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109th Congress At-A-Glance

Congress completed action on the FY2006 spending bills before adjourning for the year on December 22. Major accomplishments for the year included the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Final approval of the FY2006 spending reconciliation and tax bills was put on hold until next year.

WPI published an FY2006 Appropriations Summary on December 22. This At-A-Glance summary contains all other legislative action affecting women and families that occurred during the first session of the 109th Congress.

The Senate will reconvene the second session of the 109th Congress on January 18, 2006. The House will return on January 31.

Actions Completed

*All dates refer to the month in which President Bush signed a bill into law.

Bankruptcy Reform: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-8) to prevent bankruptcy abuse and protect consumers (April 2005).

Big Brothers Big Sisters: Congress approved a resolution (H. Con. Res. 41) supporting the mission and goals of Big Brothers Big Sisters (April 2005).

Breast Cancer Stamp: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-100) to reauthorize the breast cancer stamp through December 31, 2007 (November 2005).

CAFTA-DR: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-53) to implement the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) (July 2005).

Child Gun Locks: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-92) to require child safety locks on guns. The provision was included in a bill to prohibit certain civil liability lawsuits against gun manufacturers (October 2005).

Cord Blood Stem Cell Inventory: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-129) to authorize a cord blood stem cell inventory to collect and maintain 150,000 units of blood obtained from umbilical cords (December 2005).

Department of Justice Reauthorization: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-162) to reauthorize the Department of Justice through FY2009 (January 2006). The measure also includes a provision to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Family Movie Act: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-9) to exempt from copyright protection and trademark laws technology designed to filter out unwanted audio and video content on a DVD or videotape for individual consumers (April 2005). The provision was included in an anti-piracy bill.

Financial Literacy Month: Both the Senate and House approved resolutions (S. Res. 88/H. Res. 148) designating April 2005 as “Financial Literacy Month.” (March 2005/April 2005)

FY2006 Budget Resolution: Congress completed action on the FY2006 budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 95) on April 28, 2005. The resolution provided for $843 billion in discretionary funding in FY2006, the same amount requested by President Bush (April 2005).

Gold Star Mothers Day: Both the House and Senate approved resolutions (H. J. Res. 61/S. Res. 250) supporting the goals and ideals of Gold Star Mothers Day (September 2005).

Health Disparities: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-18) to improve the prevention, early detection, and treatment of chronic diseases among health disparity populations (June 2005).

Higher Education Act Extension: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-150) to temporarily extend programs authorized by the Higher Education Act of 1965 (P.L. 105-244) through March 31, 2006 (December 2005).

Iraqi Women: Both the House and Senate approved resolutions (H. Res. 383/S. Res. 231) encouraging Iraq’s National Assembly to adopt a constitution that grants women equal rights under the law (July 2005).

Lights on Afterschool!: Both the House and Senate approved resolutions (H. J. Res. 66/S. Res. 280) supporting the goals and ideals of “Lights on Afterschool!”, a national celebration of after-school programs on October 20, 2005 (September 2005/October 2005).

Mental Health Parity: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-151) to extend for one year a law requiring insurers to impose equitable lifetime limits for mental and physical health benefits (December 2005).

NASA: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-155) to reauthorize the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) through FY2010 (December 2005). The measure expands educational outreach programs for women and minorities, and directs the NASA administrator to establish a program that would encourage more women of color to enter the space and aeronautics field.

National Campus Safety Awareness Month: Both the Senate and House approved resolutions (S. Res. 221/H. Res. 15) supporting the goals and ideals of National Campus Safety Awareness Month (September 2005/October 2005).

National Charter Schools Week: Both the Senate and House approved resolutions (S. Res. 127/H. Res. 218) supporting the sixth annual National Charter Schools Week, which occurs the week of May 1-7, 2005 (April 2005/May 2005).

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Both the House and Senate approved resolutions (H. Con. Res. 209/S. Res. 282) supporting the goals and ideals of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (September 2005/October 2005).

National Health Center Week: Both the House and Senate approved resolutions (H. Res. 289/S. Res. 31) designating the week of August 7, 2005, as “National Health Center Week” (July 2005).

National Military Families Week: Both the House and Senate approved resolutions (H. Con. Res. 159/S. Con. Res. 41) supporting National Military Families Week, celebrated the week of June 5, 2005 (June 2005).

National Runaway Prevention Month: Both the House and Senate approved resolutions (H. Res. 484/S. Res. 430) supporting National Runaway Prevention Month (October 2005).

National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week: Both the House and Senate approved resolutions (H. Res. 483/S. Res. 275) designating the week of February 6, 2006, as “National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week” (December 2005).

Rosa Parks Federal Building: Congress approved two bills (P.L. 109-98/P.L. 109-101) that would designate the federal building located at 333 Mt. Elliott Street in Detroit, Michigan, as the “Rosa Parks Federal Building” (November 2005).

Rosa Parks Resolution: Both the House and Senate approved a resolution (H. Con. Res. 208) recognizing the 50th anniversary of Rosa Louise Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, which led to the subsequent desegregation of American society (September 2005/November 2005).

Rosa Parks Statue: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-116) to direct the architect of the Capitol to place a statue of Rosa Parks in National Statuary Hall (December 2005).

Safe Water: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-121) to authorize assistance to provide safe water and sanitation to people in developing countries (November 2005).

Sarah Winnemucca Statue: Congress approved a resolution (H. Con. Res. 5) allowing for the placement of a statue of Sarah Winnemucca in National Statuary Hall (March 2005).

Sexual Assault in the Military: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-163) that requires the secretary of defense to assess current supplies, trained personnel, and resources dealing with sexual assault, including the availability of rape evidence kits and pregnancy tests in deployed units; develop a plan to improve the response to sexual assaults in deployed units; and report annually to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees regarding sexual assaults. The measure also amends the Uniform Code of Military Justice to clarify the definition of rape, sexual assault, and other sexual misconduct; abolish the statute of limitations for rape and rape of a child; and establish stalking as an offense. The provisions were included in the defense authorization bill (January 2006).

Shirley Chisholm Post Office: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-50) to designate a U.S. Postal Service facility in Brooklyn, New York, as the “Congresswoman Shirley A. Chisholm Post Office Building” (July 2005).

Trafficking in Persons: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-164) to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act through FY2007 (January 2006).

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-162) to reauthorize VAWA through FY2011. The provision was included in the Department of Justice reauthorization bill (January 2006).

Vulnerable Children: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-95) to provide assistance for orphans and other vulnerable children in developing countries (October 2005).

Welfare Extension: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-161) to temporarily extend the 1996 welfare reform law (P.L. 104-193) through March 31, 2006 (December 2005).

Women in Combat: Congress approved legislation (P.L. 109-163) that requires the secretary of defense to undertake a review of the military’s ground combat exclusion policy and to notify Congress before opening positions currently closed to women. In order to open other military positions now closed to women, the secretary of defense is required to submit written notification to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. The provision was included in the defense authorization bill (January 2006).

Women Suffragists: Congress approved a resolution (H. J. Res. 59) expressing the sense of Congress that an appropriate day of commemoration should be established for the women suffragists who worked for the right of women to vote in the United States (July 2005).

Outstanding Issues

Association Health Plans (AHPs): The House approved a bill (H.R. 525) designed to make health care more affordable for small businesses by establishing AHPs (July 2005). The Senate did not consider similar legislation.

Border Security: The House approved a bill (H.R. 4437) intended to tighten international land and maritime border security, and better enforce current immigration laws (December 2006). The measure also would aim to enhance sanctions against human trafficking and smuggling. The Senate did not consider similar legislation.

Broadcast Decency: The House approved a bill (H.R. 310) that would raise the Federal Communications Commission fine for any incident of indecency from $27,500 to $500,000 (March 2005). The Senate did not consider similar legislation.

Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG): The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved a bill (S. 525) that would reauthorize the CCDBG through FY2010 (March 2005). The House did not consider similar legislation.

Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act: The House approved a bill (H.R. 748) that would make it a federal crime to transport a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion, thereby evading parental consent and notification laws (April 2005). The Senate did not consider similar legislation.

Child Protection: The House approved a legislative package (H.R. 3132) that would include a number of proposals aimed at protecting children from sexual predators (September 2005). The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a similar bill (S. 1086) in October.

Darfur: The Senate approved a bill (S. 1462) that would impose sanctions against individuals responsible for genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan (November 2005). The House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations approved a similar bill (H.R. 3127) in July.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research: The House approved a bill (H.R. 810) that would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct and support human embryonic stem cell research (May 2005). The Senate did not consider similar legislation.

FY2006 Spending Reconciliation: The House approved the conference report for the FY2006 spending reconciliation bill (S. 1932), which establishes $39.7 billion in savings over five years (December 2005). The measure includes a provision to reauthorize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program through FY2010, and extends the Transitional Medicaid Assistance and abstinence education programs. The Senate approved the conference report with minor amendments in December. The House did not consider the Senate amendments before adjourning for the year.

Genetic Discrimination: The Senate approved legislation (S. 306) that would prohibit employers and health insurance companies from discriminating against applicants based on genetic information (February 2005). The House did not consider similar legislation.

Head Start: The House approved a bill (H.R. 2123) that would reauthorize Head Start through FY2011 (September 2005). The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved a similar bill (S. 1107) in May.

Higher Education Act: The House Education and the Workforce Committee approved a bill (H.R. 609) that would reauthorize the Higher Education Act through 2012 (July 2005). The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved a similar bill (S. 1614) in September.

Immigrant Children: The Senate approved legislation (S. 119) that would set standards for the treatment of unaccompanied alien children (December 2005). The House did not consider similar legislation.

Indian Health Care: The Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved a bill (S. 1057) to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (P.L. 94-437) through FY2015 (October 2005). The House did not consider similar legislation.

Latin America: The House International Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere approved a bill (H.R. 953) that would establish the United States Social Investment and Economic Development Fund for the Americas (June 2005). The measure would foster increased economic opportunity by nurturing microenterprise development; improving the quality of life and investing in human capital, specifically targeting education, health and disease prevention, and housing; strengthening the rule of law through improved efficiency and transparency in government services; and reducing poverty and eliminating the exclusion of marginalized populations, including women. The Senate did not consider similar legislation.

Medical Liability: The House approved a bill (H.R. 5) that would limit noneconomic medical malpractice awards and attorneys’ fees (July 2005). The Senate did not consider similar legislation.

Mexico City Policy: During consideration of legislation (S. 600) to reauthorize the State Department, the Senate agreed to an amendment that would overturn the Mexico City policy, which bars overseas nongovernmental organizations that receive U.S. aid from using their own money to perform abortions or to lobby foreign governments on abortion policy. However, the bill was pulled from the floor prior to a vote on final passage (April 2005).

Millennium Development Goals: The Senate approved a bill (S. 1315) that would require the State Department to submit a report to Congress on the progress the international community is making toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (December 2005). The House did not consider similar legislation.

National Sex Offender Registry: The Senate approved a bill (S. 792) that would establish a National Sex Offender Registry (July 2005). The House Judiciary Committee included a similar provision in its bill (H.R. 3132) aimed at protecting children from sexual predators (July 2005).

National Women’s History Museum: The Senate approved a bill (S. 501) that would provide a site for the National Women’s History Museum in the District of Columbia (July 2005). The House did not consider similar legislation.

Newborn Care: The Senate approved a bill (S. 1182) that would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to furnish 14 days’ care for newborns of women veterans if the child was born in a VA facility or a facility under contract to the VA (December 2005). The provision was included in a bill to expand health care services for veterans. The House did not consider similar legislation.

Same-Sex Marriage: The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights approved a constitutional amendment (S. J. Res. 1) that would prohibit same-sex marriage (November 2005). The House did not consider similar legislation.

Sojourner Truth Bust: The House approved a bill (H.R. 4510) that would allow for the placement of a bust depicting Sojourner Truth in the U.S. Capitol (December 2005). The Senate did not consider similar legislation.

State Department Authorization: The House approved a bill (H.R. 2601) that would reauthorize the State Department and international programs through FY2007 (July 2005). The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved its version of the bill (S. 600) in March.

Stillborn Children: The Senate approved a bill (S. 1235) that would define a veteran’s stillborn child as an insurable dependent for the purpose of receiving $10,000 to cover burial costs (September 2005). The provision was included in a bill to enhance veterans’ benefits. The House did not consider similar legislation.

Taxes: The Senate approved a $60 billion tax cut bill (S. 2020) that would extend a number of expiring provisions in the 2003 tax law (P.L. 108-27)(November 2005). The House approved a similar bill (H.R. 4297) in December.

United Nations: The House approved a bill (H.R. 2745) that would encourage the United Nations (UN) to initiate a number of administrative and financial reforms (June 2005). The Senate did not consider similar legislation.

Vocational Education: The House approved a bill (H.R. 366) to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act through FY2011 (May 2005). The Senate approved its version of the bill (S. 250) in March.

Vocational Entrepreneurship: The House Small Business Committee approved a bill (H.R. 527) to promote vocational and technical entrepreneurship (July 2005). The Senate did not consider similar legislation.

Welfare Reform: The House approved the conference report for a bill (H.R. 4241) that would reauthorize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program through FY2010 (December 2005). The provision was included in the FY2006 budget reconciliation bill. The Senate approved amendments to the conference report in December. The House did not consider the amended bill before adjourning for the year.

Women in Humanitarian Crises: The House approved a bill (H.R. 912) that would require humanitarian aid organizations to adopt a code of conduct prohibiting the sexual exploitation and abuse of women and children in relief operations (March 2005). The Senate did not consider similar legislation.

Women’s Business Centers: The Senate approved a bill (S. 1517) that would allow women’s business centers to re-compete for sustainability grants in FY2005. The House did not consider similar legislation.

Workforce Investment Act (WIA): The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved a bill (S. 1021) to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) through FY2011 (May 2005). The House approved its version of the bill (H.R. 27) in March.

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