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Legislation of the 111th Congress (2009-2011)

Proposed Legislation of the 112th Congress
110th Congress Archives
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Contact members of Congress on any of the matters listed below.


Legislation introduced but not passed

Executive Power

Executive Branch Accountability Act of 2009

Bill Number: H. Res. 417

Status: Introduced May 7, 2009, and referred to committees (Judiciary, Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Intelligence). Referred to House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.

Sponsor: Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

This bill calls on President Obama to reject and reverse the illegal actions of the Bush-Cheney Administration and to work with Congress to restore a proper balance between the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.

 

To establish a national commission on presidential war powers and civil liberties

Bill Number: H.R. 104

Status: Introduced in the House on January 6, 2009. Referred to Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.

Sponsor: Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)

Co-Sponsors: This bill has 50 Co-Sponsors.

The bill would set up a Blue Ribbon Commission to investigate Bush administration policies undertaken using claims of unreviewable war powers, including the suspension of habeas corpus, the NSA warrantless wiretapping program, extraordinary rendition, and so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" and torture.

 

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

OPEN FOIA Act of 2009

Bill Number: S. 612

Status: Introduced in the Senate on March 17, 2009. Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Sponsor: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Co-Sponsor: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

This bill would require statutory exemptions to the disclosure requirements of the Freedom of Information Act to specifically cite the provision authorizing such exemption.

 

Guantánamo Bay, Interrogation, and Detention

Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act of 2009

Bill Number: S. 1285

Status: Passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, referred to the House on June 17, 2009. Referred to House committees (Armed Services and Oversight and Government Reform).

Sponsor: Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)

Co-Sponsor: Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

This bill would prohibit the disclosure of photos pertaining to the abuse and torture of detainees. This bill would exempt such photos from the Freedom of Information Act.

Additional Information:

 

Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010

Bill Numbers: H.R. 4892, S. 3081

Status: Introduced March 4, 2010 in the Senate, and referred to Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Introduced March 19, 2010 in the House, and referred to House committees (Judiciary, Armed Services, and Intelligence). Referred to House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.

Sponsors: Rep. Howard McKeon (R-CA), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

This bill calls for any suspect that is detained for crimes of terrorism against the U.S. or one of its coalition partners to be handled by the military for interrogation and prosecution.  Further, it defines an “unprivileged enemy belligerent” as any person who: “has engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; has purposely and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or was a part of al Qaeda at the time of capture.”  It also bars the Department of Justice from using federally apportioned funds, its entire operating budget, to prosecute detainees in criminal court.

Lawful Interrogation and Detention Act

Bill Number: S. 147, H.R. 374

Status: Introduced in the Senate on January 6, 2009. Referred to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Introduced in the House on January 9, 2009. Referred to House Committee on Armed Services and to the House Committee on Intelligence (Permanent Select).

Sponsor: Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA); Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA)

Co-Sponsors: Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR); Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA)

This bill would require the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention center, limit the use of certain inhumane interrogation techniques, prohibit interrogation by contractors, and require that the International Committee of the Red Cross be notified of detainees.

Additional information:

 

Legislation calling for the release of plans and information on the transfer of detainees at Guantánamo Bay into the US

Bill Numbers: H.R.920, H.R.922, & H.R.923

Status: All bills were introduced on November 19, 2009, and referred to committees (Homeland Security, Judiciary, and Intelligence; respectively). All bills have also been placed on the House Calendar as numbers 144, 143, and 148; respectively.

Sponsors: Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Peter King (R-NY), and Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), respectively.

These bills call upon the President, Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security to present to Congress all plans, information and discussions that have occurred regarding the transfer of detainees and terrorism suspects from the U.S. Naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba to a detention facility in the U.S.

Legislation seeking to prohibit the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay to their country of origin or the US

Bill Numbers: H.R.2294, H.R.4086, H.R.4093, H.R.4097, H.R.4120, H.R.4464, H.R.4490, H.R.4600, H.R.4648

Status: All the bills have been introduced and have been assigned to committee and/or subcommittee, where they all remain. No floor debate or vote has taken place or is scheduled at this time.

Sponsors (in order): Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), John Boehner (R-OH), Donald Manzullo (R-IL), Aaron Schock (R-IL), Thomas Latham (R-IA), John Gingrey (R-GA), Howard McKeon (R-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Lamar Smith (R-TX).

Some of these bills seek to restrict the use of funds, facilities, and individual states for the purposes of housing or trying detainees currently housed at the U.S. Naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.  Others seek to restrict the release of detainees who will not or cannot be prosecuted.

Legislation seeking to stop or defund criminal trials for Guantánamo Bay detainees

Bill Number: H.R.4542 & S.2795, H.R.4556, H.R.4588.

Status: All bills have been introduced and assigned to a committee and/or subcommittee, where they all currently remain. No floor debate or vote has taken place or been scheduled for any of the bills.

Sponsors (in order): Rep. Peter King (R-NY), David Vitter (R-LA), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Thomas Rooney (R-FL)

The bills seek to restrict the Department of Justice, primarily through limiting the use of its funds, from prosecuting detainees at Guantánamo Bay in criminal courts.  They also insist that the detainees be prosecuted in military commissions, instead, and that the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay remain open and in use, indefinitely.

Strong STANDARDS Act

Bill Number: H.R. 4470

Status: Introduced January 19, 2010, and referred to committees (Judiciary and Homeland Security). Referred to House Subcommittees on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties & on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism.

Sponsor: Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA)

This bill establishes a basic level of rights and manner of treatment for all individuals detained by the U.S. government, including religious protections, legal representation, and medical care, among other things.

Terrorist Detention and Prosecution Act of 2010

Bill Number: H.R.4415

Status: Introduced January 12, 2010, and referred to the House Armed Services Committee.

Sponsor: Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI)

This bill attempts to make a distinction between different types of detainees and seeks to try, strictly by military commission, any individual who:

  1. is closely associated with or has provided material support to al Qaeda or any other organization dedicated to committing acts of terrorism against the United States;
  2. has taken up or conspired to take up arms on behalf of al Qaeda; and
  3. has committed or conspired to commit acts of terrorism against the United States or American citizens or targets, regardless of the location of the individual's capture.

It also allows for the President to detain any terror suspect for an indefinite amount of time, without having to prove how or why the suspect is a threat to the U.S.

Immigration

Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009

Bill Number: H.R. 417

Status: Introduced December 15, 2009, and referred to committees (Judiciary, Homeland Security, Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Natural Resources, Ways and Means, Education and Labor, Oversight and Government Reform, and House Administration). Referred to House Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism, the subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, and the subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law.

Sponsor: Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX)

Co-Sponsors: 97 total

This bill would, among other things, direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish an Immigration Detention Commission, with provisions for immigration enforcement protections; unlawful detentions; protections for vulnerable populations; apprehension procedures for families and family detention; welfare requirements for children separated from detained or removed parents; unaccompanied alien children; and female detainees.

Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act

Bill Number: H.R. 1215

Status: Introduced February 26, 2009, the bill has been referred to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law and to the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism.

Sponsor: Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA).

Co-Sponsors: This bill has 63 Co-Sponsors.

This bill, previously introduced in the 110th Congress, aims to ensure that immigrant detainees receive fair and humane treatment while in detention.

According to Rep. Roybal-Allard, "The Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act will ensure that the Department of Homeland Security does not ignore its own detention standards. This bill gives these regulations the force of law, bringing accountability to a system in desperate need of better oversight. Final passage of my legislation would help to ensure that detainees, especially unaccompanied children, are treated humanely, receive access to legal representation and obtain needed medical care."

 

Privacy and Surveillance

Cybersecurity Act of 2009

Bill Number: S. 773

Status: Introduced April 1, 2009, and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Sponsor: Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV)

Co-sponsors: Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Evan Bayh (D-IN)

The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 would give the President unfettered power to shut down Internet traffic in emergencies or disconnect any critical infrastructure system or network on national security grounds. The bill would grant the Commerce Department the ability to override all privacy laws to access any information about Internet usage in connection with a new role in tracking cybersecurity threats. The bill would also give the government unprecedented control over computer software and Internet services, threatening innovation, freedom and privacy.

Advocates for civil liberties expressed concerns about the bill and have worked to amend the legislation so that the President's existing authorities would not be expanded.

Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) President and CEO Leslie Harris originally said of the bill, “The cybersecurity threat is real, but such a drastic federal intervention in private communications technology and networks could harm both security and privacy.” Now, the CDT has stated that "dramatic improvements" have been made to the legislation.

Department of Homeland Security Component Privacy Officer Act of 2009

Bill Number: H.R. 1617

Status: Passed the House on March 24, 2009. Referred to Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep. Christopher Carney (D-PA)

Co-sponsor: Rep. Bennie Thomas (D-MS)

This bill would create a privacy official for each division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If established by law, these new positions would be responsible for ensuring privacy laws and regulations are followed by DHS.

 

FISA Amendments Act of 2009

Bill Number: H.R. 3846

Status: Introduced October 20, 2009, and referred to the Committees on Intelligence and the Judiciary. Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

Sponsor: Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)

Co-Sponsors: This bill has 6 Co-Sponsors.

The FISA Amendments Act of 2009 provisions include:

  • Rescinding the telecom immunity provision of last year’s FISA Amendments Act.
  • Preventing bulk collection of communications and reverse targeting of law-abiding Americans.

 

National Security Letters Reform Act of 2009

Bill Number: H.R. 1800

Status: Introduced March 30, 2009, and referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security and to House Financial Services.

Sponsor: Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)

Co-Sponsors: This bill has 27 Co-Sponsors.

Originally introduced in the 110th Congress, Representative Nadler's bill would establish procedural protections for the use of National Security Letters (NSLs). Some highlights:

  • The bill raises the standard for the FBI to obtain NSLs, to include "specific and articulable facts" giving reason to believe that the information or records sought pertain to a foreign power or agent of a foreign power.
  • An NSL may not be used in connection with a U.S. person based solely on First Amendment activities.
  • An NSL must provide information to the recipient about their rights to judicial review, and procedures for seeking a judge's perusal of the NSL.
  • Within 20 days of receiving the NSL, the recipient may file in U.S. district court, an appeal to modify or set aside the NSL.
  • The bill requires that all information retrieved about innocent people must be destroyed.
  • Semi-annually, the FBI must report to Congress 1) the number of NSLs issued in previous 6 months, 2) a summary of challenges made by recipients, 3) a description of how NSLs have aided investigations and prosecutions.
  • FBI field supervisors are still able to issue NSLs.

 

Safe and Secure America Act

Bill Number: H.R. 1467

Status: Introduced March 12, 2009. Referred to House Committee on the Judiciary and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Referred to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

Sponsor: Sen. Lamar Smith (R-TX)

Co-Sponsors: This bill has 18 Co-Sponsors.

This bill aims to extend "roving" wiretap powers and government access to library patron records until December 31, 2019, ten years past their scheduled December 31, 2009 sunset. It also aims to expand the reach of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

 

To direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to close the National Applications Office

Bill Number: H.R. 2704

Status: Introduced June 4, 2009. Referred to House Committee on Homeland Security. Referred to the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment.

Sponsor: Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA)

This bill would shut down the National Applications Office within the Department of Homeland Security. The NAO would provide access to domestic satellite surveillance to unspecified law enforcement and homeland security "users". The office would dramatically expand the abilities of law enforcement and federal agencies to conduct unwarranted domestic surveillance.

Rep. Harman also introduced a related bill, H.R. 2703, which would prohibit the Secretary of Homeland Security from funding the NAO. Rep. Norman Dicks (D-WA) has co-sponsored H.R. 2703.

Read Rep. Harman's statement on the bill.

 

USA PATRIOT Act

JUSTICE Act

Bill Number: S. 1686, H.R. 4005

Status: Introduced in the Senate on September 17, 2009 (Constitution Day), and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. The bill was not voted out of committee.

Introduced in the House on November 3, 2009, and referred to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security and to the Committees on Financial Services and Select Intelligence.

Sponsor:Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI); Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ)

Senate Co-Sponsors:

  • Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
  • Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
  • Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  • Frank Launtenberg (D-NJ)
  • Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
  • Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
  • Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
  • Jon Tester (D-MT)
  • Tom Udall (D-NM)
  • Ron Wyden (D-OR)

House Co-Sponsor:

  • Michael Capuano (D-MA)

The Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools In Counterterrorism Efforts (JUSTICE) Act would reform the USA PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendments Act and other surveillance authorities to protect Americans' constitutional rights, while preserving the powers of our government to fight terrorism. 

The JUSTICE Act reforms include more effective checks on government searches of Americans' personal records, the "sneak and peek" search provision of the PATRIOT Act, "John Doe" roving wiretaps and other overbroad authorities.  The bill will also reform the FISA Amendments Act, passed last year, by repealing the retroactive immunity provision, preventing "bulk collection" of the contents of Americans' international communications, and prohibiting "reverse targeting" of innocent Americans.  The bill enables better oversight of the use of National Security Letters (NSLs) after the Department of Justice Inspector General issued reports detailing the misuse and abuse of the NSLs.

For more information about the PATRIOT Act, see the resources from BORDC's February 3, 2010, lobby day.

 

USA PATRIOT Amendments Act of 2009

Bill Number: H.R.3845

Status: Introduced October 20, 2009, and referred to House Committees on Judiciary, Intelligence, and Financial Services. Discharged by Committees on Intelligence and Financial Services. Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 240.

Sponsor: Representative John Conyers (D-MI)

Co-Sponsors: This bill has 11 Co-Sponsors.

This bill would reintroduce a number of provisions from the JUSTICE Act that did not make it into the bill reported out of the Judiciary Committee, the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act.

The USA PATRIOT Amendments Act of 2009 provisions include:

  • Restoring the issuance of national security letters (NSLs) to the pre-PATRIOT Act standards.  Under the current standards, both use and abuse of NSLs have skyrocketed.
  • Subjecting to judicial review unconstitutional gag orders that routinely accompany NSLs.
  • Increased reporting requirements for use of NSLs and Section 215 business record requests.
  • Adding a 2013 sunset for NSLs and allowing roving wiretap powers to expire at the end of 2009.

For more information about the PATRIOT Act, see the resources from BORDC's February 3, 2010, lobby day.

 

USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act of 2009

Bill Number: S.1692

Status: Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 177. Senator Leahy from Committee on the Judiciary filed written report. Report No. 111-92. Additional and Minority views filed.

Sponsor: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Co-Sponsors: This bill has 6 Co-Sponsors.

This bill, introduced September 22, 2009, would extend provisions of the PATRIOT Act set to expire at the end of 2009 while instituting reforms to protect Americans' rights and curb government abuses. However, those reforms are just the tip of the iceberg, and while this bill stops there, the JUSTICE Act goes much further in instituting limits on government and protecting the liberty and privacy of law-abiding Americans.

For more information about the PATRIOT Act, see the resources from BORDC's February 3, 2010, lobby day.

 

Select Committee on National Security and Civil Liberties Act of 2009

Bill Number: H. Res. 383

Status: Introduced April 30, 2009 and referred to House Committee on Rules.

Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)

Co-Sponsors: This bill has 6 Co-Sponsors.

This resolution would establish a select committee in the House of Representatives to review national security laws, policies and practices and make recommendations about the effectiveness of past and present U.S. law enforcement, national security, and intelligence activities.

Read the ACLU's press release on the bill.

 

REAL ID

REAL ID Repeal and Identification Security and Enhancement Act of 2009

Bill Number: H.R. 3471

Status: Introduced in the House on July 31, 2009. Referred to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law. Referred to the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives.

Sponsor: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)

Co-Sponsors: This bill has 7 Co-Sponsors.

This bill would repeal the REAL ID Act of 2005. The bill comes after 25 states have rejected REAL ID (15 of which have passed binding resolutions prohibiting state involvement in the program), and as the future of the program seems to be in doubt. This bill would replace the REAL ID requirements with a rule-making process originally developed in response to the 9/11 Commission recommendations.

Additional Information:

 

PASS ID Act

Bill Number: S. 1261

Status: Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 217. Senator Lieberman from Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs filed written report. Report No. 111-104.

Sponsor: Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)

Co-Sponsors: This bill has 8 co-sponsors.

This bill allows for certain revisions to be made to the REAL ID Act of 2005. These revisions are intended to address the privacy and security concerns raised by the original bill.

Additional Information:

 

State Secrets Privilege

State Secrets Protection Act

Bill Number: S. 417, H.R. 984

Status: The bill has since been amended and marked-up several times, but remains in committee.

Sponsor: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)

Senate Co-Sponsors:

  • Russ Feingold (D-WI)
  • Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
  • Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
  • Arlen Specter (D-PA)
  • Jon Tester (D-MT)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
  • Christopher Dodd (D-CT)
  • Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)
  • Edward Kaufman (D-DE)

House Co-Sponsors: This bill has 26 Co-Sponsors.

 

This bill's goal is to provide guidance to courts on cases in which the State Secrets Privilege has been invoked. Specifically, it would keep courts from dismissing cases solely because the State Secrets Privilege has been invoked, although judges could still do so after reviewing the information behind the claim and allowing the defense to make a counterclaim. The bill would also establish new safeguards for protecting classified information and provide a way for judges to report on the cases to Congress.

 

Whistleblower Protection

Whistleblower Protection Amendment to H.R. 1

Bill Number: H. Amdt. 20 to H.R. 1

Status: The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, previously introduced in the 110th Congress, was reintroduced as an amendment to H.R. 1 (the economic stimulus package) on January 28, 2009, by Representatives Todd Platts (R-PA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), it was unanimously accepted. However, it was not included in the Senate version of the bill nor was it included in the final legislation.

This amendment's purpose was to amend title 5, United States Code, clarifying which disclosures of information are protected from prohibited personnel practices and requiring a statement in nondisclosure policies, forms, and agreements to the effect that such policies, forms, and agreements are consistent with certain disclosure protections. It would have had the effect of reversing several court decisions that have limited whistleblowers' rights and protections.

 

Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009

Bill Number: H.R. 1507, S. 372

Status: H.R. 1507 did not move forward. S. 372 was passed in the House, and then a month later in the Senate. However, an anonymous senator placed a secret hold on the bill and it wasn’t able to pass in the lame duck session. This bill was reintroduced in the 112th Congress.

Sponsors: Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)

Senate Co-sponsors: This bill had 12 Co-Sponsors.

House Co-sponsors: This bill had 14 Co-Sponsors.

Previously introduced in the 110th Congress. After the bill was approved by the House as an amendment to H.R. 1, the economic stimulus package, but omitted from the final legislation, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) reintroduced the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act in the Senate on February 3, 2009. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) reintroduced the bill in the House on March 12, 2009.

The bill's purpose is to amend title 5, United States Code, clarifying which disclosures of information are protected from prohibited personnel practices and requiring a statement in nondisclosure policies, forms, and agreements to the effect that such policies, forms, and agreements are consistent with certain disclosure protections. It would have had the effect of reversing several court decisions that have limited whistleblowers' rights and protections.

 

 


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