Congressional Digest

PRO & CON UPDATES


    Guns and Mental Health

By , Editor,
April 09, 2016
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As part of a series of proposals designed to tighten Federal gun laws, President Obama, in early January, pushed for $500 million in Federal appropriations for improved access to mental health services. His announcement opened up a debate in Congress over whether, and to what extent, gun policy and mental health reform should be linked legislatively. Most Republicans have said that improving the Nation’s mental health system would be the best way to reduce gun violence, while most Democrats have maintained that both mental health reform and gun safety measures are needed. Mental health advocates, while wary about combining the…

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    Obama Nominates Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court

By , Editor,
March 21, 2016
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On March 16, 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The following is excerpted from the president’s remarks at the White House following the announcement. Of the many powers and responsibilities that the Constitution vests in the presidency, few are more consequential than appointing a Supreme Court justice — particularly one to succeed Justice Scalia, one of the most influential jurists of our time. The men and women who sit…

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    Zika Virus

By , Editor,
March 21, 2016
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The U.S. Government is responding on several fronts to the outbreak of Zika, a virus primarily spread by mosquitoes that recently has been linked to birth defects and other concerning health conditions in parts of Latin America. In early February, the Obama Administration sent Congress a request for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat Zika overseas and in the United States. The money would go to the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Department and its U.S. Agency for International Development. It would be used for preparedness efforts, mosquito control, vaccine research and development, testing and…

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    “Cancer Moonshot”

By , Editor,
March 10, 2016
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In his January 12, 2016, State of the Union Address, President Obama announced a “national effort” to find innovative new treatments for cancer and said he was putting Vice President Joe Biden “in charge of mission control.” Last October, after stating that he would not be running for President, Biden called for a “moon shot in this country to cure cancer” and said that he would dedicate the remainder of his term to that cause. In a January 12 blog post, the Vice President wrote that although “innovations in data and technology offer the promise to speed research advances and…

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    Antonin Scalia’s Career and Legacy

By , Editor,
March 03, 2016

Justice Antonin Scalia died in his sleep while on vacation at a ranch resort near Marfa, Texas, on February 13, 2016. Although the cause of death was not announced, the 79-year-old jurist had battled health problems, including heart disease, for a number of years. “Nino” Scalia, as he was referred to by friends, was nominated to be an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 26, 1986. He became the first Italian American to serve on the Court. With nearly 30 years on the bench, he was the…

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    Flint Water Crisis

By , Editor,
February 29, 2016
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The drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, resulted from a 2014 decision by the city to switch its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. The change was made without adding chemicals to prevent pipe corrosion, so lead leaked into residents’ water, creating a serious public health problem. As the crisis gained national attention in the fall of 2015, Michigan’s congressional representatives called for action. On February 10, the House passed, 416 to 2, H.R. 4470, introduced by Representative Dan Kildee (MI-D), to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to notify the public within 15 days after discovering…

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    Expanding Broadband

By , Editor,
February 10, 2016

One issue that is uniting Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, the Obama Administration, and the technology industry is the need to expand high-speed Internet access nationwide, especially for rural and other underserved communities. According to a Brookings Institution study, 75.1 percent of American households had a broadband Internet subscription in 2014; however, there remains “enormous variation in U.S. digital connectivity across demographic groups and between metropolitan areas.” In September 2015, the White House released a report by the Administration’s Broadband Opportunity Council, created last March to develop a broadband expansion strategy. The report contained recommendations for both expanding broadband…

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    Women in Combat

By , Editor,
January 22, 2016
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Saying that America’s armed forces must draw from “the broadest possible pool of talent,” Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, on December 3, 2015, ordered the U.S. military to open all combat jobs to women, with “no exceptions.” Prior to this announcement, women were not precluded by law from serving in any military unit or specialty; however, a 1994 Department of Defense policy barred them from serving in combat. In January 2013, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta directed each branch of the armed services to assess the impact of opening combat positions to women and to develop plans for integrating them…

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    Obama’s Gun Proposals

By , Editor,
January 22, 2016
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On January 5, in a ceremony at the White House, President Obama announced a series of proposals to tighten Federal gun laws, calling them “common-sense steps to save lies and protect more of our children.” The initiative includes both legislative proposals that Congress would have to act on and executive actions that the President can take on his own. Major provisions include: Requiring more gun sellers — especially those who do business on the Internet and at gun shows — to be licensed and to conduct background checks on potential buyers. Hiring more than 230 additional FBI personnel to help…

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    Paris Climate Talks

By , Editor,
December 01, 2015
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On October 19, the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy held a hearing on the upcoming United Nations Conference on Climate Change. Senator John Barrasso (WYR) led the hearing to examine the economic and environmental impacts of the negotiations. The goal of the talks, which are taking place from November 30 to December 11, 2015, in Paris, is to achieve a universal agreement on climate. Nations responsible for about two-thirds of global pollution have come up with greenhouse emissions targets — known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The United States…

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