Blocking Voter Expansion, Proposing Greater Scrutiny of Inspectors General, and Paving the Way for Climate Change Measures

hr 12, s65, s1251, hr3684, hr2662For the People Act of 2021 (HR 12) – This bill is designed to improve voter access to the ballot box by expanding automatic and same-day voter registration, vote-by-mail and early voting. The legislation also contains provisions that limit removing voters from voter rolls, strengthens ethics rules for public servants, reduces the influence of big money in politics and addresses other anti-corruption measures. The bill was introduced by Sen. John Sarbanes (D-MD) on Jan. 4 and passed in the House on March 3. In early July, the bill was blocked by Republicans in the Senate and its status is pending further action that may be taken by Senate Democrats.

Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (S 65) – This bipartisan bill is designed to prevent goods from entering the U.S. market that are made via forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. It would also enhance existing asset- and visa-blocking sanctions of foreign individuals and entities responsible for human rights abuses connected to forced labor in Xinjiang. The bill was introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Jan. 27. It was passed by the Senate on July 14 and is currently in the House.

Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2021 (S 1251) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) on April 2. The purpose of this legislation is to reduce barriers to entry for farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners in certain voluntary credit markets. In order to participate in the program, providers must offer technical assistance to help landowners utilize sustainable land use management practices that prevent, reduce or mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, or sequester carbon; or be a third-party charged with verifying the process for voluntary environmental credit markets. The bill passed in the Senate on June 24 and is currently under consideration in the House.

INVEST in America Act (HR 3684) – This bill authorizes federal funds for highways, highway safety and transit programs. It includes strategies to reduce climate change impacts of the surface transportation system; revises Buy America procurement requirements for highways, mass transit and rail; establishes a rebuild rural bridges program to improve the safety and state of good repair of bridges in rural communities; and other purposes. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) on April 19 and passed in the House on June 29. It is currently under consideration in the Senate.

IG Independence and Empowerment Act (HR 2662) – Introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) on April 19, the bill amends the Inspector General Act of 1978. Some of the provisions include: allowing an Inspector General to be removed only for cause; requiring that Congress be notified before an IG is placed on nonduty status; requiring the president to explain any failure to nominate an IG; adding provisions regarding acting IGs when an IG position is vacant; notifying Congress when an allegation of wrongdoing made by a member of Congress is closed without referral for investigation. The legislation passed in the House on June 29 and is in the Senate for consideration.