While midterm elections enter their final frantic month, more attention is being paid to the races than any legislation, or lack thereof. The House of Representatives' approval rating is hovering at about 13 percent, largely due to their lack of progress in passing any legislation. In fact, the 113th Congress is the least productive Congress in U.S. history.
Part of its problem has been the failure to take action on some of the most important issues of the day. There are even 85 bills currently waiting action by the U.S. House that were passed by the Senate, although most Americans do not know much about them. Here are the 5 most important ones that voters should know about.
With a name like this, there is no wonder the bill has not gained much traction. This bill was passed by the Senate in November 2013, but has yet to be taken up by the House. The bill extends protections to whistleblowers of third parties, whereas previously whistleblowers were only protected if they self-reported or worked for the company involved.
This new bill adds protections for those who report criminal anti-trust offenses and do not work for the company being accused of the illegal activity. The bill hopes to increase incentives for companies to “manage risks effectively by developing and maintaining adequate compliance regimes internally.”
In the post-Snowden era, it is increasingly important for the U.S. to have clear and extensive laws about these critical issues while encouraging companies to be even more transparent.
As the United States military re-engages in the Middle East and the VA is under fire for offering poor care to the nation's veterans, the men and women who have served this country deserve more attention from Congress. A bill passed the Senate in November 2013 which reauthorizes and expands how the U.S. government approaches the treatment of veterans. The bill has yet to make any movement in the House.
This is probably the most well-known law passed by the Senate which has languished in the House. The Senate passed the bill in June 2013. It has been called an “ambitious, bipartisan comprehensive reform of our immigration system.”
The bill aims to make it possible for undocumented immigrants to gain legal status and eventual citizenship. The bill reached bipartisan consensus by also agreeing to increase border security by adding up to 40,000 border patrol agents.
Almost a year and a half later, immigration reform remains one of the great unfinished issues of the 113th Congress.
While one would think a non-discrimination act would be an easy sell for U.S. legislators, this bill has been unable to make headway in the U.S. House. While same-sex marriage rulings sweep across the country, Congress refuses to pass a bill that would protect people from being discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Once again, federal action is lagging well behind state protections for the gay community.
Kirsten Gillibrand is on the road promoting her book and, therefore, one of her major legislative issues is again garnering public attention: sexual assault in the military. This bill aims to revise sexual assault prevention and response programs in the armed forces.
While the bill passed the Senate in March 2014, the bill has not made it through the U.S. House. Because the act allows civilian review of sexual assault cases in which a prosecutor and commander disagree over whether to litigate, many in the military oppose the bill because it would disrupt command authority.
As sexual assault is increasingly being addressed on college campuses by the federal government, this unfinished business in the military should not be forgotten.