Updated: January 20, 2016
Tax Extenders and Omnibus Appropriations -- Passage - Vote Agreed to (65-33, 2 Not Voting) - The Senate cleared legislation that retroactively renews for the current 2015 tax year most of the expired provisions and further extends them for varying periods, including by making more than a dozen permanent and extending most others for two years (2015 and 2016). Those made permanent include taxpayers being able to deduct state and local sales taxes in lieu of state and local income taxes, the research and development tax credit, Section 179 capital expensing for businesses, and expanded versions of the child tax credit, Earned Income Tax Credit and American Opportunity Tax Credit for college expenses. It also includes a two-year moratorium on the medical device tax created by the 2010 health care overhaul law. The chamber adopted an amendment that funds government operations through September 30, 2016, at about $1.149 trillion in discretionary spending. It also ends the U.S. ban on crude oil exports; reauthorizes the 9/11 first-responder health care and victim compensation programs; reauthorizes U.S. intelligence programs and provides for a voluntary cybersecurity information-sharing process between the government and the private sector; requires individuals who have been in certain nations, such as Syria and Iraq, to get regular visas that involve in-person interviews with U.S. officials in order to enter the United States. It also includes several other tax provisions, including delaying for two years the health care law's tax on certain high-value employer-sponsored health insurance plans and phaseouts of wind and solar energy tax credits.
K-12 Education Reauthorization -- Passage - Vote Agreed to (85-12, 3 Not Voting) - ThSenate cleared the conference report on the bill that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 for four years, through fiscal 2020, and modifies programs and policies throughout the law with the overall goal of giving states, school districts, schools, teachers and parents greater control over all aspects of elementary and secondary education. It maintains some federal oversight of state programs through the Education Department's ability to approve state plans for the use of federal funds, but it places strong restrictions on department actions and control.
Budget Reconciliation - Passage - Vote Passed (52-47, 1 Not Voting) - The Senate passed the bill that repeals large portions of the 2010 health care overhaul law and cuts off federal funding to Planned Parenthood for one year. Specifically, it zeroes-out the law's penalties for noncompliance with the law's requirements for most individuals to obtain health coverage and employers to offer health insurance. It scraps the law's Medicaid expansion in 2018, as well as subsidies to help individuals buy coverage through the insurance exchanges. It also eliminates certain taxes included in the law, including the tax on certain high-value employer-sponsored health insurance plans.
Surface Transportation Reauthorization-- Passage - Vote Agreed to (83-16, 1 Not Voting) - The Senate cleared the conference report on the bill that reauthorizes federal highway and transit programs for five years, through fiscal 2020, at increased funding levels to begin addressing the nation's transportation infrastructure needs. It transfers more than $70 billion from Treasury's general fund and other funds to cover projected shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund over that time and fully fund the measure's estimated $305 billion cost. The measure also reauthorizes Amtrak and restructures its funding to reflect its major lines of business, renews the charter for the Export-Import Bank and rolls back a reduction in the crop insurance program.
EPA Existing Power Plant Rule Disapproval -- Passage - Vote Passed (52-46, 2 Not Voting) - The Senate agreed to a joint resolution expressing disapproval of the rule submitted by the EPA concerning carbon emissions at existing power plants.
EPA New and Retrofitted Power Plant Rule Disapproval -- Passage - Vote Passed (52-46, 2 Not Voting) - The Senate agreed to a joint resolution expressing disapproval of the rule submitted by the EPA concerning carbon emissions at new and retrofitted power plants.
Revised Defense Authorization -- Passage - Vote Agreed to (91-3, 6 Not Voting) - The Senate cleared legislation that authorizes $599 billion for the Pentagon and defense-related programs for fiscal 2016, $5 billion less than both the president's overall request and the original conference agreement. It provides $33 billion of the original $38 billion in added funds for defense, including $8 billion through the Overseas Contingency Operations account. The measure authorizes $715 million for Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State, $406 million to train and equip Syrian opposition forces and $300 million for lethal weapons for Ukraine. It modifies the military retirement system, blocks the Pentagon from retiring the A-10 Warthog aircraft and authorizes $11 billion for the F-35 Fighter.
Military-Construction-VA Appropriations -- Passage - Vote Passed (93-0, 7 Not Voting) - The Senate passed an amended version of the bill that funds veterans' health programs and military bases. The measure, which contains nearly $80 billion in discretionary funding, also includes language that prohibits transfers from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. homeland and a ban on another round of base closures.
Surface Transportation Reauthorization -- Cloture - Vote Agreed to (82-7, 11 Not Voting) - The Senate agreed to create a conference committee with the House concerning legislation that reauthorizes surface transportation programs for six years.
"Waters of the United States" Definition -- Passage - Vote Failed (57-41, 2 Not Voting) The Senate rejected a motion to invoke cloture on the McConnell, R-Ky., motion to proceed to the bill that would require the Obama administration to revisit its rule updating federal regulation of streams and wetlands.
"Waters of the United States" Rule Disapproval -- Passage - Vote Passed (53-44, 3 Not Voting) - The Senate agreed to a joint resolution expressing disapproval of the rule submitted by the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA relating to the definition of "waters of the United States" and what bodies of water are subject to federal regulation.
Military-Construction-VA Appropriations - Motion to Proceed - Vote Agreed to (93-0, 7 Not Voting) - The Senate agreed to a motion to invoke cloture on the McConnell, R-Ky., motion to proceed to the bill that funds veterans' health programs and military bases. The measure, which contains nearly $80 billion in discretionary funding, also includes language that prohibits transfers from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. homeland and a ban on another round of base closures.
Cybersecurity Information Sharing -- Passage - Vote Passed (74-21, 5 Not Voting) The Senate passed a measure would direct the federal government to develop procedures to facilitate information sharing, and it would authorize the voluntary sharing and receipt of a cybersecurity threat and operation of defensive measures by private entities.
Budget Agreement and Debt Limit -- Passage - Vote Agreed to (64-35, 1 Not Voting) he Senate cleared legislation which suspends the debt limit until March 15, 2017, and it partially rolls back the sequester of discretionary spending scheduled for fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017 to increase caps for those two years by a total of $80 billion, split equally between defense and non-defense. It requires additional funding through the war-related Overseas Contingency Operations account for both years, as well. It also prevents a sharp increase in Medicare Part B premiums for certain beneficiaries in 2016 and keeps the Social Security disability insurance trust fund solvent until 2022. It includes $79.9 billion in mandatory spending cuts and revenue increases to offset the bill's costs, and would reduce the deficit by $497 million according to the Congressional Budget Office.