2014
H.R. 594: Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research and Education Amendments of 2014
H.R. 3548: Improving Trauma Care Act of 2014
H.R. 4631: Autism CARES Act of 2014
S. 1557: Children’s Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2013
H.R. 2019: Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act
H.R. 4302: Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014
H.R. 3527: Poison Center Network Act
S. 252: PREEMIE Reauthorization Act
H.R. 3204: Drug Quality and Security Act
S. 330: HIV Organ Policy Equity Act
H.R. 2094: School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act
S. 622: Animal Drug and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Reauthorization Act of 2013
H.R. 307: Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013
Energy policies were among the most divisive, partisan issues in the 113th Congress. Lawmakers were at a standstill on easing regulations for domestic oil and natural gas development, expediting export approvals, amending the Renewable Fuel Standard, and overseeing the Environmental Protection Agency's implementation of the Clean Air Act.
President Obama signed the following energy bills into law during the 113th Congress:
H.R. 5057: EPS Service Parts Act of 2014
H.R. 5705: Propane Education and Research Enhancement Act of 2014
S. 276: A bill to reinstate and extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the American Falls Reservoir.
H.R. 316: Collinsville Renewable Energy Production Act
H.R. 527: Helium Stewardship Act of 2013
H.R. 678: Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act
H.R. 254: Bonneville Unit Clean Hydropower Facilitation Act
Banking and Financial Services
The House Financial Service and the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committees both strongly advocated comprehensive tax reform during the 113th Congress. Meanwhile, outgoing House Ways and Means Committee Chair David Camp (R-MI) began the year by introducing a massive overhaul of the U.S. tax system in the form of draft legislation. This draft legislation was crafted through a workgroup process and is intended to be a talking point for future reform. The Committee also introduced a number of Affordable Care Act reforms and bills to target human trafficking.
President Obama signed the following 8 bills into law during the 113th Congress:
H.R. 3329: To enhance the ability of community financial institutions to foster economic growth and serve their communities, boost small businesses, increase individual savings, and for other purposes.
H.R. 3468: Credit Union Share Insurance Fund Parity Act
H.R. 3374: American Savings Promotion Act
S. 2270: Insurance Capital Standards Clarification Act of 2014
H.R. 2366: World War I American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
H.R. 5062: Examination and Supervisory Privilege Parity Act of 2014
H.R. 4386: Money Remittances Improvement Act of 2014
H.R. 1071: To specify the size of the precious-metal blanks that will be used in the production of the National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins.
Major issues in foreign affairs this year followed the hot spots around the world, with Russia and the Middle East in particular a area of major concern for the United States and for Congress.
The year began with major tensions around the political crisis in the Ukraine and Russia's takeover of the Crimean Peninsula that sparked separatist movements and increased tensions in the region. Since the beginning of 2014, Congress introduced and passed a number of bills to support the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and economy of the Ukraine. In the midst of these tensions in July, separatists in the Ukraine allegedly shot down Malaysian Flight 17 over Ukrainian airspace killing 298 people. The House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing to address Malaysian Flight 17 on July 29, 2014. To improve stability in the regions Congress has also put forward legislation to extend partnerships and NATO membership to other countries in the regions.
Also earlier in the year, the political crisis in Venezuela led Congress to express its support for the pro-democracy protesters. More recently, the key issue with U.S. and Latin America relations was the unprecedented numbers of unaccompanied minors at the US border arriving from countries in Central America where a crisis in gang related violence has led to many youth fleeing for their lives.
The rise in violence in Gaza between Israel and Hamas was also an area of concern. Congress expressed its resolute support of Israel's right to defend itself but has also condemned the level of violence.
Congress also expressed its condemnation of the violence and humanitarian crisis in Syria's ongoing civil war, particularly with the use of chemical weapons. Congress called for a political solution to Syria's ongoing crisis and has put forward bills that allow humanitarian and non-lethal assistance to Syrians. As part of the reluctance to put "boots on the ground", some bills expressly prohibited the use of military action in Syria without Congressional approval.
In August, Congress welcomed leaders from all across Africa to the first US Africa Summit that was held in Washington DC. Congress expressed support for the goal of the two day summit, which is to increase trade and investment in Africa while promoting security, stability and democracy. However, the event was tempered by the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus across several African countries.
President Obama signed the following foreign affairs bills into law during the 113th Congress:
H.R. 1151: To direct the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to obtain observer status for Taiwan at the triennial International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly, and for other purposes.
S. 1901: Support for United States-Republic of Korea Civil Nuclear Cooperation Act
H.R. 5681: To provide for the approval of the Amendment to the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for Cooperation on the Uses of Atomic Energy
H.R. 2939: To award the Congressional Gold Medal to Shimon Peres.
H.R. 4152: Support for the Sovereignty, Integrity, Democracy, and Economic Stability of Ukraine Act of 2014
S. 1545: PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act of 2013
S. 1683: A bill to provide for the transfer of naval vessels to certain foreign recipients, and for other purposes.
H.R. 5816: To extend the authorization for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
S. 2142: Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014
S. 2673: United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014
S. 2183: A bill entitled “United States International Programming to Ukraine and Neighboring Regions”.
S. 793: Organization of American States Revitalization and Reform Act of 2013
H.R. 3212: Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2014
H.R. 2901: Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014
H.R. 3979: Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015
H.R. 4028: To amend the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to include the desecration of cemeteries among the many forms of violations of the right to religious freedom.
S. 1104: Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2014
S. 653: Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2014
The House Judiciary Committee reported a number of bills out of committee this year focusing on a range of issues, including human trafficking, Medicare repayment issues, and the Affordable Care Act. Earlier in the year the Committee worked to address the NSA spying scandal involving the leaking of classified documents from NSA government contractor Edward Snowden. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Senate Judiciary Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) wrote the USA Freedom Act. The House version of this legislation - H.R.3361 - passed the House but was never considered by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The Judiciary Committee also focused on the growing immigration crisis at the U.S. Southwest Border.
The Senate Judiciary Committee focused heavily on several high profile legislative topics. The Committee, led by Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), worked on a range of issues including consumer protection, federal sentencing/prison reform and patent reform. The Committee reported out consumer protection legislation to give some Americans continued access to satellite television signals and to protect against identity theft. The Committee also passed two bills to address federal prison issues. Earlier in the year the Committee worked to address the NSA spying scandal involving the leaking of classified documents from NSA government contractor Edward Snowden. Federal prison reform failed to gain to traction during this election year, although Committee leaders worked to pass meaningful reform. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) also led a bipartisan effort with both House and Senate Committee leaders to reform a portion of patent policy related to so called patent trolls. The Committee has held several hearings discussing this complex topic, this legislation will need considerable discussion and debate before passing Committee consideration.
President Obama signed the following judiciary bills into law during the 113th Congress:
S. 1799: Victims of Child Abuse Act Reauthorization Act of 2013, from sponsor Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) is a bill to reauthorize certain programs related to child abuse.
S. 517: Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act from sponsor: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is a bill to make it easier to unlock cell phones to be sold to secondary customers or use alternative service providers.
H.R. 4771: Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2014 from sponsor: Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA) is a bill to make certain drugs illegal.
H.R. 1447: Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013, from sponsor Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) is a bill to require greater reporting on deaths in law enforcement or state custody.
S. 1614: Accuracy for Adoptees Act from sponsor Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is a bill to address certain adoption issues.
H.R. 4323: Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014, from sponsor: Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is a bill to extend the Debbie Smith rape kit backlog program.
H.R. 5728: STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014 from sponsor Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) is a bill to reauthorize a provision that allows certain Americans to use satellite television for broadcast programming.
H.R. 3374: American Savings Promotion Act, from sponsor Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) is a bill to change the way new federal employees enroll in retirement accounts.
H.R. 803: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act from sponsor Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is a bill to change workforce development.
Science, Technology, and Transportation
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee passed a number of bills since the beginning of 2014. Aside from a number of standard Committee bills such as NASA Reauthorization and bills concerning federal science agencies such as NIST and studies on science topics such as severe weather the Committee has focused much of its time on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Committee's EPA work focused on changing the EPA's ability to enforce and create new rules for both Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
The House Transportation Committee reported 17 bills out of Committee this year, 5 of which were signed by the President. The Committee passed bills to reform and improve the Hurricane Sandy recovery on the East Coast as well as a large water way development reform bill. H.R.3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013, addresses the maintenance of U.S. ports and navigation routes for commerce and the movement of goods while restoring vital ecosystems. H.R.3080 is a major piece of legislation that involved much work from both the House and Senate.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee held numerous hearings this year but has only reported out a handful of bills. Chief among the Committee's work was fishery issues and consumer protection. The committee held many hearings on consumer issues such as protecting cruise ship customers; giving wireless customers more freedom of choice and ensuring Americans who need access to broadcast TV through their satellite can continue that access. However the bulk of the legislation reported out of Committee in 2014 was related to commercial and recreational fishing.
With Republicans leading both the House and Senate Transportation Committees it is expected that there will be an even greater focus on the EPA in the coming year.
President Obama signed the following science, technology, and transportation bills into law during the 113th Congress:
H.R. 2996: Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013 from sponsor: Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) is a bill to help American manufacturing by creating innovation hubs.
H.R. 4012: Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 from sponsor Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) is a bill to limit the EPA's ability to use certain types of data.
H.R. 5035: NIST Reauthorization Act of 2014 from sponsor: Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) is a bill to reauthorize programs from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
H.R. 5031: STEM Education Act of 2014 from sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is a bill to promote STEM, or science technology engineering and mathematics, education.
H.R. 4412: National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2014 from sponsor Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) is a bill to authorize new and existing NASA programs.
H.R. 3080: The Water Resources Reform & Development Act of 2014 authorizes water resources bill that would authorize the United States Army Corps of Engineers to do various water related projects, such as improvements to ports or flood protection.
H.R. 5021: Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 from sponsor Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) is a bill to extend the highway trust fund through May 2015.
S. 2338: United States Anti-Doping Agency Reauthorization Act from sponsor Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is a bill to reauthorize the US Anti-Doping Agency.
S. 2444: Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014 from sponsor Sen. Mark Beich (D-AK) is a Coast Guard reauthorization bill.
S. 1353: Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014 from sponsor Sen. John “Jay” Rockefeller (D-WV) is a bill to improve cybersecurity.
S. 2583: E-LABEL Act from sponsor Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) is a bill to address electronic labeling issues.
S. 1254: Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2014 from sponsor Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is a bill to address research related to algal bloom and hypoxia.
S. 2086: Reliable Home Heating Act, from sponsor Sen. John Thune (R-SD) is a bill to make access to home heating fuel easier in the winter.
The House Small Business Committee passed a variety of bills to address small business concerns, including a number of small business contractor reforms as well as reforms to the SBIR process. The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee held a number of hearings this year on a range of small business topics but did not report any legislation out of committee.
President Obama signed the following small business bills into law during the 113th Congress:
H.R. 2882: Improving Opportunities for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Act of 2013 from sponsor Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) is a bill to improve and change standards for service-disabled veteran owned contracting firms.
H.R. 4121: Small Business Development Centers Improvement Act of 2014 from sponsor Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) is a bill to improve and expand small business development centers.
H.R. 4093: Greater Opportunities for Small Business Act of 2014 from sponsor Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) is a bill aimed at improving opportunities for small businesses.
Both the House and Senate passed competing proposals to reform the Department of Veterans' Affairs last year. While the Senate passed one large reform bill, S.2450, the House passed several smaller bills to address the same issues. During conference committee negotiations between House Chair Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Senate Chair Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) they agreed to adopt Senate's larger reform model which was inserted as an amendment in an previous appropriations bill passed by both the House and Senate. The final bill - H.R.3230, the Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act- was signed by President Obama on Thursday, July 8. The coming year will bring more oversight from both the House and Senate Committees as the VA seeks to regain trust with Congress.
President Obama signed the following veterans' affairs bills into law during the 113th Congress:
H.R. 5404: Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2014 from sponsor Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) is a bill to extend certain expiring VA authorities.
H.R. 4276: Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Care Improvement Act of 2014 from sponsor Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) is a bill to improve traumatic brain injury care at VA facilities