July’s Congressional Wrap Up

2017-08-07T16:25:20+00:00 August 7, 2017|
July was a busy month for ocean-related legislation.

(Click to enlarge) July was a busy month for ocean-related legislation.

What Passed

Nothing in COL’s legislative tracker was signed into law this month, but several items did pass out of committee, the House, or the Senate. Notably, the Save Our Seas Act of 2017 (S.756) passed the Senate with unanimous consent last week. The legislation (and its counterpart in the House (H.R. 2748)) reauthorizes and amends the Marine Debris Act (P.L. 109-332) “to promote international action to reduce marine debris.”

On the other side of the Hill, the House passed an appropriations “minibus” combining the Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water, and Legislative Branch appropriations bills (H.R. 3219). However, the proposed funding levels breach current spending caps by $72.5 billion, meaning a bipartisan budget deal must be reached if the minibus is to become law.

In the wake of several June hearings, a series of bills reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program were marked up last month, including the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act (H.R. 1422), the Taxpayer Exposure Mitigation Act of 2017 (H.R. 2246), H.R. 2565, the National Flood Insurance Program Policyholder Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 2868), and the National Flood Insurance Program Administrative Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2875).

What’s New

One of the most prominent new pieces of legislation is Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (AK) Energy and Natural Resources Act (S. 1460), which authorizes a seven percent increase for five years for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

A new Senate bill, HELP for Wildlife Act (S.1514) is advancing to the Senate floor. The bill reauthorizes the Chesapeake Bay Program, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (P.L. 101-233), the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (P.L. 106-247), and establishes a new fish habitat conservation program. However, many environmentalists oppose certain policy riders in the bill.

And right on time for Shark Week, Representative Blake Farenthold (TX-27) introduced H.R. 3377 to outlaw importing seafood products from countries that do not prohibit the practice of shark finning.

What’s Next

Get ready for National Estuaries Week and National Lobster Day coming up in September! Senate resolutions introduced this month would designate these dates for Sept. 16-23 and Sept. 25, respectively.

Congress is on recess for the rest of August, but legislators will hit the ground running when they return September 5. They will only have 11 working days to pass a budget resolution and appropriations bills, as well as raise the debt ceiling, before the new fiscal year begins October 1.

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