The past year has brought about a recurring theme of the ‘Do-Nothing Congress,’ but that isn’t the case for Rep. Bruce Braley - he’s busier than ever because he is working hard with both sides of the aisle to get things done for the people of Iowa.
Bruce has been compiling quite a few accomplishments in the last year that may not garner the overwhelming attention of the ‘Do-Nothing Congress,’ but he is leading the way to make a real difference for veterans, families, and Iowans. Braley has been successful in passing legislation that will help veterans, prevent military sexual assault and domestic violence, keep kids safe, change how government communicates with the public, and protect Iowa jobs.
With that, here are Bruce Braley’s Top 10 Legislative Accomplishments of the past year:
Rep. Bruce Braley’s top 10 Legislative Accomplishments of the past year
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.