New to the art form? This Wall Street Journal article will get you orientated. Also, for more information on how some of these titles mislead lawmakers and the citizenry, find some academic commentary from Brian Christopher Jones here:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

DRIVE(ing) America's Transportation Infrastructure

Senators James Inhofe (R., OK) and Barbara Boxer (D., CA) have introduced the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act. The measure seeks to modernize America's transportation infrastructure and according to a press release, would provide states and local governments "the certainty, flexibility and stability to better develop the country’s transportation and public transit infrastructure, while improving railroad and highway safety."

A partial press release is provided below. The text of the legislation can be found here


Bipartisan Legislation Provides State, Local Governments Certainty For Multi-Year Transportation Investments
WASHINGTON – The bipartisan, multi-year Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act would help modernize the nation’s infrastructure and transportation systems to better allow America to compete in the 21st century. 
The DRIVE Act gives state and local government the certainty, flexibility and stability to better develop the country’s transportation and public transit infrastructure, while improving railroad and highway safety.
The bill reverses the trend of short-term, temporary fixes to fund the nation’s transportation network.  These “patches” have left states and localities without the certainty they need to plan and build long-term infrastructure projects.
The DRIVE Act is a six-year highway authorization that will allow planning for important long-term projects around the country, and provides three years of guaranteed funding for the highway trust fund.
The bill is fully offset with spending reductions or changes to federal programs. It does not increase the deficit or raise taxes. 
This bipartisan legislation is comprised of four main components that were principally negotiated by the four committees of jurisdiction, including the Environment & Public Works, Commerce, Banking, Homeland Security/Governmental Affairs and Finance committees. 
The text of the legislation can be found HERE. ...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The CBO's Potential 'Long-Term SCORE'

Congressman Reid J. Ribble (R., WI) has introduced the Long-Term Studies of Comprehensive Outcomes and Returns for the Economy Act (Long-Term SCORE Act). According to a summary of the measure, the bill "amends the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to require the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to prepare long-term cost estimates for legislation reported by congressional committees. It also establishes a long-term budget scoring division within CBO. The bill requires the long-term estimates to cover at least each of the next four ten-year periods. CBO currently provides cost estimates over a 5- or10-year period." 

An abbreviated "Dear Colleague" letter from Rep. Ribble is provided below. 


From: The Honorable Reid J. Ribble
Bill: H.R. 282
Date: 7/15/2015
Long-Term Studies of Comprehensive Outcomes and Returns for the Economy “SCORE” Act, H.R. 282
Health care spending on chronic disease threatens the viability of our economy. Today, more than three out of every four Medicare dollars are spent on treating chronic diseases.
Cosponsors (25): Blumenauer, Collins (NY), Esty, Harper, Hastings, Higgins, Hultgren, Huffman, Jenkins (KS), Katko, Lance, Lawrence, Lujan Grisham, McKinley, Moulton, Paulsen, Peters, Pocan, Rigell, Schakowsky, Scott (Austin), Sensenbrenner, Takano, Webster, Wittman
Supported by: Campaign to End Obesity, Medical College of Wisconsin, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American College of Preventive Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, American Society of Bariatric Physicians, Arena Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare Leadership Council, Johnson and Johnson, National Center for Weight and Wellness, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Transitions of Care Coalition, Obesity Action Coalition, Orexigen Therapeutics, Sports and Fitness Industry Association, The Obesity Society, United States Soccer Foundation, Weight Watchers International, YMCA of the USA
Dear Colleague:
We hope you will join with us in our nation’s fight against skyrocketing health care costs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 133 million Americans live with at least one chronic condition, like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, obesity, and Alzheimer’s. Each year, these conditions account for 75 percent of all U.S. health care spending, and if we do not reduce these costs we may threaten the viability of our health care system. Alzheimer’s disease alone is estimated to cost Medicare and Medicaid $153 billion in 2015, and increase to 31 percent of all Medicare costs in 2050.
There is a real opportunity for cost savings by making modest reductions in the prevalence of chronic disease. For example, we know that a five percent reduction in population-wide body mass index (BMI) could save nearly $30 billion over just five years. If you extrapolate the same reduction over 20 years, the savings could amount to as much as $611 billion. ...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Getting Smart on CORRECTIONS

Senator John Cornyn (R., TX) recently testified before a House Committee on his and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's (D., RI) CORRECTIONS (Corrections Oversight, Recidivism Reduction, and Eliminating Costs for Taxpayers In Our National System) Act of 2015. Among other things, the bill seeks to lower the nation's prison population and save taxpayer money by "allowing lower-risk prisoners to participate in recidivism-reduction programs in exchange for earned-time credits". The measure also seeks to identify products currently manufactured outside the US that can potentially be manufactured by prisoners. 

A partial press release is provided below. 


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Cornyn Highlights CORRECTIONS Act At House Oversight Hearing On Criminal Justice Reform

‘The CORRECTIONS Act will help restore an important part of our criminal justice system, something that we’ve almost forgotten, and that is rehabilitation.’

Jul 14 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the bipartisan CORRECTIONS Act, a bill he introduced earlier this year with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The CORRECTIONS Act would improve public safety, help end the cycle of incarceration for prisoners, and save taxpayer money by allowing lower-risk prisoners to participate in recidivism-reduction programs in exchange for earned-time credits.
Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s testimony are below.
“Right now, the federal government … spends billions of dollars incarcerating individuals while doing little or nothing to address the underlying cause, or to better prepare them for their eventual release into civil society. We can, and we must, do better.”
“We’ve always been tough on crime in Texas, but in 2007 the state leaders decided to get smart on crime. Instead of just building more prisons and hoping that would somehow fix the problem, they decided to try a different approach: scrapping construction plans and instead funding recidivism-reduction programs aimed at helping lower-risk offenders turn their lives around and become productive members of society.” ...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

RECOVER Act (not to be confused with the Recovery Act)

Senators Ben Cardin (D., MD), Barbara A. Mikulski (D., MD), Mark Warner (D., VA) and Tim Kaine (D., VA) have introduced the RECOVER Act (Reducing the Effects of the Cyberattack on OPM Victims Emergency Response) Act of 2015. The bill looks to protect federal workers and others that have been exposed from the recent Office of Personnel Management hacks. 

A partial press release, along with the text of the bill, is located below. 


Cardin, Mikulski, Warner, Kaine Call for Stronger Protections for the Millions Affected by the Recent OPM Data Breaches

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) with Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) have introduced legislation to better protect federal workers and all those potentially affected by the recent cyberattacks on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data system. Outraged by the expanse of the breach, the senators found the response by OPM to be severely lacking in the duration and extent of coverage for those who had their most sensitive information stolen off the government system.

The RECOVER Act (Reducing the Effects of the Cyberattack on OPM Victims Emergency Response Act of 2015) mandates expanded identity theft coverage for federal workers, contractors and other individuals affected, including lifetime coverage and not less than $5 million of identity theft insurance. This adjustment to what OPM has previously offered more adequately addresses the egregious nature of this federal cyberattack.

“Private-sector cyberhacks and cyberattacks have become too commonplace, but when the federal government’s own computer system shows its vulnerabilities to the world, we have a responsibility to protect the people who have been put at risk,” said Senator Cardin.“Off-the-shelf solutions are not good enough. We need to plug the holes in the federal network and make sure our workers, their families and all those who have been violated are held harmless from any damage that may be done.” ...

The full text of the RECOVER Act follows: 
Title: To require the Office of Personnel Management to provide complimentary, comprehensive identity protection coverage to all individuals whose personally identifiable information was compromised during recent data breaches at Federal agencies.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

This Act may be cited as the “Reducing the Effects of the Cyberattack on OPM Victims Emergency Response Act of 2015” or the “RECOVER Act”.
(a) Definition.—In this section, the term “affected individual” means any individual whose personally identifiable information was compromised during—
(1) the data breach of personnel records of current and former Federal employees, at a network maintained by the Department of the Interior, that was announced by the Office of Personnel Management on June 4, 2015; or
(2) the data breach of systems of the Office of Personnel Management containing information related to the background investigations of current, former, and prospective Federal employees, and of other individuals 
(b) Identity Protection Coverage.—The Office of Personnel Management shall provide to each affected individual complimentary identity protection coverage that—
(1) is not less comprehensive than the complimentary identify protection coverage that the Office provided to affected individuals before the date of enactment of this Act;
(2) is effective for the remainder of the life of the individual; and
(3) includes not less than $5,000,000 in identity theft insurance.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

EACH Woman's Right to Choose

Today Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D., CA), Jan Schakowsky (D., IL) and Diana DeGette (D., CO), introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act. According to a press release, the "bill would ensure health coverage of abortion for every woman regardless of her income, how she is insured or where she lives. In essence the bill would end the harmful Hyde Amendment policies that restrict a woman’s ability to make the best healthcare decisions for herself and her family."

Readers of this blog will probably note the contorted style of the bill's acronym. Without being selective as far as letters, the acronym would be: EAACHI. Additionally, the "Woman" part appears to be added into the acronym title even though it doesn't appear in the complete short title, which makes the acronym title quite a stretch. 

A partial press release is provided below. 



Washington, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Congresswoman Diana DeGette, led a group of 70 Democrats in introducing the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act or the EACH Woman Act.
The bill would ensure health coverage of abortion for every woman regardless of her income, how she is insured or where she lives. In essence the bill would end the harmful Hyde Amendment policies that restrict a woman’s ability to make the best healthcare decisions for herself and her family.
“Each and every day, the rights of women are under attack in America – today, we push back because every person has a right to healthcare. The EACH Woman Act is a bold and groundbreaking step forward. This legislation would ensure that every woman can access ALL of her healthcare options, regardless of how much money she earns or where she lives,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13). “Regardless of how someone personally feels about abortion, none of us, especially elected officials, should be interfering with a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions just because she is poor.” ...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

(Doubly) SAFE Justice Bill to Reduce Prison Population

Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R., WI) and Bobby Scott (D., VA) have introduced the Safe, Accountable, Fair and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act of 2015 to reform the federal criminal code and the bloated federal prison population. The sponsors really want to promote the issue of safety, given that it's not only the acronym spelled for the bill, but also what the "S" stands for in the acronym as well. When it comes to evocatively titled acronyms, there's probably not a member of Congress better at getting their legislation passed than Mr. Sensenbrenner, who's authored a number of such measures

Below is a partial press release regarding the measure. 



Sensenbrenner, Scott Introduce Bipartisan, State-tested Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

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Washington, Jun 25 0 comments
Two years after beginning an intensive, comprehensive review of the federal criminal justice system as the leaders of the Over-Criminalization Task Force, Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) today introduced bipartisan, state-tested legislation aimed at safely reining in the size and associated costs of the federal criminal code and prison system.

The Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act of 2015 takes a broad-based approach to improving the federal sentencing and corrections system, from front-end sentencing reform to back-end release policies.  It is also the first bill that addresses the federal supervision system – ensuring that probation does a better job stopping the revolving door at federal prisons.  The legislation, which is inspired by the successes of states across the country, will reduce recidivism, concentrate prison space on violent and career criminals, increase the use of evidence-based alternatives to incarceration, curtail over-criminalization, reduce crime, and save money. 

“We cannot allow our criminal justice system to remain on its current trajectory,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).  “It’s not only fiscally unsustainable, but morally irresponsible. The states have been outperforming Congress on criminal justice reform for years, so today’s introduction of the SAFE Justice Act is a major step forward in implementing effective, meaningful reform on the federal level that will enact fairness in sentencing, reduce the taxpayer burden, and ensure the increased safety and prosperity of communities across the country.” 
Similar to the successful reform packages enacted in many states, the SAFE Justice Act aligns the federal prison system with the science about what works to reform criminal behavior. It reflects the growing consensus among researchers that, for many offenders, tacking more months and years onto long prison terms is a high-cost, low-return approach to public safety.  It also looks to the growing number of practices in correctional supervision that are shown to reduce recidivism. ...