Summary of Legislation Passed in 2020

(Image borrowed from the Michigan Education Association)

 

This guide summarizes the majority of the legislation that has been passed by the U.S. Congress in 2020 as of June 20th, 2020.

To-date, Congress has passed 39 laws this year.

 

Grant Program for Cemetery Research and Educational Materials for Veterans Legacy Program (H.R.2385)
  • Establishes a grant program to conduct cemetery research and produce educational materials for the Veterans Legacy Program, which is a program that commemorates Veterans by sharing their stories
Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act of 2019 (H.R.2476)
    • Establishes a Nonprofit Security Grant Program headed under the Department of Homeland Security. The program provides grants to specified nonprofit organizations in order to enhance security and protect them against terrorist attacks

PIRATE Act (H.R.583)
  • Enacts stronger consequences for civilians that pirate radio broadcasting
United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act (H.R.5430)
  • Amends the North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA) and creates the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) (“HR 5430 United States”, 2020)
  • Requires vehicle (defined as a passenger vehicle, light truck, or heavy truck) workers to be paid at least $16 an hour in the US in order for the vehicle to receive preferential tariff treatment, and must achieve certain standards
  • Requires the president to establish a committee that oversees the production of automotive goods and determines the economic effects of the operation of the USMCA in relation to automotive goods
  • Requires an in-depth biennial review of the USMCA for the trading of automotive goods
  • Sets aside $210 million to the Bureau of International Labor Affairs in operating “international labor activities, technical assistance, and microfinance programs”
  • Requires monitoring of labor reform in Mexico
  • Establishes a hotline that monitors confidential information regarding labor issues among USMCA countries
  • Ensures that designing and maintaining these automobile plants are treating wastewater, runoff pollution, and other environmental issues arising from the flow of water beginning in Mexico (“HR 5430 United States”, 2020)

 

Temporary Reauthorization and Study of the Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act (S.3201)
  • Establishes fentanyl-related substances under schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act until May 6, 2021. This means that all fentanyl-related substances are not accepted for medical use in the U.S. until the legislation’s expiration date.
Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act (S.153)
  • Encourages Veterans to study and pursue careers in STEM and computer science
DHS Field Engagement Accountability Act (H.R.504)
  • Requires the Department of Homeland Security to establish a strategy to detect, investigate, and respond to criminal or terrorist activity through fusion centers, which consists of multiple government agencies that work together
Waiver for VA Pilot Dental Program (H.J.Res.80)
  • Approves exception to pilot program for VA to expand access to dental care services for veterans
Presidential Transition Enhancement Act of 2019 (S.394)
  • Ensures a smoother transfer of power between presidents during transitions
  • Allows legislative staff to work for the executive and be reimbursed for their services
  • Requires presidential candidates to determine who they will appoint into senior non-career positions before becoming President-elect
  • Requires an ethics plan to be implemented and enforced to ensure a smooth transition
Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act of 2019 (S.2107)
  • Allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hire, train, and assign 240 new agricultural specialists (until the number of specialists equals the number required in the Agriculture Resource Allocation Model)
  • Analyze DHS, the Dep. of Agriculture, and other federal agencies’ ability to address risks to the agricultural supply in the U.S.
Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.6074)
  • Provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies and the division funds program–which includes the Department of Health and Human Services, the State Department, and the Small Business Administration–to respond to the coronavirus outbreak
  • Addresses issues such as developing vaccines and medical supplies, grants for health agencies, loans for small businesses that have been affected by the virus, evacuations and emergency preparedness at U.S. embassies and other State Department facilities, and humanitarian assistance and support of health systems in affected countries
Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 (H.R.4998)
  • Establishes a means for stopping dangerous communications equipment from entering US. networks and removes all such equipment that poses a threat to national security
  • Reimburses communications providers that have their prohibited equipment or services taken from their networks by replacing them with more secure communications equipment or services
Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2020 (H.R.5761)
  • Awards a Congressional Gold Medal to the United States Merchant Mariners of World War II
Representative Payee Fraud Prevention Act of 2019 (H.R.5214)
  • Prohibits a representative payee, which is a person that represents someone’s financial interests on that person’s behalf, from embezzling or converting funds from retirement funds
  • In order to do this, the money is revoked from the representative payee and the money is given to the individual themselves or to another representative payee
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R.6201)
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, provides paid sick leave, tax credits, free COVID-19 testing, expands food assistance and unemployment benefits, ad increases Medicaid funding
  • Provides additional funds to federal agencies in order to respond to the pandemic outbreak
VA Distance Learning During COVID-19 (S.3503)
  • Allows the Department of Veteran Affairs to continue to provide educational assistance through distance learning programs due to COVID-19; assistance includes checks for monthly housing expenses or for subsistence purposes
Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020 (S.893)
  • Requires the President, together with federal agencies, to develop a strategy to protect 5G systems and infrastructure
    • Assists mutual defense treaty allies, strategic partners, and other countries, in maximizing the security of 5G systems and infrastructure
    • Protects the competitiveness of U.S. companies, privacy of U.S. consumers, and integrity of standards-setting bodies
Broadband DATA Act (S.1822)
  • Requires the Federal Communications Commission to collect, verify, and report data from wired, fixed-wireless, satellite, and mobile broadband providers in order to determine broadband service availability data
Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 (H.R.4334)
  • Establishes and revises programs by the DHS and the Department of Labor that support caregivers of the elderly, informational services, nutritional services, disease prevention and health promotion services, community and workforce training regarding elder care, and abuse and neglect prevention services
Technical Corrections to the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act (H.R.1365)
  • Automatically allows victims and survivors of the attack of Guam by Imperial Japanese military forces to be compensated for their claims without requiring the funds to first be appropriated
Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act (H.R.4803)
  • Determines that foreign-born child of a U.S. citizen member of the Armed Forces or government employee are automatically U.S. citizens
Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative [TAIPEI] Act of 2019 (S.1678)
  • Requires the Department of State to report to Congress the steps that it has taken to improve diplomatic relations with Taiwan yearly
CARES Act (H.R.748)
  • Response to the COVID-19 outbreak’s impact on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses (Bettino et al. 2020)
  • Small Businesses (Title I)
    • Establishes the Payment Protection Plan, providing eight weeks of financial assistance to small businesses (with fewer than 500 employees), independent contractor, and self-employed individuals through loans to employers that keep their employees
      • Covers payroll, paid sick leave, supply chain disruptions, and employee salaries
    • Also provides grants to small businesses for education, training, and advising in relation to COVID-19-related issues
    • Loan forgiveness for companies to continue to pay their employees through June. This includes:
      • Payroll costs, interest payments on mortgages, covered rent obligations, and covered utility payments
    • Makes grants available to companies under the Employment Injuries Disaster Loan (EIDLs)
    • Allows debt ceiling to increase to $7,500,000 and still be eligible for filing bankruptcy under the Small Business Administration
  • American Workers, Families, and Businesses (Title II)
    • Expands unemployment benefits, provides cash rebates to individuals, and creates a credit for employers that keep their employees
    • Allows withdrawals of up to $100,000 from retirement plans
    • Allows employers to provide up to $5,250 per employee for student loan obligations or other educational assistance benefits
    • Allows leeway for mortgages, foreclosures, and evictions during COVID-19
  • Economic Stabilization and Assistance to Severely Distressed Sectors of the United States Economy (Title IV)
    •  Allocates approximately $500 billion in loans to assist airlines, financial institutions, and other sectors that are critical to national security
      • These businesses must repay these loans
    • Other businesses also receiving funds include the airline companies, community banks, mid-sized businesses (with between 500-10,000 employees), and other institutions
  • Coronavirus Relief Funds (Title V)
    • Allocates $150 billion this year for states, territories, Indian tribes, and local governments to respond to COVID-19
    • $100 billion is designated to eligible health care providers (Bettino et al. 2020)
Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R.266)
  • Provides additional funding for small business loans (under the Small Business Administration), health care providers, and COVID-19 testing
  • $100 billion are apportioned amongst the Department of Health and Human Services to aid in the COVID-19 response
    • Intended to reimburse health care providers for health care related expenses or lost revenues from Covid-19
    • $25 billion set aside for expenses related to “research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer, and expand capacity for COVID-19”
  • Around $80 billion dedicated to supplemental funding related to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, to Emergency EIDL grants, and to salaries and expenses that ensure the implementation of COVID-19 related programs
Never Again Education Act (H.R.943)
  • Expands the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum education program
  • Requires the museum to share accurate, relevant, and accessible resources to improve awareness and understanding of the Holocaust
  • Allows the creation and implementation of a variety of education program activities to engage new and current teachers and educational leaders
Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (H.R.7010)
  • Changes the loan forgiveness for small businesses during COVID-19
  • Allows businesses to have five years to repay loans from the paycheck protection program, still being able to qualify for deferred payroll tax payments
  • Extends period in which a loan recipient can use the funds
  • Reduces time in which an employer can rehire or reduce wages that, under normal circumstances, would reduce the forgivable amount of a paycheck protection loan
  • Recipients can defer payments until they receive compensation for the forgiven amounts, and if they do not apply for forgiveness, they have 10 months to repay the loan
Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act (S.2746)
  • Directs the FBI to establish a new program, called the Law Enforcement Officers Suicide Data Collection Program, to understand and prevent the suicide of law enforcement officers
  • Law enforcement agencies, at all levels, may submit to the FBI, and the FBI must report on the data in regards to suicides and attempted suicides
Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 (S.3744)
  • Imposes sanctions and requires reports on foreign companies and individuals that are responsible for human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur region of China
  • Specifically looks at forced labor of Muslim minority groups in China and requires reports to be made to congress on:
    • Human rights abuses
    • Any efforts to protect U.S. citizens and residents from harassment and intimidation from the Chinese government
    • Development of new technology that promotes internment and mass surveillance in the region

 

If you are looking to read more about specific legislation up for debate in Congress, click here to learn more.

 

Sources:

Bettino, D. A., Bradley, P. E., Ciavarella, A., Correll, M. A., Craig, L. V., Earley, M. B., Estrada, E. J., Hakes, R. M., Hasselman, S. T., Holland, J. E., Loepere, C. C., Roach, J. S., Roth, H. A., Sizemore, A. W., Tandler, J. R., & Weimer, J. M. (2020, March 31). CARES Act Overview. Reed Smith LLP. https://www.reedsmith.com/en/perspectives/2020/03/cares-act-overview#:~:text=The%20Coronavirus%20Aid%2C%20Relief%2C%20and,other%20medical%20providers%2C%20and%20various

United States Congress. (2020). Public Laws. Library of Congress. https://www.congress.gov/public-laws/116th-congress

(2020). HR 5430 United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act – national key vote. Vote Smart. https://votesmart.org/bill/27509/70878/united-states-mexico-canada-agreement-implementation-act#.XvA9WJNJGuV

(2020). Nearly 2 million education jobs could be lost–unless the U.S. Senate acts. [Image]. Michigan Education Association. https://mea.org/nearly-2-million-education-jobs-could-be-lost-unless-the-u-s-senate-acts/

Naomi Matthusen is a junior at Queens University of Charlotte, majoring in Political Science and double minoring in French and Professional Writing & Rhetoric. She has conducted political and legal research on a variety of topics during her time as a student at Queens, and she has canvassed for several political campaigns, has worked for a law firm, and has been involved in politics at the state level.

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