Transportation Bill w/Student Loan Rate Extension Amendment Passes House

Berkley Pleased Student Loan Rates Won’t Double On Nevada Middle-Class Families, and Glad Designation of Interstate 11 From Las Vegas to Phoenix Included in Transportation Bill

Las Vegas – Today, U.S. Senate candidate Shelley Berkley released the following statement upon House passage of the bill to stop student loan rates from doubling on Nevada families and to re-authorize the surface transportation program, which included a provision designating Interstate 11 from Las Vegas to Phoenix:
“I’m pleased both sides of the aisle came together today to stop the student loan rate from doubling on Nevada middle-class families.  As the first person in my family to go to college, and as the mother of two sons, I know firsthand how important affordable education is to building a middle-class life, and that is why I’ll continue fighting to keep college affordable so that future generations of Nevadans have the same opportunities that I did to go to college, get a good job and raise a family.

“I’m also glad that the House approved legislation that will make Interstate 11 a reality. Connecting Las Vegas and Phoenix, the last remaining major metropolitan areas not linked by a modern highway, will boost our economy, create good-paying jobs in Nevada and make it easier for visitors to travel to the greatest tourist destination on earth.”

BACKGROUND

Berkley Voted To Authorize Transportation Programs And Extend 3.4 Percent Interest Rate On Student Loans.  In 2012, Berkley voted for the conference report on the bill that would authorize federal highway, mass transit and safety programs through fiscal 2014 at current levels with inflationary increases for certain programs. It would provide $21.2 billion for the Highway Trust Fund, $80 billion in contract authority for programs administered by the Federal Highway Administration in fiscal 2013 and 2014, and $21.3 billion for programs administered by the Federal Transit Administration. It also would extend the 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized federal student loans through July 1, 2013, reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program through Sept. 30, 2017 and provide for the distribution of penalties paid by those responsible for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to Gulf Coast states for environmental restoration activities.  The conference report was adopted 373-52.  [HR 4348, Vote #451, 6/29/12]

Language Was Added Designating Route Between Phoenix And Las Vegas As interstate 11.  According to the Las Vegas Sun, “a joint committee of Congress inserted language officially designating a route between Phoenix and Las Vegas as Interstate 11…Passage of the legislation, which could come later today, wouldn’t provide funding for I-11, but it would put the route in line for federal dollars to upgrade U.S. 93 to interstate highway standards.  The designation is part of the $120 billion bill to renew transportation funding in the United States for the next two years. Current funding is due to expire this weekend.”  [Las Vegas Sun, 6/29/12]

Berkley Co-Sponsored Bill To Extend Student Loan Rate Reduction.  In 2012, Berkley co-sponsored HR 4816, which would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to extend the reduced interest rate for Federal Direct Stafford Loans.  The bill would be funded by closing tax loopholes for big oil and gas companies.  [HR 4816, 4/25/12]

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Congressional Activity This Week

Here’s the new weekly update from POPVOX.


From our Hill sources — the week ahead includes consideration of these bills:

The House will consider several bills dealing with cybersecurity this week, while the Senate will spend much of the week on a bill to save the U.S. Postal Service.

Four cybersecurity bills in the House on Thurs, Fri

— The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protect Act (HR 3523), from Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI-8), which would allow the government to share information with companies to help protect their networks. This was the fourth-most discussed bill on POPVOX last week.

— The Federal Information Security Amendments Act (HR 4257), from Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA-49), is aimed at “improving the framework for securing information technology of federal government systems.”

— The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act (HR 2096), from Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX-10), is meant to foster coordinated research between federal agencies to help address cyber threats.

— The Advancing America’s Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Act (HR 3834), from Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX-4), would reauthorize the government’s NITRD cybersecurity program. Bills in the Senate

— The 21st Century Postal Service Act (S 1789) (number 8 on POPVOX last week), is a bipartisan bill that would allow the U.S. Postal Service restructure its retirement payments in a bid to keep the USPS fiscally sound. Starting on Tuesday, the Senate is expected to start voting on up to 39 amendments to the bill.

—  The Senate is expected to hold a procedural vote on SJRes 36, a Republican resolution that disapproves of a 2010 ruling by the National Labor Relations Board meant to speed up union elections. —  The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (S 1925) should be debated later in the week.

— Highway funding: Also look for the House and Senate to start reconciling their differences over federal highway funding. Last week, the House passed an extension of highway programs through the end of the fiscal year, HR 4348. In March, the Senate approved a two-year extension, S 1813. Both bills have overwhelming negative comments on PopVox.

Also in the House this week

The early part of the week for the House will be filled with several non-controversial bills. On Tuesday, the House will consider six bills dealing with federal land use:

— To authorize the conveyance of two parcels of land in the Coconino National Forest (HR 1038)

— The Idaho Wilderness Water Resources Protection Act (HR 2050)

— To facilitate a land exchange in the Inyo National Forest (HR 2157)

— To release the U.S. interest in land conveyed to establish an airport in Minnesota (HR 2497)

— To modify the boundaries of the Cibola National Forest (HR 491)

— The Lowell National Historical Park Land Exchange Act (HR 2240)

And on Wednesday, the House will consider two others:

— The Small Business Credit Availability Act (HR 3336), which ensures the exclusion of small lenders from certain regulations of the Dodd-Frank Act

— The DATA Act (HR 2146), a bill aimed at increasing the transparency of federal spending

Other noteworthy bills

— The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act, (HR 4089), the most-discussed bill on POPVOX last week, passed the House on April 17.

— The Paying a Fair Share Act (S 2230), the second-most discussed bill on POPVOX, failed to advance in the Senate last week. The bill would impose a minimum tax on all income above $1 million.

The Student Loan Forgiveness Act (HR 4170) sets up a program to ease the burden of student loans on students. This bill, the third-most discussed on POPVOX, is currently not being discussed in any of the committees to which it was referred.

(Find this on the POPVOX blog.)


Newly Introduced

WARNING!
The list of newly introduced bills is LONG, we’ve highlighted many of them at http://www.popvox.com/blog/2012/newly-introduced-bills-congress-week-april-16/ . (Keep in mind that these bills are so new that many don’t yet have bill text available online. So keep checking back.)


Recent Issue Spotlights

We developed Issue Spotlights to pull together bills by category, making it easier for individuals to find bills related to a particular issue. Spotlights have become popular among our users, and are often shared through email and listservs. (If you have an idea for an Issue Spotlight, please let me know.)

What about HR 4646 — the 1% tax on financial transactions?
“HR 4646” has consistently been a popular bill search term on POPVOX, even though no current bill numbered HR 4646 exists. Get the scoop.

The Research Works Act: The Research Works Act (HR 3699), which would prohibit Federal agencies from disseminating publicly-funded research without publisher consent, was withdrawn by its sponsors on Feb. 27, 2012. Learn why POPVOX users opposed the bill.

Vietnam Veterans Day
President Obama signed a proclamation declaring March 29 as “Vietnam Veterans Day.” The last American troops left Vietnam on March 29, 1973.

Estate Tax
According to the IRS, “the laws on Estate and Gift Taxes are considered to be some of the most complicated in the tax code.”

Personal Income Tax
Given Tax Day, it seemed fitting to do a spotlight on tax bills!