In a surge of last-minute, pre-August recess activity, the Senate passed a wide range of bills that in one case sparked a surprising callback for House members. Interrupting their August recess for one day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) brought the House back in session to address some key legislative measures, including the Senate passed State-Aid bill (HR 1586).
On August 10th the House cleared and the President signed the $26.1 billion Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act (H.R. 1586) to aid states through an infusion of education and Medicaid funding, saving police officers, firefighters, teachers, and nurses from layoffs as well as extending for an additional six months, the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) increases from the 2009 economic stimulus law (PL 111-5). The bill will keep 161,000 teachers in the classroom nationwide and provide $16.1 billion in health assistance for struggling states, in turn providing budget relief that will create or save roughly 158,000 jobs in law enforcement and the private sector, as many states have created their annual budgets with the expectations of federal money. Specifically, Michigan will be receiving an estimated $318 million funding approximately 4,700 jobs.
The House & Senate will return September 14th for a brief four week pre-election session to complete work on the annual spending bills. Senate Leadership has announced their agenda will also likely include the small-business tax and lending legislation, votes on extending the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, the defense authorization bill (S. 3280), as well as an assortment of energy proposals. The House has not yet set their agenda.
Sources have indicated that with a busy September schedule, appropriations bills, which are supposed to be done by October 1, are unlikely to pass. This would mean that a continuing resolution (CR) on spending will need to happen. Senate appropriators expect action on many of the fiscal 2011 spending bills to be postponed until the lame-duck session1, as both parties await the outcome of the November 2nd elections in which Republicans are expected to make significant gains.
To-date the Senate is scheduled to adjourn October 8th and plan to return on November 15th for a lame-duck session. That session would last for a week and will be followed by a weeklong break for Thanksgiving, and then followed by another session starting on Monday, November 29th. Neither the House nor Senate’s schedule for December has been determined. 1 When Congress (or either chamber) reconvenes in an even-numbered year following the November general elections to consider various items of business. Some lawmakers who return for this session will not be in the next Congress. Hence, they are informally called “lame duck” Members participating in a “lame duck” session.
The House has not set a date for a lame-duck session. However, in a procedural vote, the House rejected an effort to move a draft resolution that would pledge the House would not hold a “lame duck” session, except in the case of an emergency.
Law Enforcement Initiatives Update:
While these next few months are full with the pre-elections drive, there are still a number of law enforcement initiatives in the works. Below is a brief update of law enforcement related legislation that have been recently introduced or have experienced movement in the past few months. The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009 (H.R.413/S. 1611/ S. 3194)
This collective bargaining legislation was sponsored by Congressman Dale Kildee (D-MI05) on January 9th of 2009 with 227 co-sponsors to date including: Congressman Dave Camp, (R-MI04), Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI15), Congressman Sander M. Levin (D-MI12), Congresswoman Candace S. Miller (R-MI10), Congressman Gary C. Peters (D-MI09), Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI01), Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI06). Congressman Mark Schauer (D-MI07), Congressman Michael Rogers (R-MI08), Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (RMI11), Congressman John Conyers (D-MI14) Referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor. In the Senate, the bill (S. 1611) was introduced Senator Judd Gregg (NH) on August 8, 2009 and was reintroduced as S. 3194 by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on April 12th.
The Legislation provides collective bargaining rights for public safety officers employed by States or their political subdivisions by directing the Federal Labor Relations Authority to determine whether state law provides specified rights and responsibilities for public safety officers, including: granting public safety employees the right to form and join a labor organization which excludes management and supervisory employees, and which is, or seeks to be, recognized as the exclusive bargaining agent for such employees, and requiring public safety employers to recognize and agree to bargain with the employees’ labor organization. * Note: States with collective bargaining laws will be exempt from the Federal statute.
Public Safety Officer Family Health Benefits Act (HR 3162)
The Public Safety Officers Family Health Benefits Act was introduced by Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI01) in the first session of the 111th Congress and has since been referred to the subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Post Office, and the District of Columbia. Aside from Congressman Stupak there are no other Michigan co-sponsors at present. The bill extends federal health benefits to the spouse and/or immediate family members of the officer killed in the line of duty.
The Local Jobs for America Act (LJAA) (HR 4812/ S. 3500).
This bill was authored by Congressman George Miller (D-CA) on March 10th and a companioned has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). The bill has been crafted is such a way that it will help mitigate the recession’s economic fallout, particularly as it pertains to preventing cops from losing their jobs due to state budget shortfalls. The legislation provides funds to States, units of general local government, and community-based organizations to save and create local jobs through the retention, restoration, or expansion of services needed by local communities.
The Local Jobs for America Act includes $24 billion, to help states support 250,000 education jobs, put 5,500 law enforcement officers on the beat, as well as retain, rehire, and hire firefighters. Specifically, $1.18 billion is allocated to fund the hiring and retention 5,500 law enforcement officers. The following Michigan Members have signed onto the bill as co-sponsors to-date: Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-MI14), Congressman John Dingell (D-MI15), Congressman Dale Kildee (D-MI05), Congressman Sander Levin (D-MI12), Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI01), and Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI13).
As always, the Washington, DC office of POAM will be closely following legislation pertinent to the police and peace officers of Michigan. If you have any questions or need additional information regarding federal initiatives regarding the law enforcement community, please do not hesitate to contact us at (202) 544-9840.