Wednesday, December 22, 2010


H.R. 6540, the Defense Level Playing Field Act has been received in the Senate after sailing through the House by a margin of 325 in favor to 23 opposed, on Roll Call vote number 658.

The KC-X Aerial Tanker

H.R. 6540 Requires the Secretary of Defense (DOD), in evaluating offers to award a contract for the KC-X aerial refueling aircraft program, to consider any unfair advantage that an offer or may possess. This bill directs the Secretary to: (1) report to the congressional defense committees on any such advantage; and (2) take into account the findings of such report in awarding a contract.

On a related front, H.R. 5136 §§824 and 848 speaks to the issue of the KC-X tanker. That bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, which is dead in the Senate requires the Secretary of DOD to submit an interim report on "any review of a covered subsidy initiated pursuant to subsection (a) of section 886 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 110-417; 122 Stat. 4561) not later than 60 days after the date of the initiation of the review." Section 848 mandates, in subsection (a) the "Requirement to Consider Unfair Competitive Advantage- In awarding a contract for the KC-X aerial refueling aircraft program (or any successor to that program), the Secretary of Defense shall, in evaluating any offers submitted to the Department of Defense in response to a solicitation for offers for such program, consider any unfair competitive advantage that an offer or may possess."

H.R. 6523, the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, is the pared down version of the military spending bill for the next fiscal year. H.R. 6523 does not contain the language regarding the KC-X aerial tanker found in H.R. 6540 or H.R. 5136. H.R. 6523 is treading water waiting for Senate action in this Lame Duck session of the 111th Congress.

The KC-X program should see the production of 175 aircraft over a span of two decades costing in the neighborhood of $35 billion, and probably more. The current fleet of tankers is subject to uncertainty due to age and the potential for fatigue. Currently employed in the fleet are KC-135 tankers which were delivered in 1965 and KC-10 tankers delivered between 1979 and 1987.

The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, H.R. 5116 passed the House on Roll Call vote number 659 by a margin of 228 in favor to 130 opposed. This was on the vote to resolve differences with the Senate. This bill originally passed in the House on May 28th. The Senate passed the measure with an amendment on December 17th by Unanimous Consent.

H.R. 5116 makes an investment in innovation through research and development, to improve the competitiveness of the United States. H.R. 5116 authorizes appropriations for several agencies to support scientific research, industrial innovation, and certain educational activities. The legislation allows for the collection of fees to offset the administrative costs of a loan guarantee program directed toward small and medium sized businesses. The CBO estimates that there is no net budgetary impact in a single year by this bill.

H.R. 2142, the Government Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Performance Improvement Act of 2010 passed the House on Roll Call vote number 660 by a margin of 216 to 139. H.R. 2142 expresses the sense of Congress that each executive agency should consult with the committees with jurisdiction over the agency and other interested Members of Congress each fiscal year regarding the agency's performance plan and priorities. The bill mandates that each federal agency head identify near- and long-term high-priority goals for the purpose of improving agency performance and submit quarterly reports relating to those goals.

H.R. 2142 establishes a Performance Improvement Council in the executive branch to make recommendations concerning, and to monitor, performance management. Includes among the Council's duties to: (1) develop a website for federal agency performance information; (2) link program performance information to program spending information on the website; and (3) report to Congress on the feasibility of creating a single web-based platform for all government spending information and all program performance information.

The Comptroller Generally is directed to periodically assess the implementation of this Act. Any savings or reductions in expenditures generated by this Act are to be used to offset the costs of its implementation and any additional savings to be used to offset the deficit. Agencies are required to fund this Act's reporting requirements out of existing budgets and authorizes agencies to make necessary reprogramming of funds.

H.R. 2751, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act passed in the House on Roll Call vote number 661. The margin on the motion to resolve differences with the Senate was 215 in favor and 144 opposed. This is a major overhaul of food safety laws. H.R. 2751 began as a bill to accelerate motor fuel savings nationwide and provide incentives to registered owners of high polluting automobiles to replace such automobiles with new fuel efficient and less polluting automobiles. It was amended in the Senate with the language of S. 510 the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act introduced by Democratic Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois. Durbin's bill passed the Senate on a Record Vote number 257 by a margin of 73 in favor to 25 opposed. The problem with S. 510 is that one section contained a revenue measure. Bills containing revenue measures must originate in the House according to the Constitution. The language is in Article I § 7 "All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills."

H.R. 3082, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 is probably misnamed. This Continuing Resolution funds the government until March4, 2011. H.R. 3082 passed by a margin of 193 to 165 on Roll Call vote number 662.

H.R. 6547, the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act, was the last measure passed by the House on 12/21/10. This bill require each state receiving funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to have in effect policies and procedures that: (1) require criminal background checks for school employees, including searches of state criminal registries or repositories, state-based child abuse and neglect registries and databases, the National Crime Information Center of the Department of Justice, the National Sex Offender Registry, and the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and (2) prohibit the employment of school employees who refuse to consent to a criminal background check, make false statements in connection with one, or have been convicted of one of a list of felonies.

Local educational agencies (LEAs) or state educational agencies (SEAs) are required to report to local law enforcement any applicants for school employment who are discovered to be sexual predators.

Requires Periodic repetitions of such criminal background checks are required . Requires such states to provide for a timely process under which school employees may: (1) appeal the results of a criminal background check to challenge the accuracy or completeness of the information produced; and (2) seek appropriate relief for any final employment decision based on materially inaccurate or incomplete information produced. Requires this appeals process, however, to deny the individual employment as a school employee during the process.

H.R. 6547 moves on to the Senate.

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