Category Archives: Congress at Work

Pass-through Entity Tax (PTET)

Finally some great news for the taxpayers!!!
New York State has passed a law and the IRS has issued regulations that allow for the deduction of SALT taxes at the entity level. This will allow taxpayers to pay the tax due on income from Pass Through Entities (Partnerships, LLC’s and S Corporations) and thus reduce their federal income tax liability. At a time where expected federal tax hikes are coming this is an excellent opportunity to mitigate some of that projected increase in taxes.
This election MUST be made annually by the taxpayer. Your tax professional is not and can not be authorized to make the election on your behalf. However, please notify your WZ accountant if you make the election.
This is a new law and the guidelines have only recently been provided by NYS. The election due dates and important items of note are as follows:
  • For the calendar tax year beginning January 1, 2021 and ending December 31, 2021 the election MUST be made by October 15, 2021 (no extensions are available)
  • For the calendar tax year beginning January 1, 2022 and ending December 31, 2022 the election MUST be made by March 15, 2022 (no extensions are available)
  • Once the election is made it is irrevocable for that tax year.
  • Any estimated tax payments for the current tax year ending December 31, 2021 must be paid by December 31, to be deducted if you are a cash basis taxpayer.
  • For tax year ended 2022 quarterly estimates will be required and due on March 15, June 15, September 15 and December 15.
To see the step by step instructions to guide you through the process of setting up a user account (if you currently do not have one) and making the election for the current tax year 2021 please see  PTET Election Instructions
Please note, this election is optional. The decision whether to make the election is up to the entity, through its owners. The actual signing and submission of the election must be done by a duly authorized officer of the company.
The Partners and Team at WZ are available to answer any questions and assist in the process. We will also advise you on tax planning options and assist in quantifying the savings.
Please be advised that any time spent is not included in your current engagement and or retainer and you will incur additional fees at our standard billing rates.
Best regards,
WZ Partners

Fiscal Year Funding Plus Legislative Support for Health Care Professionals and Physical Activity for All Americans

S 1301, S 610, HR 4502, HR 4346, HR 2485, S 583A bill to provide for the publication by the Secretary of Health and Human Services of physical activity recommendations for Americans (S 1301) – This bill authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to publish guidelines of recommended physical activity for Americans. The bill was introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on April 22, passed in the Senate on July 30 and is under consideration in the House.

Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (S 610) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) on March 4. The purpose of this legislation is to establish grants and require activities designed to improve mental and behavioral health and prevent burnout among health care providers. Strategies include ways to improve well-being, establish or expand programs to promote mental and behavioral health among health care providers involved with COVID-19 response efforts, and train health care providers on suicide prevention. Moreover, the bill instructs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a campaign urging health care providers to seek support and treatment for mental and behavioral health issues. The bill passed in the Senate on Aug. 6 and is currently under consideration in the House.

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Agriculture, Rural Development, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, 2022 (HR 4502) – This bill authorizes appropriations for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022, for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and others.The legislation was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) on July 19 and passed in the House on July 29. It is currently under consideration in the Senate.

Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2022 (HR 4346) – Introduced by Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) on July 1, the bill provides appropriations for the Legislative Branch for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022. Funding for the Legislative Branch includes the House of Representatives and related committees, the Office of the Attending Physician, the Capitol Police, the Congressional Budget Office, the Library of Congress and the Government Accountability Office. The legislation passed in the House on July 28 and is in the Senate for consideration.

Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (HR 2485) – This legislation would require the Director of the Government Publishing Office to establish and maintain an online portal available to the public that enables access to all congressionally mandated reports. This bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) on April 13. It is currently in the Senate after passing in the House on July 26.

PRICE Act of 2021 (S 583) – In an effort to encourage and promote innovative procurement techniques within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), this bill directs the Management Directorate to publish an annual report on a DHS website. The report will provide details on how DHS projects met goals such as improving or encouraging better competition, reducing time to award, achieving cost savings, achieving better mission outcomes or meeting the goals for contracts awarded to small business concerns. The bill was introduced by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) on March 3. It was passed by the Senate on July 29 and is currently in the House.

Blocking Voter Expansion, Proposing Greater Scrutiny of Inspectors General, and Paving the Way for Climate Change Measures

hr 12, s65, s1251, hr3684, hr2662For the People Act of 2021 (HR 12) – This bill is designed to improve voter access to the ballot box by expanding automatic and same-day voter registration, vote-by-mail and early voting. The legislation also contains provisions that limit removing voters from voter rolls, strengthens ethics rules for public servants, reduces the influence of big money in politics and addresses other anti-corruption measures. The bill was introduced by Sen. John Sarbanes (D-MD) on Jan. 4 and passed in the House on March 3. In early July, the bill was blocked by Republicans in the Senate and its status is pending further action that may be taken by Senate Democrats.

Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (S 65) – This bipartisan bill is designed to prevent goods from entering the U.S. market that are made via forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. It would also enhance existing asset- and visa-blocking sanctions of foreign individuals and entities responsible for human rights abuses connected to forced labor in Xinjiang. The bill was introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Jan. 27. It was passed by the Senate on July 14 and is currently in the House.

Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2021 (S 1251) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) on April 2. The purpose of this legislation is to reduce barriers to entry for farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners in certain voluntary credit markets. In order to participate in the program, providers must offer technical assistance to help landowners utilize sustainable land use management practices that prevent, reduce or mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, or sequester carbon; or be a third-party charged with verifying the process for voluntary environmental credit markets. The bill passed in the Senate on June 24 and is currently under consideration in the House.

INVEST in America Act (HR 3684) – This bill authorizes federal funds for highways, highway safety and transit programs. It includes strategies to reduce climate change impacts of the surface transportation system; revises Buy America procurement requirements for highways, mass transit and rail; establishes a rebuild rural bridges program to improve the safety and state of good repair of bridges in rural communities; and other purposes. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) on April 19 and passed in the House on June 29. It is currently under consideration in the Senate.

IG Independence and Empowerment Act (HR 2662) – Introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) on April 19, the bill amends the Inspector General Act of 1978. Some of the provisions include: allowing an Inspector General to be removed only for cause; requiring that Congress be notified before an IG is placed on nonduty status; requiring the president to explain any failure to nominate an IG; adding provisions regarding acting IGs when an IG position is vacant; notifying Congress when an allegation of wrongdoing made by a member of Congress is closed without referral for investigation. The legislation passed in the House on June 29 and is in the Senate for consideration.

Recognizing the Abolishment of Slavery and Compensating Law Enforcement, Overseas Federal Employees and Disaster Relief Victims

Juneteenth National Independence Day Act (S 475) – This bill authorizes Juneteenth National Independence Day on June 19 as a legal public holiday. The bill was introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) on Feb. 25. It was passed by both the House and the Senate on June 16 and signed into law by the president on June 17.

Protecting America’s First Responders Act (S 937) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on April 29. The legislation ensures that certain law enforcement and first responders who have become permanently and totally disabled as a result of personal injuries sustained in the line of duty have prompt access to specific payments and benefits. The bill passed in the Senate on June 10 and is currently under consideration in the House.

HAVANA Act of 2021 (S 1828) – This bill provides financial support and resources for American officials suffering from the so-called Havana Syndrome – a mysterious set of symptoms that first affected federal employees stationed in Cuba in 2016. The bill authorizes disability benefits to American personnel who have experienced qualifying anomalous health incidents while serving in other countries throughout the world. The legislation was introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on May 25 and passed in the Senate on June 8. It is currently under consideration in the House.

Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act (HR 539) – Introduced by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) on Jan. 28, this bill would prevent the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from taking back disaster assistance funds that it mistakenly awarded to victims who applied for assistance in good faith. Under current law, FEMA can go back weeks, months or even years to seek repayment of funds in cases where the agency subsequently determined it mistakenly granted assistance, but no fraud was committed. This bill would require FEMA to waive that disaster relief debt. The legislation passed in the House on June 15 and is in the Senate for consideration.

United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 (S 1260) – This bill establishes a Directorate for Technology and Innovation in the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the purpose of strengthening U.S. leadership in critical technologies. The legislation authorizes investments in research, development and manufacturing in key technology focus areas, such as artificial intelligence, high performance computing and innovation to support national security strategy. The Office of Science and Technology Policy is to develop an annual strategy for the federal government to improve national competitiveness in science and research, and help grow critical industries to generate jobs for the future. The bill was introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on April 20 and passed in the Senate on June 8. It is currently under consideration in the House.

SBA Launches $100M Community Navigator Pilot Program

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced today that it is accepting applications for its new Community Navigator Pilot Program. This new initiative, established by the American Rescue Plan, will leverage a community navigator approach to reach our nation’s smallest businesses, with a priority focus on those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, as well as women and veterans. SBA will accept applications through July 12, 2021, and anticipates making award decisions by August 2021.

The Community Navigator Pilot Program will roll out $100 million in grants total and between $1-$5 million per applicant for “a two-year performance period” to “eligible organizations to provide counseling, networking and to serve as an informal connection to agency resources to help small businesses recover from the economic devastation” brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

In February 2021, Congress met to provide a blueprint on assistance to small businesses with provisions under the American Rescue Plan. Members of Congress met with constituents to discover at local levels the impact of the pandemic and the effect it is having on businesses that may have been left out in early rounds of relief.

“As someone proudly representing one of the most diverse congressional districts in the country, I am glad the Community Navigator Pilot Program will soon be launching,” said Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux of Georgia. “We have already seen the difficulties diverse communities face in accessing critically-needed relief resources, from securing PPP funds to rental relief. Through targeted outreach to small businesses in underserved communities, we can ensure that everyone is able to take advantage of the resources offered by the American Rescue Plan.”

Here’s how the SBA explains in full what the Community Navigator program is:

“Through the Community Navigator Pilot Program, SBA will engage with states, local governments, SBA resource partners, and other organizations in targeted outreach for small businesses underserved communities. These efforts began with SBA issuing an Information Notice that offers advice and guidance on best practices for adopting the community navigator model for use by SBA district offices, state and local government partners, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs), SCORE, and other resource partners. The Biden-Harris Administration and Congressional leaders supported a $100 million investment, as part of the American Rescue Plan, to establish Community Navigator Programs for individuals with disabilities and/or in minority, immigrant, rural, and other underserved communities across the country.”

Making a Difference in Underserved Small Business Communities.  Key in this initiative are partners and people in the community, serving as a two-way information stream, enabling enterprising business owners to receive the help needed from the SBA. Serving as the foundation of America’s economy, these underserved businesses have areas of concern that need to be addressed. Community Navigator Pilot will provide counseling, networking, and the assistance needed during this time of economic recovery.

“The SBA understands the importance of partnering with organizations as well as smaller, local institutions that are already embedded in the fabric of the Main Street business communities they serve,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Women’s Business Ownership Natalie Madeira Cofield. “Community Navigators are the backbone of aiding underserved and underrepresented communities across the nation with recovery.”

For more information on the Community Navigators Initiative, please visit www.sba.gov/navigators.

Addressing Hate Crimes, Banks Serving the Cannabis Industry and Unilateral Power to Restrict Immigration

Addressing Hate Crimes, Banks Serving the Cannibis Industry and Unilateral Power to Restrict ImmigrationComprehensive Debt Collection Improvement Act (HR 2547) – This bill would expand financial protections and restrictions on debt collection activities for consumers, in particular for private student loans and medical debt. The legislation would require lenders to discharge private student loan debt if the borrower dies or becomes permanently disabled. It would prohibit consumer reporting agencies from adding any information related to certain situations, such as debt arising from a medically necessary procedure, and restrict certain debt collection practices.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) on April 15. It was passed by the House on May 13 and is currently under consideration in the Senate.

COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (S 937) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) on May 23. The legislation authorizes the designation of a Department of Justice (DOJ) employee to facilitate an expedited review of hate crime reports. The DOJ also must issue guidance for state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to establish online hate crime reporting processes and issue guidance to raise awareness of hate crimes related to COVID-19. The bill also authorizes funding for states to create state-run hate crime reporting hotlines. This bill was passed by Congress on May 18 and is awaiting signature by the president.

Washington, D.C., Admission Act (HR 51) – This bill provides for the admission of the State of Washington, D.C., into the Union. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Eleanor Norton (D-DC) on Jan. 4 and passed in the House on April 22. It is currently under consideration in the Senate.

SAFE Banking Act of 2021 (HR 1996) – Introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) on March 18, this bill would eliminate penalties imposed on a depository institution for providing banking services to a legitimate cannabis-related business. The legislation passed in the House on April 19 and is in the Senate for consideration

DUMP Opioids Act (S 957) – This bill was introduced by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on March 24 and passed in the Senate on April 22. It is currently under consideration in the House. The bill would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to designate places where any individual can dispose of controlled substance medications at VA medical facilities or law enforcement locations. The bill also directss the VA to advertise the designated disposal times and locations via a public information campaign.

NO BAN Act (HR 1333) – Introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) on Feb. 25, this bill passed in the House on April 21 and goes to the Senate next for consideration. The purpose of the legislation is to impose limitations on the president’s authority to suspend or restrict aliens from entering the United States. Furthermore, the bill would prohibit religious discrimination to be used as a basis for immigration-related decisions.

Advancing Healthcare Initiatives, Small Business Funding and Protecting the Elderly from Scams

FASTER Act of 2021 (HR 578) – This bill expands the definition of major food allergens for food-labeling purposes to include sesame. It is designed to protect Americans with food allergies and related disorders that could be affected by anaphylaxis, food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome, and eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases. It also authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to report on food allergy research and data collection activities. The bill was introduced by Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) on March 3. It was passed by Congress on April 14 and is currently awaiting enactment by the president.

Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act of 2021 (S 164) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Margaret Hassan (D-NH) on Feb. 2. The legislation requires the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to educate and promote awareness about biological products and biosimilars among healthcare providers. The FDA may also host a website to provide educational materials. This bill was passed by Congress on April 14 and is awaiting signature by the president.

TRANSPLANT Act of 2021 (HR 941) – This bill reauthorizes the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005, which makes genetically matched cord blood stem cells available to patients who need them. The legislation was re-introduced by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) on Feb. 8 and passed in the House on April 15. It is currently under consideration in the Senate.

504 Credit Risk Management Improvement Act of 2021 (HR 1482) – Introduced by Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) on March 2, this bill passed in the House on April 16 and goes to the Senate next for consideration. It amends the Small Business Act to require the administrator of the Small Business Administration to issue rules relating to environmental obligations of certified development companies and for other purposes.

504 Modernization and Small Manufacturer Enhancement Act of 2021 (HR 1490) – This bill was introduced by Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) on March 2 and passed in the House on April 15. It is currently under consideration in the Senate. The bill would amend the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 to improve the loan guaranty program in order to enhance the ability of small manufacturers to access affordable capital. In addition, the bill adds policy goals, such as facilitating reduced costs via energy-efficient products and generating renewable energy, and providing aid to revitalize disaster areas. The bill also would increase the maximum loan amount from $5.5 million to $6.5 million for small manufacturers, and reduce the amount that they must contribute to project costs, among other provisions. The legislation authorizes each SBA district office to engage a resource partner to provide training for small manufacturers.

Fraud and Scam Reduction Act (HR 1215) – This bill would establish an office within the Federal Trade Commission and an outside advisory group for the purpose of preventing fraud that specifically targets the elderly, including mail, telephone and internet scams. Furthermore, the bill would create a Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group to create educational materials for distribution to employees of retailers, financial services, and wire-transfer companies to help them identify and prevent scams that affect older adults. The FTC also would establish an advisory office within the Bureau of Consumer Protection to monitor scams targeting older adults, educate consumers and receive complaints. The bill was introduced by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) on Feb. 23. This bill passed in the House on April 15 and goes to the Senate next for consideration.

Economic Stimulus, Making the Post Office Solvent Again, Gun Control, Voting Rights and Restricting China’s Influence

Gun Control, Voting RightsAmerican Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (HR 1319) – This $1.9 trillion relief bill provides stimulus money to address the continued impact of COVID-19. Provisions include issuing $1,400 checks to taxpayers, increasing the Child Tax Credit up to $3,000 and the dependent care credit to $4,000, and providing funds for schools, small businesses, renters and landlords, increased subsidies for Americans who buy individual health insurance, and $160 billion allocated toward vaccine development and distribution. The bill was introduced by Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) on Jan. 15, first passed in the House on Feb. 27 and in the Senate on March 6, and was signed into law by President Biden on March 11.

SAVE LIVES Act (HR 1276) – This bill was introduced by Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) on Feb. 24. The legislation would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to furnish a COVID-19 vaccine to veterans ineligible for the VA health care system, who live abroad, and family caregivers of veterans, among others. The bill passed in the House on March 9 and in the Senate on March 17. It has been returned to the House for approval of changes.

USPS Fairness Act (HR 695) – This act would repeal the requirement that the U.S. Postal Service annually prepay future retiree benefits, decades in advance. The current mandate, which was signed into law in 2006, has since threatened the viability of the USPS. While the Post Office generates enough revenue to cover its operating costs, this prepayment of pension and retiree healthcare benefits has pushed its bottom line into the red. The bill was introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) on Feb. 2 and enjoys bipartisan support.

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 (HR 1620) – This is a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, a popular law that protects and provides resources for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence. The bill expired at the end of 2018 after Congress failed to act due to partisan disputes over guns and transgender issues. It was re-introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) on March 8 and passed in the House on March 17. It is currently under consideration in the Senate.

Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 (HR 8) – This bill establishes new background check requirements for every firearm sale. It prohibits a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check. The bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) on March 1 and passed in the House on March 11. This bill is currently under review in the Senate.

For the People Act of 2021 (HR 1) – This bill was introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) on Jan. 4 and passed in the House on March 3. It is currently under consideration in the Senate. The purpose of this legislation is to protect and expand voter rights. Specifically, the bill:

  • Expands voter registration (automatic and same-day registration)
  • Increases voting access (vote-by-mail and early voting)
  • Prohibits removing voters from voter rolls
  • Requires states to establish an independent commission to deploy congressional redistricting
  • Establishes provisions related to election security, including sharing intelligence information with state election officials and supporting states in securing their election systems
  • Prohibits campaign spending by foreign nationals, requires additional disclosure of campaign-related fundraising and spending, mandates additional disclaimers in political advertising, and establishes an alternative campaign funding system for certain federal offices
  • Establishes additional conflict-of-interest and ethics provisions for personnel who work in the three branches of government
  • Requires the president, the vice president, and certain candidates for those offices to disclose 10 years of tax returns

CONFUCIUS Act (S 590) – This bill, also referred to as the Concerns Over Nations Funding University Campus Institutes in the United States Act, is designed to mitigate China’s influence on U.S. post-secondary educational institutions that are directly or indirectly funded by the Chinese government. Specifically, educational institutions contracted with Confucius Institutes that also receive federal funding must include provisions in those agreements that prohibit the application of foreign law on those campuses and grant full control over teaching plans, activities, research grants and employment decisions to the U.S. university. The act was introduced by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on March 4 and passed in the Senate on the same day. It is currently under consideration in the House.

Securing Jobs for Cabinet and Congress Members, Inspector Generals, and Apprentices – and Honoring Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman

To provide for an exception to a limitation against appointment of persons as Secretary of Defense within seven years of relief from active duty as a regular commissioned officer of the Armed Forces (HR 35) – Prior to passage of this bill, a former service member could not be appointed as Secretary of Defense until separation from active duty for at least seven years. This legislation allows someone to be appointed after only four years from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of the Armed Forces. The bill was introduced by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) on Jan. 15, passed in the House and the Senate on Jan. 22 and signed into law by President Biden on Jan. 22.

Officer Eugene Goodman Congressional Gold Medal Act (S 35) – This act authorizes awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman for his actions to protect the Senate chamber during the Capitol security breach on Jan. 6. It passed in the Senate amid a standing ovation. In addition to Officer Goodman’s recent promotion to acting deputy sergeant-at-arms for the Senate, this medal represents the highest honor Congress can bestow. The act was introduced by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on Jan. 22, and passed in the Senate on Feb. 12. The House is also considering plans to honor the officer.

National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 (HR 447) – This bill was introduced by Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA) on Jan. 25. The purpose of the legislation is to amend the 1937 National Apprenticeship Act to include youth apprenticeships, and for other purposes. The legislation authorizes the establishment of criteria for quality standards, apprenticeship agreements and acceptable uses for grant funds awarded under this act. The bill passed in the House on Feb. 5 and is currently in the Senate for consideration.

Inspector General Protection Act (HR 23) – This act requires the president to notify Congress any time an inspector general is placed on nonduty status, and to nominate a new inspector general within 210 days after a vacancy occurs. Otherwise, within 30 days after the end of that period, the president must explain to Congress the reasons why there is not yet a formal nomination, with a target date for making that nomination. The bill was introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) on Jan. 4. It passed in the House on Jan. 5 and is currently under consideration in the Senate.

Regarding consent to assemble outside the seat of government (H.Con.Res. 1) – In light of the disruption of Congressional duties due to the coronavirus, the House passed this concurrent resolution authorizing the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate to assemble the House and the Senate outside the District of Columbia whenever the public interest warrants it. Introduced by Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), this bill was both presented and passed in the House on Jan. 4. It is currently under consideration in the Senate.

Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act of 2021 (HR 22) – This bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) on Jan. 4 and passed in the House the next day. It would require federal agencies to make budget justification materials accessible to the public on a website managed by the Office of Management and Budget. Available information should include a list of the agencies that submit budget justification materials to Congress and the dates they were submitted, with links to the actual materials. This bill is currently under review in the Senate.

Protecting American Ports, Federal Buildings, Allies, Oceans, and Whistleblowers

Congress protects WhistleblowersSave Our Seas 2.0 Act (S 1982) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Alan Sullivan (R-AK) on June 26, 2019. The purpose of the legislation is to improve efforts to clean up marine debris, encourage recycling and strengthen domestic infrastructure to prevent the creation of new marine debris. The bill passed in the Senate in January 2020, the House in December, and was signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 18, 2020.

Digital Coast Act (S 1069) – This bill revised the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Digital Coast program for critical coastal management and data tracking for the ocean and the Great Lakes coasts. It was introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) on April 9, 2019, passed in both Houses, and was signed into law on Dec. 18, 2020.

Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act of 2019 (S 2258) – This Act was introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on July 24, 2019. It is designed to prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who report criminal antitrust violations to the federal government. The bill authorizes an employee to seek relief by filing a complaint with the Department of Labor or a lawsuit in the US. district court if he believes he is discharged or otherwise discriminated against by his employer for reporting violations. The legislation passed in the Senate in October 2019, in the House in December 2020, and was signed into law on Dec. 23, 2020.

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 [Including Coronavirus Stimulus & Relief] (HR 133) – With overwhelming bipartisan support, this legislation is the vehicle for both the government funding bill for 2021 and another phase of economic stimulus in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It is the fifth-longest bill to be passed by Congress in the history of the country. The Act was signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 27, 2020.

Secure Federal Leases from Espionage and Suspicious Entanglements (LEASE) Act (S 1869) – This bill requires disclosure of ownership of high-security space leased to a Federal agency, including whether that owner is a foreign person and the country associated with the entity. It was introduced by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) on June 13, 2019, passed in the Senate in March 2020, the House in November, and was signed into law by the president on Dec. 31, 2020.

Securing America’s Ports Act (HR 5273) – This Act requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a plan to increase by 100 percent the rate of scanning commercial and passenger vehicles and freight rail entering the United States via land ports. The plan will utilize large-scale non-intrusive inspection systems, such as X-ray and gamma-ray imaging technology. This bill was introduced by Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) on Nov. 26, 2019. It passed in the House in February 2020, the Senate in December, and was enacted on Jan. 5 by President Trump.

Eastern European Security Act (HR 2444) – This bill authorizes the president to offer low-cost loans to NATO Eastern European allies (formerly part of the Soviet Bloc that still rely on Russian military gear) in order to more easily purchase U.S. weapons and equipment. The goal is for them to invest in American defense innovation instead of Russian or Chinese hardware. The bill was introduced by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) on May 1, 2019, passed in the House last March, and in the Senate on Jan. 1. It was one of the last pieces of major legislation passed by the 116th Congress and was signed into law by President Trump on Jan. 13.