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East front of the U.S. Capitol on July 13, 2017. (Humberto Sanchez/The Nevada Independent)

The House approved legislation last week to repeal guidance issued by President Donald Trump’s White House in 2018 that provided waivers to states from certain Affordable Care Act requirements.

The lower chamber also approved a disaster relief spending bill that would provide $19 billion in aid to communities that have suffered from hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes and wildfires. But the measure is expected to meet resistance from Trump for, among other things, providing about $3 billion for Puerto Rico. All of Nevada’s House Democrats backed the bill. Republican Rep. Mark Amodei was not among the 34 House GOP members who voted for the bill.

The House votes came as the Senate approved three nominations to the Export-Import bank, giving the agency a quorum for the first time since 2015.

The House health-care bill, which passed 230 to 183, was supported by all of Nevada’s Democrats.

“People with pre-existing conditions need affordable, dependable health insurance, and the junk insurance plans allowed by the Administration’s waiver rule does just the opposite,” Rep. Susie Lee said in a release.

Amodei opposed the measure.

Protecting pre-existing conditions, one of the most popular parts of the ACA, was often cited by Democrats in support of the measure, including Rep. Dina Titus and Rep. Steven Horsford.  

Republican opponents of the bill argued that measure called “Protection for Pre-existing Conditions Act” had nothing to do with pre-existing conditions. North Carolina Republican George Holding offered an amendment to change the bill’s name to “Insert Politically Punchy Title That Doesn’t Reflect the Bill Substance Act.” The amendment failed with seven Republicans, including Amodei, voting against it.

The health-care bill is the first of about 12 health-care measures Democrats plan to put on the House floor in order to put Republicans on the record ahead of the 2020 elections, according to The New York Times.

Next week, the House will consider a Democratic measure to repeal a Trump administration rule that extended the length of short-term insurance plans from no more than three-months to up to a year, with the ability to renew plans for up to three years. Short-term plans don’t have to cover essential health benefits, such as maternity care, prescription drugs, mental-health services, or preventive care as required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Ex-Im ban

In the Senate, both Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Sen. Jacky Rosen supported the nominees to the Export-Import Bank, including Kimberly Reed to be bank president. Other nominees include former Alabama Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus and Judith DelZoppo Pryor.

The bank assists in financing and facilitating exports of goods and services to support to help create jobs. The bank has provided $29 million in aid in support of $59 million of export value in Nevada since 2014, according to the bank statistics.

“With today’s vote Nevada small business owners now finally have a functioning Ex-Im bank so they can receive the vital support and resources their companies need,” Cortez Masto said in a release. “The Ex-Im bank has financed millions of dollars in exports from Nevada, and it is vital to ensuring that Nevada’s exporters have the resources necessary to enter foreign markets.”

Floor speeches

Cortez Masto also took to the Senate floor last week to call for passage of three pieces of legislation in order to address the epidemic of violence against Native American women. She was one of five senators who gave speeches on the issue.

“More than 80 percent of Native women will experience physical, sexual or psychological violence in their lifetimes, often in the form of domestic or intimate-partner violence,” she said in her speech Tuesday. “One in three Native American women have been raped or experienced an attempted rape. Murder is the third leading cause of death for Native women and girls.”

She called for approval of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which provides grants to support training for law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, service providers, and communities to provide comprehensive support to female victims of violent crimes.

The version passed by the House last month would also give tribal governments additional and jurisdictional power to directly address violent crime against tribal members on reservations.

She also called for passage of Savanna’s Act, which would help ensure tribal law enforcement has access to accurate, up-to-date crime databases and implement guidelines for state, local and tribal law enforcement for responding to criminal cases.

And she pushed for adoption of the Not Invisible Act, which increase intergovernmental coordination to identify and combat violent crime within Indian lands and of Indians.

Rosen also gave speech on the Senate floor, the first time she has spoken in the chamber.

In her speech, she focused on protecting access to health care as well as her opposition to storing nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain.

“There’s no issue that matters more to Nevadans than access to affordable, quality health care,” she said.

Rosen also sought to have the Senate pass a resolution she sponsored with West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin to have Senate lawyers represent the chamber in a lawsuit in Texas that has challenged the constitutionality of the ACA. The suit could result in the loss of protections under the law, including those requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and limiting how much can be charged.

Her request was met with objection from Republicans.

Miscellany

At a hearing Thursday in the Ways and Means Committee on the amount of taxes not paid by Americans, known as the tax gap, Horsford discussed his dismay that the Internal Revenue Service is more likely to audit a poor individual who claims the earned income tax credit (EITC) than it is a large corporation.

“IRS data shows that individuals making average of $25,000 a year, who claim the earned income tax credit were more likely to be examined by the IRS than wealthier Americans making up to a $1 million,” Horsford said at the hearing.

The EITC is a refundable tax credit for low- to moderate-income working individuals and couples, particularly those with children.

James R. McTigue of the General Accountability Office (GAO) told Horsford that of the of the roughly 1 million IRS audits done per year done, 381,000 were done on people claiming the EITC.

Part of the reason for the high level of scrutiny of EITC users is that the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act requires the IRS to audit a certain number of EITC users to keep the level of improper payments low, McTigue said.

But a 2012 GAO study showed that if the IRS reprioritized from low income to higher income tax returns the agency could claim $1 billion more in tax revenue.

“They shouldn’t be audited at a disproportionate rate than millionaires and big corporations and if your study indicated that we could yield a billion dollars more by ensuring we are being fair across the board then we should approach that policy and that process,” Horsford said.

Titus introduced a bill last week that would help K-12 schools hire more full-time nurses. The measure would allow public elementary and secondary schools to apply for grants from the Department of Education to defray the cost of hiring nurses.

The Clark County School District has 202 school nurses serving more than 320,000 students in over 350 schools, according to Titus. “Yet, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one full-time registered nurse in every school. This legislation will help make sure every student has access to the high quality of care that school nurses provide,” Titus said.

Lee cosponsored legislation last week that would extend the temporary health-care coverage provided to babies born to veterans to 14 days from seven.  

“Currently, veterans are only eligible to receive 7 days of newborn care, after which they must find and sign up for health insurance for their newborn,” she said in a release adding that the time would give veteran parents “peace of mind.”

For a full rundown of the measures the delegates supported or opposed this week, check out The Nevada Independent’s congressional vote tracker and other information below.

SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO
Legislation co-sponsored:
S. 1370 – A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to treat certain military survivor benefits as earned income for purposes of the kiddie tax.
S. 1355 – A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide an exclusion from gross income for AmeriCorps educational awards.
S. 1346 – A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require the Secretary to provide for the use of data from the second preceding tax year to carry out the simplification of applications for the estimation and determination of financial aid eligibility, to increase the income threshold to qualify for a student aid index equal to or less than zero, and for other purposes.
S. 1338 – A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to direct the Secretary of Education to issue guidance and recommendations for institutions of higher education on removing criminal and juvenile justice questions from their application for admissions process.
SEN. JACKY ROSEN
Legislation co-sponsored:
S. 1329 – A bill to amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to require that equitable distribution of assistance include equitable distribution in Indian tribes and tribal organizations and to increase amounts reserved for allotment to Indian tribes and tribal organizations under certain circumstances, and to provide for a Government Accountability Office report on child abuse and neglect in American Indian tribal communities.
REP. DINA TITUS
Legislation sponsored:
H.R. 2606 – To make demonstration grants to eligible local educational agencies or consortia of eligible local educational agencies for the purpose of increasing the numbers of school nurses in public elementary schools and secondary schools.
Legislation co-sponsored:
H.R. 2557 – To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the recruitment of physicians in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
REP. MARK AMODEI
Legislation sponsored:
H.R. 2531 – To require the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to more efficiently develop domestic sources of the minerals and mineral materials of strategic and critical importance to the economic and national security and manufacturing competitiveness of the United States, and for other purposes.
REP. SUSIE LEE
Legislation sponsored:
H.R. 2645 – To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the care provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to newborn children.
Legislation co-sponsored:
H.R. 2569 – To provide emergency assistance to States, territories, Tribal nations, and local areas affected by the opioid epidemic and to make financial assistance available to States, territories, Tribal nations, local areas, and public or private nonprofit entities to provide for the development, organization, coordination, and operation of more effective and cost efficient systems for the delivery of essential services to individuals with substance use disorder and their families.
H.R. 2557 – To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the recruitment of physicians in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
H.R. 2555 – To amend the Combat Duty Pay Act of 1952 to require that former members of the uniformed services who were captured or entered a missing-in-action status during the Korean War while serving as a member of a combat unit in Korea receive combat pay for each month spent in a captured or missing-in-action status, rather than just a total of four months.
H.R. 2535 – To amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to ensure that child protective services systems do not permit the separation of children from parents on the basis of poverty, and for other purposes.

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