It's now apparent that the First Session of the 113th Congress was the least productive in the last 25 years. According to the Library of Congress, a total of 65 Bills were passed into law, 28 percent of the 25 year average of 230. While more laws are not necessarily a positive thing, I thought that it would be prudent to take a detailed look at what was really accomplished by the House and Senate.
Here is a list of some of the critical laws that have been passed during the First Session of the 113th Congress:
1.) H.R. 1071
– To specify the size of the precious metal blanks that will be used in the production of the National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins. This new law modifies the requirements for the production of silver and gold coins commemorating the National Baseball Hall of Fame, requiring that such coins be struck on planchets of specified diameters. This bill was introduced in the House on March 12, 2013 and was passed by the House on April 24, 2013, the Senate on May 7, 2013 (unanimously) and signed into law by the President on May 17th, 2013, just over two months after it was introduced by Rep. Richard Hanna of New York. See, the House and the Senate can get things done at light speed when they are really important to the ongoing business of the nation!
2.) H.R. 475
– To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to include vaccines against seasonal influenza within the definition of taxable vaccines. This new law amends the Internal Revenue Code adding influenza vaccines to the list of vaccines that are subject to the excise tax on taxable vaccines. This bill was introduced in the House on February 4, 2013, passed by the House on June 18, 2013, the Senate on June 19, 2013 and signed into law by the President on June 25, 2013. Again, legislative light speed was invoked!
3.) H.R. 258
– The Stolen Valor Act of 2013. This new law amends the Federal Criminal Code, making it illegal to fraudulently hold oneself to be the recipient of a Congressional Medal of Honor, a Navy Cross, a Purple Heart, an Air Force Cross and other honours if that individual intends to use the claim to obtain money, property or other tangible benefit. Those guilty would be subjected to a fine, imprisonment for not more than one year or both. This bill was introduced in the House on January 15, 2013, referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations on January 25, 2013 passed by the House on May 20, 2013 (390 yeas and 3 nays), the Senate on May 22, 2013 (unanimously) and signed into law by the President on June 3, 2013. While this law is obviously very important to the country's legitimate veterans, it impacts relatively few Americans.
4.) H.R. 1092
– This law designates the air route traffic control centre located in Nashua, New Hampshire as the "Patricia Clark Boson Air Route Traffic Control Centre". This bill was sponsored by Rep. Ann Kuster of New Hampshire (no surprise there) and was introduced to the House on March 12, 2013 and referred to the Subcommittee on Aviation on March 13, 2013. After 40 minutes of debate on June 25, 2013, the House passed the bill and the Senate unanimously passed the bill on July 24, 2013. The President signed the bill into law on August 9, 2013.
5.) H.R. 185
– This law designates the United States courthouse located at 101 East Pecan Street in Sherman, Texas as the "Paul Brown United States Courthouse". This bill was sponsored by Rep. Ralph Hall of Texas (again, no surprise there) and was introduced to the House on January 4, 2013 and referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on September 27, 2013. After 40 minutes of debate, the House passed the bill on October 22, 2013 and the Senate unanimously passed the bill on December 17, 2013. The President signed the bill into law on December 20, 2013.
Of the 65 new laws that passed through the House and Senate in the First Session of the 113th Congress, seven or nearly 11 percent of the total new laws created involved naming something with six involving the naming of buildings or other federal infrastructure and one involved naming a section of the Internal Revenue Code with an individual's name.
It is reassuring to see that, in light of the fact that they accomplished relatively little over the past year, at least the 113th Congress concentrated their efforts on matters that were urgent to the national well-being given that they could have been spending their time on other issues like the national debt and changes to the nation's gun laws. It's also interesting to note that, when the issue is critical to the ongoing viability of the United States, the House and Senate can actually pass laws at legislative light speed.
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