Prosecution for Use of Performance Enhancement Drugs, Modernizing Government Technology, and Enhancements for Veterans and Their Caregivers

Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019 (HR 835) – This bill was introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) on Jan. 29, 2019. The purpose of this legislation is to give U.S. officials the power to prosecute individual athletes who used performance-enhancing drugs at international sports competitions involving American athletes. The legislation has been criticized by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as undermining the global anti-doping movement based on international cooperation, and because no other nation has extra-territorial jurisdiction in this field. The bill passed in the House in October, the Senate in November, and was signed into law by the president on Dec. 4.

IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020 (HR 1668) – This bill requires the Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish minimum security standards for Internet of Things devices owned or controlled by the Federal Government. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) on March 11, 2019, passed in both Houses, and was signed into law on Dec. 4.

Information Technology Modernization Centers of Excellence Program Act (HR 5901) – Introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) on Feb. 13, this bill authorizes the establishment of an Information Technology Modernization Centers of Excellence Program. The purpose of the program is to help executive agencies adopt secure modern technology in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security. The program must provide regular reports to Congress. The legislation passed in the House in September, in the Senate in November, and was signed into law by the president on Dec. 3.

Veterans COMPACT Act of 2020 (HR 8247) – Short for Veterans Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care and Treatment, this bill authorizes a variety of programs, policies, and reports that fall under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Components of the legislation address transition assistance, suicide care, mental health education and treatment, healthcare, and female veteran care. It includes a program to provide education and training for caregivers and family members of veterans with mental health disorders. The bill also establishes a Task Force on Outdoor Recreation for Veterans to recommend public lands or other outdoor spaces to be used for medical treatment and therapy. The bill was introduced by Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) on Sept. 14. It passed in the House in September, the Senate in November, and was signed by the president on Dec. 5.

Wounded Veterans Recreation Act (S 327) – This bill offers a free lifetime pass to National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands to any U.S. resident who has been medically determined to be permanently disabled (must furnish adequate proof of disability and citizenship or residency), as well as to any veteran with a service-connected disability. It was introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) on Feb. 4, 2019, passed in the Senate in June, the House in November, and was signed into law by the president on Dec. 3.

Transparency and Effective Accountability Measures (TEAM) for Veteran Caregivers Act (S 2216) – Designed to upgrade VA caregiver programs by identifying and formally recognizing caregivers of veterans, and notify them of assistance available under the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. The bill also temporarily extends benefits for veterans who are determined to be ineligible for the family caregiver program, including a monthly personal caregiver stipend. This bill was introduced by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) on July 23, 2019. It passed in the Senate in November, the House in December, and is currently waiting for enactment by the president.

A Flush of Protections for Veterans and Native Americans

Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2020 (HR 6168) – Introduced by Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) on March 10, this bill increases Vet compensation benefits by 1.3 percent (the same as for Social Security recipients). The increase impacts veteran disability compensation, compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. This bill passed in the House in May and the Senate in September, and was signed into law by the president on Oct. 20.

Veterans’ Care Quality Transparency Act (HR 2372) – Designed to improve mental health care for veterans and reduce suicide rates, this bill was introduced by Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) on April 25, 2019. It requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on all arrangements between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and non-VA organizations related to suicide prevention and mental health services. The bill passed in the House in May, the Senate in September, and was enacted on Oct. 20.

Improving Safety and Security for Veterans Act of 2019 (S 3147) – This Act was introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Dec. 19, 2019. The bill passed in the Senate in December 2019, the House in November, and is waiting to be signed by the president. Following the investigation of events that ended in tragic veteran deaths in 2017 and 2018, this legislation aims to increase VA health center accountability. Specifically, it requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to submit reports to Congress detailing VA policies and procedures relating to patient safety and quality of care. The first report is due within 30 days after the bill is written into law.

Whole Veteran Act (HR 2359) – This bill was introduced by Rep. Connor Lamb (D-PA) on April 25, 2019. The purpose of this legislation is to expand VA Health efforts to deploy a holistic model of care that focuses on patient engagement and total health. It includes integrating non-drug approaches, such as hypnosis and acupuncture, with standard medical treatment. The bill passed in the House in May, the Senate in October, and was signed into law by the president on Oct. 30.

Vet Center Eligibility Expansion Act (HR 1812) – This legislation extends readjustment counseling and related mental health services to non-combat veterans. These benefits are now available to National Guard and Reserve troops whose service includes fighting national disasters and other emergency and crisis situations. Introduced by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) on March 18, 2019, this bill passed in the House in May, the Senate in September, and was signed by the president on Oct. 20.

A bill to nullify the Supplemental Treaty Between the United States of America and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of Indians of Middle Oregon, concluded on Nov. 15, 1865 (S 832) – This bill nullifies the supplemental treaty between the United States and this particular tribe in Middle Oregon, which was signed in 1865. The treaty restricted the tribe members from leaving the reservation, among other conditions. The Department of the Interior has stated that the treaty was never enforced by the federal government or Oregon. The legislation was introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on March 19, 2019, passed in both Houses, and signed into law on Oct. 20.

Native American Business Incubators Program Act (S 294) – This bill establishes a grant program to provide business incubation and other business services to Native American entrepreneurs and businesses. It was introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) on Jan. 31, 2019, passed in both Houses, and signed by the president on Oct. 20.