Senator Cornyn: 114th Congress in Review

In: All News   Posted 12/14/2016

DALLAS – Five bills introduced by U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) have become law during the 114th Congress, with three more currently waiting on the President’s signature. These include landmark anti-human trafficking legislation, a bill reforming the Freedom of Information Act, a bill to allow local first responders to use grant funding for active shooter response training, and legislation to help reduce the rape kit backlog, among others.

Awaiting the President’s Signature

Cross Border Trade Enhancement Act (Passed Senate 11/29/16, passed House 12/6/16, passed Senate again 12/10/16, awaiting President’s signature)

  • Promotes public-private partnerships (P3) to boost staffing and make infrastructure improvements at U.S. ports of entry without adding to the national deficit.
  • Developed with input from border community leaders and transportation industry stakeholders following successful pilot program agreements, including at the Paso Del Norte Bridge in El Paso.

Justice for All Reauthorization Act of 2016 (Passed Senate 6/16/16, passed House 11/29/16, passed Senate again 12/1/16, awaiting President’s signature)

  • Strengthens crime victims’ rights in the courtroom, increases access to restitution and restorative services, and reauthorizes important law enforcement investigative programs.
  • Helps reduce the nationwide rape kit backlog and provide resources for forensic labs while protecting the innocent by improving access to post-conviction DNA testing.

HEAR Act (Passed House 12/7/16, passed Senate 12/10/16, awaiting President’s signature)

  • Helps facilitate the return of artwork lost to Nazis during the Holocaust to their rightful owners or heirs.
  • Ensures that American law encourages the resolution of claims on Nazi-confiscated art on the merits, in a fair and just manner, consistent with long-standing U.S. foreign policy.

Signed Into Law

Major Provisions of the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act (Passed as part of the 21st Century Cures Act and became law 12/13/16)

  • Allows law enforcement to use existing funding to create pre-trial screening and assessment programs to identify mentally ill offenders, provide need-based treatment, and develop post-release supervision plans, including judicially-administered Assisted Outpatient Treatment programs.
  • Uses federal grant funding to expand the use of Crisis Intervention Teams, who are trained to respond to mental health crises and prevent acts of violence.
  • Enables existing federal funding to be used to provide treatment, mentoring, and other transitional services to mentally-ill offenders leaving custody.

Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (Passed Senate 4/22/15, passed House 5/19/15, became law 5/29/15)

  • Strengthens law enforcement tools to help authorities rescue victims and take down human traffickers and the organized criminal networks who support them.
  • Provides victims of sexual exploitation, slavery, and human trafficking with resources to heal and restore their lives.

Starr-Camargo Bridge Charter Extension (Passed Senate 3/17/16, passed House 5/16/16, became law 5/20/16)

  • Legislation grants the Starr-Camargo International Bridge in Rio Grande City, TX permanent operating authority, allowing the bridge to continue connecting communities across the Rio Grande.

FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 (Passed Senate 3/15/16, passed House 6/13/16, became law 6/30/16)

  • Requires federal agencies to operate under a “presumption of openness” when considering the release of government information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
  • Reduces bureaucracy involved in the FOIA request process and requires agencies to proactively disclose documents that are likely to be of public interest.

POLICE Act of 2016 (Passed Senate 5/18/16, passed House 7/12/16, became law 7/22/16)

  • Expands access to existing federal funding for law enforcement and first responders to receive active shooter response training.
  • Endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major County Sheriffs Association, and the Sergeants Benevolent Association.

Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (Passed Senate 5/17/16, passed House 9/9/16, vetoed 9/23/16, passed Senate over veto 9/28/16, passed House over veto 9/28/16, became law 9/28/16)

  • Allows families of victims of terror attacks on U.S. soil to sue the foreign states that fund terrorism and permit them to hold accountable those who aid and abet terrorism.
  • Passed the House of Representatives and Senate unanimously, and became law after Congress overrode a Presidential veto.

Medicare Long-Term Care Hospital Moratorium Exception (Passed as part of 21st Century Cures Act and became law 12/13/16)

  • Provides regulatory relief for Long-Term Care Hospitals (LTCHs) by qualifying for a “mid-build” exception to the current moratorium on bed expansion.

Ensuring Removal of Terminated Providers from Medicaid and CHIP Act (Passed as part of 21st Century Cures Act and became law 12/13/16)

  • Ensures federal funds are not paid to health care providers who have been terminated from the Medicaid, Medicare, or CHIP programs.