Funding the Government, Protecting Americans from Misuse of Data, Expanding Internet Access and Improving Recycling

HR 4366, HR 7521, HR 7520, HR 1752, HR 6276, HR 1046Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024 (HR 4366) – On March 9, the president signed the latest appropriations bill passed in time to halt a government shutdown. While this bill does authorize funding through the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30), it only addresses six of the 12 bills necessary to fully fund the government. The recent legislation covers Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Rural Development, the Food and Drug Administration, the Commerce, Justice and Science-related departments, the Energy Department, the Department of the Interior and the Environment, and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. On March 23, the president signed the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024 (HR 2882) in the nick of time to prevent a government shutdown. This subsequent budget legislation includes the remaining spending bills to fully fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30).

Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary ControlledApplications Act (HR 7521) – Congress is currently considering a bill designed to force the sale of the social media app Tik Tok, which is currently owned by ByteDance Ltd. This Chinese firm is subject to the laws of China, which has the right to seize all data procured by the app as well as influence content for political purposes – which is considered a threat to U.S. national security.This roundly bipartisan bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) on March 5. It was passed by the House on March 13 and is under consideration in the Senate.

Protecting Americans’ Data from Foreign Adversaries Act of 2024 (HR 7520) – The purpose of this bill is to prevent the current targeting, surveilling, and manipulation of user data from apps by brokers who sell sensitive information to foreign adversaries, such as China. Examples of data collected and sold include individual physical and mental health, as well as where and when they travel outside the country. This bipartisan bill was introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) on March 7. It is currently assigned to a committee for review in the House.

E-BRIDGE Act (HR 1752) – This legislation was introduced by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) in March 2023. It would authorize the Department of Commerce to issue economic development grants for the purpose of expanding and improving high-speed broadband service in underserved and geographically diverse markets. The bill passed in the House on March 11 and currently lies with the Senate.

USE IT Act of 2023 (HR 6276) – This Act would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the General Services Administration (GSA), through the use of technology sensors, to ensure federal government building utilization and federally leased spaces average at least 60 percent in each public building over each one-year period. The bill, introduced by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) on Nov. 7, 2023, passed in the House on March 12 and is now under consideration in the Senate.

A bill to require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out certain activities to improve recycling and composting programs in the United States and for other purposes (S 1194) – This Act was introduced by Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE) on April 19, 2023, and passed in the Senate on March 12. This bipartisan bill would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collect data and issue reports on nationwide composting and recycling efforts, including implementing a national composting strategy to help reduce contamination rates for recycling. The legislation is currently under consideration in the House.

A bill to establish a pilot grant program to improve recycling accessibility and for other purposes (S 1189) – A companion bipartisan bill to S 1194, this Act would authorize the EPA to issue grants to states, local governments, Indian tribes, or public-private partnerships to fund improved recycling accessibility within communities. It was introduced by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-VA) on April 19, 2023, and passed in the Senate on March 12. It is also under consideration in the House.

Social Security Expansion Act (HR 1046) – This new bill is designed to enhance Social Security benefits and ensure the long-term solvency of the Social Security program. It was introduced on Feb. 14 by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). The bill includes the following provisions: 1) increase benefits for low earners; 2) restore student education benefits to children of deceased or disabled parents, up to age 22; 3) revise the calculation to yield higher annual COLA benefits; 3) make active trade or business income subject to the net investment income tax; 4) make all earnings above $250,000 subject to Social Security payroll taxes. The bill has yet to be assigned to a committee and has virtually no chance of being enacted by the current Congress.