Senator Feinstein Reflects on Legislative Accomplishments of the 110th Congress
Washington, DC th U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today pointed to several major legislative victories achieved during the challenging political environment of the just-concluded 110th Congress, focusing on the accomplishments of 2008.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein ( D-Calif. ) today pointed to several major legislative victories achieved during the challenging political environment of the just-concluded 110th Congress, focusing on the accomplishments of 2008.
“In looking back over the year of 2008, we were able to accomplish several significant pieces of legislation, signed by the President and enacted into law, that have national implications. These include:
Closing the so-called ‘Enron-Loophole,’ which establishes anti-fraud and anti-manipulation standards for our nation’s electronic energy futures markets;
Establishing sensible regulations for the mortgage industry through the mandatory licensing of all mortgage brokers and lenders;
Protecting children from harmful phthalates chemicals in toys using the precautionary principle; and
Banning rogue Internet pharmacies from selling drugs without prescriptions.
This was a year with several major legislative victories, but we also have a lot of work ahead of us. I look forward to working with my Congressional colleagues and President-Elect Barack Obama to vigorously pursue an agenda of change in the 111th Congress.”
Highlights of enacted legislation from 2008:
Closing the “Enron Loophole”: Senators Feinstein, Carl Levin ( D-Mich. ), and Olympia Snowe ( R-Maine ) authored legislation to close the so-called “Enron Loophole” and establish federal oversight of our nation’s electronic energy markets. The law prevents manipulation, excessive speculation and fraud in electronic energy futures markets, which had operated without regulation since 2000. Legislation was included in Title 13 of the Farm Bill, which became law on May 22, 2008, after Congress voted to overturn a veto by President Bush ( P.L. 110-234 ). Cracking down on rogue Internet pharmacies: Senators Feinstein and Jeff Session ( R-Ala. ) authored legislation to crack down on rogue Internet pharmacies that sell controlled substances without a valid prescription, while protecting consumers who fill legitimate prescriptions online. House companion to the Feinstein-Sessions bill was signed into law on October 15, 2008 ( P.L. 110-425 ).This law becomes effective 180 days after enactment. Banning phthalates in children’s toys: Senator Feinstein authored legislation to impose a nationwide ban on phthalates in products designed for children’s use, modeled after the California and European Union bans. Included as a provision of the comprehensive Consumer Product Safety Commission bill, which was signed into law on August 14, 2008 ( P.L. 110-314 ). This law goes into effect on February 10, 2009. Cleaning up the mortgage industry: Senators Feinstein and Mel Martinez ( R-Fla. ) authored legislation requiring all mortgage brokers and lenders to meet minimum national licensing standards in an effort to curb abusive lending practices. It would also create a national database for consumers to use to verify the credentials of their brokers and lenders. Signed into law as part of the comprehensive housing reform legislation on July 30, 2008 ( P.L. 110-289 ). Improving passenger rail safety: In the wake of a deadly Metrolink crash in Los Angeles, Senators Feinstein and Barbara Boxer ( D-Calif. ) sponsored legislation requiring mandatory collision-avoidance systems, called “positive train control,” on America’s major passenger, commuter and freight lines no later than December 31, 2015. Significant portions of the Feinstein-Boxer legislation were incorporated into the Rail Safety Improvement Act, which was signed into law on October 16, 2008 ( P.L. 110- 432 ).
Ensuring FISA is the exclusive means for electronic surveillance: Senator Feinstein authored language to require the federal government to follow the requirements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 ( FISA ) when conducting electronic surveillance of American citizens for foreign intelligence purposes. Signed into law as part of the FISA reform bill on July 10, 2008 ( P.L. 110-261 ).
Highlights of enacted legislation from 2007:
• Increasing the fuel efficiency of America’s fleet of vehicles: Senators Feinstein, Olympia Snowe ( R-Maine ), Daniel Inouye ( D-Hawaii ), and Ted Stevens ( R-Alaska ) were the lead authors of landmark legislation to increase average fuel economy standards for America’s fleet of vehicles by at least 10 miles per gallon over 10 years or from 25 mpg to 35 mpg by Model Year 2020. This was the largest increase in fuel efficiency in more than two decades – and the first major Congressional action on global warming. Signed into law as part of the comprehensive energy bill on December 19, 2007 ( P.L. 110-140 ).
Restoring the independence of U.S. Attorneys: Senator Feinstein was the first Senator to bring to light the political manipulation of U.S. attorneys on the Floor of the United States Senate. The ensuing investigation, led by Senator Feinstein, resulted in the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, as well as the enactment of two laws sponsored by Senator Feinstein to restore the independence of U.S. attorneys: The “Preserving U.S. Attorney Independence Act”, co-sponsored by Senators Feinstein and others, was designed to end the politicization of the Justice Department, and restore Senate confirmation of U.S. attorneys. Signed into law on June 14, 2007 ( P.L. 110-34 ). The “United States Attorney Local Residency Restoration Act,” co-sponsored by Senators Feinstein and others, required that U.S. attorneys live in the districts they were appointed to serve. Signed into law as part of the Omnibus Appropriations bill on December 26, 2007 ( P.L. 110-161 ).
Other enacted legislation from the 110th Congress, chronologically:
Reforming ethics and lobbying: As Chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, Senator Feinstein played a key role in Senate passage of comprehensive ethics and lobbying reform legislation. Provisions included slowing the revolving door between Congress and lobbyists; requiring disclosure of lobbyists who bundle campaign contributions; and increased transparency in the legislative process. Signed into law on September 14, 2007 ( P.L. 110-81 ). Securing $500 million to combat catastrophic wildfires: Senator Feinstein helped to secure $500 million in emergency fire suppression, risk reduction and recovery funding – the bulk of which would be directed to California. Senator Feinstein has also sponsored legislation to encourage improved fire-prevention efforts in areas prone to wildfires, to increase federal recovery aid to disaster victims, and to keep track of criminal arsonists. Signed into law on November 13, 2007 as part of the FY 2008 Defense Appropriations bill ( P.L. 110-113 ). Reauthorizing the Breast Cancer Research Stamp: Senator Feinstein, the original sponsor of the Breast Cancer Research Stamp, authored a bill to extend the sale of this special stamp for four more years ( to the end of 2011 ). Since first going on sale in 1998, the stamp has raised nearly $64 million for breast cancer research – more than any other fund-raising stamp. Signed into law on December 21, 2007 ( P.L. 110-150 ). Mandating the establishment of a Greenhouse Gas Registry: Senators Feinstein and Barbara Boxer ( D-Calif. ) sponsored legislation to provide $3.5 million for the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) to use its existing authority under the Clean Air Act to provide for reporting of greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors of the U.S. economy. Legislative proposals to cap greenhouse gas emissions all depend on solid baseline data, so this registry is an essential part of setting an effective cap on global warming emissions. Signed into law as part of the FY 2007 Omnibus Appropriations bill on December 26, 2007 ( P.L. 110-161 ). Protecting civilians from dangerous cluster bombs: Senators Feinstein and Patrick Leahy ( D-Vt. ) authored legislation to require that no funds be used for sale or transfer of cluster bombs – unless they have a failure rate of 1 percent or less, and will be used only against clearly defined military targets. In May 2008, Senators Feinstein and Leahy also called on the United States to sign a new international treaty to ban the vast majority of cluster munitions. Feinstein-Leahy legislation was signed into law as part of the FY 2007 Omnibus Appropriations bill on December 26, 2007 ( P.L. 110-161 ). Preserving the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration Campus: Senator Feinstein authored legislation to prohibit commercial development of the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center site. The legislation specifically prohibits the Department of Veterans Affairs from entering into enhanced-use leases of the land, and from selling any portions of it for private use. Signed into law as part of the FY 2007 Omnibus Appropriations bill on December 26, 2007 ( P.L. 110-161 ). Restoring full public access to Santa Rosa Island: Senators Feinstein and Boxer authored legislation to restore – and ensure – full public access to Santa Rosa Island in the Channel Islands National Park, located off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Signed into law as part of the FY 2007 Omnibus Appropriations bill on December 26, 2007 ( P.L. 110-161 ). Increasing funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program ( SCAAP ): Senator Feinstein sponsored language to provide $410 million to reimburse states and localities for incarceration of undocumented aliens convicted of criminal offenses. The FY 2008 funding level is an increase of $11 million over FY 2007. Signed into law as part of the FY 2007 Omnibus Appropriations bill on December 26, 2007 ( P.L. 110-161 ). Protecting individuals in federal custody from sexual abusers: Senator Feinstein sponsored language that closes a loophole preventing federal criminal penalties from being filed against anyone sexually abusing a minor, immigrant, or other person held in federal custody, including the Department of Homeland Security or Office of Refugee Resettlement. Signed into law as part of the FY 2007 Omnibus Appropriations bill on December 26, 2007 ( P.L. 110-161 ). Awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi: Senators Feinstein and Mitch McConnell ( R-Ky. ) authored legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal – the nation’s highest civilian honor – to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma’s democratic movement and Nobel Peace Laureate. Signed into law on May 6, 2008 ( P.L. 110-209 ). Restoring funding for the Byrne/JAG law enforcement grant program: Senator Feinstein authored language to restore funding for the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program. Under threat of a Presidential veto, the Byrne/JAG funding was slashed last year by 70 percent, from $660 million to $170 million. Signed into law on July 30, 2008 ( P.L. 110-294 ). Protecting infants and young children from unsafe secondhand cribs: Senator Feinstein authored legislation to apply Consumer Product Safety standards to the commercial use or sale of dangerous secondhand cribs. Included as a provision of the comprehensive Consumer Product Safety Commission bill, which was signed into law on August 14, 2008 ( P.L. 110-314 ). Fixing flaws in the Military’s ‘Sole Survivor’ policy: Senators Feinstein and Chambliss authored a bill to ensure that “sole survivors” who leave military service receive improved separation benefit, effective with respect to any such discharge granted after September 11, 2001. Significant provisions of the Feinstein-Chambliss bill were incorporated into a companion measure sponsored by Representatives Nunes and Costa, which was signed into law on August 29, 2008 ( P.L. 110-317 ) Soundproofing the Lennox and Inglewood schools from nearby airport noise: Senators Feinstein and Boxer sponsored a bill to enact the settlement reached between the City of Los Angeles and the Lennox and Inglewood School Districts to allow the schools to use passenger facility fees for noise reduction projects – to the tune of $111 million for the Lennox School District and $118.5 million for the Inglewood School District over 10 years. Signed into law on October 2, 2008 ( P.L. 110-337 ).
Providing $1.645 Billion for a four-year extension of Secure Rural Schools Program: Senator Feinstein worked to help secure $1.645 billion for a four-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools Program. Included as a provision of the national economic rescue legislation, which was signed into law on October 3, 2008 ( P.L. 110-343 ). Renewing tax incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency: Senators Feinstein and Olympia Snowe ( R-Maine ) sponsored legislation to renew critical tax incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal. The Feinstein-Snowe provisions were approved as part of a broader tax extenders package, which was folded into the national financial rescue legislation, and signed into law on October 3, 2008 ( P.L.-110-343 ). Protecting drug endangered children: Senators Feinstein and Specter sponsored legislation to extend for two years a program to help provide safe environments and proper treatment for children exposed to drug production or illegal drug use in the home, particularly meth labs. Specifically, the measure would authorize $20 million in grants for Fiscal Years 2008 and 2009. House companion legislation to the Feinstein-Specter bill, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Cardoza, was signed into law on October 8, 2008 ( P.L. 110-378 ) Protecting unaccompanied alien children: Senator Feinstein authored legislation to reform the treatment of unaccompanied immigrant children who are in federal immigration custody. The bill gives unaccompanied minors access to pro bono legal counsel and requires family reunification whenever possible. Signed into law as part of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 on December 23, 2008 ( P.L. 110-457 ).
This story was released on 2009-01-02. Please make sure to visit the official company or organization web site to learn more about the original release date. See our disclaimer for additional information.