Skip banner
HomeSourcesHow Do I?Site MapHelp
Return To Search FormFOCUS
Search Terms: "Patients Bill of Rights"

Document ListExpanded ListKWICFULL format currently displayed

Previous Document Document 58 of 85. Next Document

Copyright 2000 The National Journal, Inc.  
The National Journal

 View Related Topics 

MARCH 11, 2000

SECTION: CONGRESS; Pg. 788; Vol. 32, No. 11

LENGTH: 1814 words

HEADLINE: The Sausage Factory: House-Senate Committee Action, March 6-9

BYLINE: National Journal News Service


Hot Bills
Here is the status of major legislation on the congressional
front burner:

     Patients' Rights
House: Approved a bipartisan patients' rights bill (H.R. 2723) on
Oct. 7, 1999, 275-151, then merged it with an insurance access
bill (H.R. 2990).

     Senate: Approved S. 1344 with narrower reforms favored by
health insurers on July 15, 1999, 53-47.

     Outlook: GOP leaders fret that conference talks are
falling behind schedule because of haggling over emergency-room
care, access to obstetricians, and other issues. But the toughest
decisions are still to come: Who will be covered by the bill, and
what rights will patients have to sue their health plans and
employers? Work on a final bill is likely to continue well into

     Social Security Earnings Limit
House: Approved H.R. 5 on March 1, 422-0.      Senate: H.R. 5 has been placed on the calendar for floor

     Outlook: This bill, which allows full benefits for people
who keep working beyond retirement age, should fly through the
Senate, which is eager to approve the House-passed bill.

     Marriage Penalty Tax Relief
House: Approved H.R. 6 on Feb. 10, 268-158.

     Senate: Finance Committee plans to draft a bill soon.

     Outlook: Senate Republicans are inclined to postpone
major action until they can agree on a new budget, although they
still must decide whether to move tax cuts one at a time. They
hint they'll be even more generous to married couples than the
House, despite President Clinton's threat to veto a cut as large
as the one the House passed.

     Africa Trade Enhancements
House: Approved H.R. 434 on July 16, 1999, 234-163.

     Senate: Approved an amended H.R. 434 on Nov. 3, 1999, 76-

     Outlook: The Senate bill, which includes a Caribbean
trade initiative (S. 1389), still must be reconciled with the
House measure. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., is
working to close the negotiations in the hope that Congress can
clear a bill by early April.

     School Aid
House: Approved H.R. 1995 on July 20, 239-185, and H.R. 2 on Oct.
21, 1999, 358-67.

     Senate: Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
began voting on S. 2 provisions on March 7.

     Outlook: A fierce floor debate over who controls the way
federal aid to schools is spent awaits the Senate, which is
trying to pass a single bill renewing the Elementary and
Secondary Education Act instead of the separate House-passed
bills. Despite defeats in committee, Senate Democrats will push
Clinton's education priorities on the floor.

     Rural Satellite TV
House: Agriculture Committee approved H.R. 3615 on Feb. 16, 41-0.

     Senate: Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee
approved S. 2097 on March 8.

     Outlook: The Senate should pass this popular bipartisan
bill, which includes $ 1.25 billion in federal loan guarantees for
rural television service, by March 30. The House Commerce
Committee, which wants to help negotiate a final bill, could
cause some static. But rural constituents are keenly interested
in receiving local broadcast programming via satellite.
* Overview
A Senate committee dished up some television news for rural
residents, President Clinton's education initiatives got a ruler
on the knuckles, and property-rights advocates prepared to send
local zoning issues to federal courts.

     Who Wants to See Regis? Rural Senators!

     Somewhere in rural America, television viewers are being
deprived of witnessing some crucial moments in contemporary
culture: the millionaire contestants offering their final
answers, or Darva and Rick getting married moments after meeting
onstage. The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee
came to the rescue on March 8, when it approved a bill to expand
access to local broadcast TV signals for satellite dish owners in
rural areas.

     The Launching Our Communities' Access to Local Television
Act (S. 2097), which the committee approved 19-0, would establish
a $ 1.25 billion federal loan guarantee program to encourage
satellite TV companies to retransmit local broadcast signals in
rural communities and small cities and towns.

     A new law, enacted as part of last year's omnibus
spending package (P.L. 106-113), gave such satellite companies as
DIRECTV the authority to retransmit signals from local TV
stations to subscribers living in those stations' markets. One of
the law's goals was to enable satellite companies to compete more
effectively with cable service, which for years has carried local
broadcast stations. As a result of the new law, satellite
companies plan to offer local broadcasts in about 60 of the
nation's largest broadcast markets.

     But Sen. Timothy P. Johnson, D-S.D., has noted that rural
areas will be left behind unless incentives to serve them are
created. Johnson sought loan guarantees last year, but Banking
Committee Chairman Phil Gramm, R-Texas, objected to a "giveaway"
that could cost taxpayers money if borrowers defaulted.

     This year's bill, however, includes compromises to
satisfy Gramm's concerns. Each loan guarantee would be limited to $20 million, and an applicant's collateral would have to be at
least equal to the unpaid balance of the loan.

     To participate in the program under the bill, lenders
would have to be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Johnson and other Democrats opposed that provision, saying it
would exclude rural electric cooperatives and many other lenders.
They may pursue their objections on the Senate floor, but did not
press the point at the committee because the rural TV issue "is
too important to delay," Johnson said.  -Molly M. Peterson
Senate Panel Flunks Clinton School Aid Plan

     Republicans dealt staggering blows to President Clinton's
major school initiatives on March 9 by approving a bill that
rejects his plan to hire 100,000 new teachers and help finance
the renovation of crumbling school buildings.

     By a party-line 10-8 vote, the Senate Health, Education,
Labor, and Pensions Committee passed legislation (S. 2) to renew
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. GOP panel members
plowed under Clinton's initiatives while crafting their own
program to send federal dollars to state and local educators with
fewer federal strings attached.

     Committee Democrats, led by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.,
vowed to reprise the debate when the bill reaches the Senate
floor, probably in early April. But the panel's votes
demonstrated a unified front among conservative and moderate
Republicans, which made the prospect of overturning its actions
appear remote. The passage of the GOP version could lead to a
veto, and a tough fight this fall when Clinton and congressional
leaders try to work out education spending levels on
appropriations bills.

     Spearheaded by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., a former
governor, GOP committee members pushed through amendments during
three days of markup sessions-on March 7, 8, and 9-to permit
states to use the federal money with few restrictions, other than
prescribing broad directions to improve the scholastic
performance of low-income and minority students.

     Most of the nearly $ 20 billion in the ESEA bill allocated
for fiscal 2001 would go to states and local schools in the form
of block grants consolidating major programs that up to now have
been financed separately. Under the Republicans' approach,
governors would have wide discretion on how to spend the money.

     In addition, a Gregg amendment, approved on a party-line
9-8 vote, would let low-income students transfer to another
school and take their $ 400 to $ 700 federal allocation of money
under ESEA's Title I program with them. "The money follows the
student," Gregg explained. The plan, which would begin as a
demonstration program in 10 unspecified states, is almost
identical to a controversial "Straight A's" proposal passed by
the House.

     Republicans turned down an amendment by Sen. Patty
Murray, D-Wash., who sought $ 1.75 billion to continue the
President's program to hire 100,000 new teachers and reduce class
sizes in the first three elementary grades. "As a former teacher,
I can tell you it really makes a difference if you have 18 kids
in a classroom instead of 35,'' Murray said.

     The committee also rejected a bid by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-
Iowa, to include Clinton's plan to provide $ 1.3 billion to help
local schools finance the renovation of dilapidated buildings.

     While the committee sought to leave most educational
decisions in the hands of local school districts, Sen. Jeff
Sessions, R-Ala., convinced his Republican colleagues that the
House and Senate education committees should review parental
complaints about textbooks. Such complaints would be sent to the
Education Secretary, who would forward them to the committees.
Democrats scoffed that the plan would turn the congressional
committees into "superschool boards."   -David Hess
Property-Rights Bill Clears House Panel

     The House Judiciary Committee this week bulldozed
Democratic amendments aimed at weakening a controversial bill to
help developers speed the settlement of land-taking disputes with
local authorities.

     The legislation (H.R. 2372), which the committee approved
14-7, would permit property owners and builders to bypass state
courts and take their disputes with local zoning authorities
directly to federal courts to seek compensation.

     Environmental groups and local officials say the bill
would take away local decision-making authority and put land-use
decisions in the hands of federal judges. But the construction
industry, led by the National Association of Home Builders, and
the bill's sponsor, Rep. Charles Canady, R-Fla., argue that the
measure would give property owners quicker access to federal
courts to protect their constitutional right for just
compensation if their land is taken or its usage is restricted.

     During markup sessions on March 8 and 9, committee
Democrats complained that the bill would allow federal courts to
make local decisions on such things as building waste treatment
plants or housing projects.

     The panel rejected an amendment by Rep. Jerrold Nadler,
D-N.Y., that would have prevented the bill from applying to cases
involving the protection of public health or safety.

     During the last Congress, a similar bill passed the
House, 248-178, but died in the Senate. -Michael Posner

LOAD-DATE: March 13, 2000

Previous Document Document 58 of 85. Next Document


Search Terms: "Patients Bill of Rights"
To narrow your search, please enter a word or phrase:
About LEXIS-NEXIS® Academic Universe Terms and Conditions Top of Page
Copyright © 2001, LEXIS-NEXIS®, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.