The House-passed bills that have ended up in the Senate ‘graveyard’

Six months after the newly elected Democratic majority was sworn in to the House, progressive lawmakers are tackling many of their priorities through legislation.

But few of those bills are seeing traction in the GOP-led upper chamber, with many ending up in what Democrats have labeled the Senate “graveyard.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has boasted about the pattern, promising to be a “Grim Reaper” for progressive policies in the Senate if the GOP hangs onto the chamber in the next Congress.{mosads}

“We’re very proud of the work that we have done to send over to the Senate, where Mitch McConnell has said he’s the ‘Grim Reaper’ — it’s a Senate graveyard,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters earlier this month. “We have news for him: It’s alive and well in the public, and he will be hearing from the public, hopefully very soon.” 

Here’s a list of the Democratic priorities that passed the House but have stalled in the Senate.

H.R. 1: For the People Act

The For the People Act was House Democrats’ first major legislative package introduced in the new Congress. The bill, which passed in March, features a hodgepodge of policies that the party promoted throughout the 2018 midterm campaign to help secure elections from foreign interference and make them more accessible to voters.

The package aims to require states to provide an online option for voter registration and allow voters to register the same day they go to the polls. It would also require states to automatically register citizens who don’t register themselves.

To protect elections from any foreign meddling, the bill mandates that states use paper ballots and that the Department of Homeland Security evaluate threats to election systems 180 days prior to an election and inform states of their conclusions.

The bill includes campaign finance and ethics reform measures, including mandating presidential candidates release their tax returns. 

Amid frustration at McConnell blocking the package, Democrats in May began reportedly considering bringing up portions of the For The People Act for a vote to try to force the Senate to take up individual electoral reform bills.

H.R. 5: The Equality Act

The Equality Act, which was introduced in March and passed in May, seeks to provide comprehensive anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans in employment, education, federal funding, housing, public accommodations and more.

Though eight Republicans voted for the measure in the House, many in the GOP have come out against the bill amid conservative concerns about infringement of religious liberty. 

“In fact, this bill legalizes discrimination — government imposed top-down discrimination against those with time-honored views of marriage and gender,” Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) said on the House floor before the vote. 

H.R. 6: The American Dream and Promise Act

The American Dream and Promise Act, which was introduced in March and passed earlier this month, would protect young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children — known as Dreamers — and establish a path to citizenship for more than 2 million immigrants without legal status. 

The bill would grant permanent residency with a path to citizenship to more than 2 million immigrants who fall into three categories: Dreamers and some recipients of the temporary protected status and deferred enforced departure programs.

H.R. 7: The Paycheck Fairness Act

The Paycheck Fairness Act was introduced in January and passed in March. It includes provisions that would prohibit employers from asking about prospective employees’ salaries, forbid retaliation against employees who compare wages and mandate employers show that pay discrepancies are based on legitimate factors.

Seven Republican House members voted for its passage.

H.R. 8: The Bipartisan Background Checks Act

The Bipartisan Background Checks Act was introduced in early January and passed the House the following month. Eight Republican House members joined nearly every Democrat in passing the bill in what was the most significant gun control vote in years. 

The legislation seeks to expand background check requirements on private sales, including those at gun shows, on the internet or through classified ads.

H.R. 9: The Climate Action Now Act

The Climate Action Now Act was introduced in March and passed in May. Three Republicans supported the bill. 

Democrats touted the bill, which, among other things, would block the Trump administration from exiting the Obama-era Paris climate agreement. Many recognized the legislation’s limited scope but said they hoped it would be the first of many pieces of legislation introduced in the House seeking to combat climate change. 

H.R. 987: The Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act

The Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act was introduced in February and passed last month. Five Republicans voted for the measure.

The bill seeks to lower prescription drug prices, bolster the Affordable Care Act and protect care for those with pre-existing conditions.

H.R. 1585: The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

The renewal of the Violence Against Women Act was introduced in March and passed in April. One Democrat voted against it, while 33 Republicans broke party lines to back it. 

Congress had allowed the act, which provides funding and grants for several programs that tackle domestic abuse, to lapse in February when it was left out of a spending bill ending a partial government shutdown.

The reauthorization includes everything in the original act and includes an expansion of a prohibition against firearm purchases for spouses or formerly married partners convicted of abuse or under a restraining order to include dating partners who were never legally married. The National Rifle Association came out against the act because of the clause.

H.R. 1644: The Save the Internet Act

The Save the Internet Act was introduced in March and passed in April. Just one Republican voted for the bill.

The bill would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s party-line vote in 2017 to repeal net neutrality, shorthand for the Obama-era rules prohibiting broadband companies from blocking, throttling or prioritizing certain websites.

Advocates say the legislation is needed to prevent internet providers from favoring content from partners and businesses that pay them. Opponents say the effort would burden the internet with government interference.

Tags Government shutdown Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Vicky Hartzler

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