House Watch – January 30, 2023
Welcome to the latest edition of House Watch, where FreedomWorks informs activists and partners on upcoming House votes. The House is in the middle of a three-week stretch where Representatives will be considering bills under suspension of the rules focused on protecting seniors from financial exploitation, expanding access to capital for small businesses in rural areas, updating requirements for credit union boards, as well as a handful of bills that the House did not get to last week. For more information on the bills that the House did not vote on last week but is planning to vote on this week (H.R. 290 and H.R. 342), please see last week’s edition of House Watch here. The House will also be considering bills pursuant to a rule related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a resolution that would end the COVID-19 national emergency.
The Senate is also in this week. Its focus continues to remain on confirming nominations.
Below you will find the full list of bills the House is expected to be voting on this week.
H.R. 500: Financial Exploitation Prevention Act of 2023 (Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO-02)/ Committee on Financial Services)
- Background: Every year, millions of seniors in America are victims of financial exploitation which results in billions of dollars of personal losses.
- This bill would allow for the delay of the redemption of a security issued by an open-end investment management company if the company or transfer agent reasonably believes the redemption involves the financial exploitation of an individual age 65 or older or an individual age 18 or older who is unable to protect his or her own interests. Open-end investment management companies offer securities in pooled investment vehicles such as mutual funds. Additionally, the Securities and Exchange Commission must make legislative and regulatory recommendations to address the financial exploitation of such adults.
H.R. 298 : Expanding Access to Capital for Rural Job Creators Act (Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV-01)/ Committee on Financial Services)
- Background: The Small Business Act of 2016 established the Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation within the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to its website, the mission of this office is “to advance the interests of small businesses and their investors at the SEC and in the capital markets, from early-stage startups raising initial capital to later-stage private companies whose founders and investors are seeking liquidity, all the way to smaller public companies. The Office proactively works to identify and address unique challenges faced by minority-owned, women-owned, rural, and natural disaster area small businesses and their investors.”
- This bill would amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by requiring the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation to include “rural-area small businesses” in its mandate for identifying “problems that small businesses have with securing access to capital.” The office is required to submit a report to Congress that includes a summary of the most serious issues encountered by “rural-area small businesses.”.
H.R. 582: Credit Union Board Modernization Act (Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA-52)/ Committee on Financial Services)
- This bill would revise the frequency of meetings required to be held by a credit union’s board of directors. Specifically, the bill requires monthly meetings for new credit unions during their first five years and for credit unions with a low soundness rating. All other credit unions must hold at least six meetings annually, with at least one meeting held during each fiscal quarter. Currently, all credit union boards must meet at least once a month.
- Important Info: This bill passed the House last Congress before it died in the Senate.
H.R. 290: To Provide For Transparent Licensing Of Commercial Remote Sensing Systems, And For Other Purposes. (Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK-03)/ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology)
- Background: The U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act is designed to promote commercial space flight by postponing significant regulatory oversight of private space flight companies until 2023, extending the period during which the government indemnifies commercial spaceflight companies for third-party damages beyond the company’s required liability insurance; and granting private companies the right to own resources collected in space, such as materials from asteroid mining.
- This bill would extend the reporting requirements of the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act from September 30, 2020, to September 30, 2030, and would add a new reporting requirement for the Secretary of Commerce to list the applications and licenses submitted.
H.R. 342: To Amend The Energy Policy Act Of 2005 To Require Reporting Relating To Certain Cost-Share Requirements, And For Other Purposes. (Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-CA-23)/ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology)
- Background: The Energy Policy Act of 2005 called for the development of grant programs, testing initiatives, and tax incentives that promote alternative fuels and advanced vehicle production and use. Currently, the Department of Energy requires cost sharing from non-federal partners at a minimum of 20 percent for research and development programs and 50 percent for demonstration and commercial application programs.
- This bill would amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to require the Department of Energy to report on the department’s authority to reduce or eliminate cost-sharing requirements.
H.J. Res. 7: Relating To A National Emergency Declared By The President On March 13, 2020. (Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-09)/ Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure)
- Background: In March 2020, President Trump declared a national emergency on COVID, which President Biden has continued. The Biden Administration has publicly acknowledged that it wants to end the COVID national emergency, but it has not said when it would do so. Dozens of national emergencies are still in effect, with the oldest having been in effect since 1976.
- This resolution would terminate the national emergency that President Trump declared on March 13, 2020.
- FW View: FreedomWorks has long called out COVID-19 pandemic policies that restricted Americans’ freedoms. Ending this national emergency is a necessary step to reining in the power of the federal government.
H. Con. Res. 9: Denouncing The Horrors Of Socialism (Rep. Maria Salazar (R-FL-27)/ Committee on Financial Services)
- This resolution would find that Congress denounces socialism in all its forms and opposes the implementation of socialist policies in the United States of America.
- Important Info: Last Congress, Rep. Salazar introduced the same resolution, but the resolution did not advance out of the House.
- FW View: FreedomWorks has consistently opposed socialism and recognized this resolution last Congress as our August 2022 Bill of the Month.
H.R. 139: SHOW Up Act (Rep. James Comer (R-KY-01)/ Committee on Oversight and Accountability)
- Background: Federal agencies have expanded telework opportunities for employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With countless agencies not articulating plans for requiring employees to return to the office. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has criticized the federal agencies for not having their employees in the office more, which is harming the city’s economy and leaving prime real estate unused that could be developed for other uses.
- This bill would reinstate pre-pandemic telework policies for executive branch agencies and would prevent those agencies from expanding telework policies unless they submit a plan to Congress that is certified by the Director of the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM). The bill would also require agencies to report on the impacts on the mission of each agency from expanded telework.
- FW View: With numerous private companies beginning the process of calling their employees back into the office, it’s time that the federal government followed the private sector’s lead and require federal employees to work in the office and ensure that these agencies are accomplishing their missions and duties and not wasting taxpayer dollars to pay for office space and real estate that is going unused.
H.R. 382: Pandemic Is Over Act (Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY-02)/ Committee on Energy and Commerce)
- This bill would terminate the COVID-19 National Emergency that was declared on January 31, 2020, and all subsequent renewals of the national emergency once the bill is signed into law.
H.R. 497: Freedom For Health Care Workers Act (Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC-03)/ Committee on Energy and Commerce)
- Background: In 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal vaccination mandate for healthcare workers and declined to hear a challenge to the rule last year. The rule essentially required any hospital or healthcare system that received federal funds to mandate that employees get the COVID-19 vaccine or be fired. Hospitals and healthcare systems are also facing a severe staffing crisis which is going to impact the quality of care that Americans receive when they go to their healthcare provider.
- This bill would eliminate the COVID-19 vaccination rule for healthcare workers and would prevent any similar rule from being implemented.
FW View: The decision of whether or not to take the COVID-19 vaccine should be left up to the individual, not unelected bureaucrats.