House approves veterans, disaster aid bills

The bill also includes language dealing with several burial issues, and would block sex offenders from being buried in national cemeteries.

The House also approved H.R. 6375, which would authorize VA medical facility projects, by voice vote.

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And in a 400-0 roll call vote, the House passed H.R. 5044, the Andrew P. Carpenter Act. This bill would ensure that if education loans are waived by lenders because of the death of a veteran, that waiver is not counted as income for tax purposes.

Regarding disaster aid, the House approved H.R. 2903, the FEMA Reauthorization Act, by voice vote. The bill reauthorizes but also reforms the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including by requiring FEMA to put in place cost saving provisions and to streamline its aid approval process.

"This legislation includes important cost saving measures to streamline our emergency preparedness and response efforts to help mitigate against disasters and keep Americans safe," bill sponsor Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) said. "We must ensure our states and local communities can rebuild faster and in a more cost effective way."

In addition, members passed H.R. 6296, the Disaster Loan Fairness Act. This bill retroactively caps disaster loan rates, and it was also approved by voice vote.

The House also approved several other suspension bills, including one that would prohibit the use of public funds for political party conventions. Democrats opposed this bill, H.R. 5912, and said conventions are now funded in party through a voluntary checkoff on taxpayers' tax returns.

But the House accepted the bill in a 310-95 vote, meeting the two-thirds majority needed for passage.

Also approved by voice vote on Wednesday were:

• H.R. 3783, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act. This bill would make it U.S. policy to counter Iran's hostile presence in the Western Hemisphere, and require the administration to develop a strategy for achieving this.

• H.R. 4158, to confirm full ownership rights for certain United States astronauts to artifacts from the astronauts' space missions.

• H.R. 6368, the Border Security Information Improvement Act, which would require the Department of Homeland Security to report to Congress on its ability to track and investigate cross-border violence.

• H.R. 6060, the Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Extension Act.

• H.R. 1461, the Mescalero Apache Tribe Leasing Authorization Act.

• H.R. 3319, to allow the Pascua Yaqui Tribe to determine the requirements for membership in that tribe.