In 2013, Congress has continued to show it’s ineffectiveness by ignoring some of the toughest issues facing our country and instead spent time working to block any meaningful legislation. Add in a lack of leadership and unwillingness to work together, and Congress has hit an all-time low.
But that isn’t the case for Rep. Braley. He’s continued to work hard with both sides of the aisle to get things done for Iowans. Since the beginning of this year, Rep. Braley has worked to make a real difference in the lives of Iowans.
He’s been successful in passing legislation addressing military sexual assault, allowing families to grow through adoption, and changing how the government communicates with the public. Rep. Braley also continues to encourage greater communication between hospitals and law enforcement, promote high-quality, low-cost healthcare, and lead the fight for alternative fuels.
Even in this environment, Rep. Braley has proven himself an effective advocate for Iowans. Below is a list of his 2013 accomplishments to date:
Rep. Bruce Braley's 2013 Legislative Accomplishments
Dramatic Improvements to address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence in the Military, helping ensure that Tragedies like those Suffered by Dubuque native Holley Lynn James Never Occur Again
In just seven months, Rep. Braley has passed multiple provisions out of the House addressing this tragic problem:
- House-passed amendment that removes the ability of military commanders to unilaterally overturn convictions or lessen sentences of those convicted of sexual assault or rape.
- House-passed language that strengthens military whistleblower protection laws to ensure that victims of military sexual assault are not subject to retaliatory actions for reporting these acts of violence.
- House-passed amendment to provide funding to train military officials on how to handle cases dealing with victims of sexual assault in the military.
- House-passed amendment providing funding to rectify the military records of victims of sexual assault who were improperly discharged from the military.
Watch an interview on Fox News: http://video.foxnews.com/v/2384386584001/alarming-problem-sexual-assault-in-the-military/
Adoption Tax Credit made Permanent
In April 2012, Rep. Braley introduced the Making Adoption Affordable Act, to make the Adoption Tax Credit a permanent fixture in the tax code. Rep. Braley gathered 40 bipartisan cosponsors for the bill, and on January 1, 2013, Rep. Braley passed language from his bill, with a permanent extension of the Adoption Tax Credit, which is a $10,000 credit, indexed for inflation, for families that adopt a child in need. Not only is this good for children, but it is also good for taxpayers, as the foster care system costs $47,000 per year/per child.
Real Progress Addressing the Problems that Led to the Ed Thomas Tragedy
In April, Rep. Braley invited Jan Thomas, the wife of the late coach Ed Thomas, to testify in a Congressional Committee. She brought a compelling voice to the need to reform our mental health system and address communication problems between health care providers and law enforcement.
Following Jan Thomas’ testimony, Rep. Braley began working with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on their outreach and education efforts to health care providers surrounding privacy laws and their role in law enforcement. At Rep. Braley’s insistence, HHS took action by:
- Improving their processes, by making sure healthcare providers are aware of what information they can disclose in order to prevent threats to public safety. HHS is currently working to improve their website that provides this type of information to providers.
- HHS is also developing a pocket guide to help both law enforcement and healthcare providers understand which circumstances allow them to disclose protected health information.
Spreading Awareness in Congress of the Importance of Biofuels
In July 2013, Rep. Braley invited Pam Johnson, the President of the National Corn Growers Association and a Floyd County farmer, to testify about the importance of the biofuels industry on gas prices and the American economy. In addition, Rep. Braley has hosted four Congressional Briefings on the importance of biofuels, leading a coalition to defend provisions like the Renewable Fuels Standard. So far, Rep. Braley has successfully fought off the “War on Biofuels,” and he continues to lead the defense of this huge part of Iowa’s economy.
Committee Passage of a Bipartisan Bill to fix a Medicare Flaw and Promote High-Value Health Care
On July 31, 2013, Rep. Braley supported and helped pass a bipartisan bill out of Committee, to permanently repeal the flawed “Sustainable Growth Rate” under Medicare. Without this fix, Iowa doctors are set to see a 30% cut to Medicare reimbursements on January 1, 2013. The bill also improves the Medicare reimbursement system by incentivizing high-quality, low-cost care by doctors.
House-Passed Amendment to Learn the True Cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars
On June 13, 2013, Rep. Braley passed his “True Cost of War” amendment out of the House. This bipartisan amendment would require a full accounting of the human and financial costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Continued Progress Making Government Write in Plain Language
Rep. Braley continues to push government agencies to fully implement his Plain Writing Act, which he passed into law. In 2013, Rep. Braley has received confirmation that:
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created a Plain Writing workshop to ensure that all aspects of the Act are implemented.
- The Department of Defense is taking steps to ensure that they are in full compliance with the Act.
- The Department of Homeland Security has submitted its implementation plan to their Department leadership and is fully committed to implementing the Act.
- The National Archives and Record Administration has established a Plain Language working group to see that all parts of the law are fully implemented.
- The Social Security Administration has published its Plain Writing compliance report to ensure that all parts of the law are implemented.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs has named the Executive Secretary of the Department to oversee the implementation of the law.
Rep. Bruce Braley’s top 10 Legislative Accomplishments of 2012
Andrew Connolly Veterans’ Housing Act passed into Law
The bipartisan H.R. 1627, including Braley’s Andrew Connolly Veterans’ Housing Act, was signed by President Obama on August 6, 2012. The bill will extend the adaptive housing grant program for disabled veterans for ten years, through December 31, 2022. The legislation also increases the adaptive housing grant limit for temporary housing to $28,000, and increases the total adaptive housing grant limit from $63,780 to $91,780. The legislation was inspired by Andrew Connolly, a veteran from Dubuque whose family benefited from a VA housing grant program through Braley’s help, who lost his battle with cancer last year.
“Kadyn’s Amendment” passed out of House
In June 2012, Braley added an amendment to a transportation funding bill requiring the federal government to devote at least $10 million to helping states enforce traffic laws that punish reckless drivers for illegally passing stopped school buses. The amendment was named for 7-year-old Kadyn Halverson, who was fatally struck by a pickup truck in May 2011 as she crossed the street to board her school bus near Northwood, Iowa. The provision devotes $10 million of federal funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to strengthening the enforcement of existing state laws prohibiting drivers from passing stopped school buses that have warning lights flashing and stop arms extended.
Combat Veterans Back to Work provisions passed into Law
In August 2011, Congressman Braley introduced the Combat Veterans Back to Work Act. The bill was incorporated into two new tax credits that were signed into law by President Obama in November 2011. The first, known as the Returning Heroes tax credit, provides up to $5,600 in tax credits for every unemployed veteran hired by an employer. The second, called the Wounded Warrior tax credit, doubles the existing tax credit for firms that hire unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities. Iowa businesses are currently taking advantage of these credits and hiring Iowa veterans and National Guard Members.
Implementation of Payments to Underpaid Iowa Hospitals
Braley has continued to work on the implementation of his Geographic Equity payments for Iowa hospitals, which he passed in 2010. Twenty different Iowa hospitals have now received payments in 2011 and 2012 to account for long-term underpayments by Medicare. As of April 2012, Braley had secured over $33 million in additional Medicare reimbursements for these Iowa hospitals, which will help improve access to care for Iowa patients. These Iowa hospitals have historically been underpaid because Medicare bases payments largely on geography.
Preventing Closure of Iowa Post Offices
Braley successfully amended the Postal Reform Act in October 2011 to require the Postal Service to report on the number of jobs eliminated by their proposed post office closures, including the number of veterans jobs affected. Then, Braley helped to prevent the closures of many of Iowa post offices by opposing such efforts to close them, and working with the Postal Service on behalf of Iowa post offices.
Holley Lynn James Act protections passed into Law
Braley has championed reforms in the Department of Defense to protect victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. In April 2011, Braley introduced the Holley Lynn James Act to strengthen the legal process for preventing and addressing claims of sexual assault and domestic violence in the military. Since then, Braley has passed a number of these provisions into law, including: 1) the bill’s improvements on oversight of the DOD’s sexual assault policy; 2) ensuring that victims have access to counsel; 3) implementation of the bill’s “elevated disposition requirements,” requiring sexual assault cases be considered by senior officers with greater experience; and 4) supporting victims of sexual assault in filing disability claims with the VA by requiring retention of documentary evidence. The bipartisan bill is named after Holley Lynn James, a Dubuque native who was killed by her husband while both were in the service. James had filed complaints against her husband, who was supposed to be restricted to his barracks the night he murdered her.
Marshalltown Jobs Amendment passed out of House
In June 2012, Rep. Braley passed a bipartisan amendment that would remove burdensome government regulations on refrigerated deli-style display cases that threaten the future of their manufacture in the United States. Lennox Industries, Inc., which makes the deli-style display cases covered by the regulation, has a manufacturing facility in Marshalltown, Iowa, that employs about 1,000 people. The adoption of the amendment will help protect Iowa manufacturing jobs.
Implementation of Plain Writing Act; Report Card Released
In July 2012, Rep. Braley joined the Center for Plain Language to unveil the Center’s first-ever “Plain Language Report Card,” a letter-grading of federal agencies’ implementation of the Plain Writing Act. The Plain Writing Act, authored by Braley and signed into law by President Obama in 2010, requires government agencies to write forms and other public documents in simple, easy-to-understand language. Braley continues to ensure its full implementation to change the way government communicates with citizens and businesses.
Cost of War Amendment passed out of House
In May 2012, the House of Representatives passed Congressman Braley’s “True Cost of War” amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Braley’s amendment would require a full account of the human and financial costs of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya from the Departments of Defense, State and Veterans Affairs.
Housing for Blinded Veterans passed into Law
Braley introduced HR 5999, the Housing for Blinded Veterans Act, that will apply the American Medical Association and federal government’s 20/200 standard for blindness to the VA’s adaptive housing program. Before Braley’s bill, veterans could be considered “legally blind,” but not blind enough to apply for the VA adaptive housing program. Braley’s law will expand eligibility for the program to more blind veterans and create a more uniform standard for blindness across federal agencies. This fix was signed into law on August 6, 2012.