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On the Floor
On April 15th, the House passed the Continuing Extension Act (H.R. 4851), to extend emergency relief for people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and a few other programs (unemployment benefits, COBRA, Medicare physician payments, satellite TV, flood insurance, and small business loans) for two months (generally through May 31).
On April 15th, the House passed the Clean Estuaries Act (H.R. 4715), introduced by Reps. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), by a vote of 278 - 128. This bipartisan bill reauthorizes the National Estuary Program through FY 2016 and makes improvements to the program. The Congress created the program in 1987 as an amendment to the Clean Water Act.
On March 24th, the House passed the Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act (HR 4899) by a vote of 239-175. This bill contains $5.1 billion in aid to help disaster-stricken communities rebuild their homes, infrastructure and local economies and protect them from future disasters -- with our nation facing record snowfalls and major floods this year and continuing to recover from last year's natural disasters.
Getting Americans back to work is our number one priority. Today, we will take another step forward, with another in a series of measures to create jobs and strengthen our economy.
The week of March 22nd, the House passed a series of veterans measures, including a bill to arm the VA with better tools to fight and end homelessness. It is unacceptable that an estimated 131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night after risking their lives on behalf of this country. These bills would also increase on-the-job training opportunities for returning veterans, prevent mortgage lenders from foreclosing on a veteran's home after their service, and make sure payments for disabled veterans keep pace with the cost of living.
On March 4th, the House passed the House amendments to the Senate amendments to H.R. 2847, the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act by a vote of 217-201. This bipartisan job creation bill passed the Senate by a vote of 70-28 and is one in a series of measures Congress will take to restore the American economy.
Today, the House will consider the Keeping All Students Safe Act (H.R. 4247). This bipartisan bill, introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), for the first time, establishes federal minimum safety standards in schools, preventing harmful restraint and seclusion, similar to federal protections already in place in hospitals and other community-based facilities.
On February 25th, the House passed H.R. 4691, the Temporary Extension Act. This emergency legislation will extend a range of programs (including unemployment benefits, the highway bill, COBRA, satellite TV, and small business loan guarantees) under suspension of the rules.
Today, House and Senate leaders of both parties are meeting with the President at the Blair House to discuss moving forward with comprehensive health reform. Without reform, the cost of health care for the average family of four is projected to rise $1,800 every year for years to come--and insurance companies will make more health care decisions. America's middle class deserves better and we're closer than ever to making reform a reality. As we go forward, our reform efforts must pass the Triple-A test, reaching our three key goals: affordability for the middle class, accessibility for all Americans, and accountability for the insurance industry.
On February 24th, the House passed the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act (HR 4626), to restore competition and transparency to the health insurance market. The bill amends the McCarran-Ferguson Act by repealing the blanket antitrust exemption afforded to health insurance companies. Under the bill, health insurers will no longer be shielded from legal accountability for price fixing, dividing up territories among themselves, sabotaging their competitors in order to gain monopoly power, and other such anti-competitive practices.