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By Lawrence Jackson (Executive Office of the President of the United States) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
15
Jan

Congress Hits a New Low in 2013

By Rachel L. West
The Political Social Worker

You may have heard this already but Congress hit a new low in 2013. They 113th Congress managed to beat the 80th Congress in doing nothing.  In 2013 only 65 75 bills were passed by both houses and then went on to be signed into law. The 113th is now officially the new Do Nothing Congress.

Below is a list of 4 pieces of legislation that every social worker should know. I published an article about this back in May last year. None of them where among the 65 pieces of legislation that became law last year.

The Ruth Moore Act of 2013 (HR 671/S.294)

The Ruth Moore Act of 2013 would improve disability compensation for veterans with mental health conditions related to sexual trauma that they experienced while serving.  The bill is sponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) in the House and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MI) in the Senate.

So far the bill has 17 co-sponsors in the Senate and 33 in the House.  It is currently assigned to the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in the Senate and the House Veterans’ Affairs- Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

You can read the bill here.

Status as of January 14th: This bill passed the House but is still stuck in committee in the Senate.

Mental Health in Schools Act (HR 628/S.195)

The Mental Health in Schools Act was introduced by Minnesota Senator AL Franken in January.  This bill aims to expand mental health services in schools.  Should the bill become law it would help schools implement comprehensive, culturally competent mental health programs.

The bill has 18 co-sponsors in the Senate and 67 in the House.  It has been sent to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee and the Energy Commerce – Health committee.

You can read the bill here.

Status as of January 14th: Still in committee in both houses.

Student Support Act (HR 320)

On a related note Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the Student Support Act aimed at reducing the student to provider gap in elementary and secondary schools.  According to a March 2013 Washington Post article the National mental health provider to student ratio stands at one counselor for every 471 students.

So far there is no matching bill in the Senate which makes is chance of passage unlikely.  You can read the bill here.

Status as of January 14th: Still in committee in the House.  There is no matching Senate bill.

Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act (HR 1466)

Rep. Barbara Lee has re-introduced the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act. I feel like a version of this legislation has been introduced in every session for at least a decade and at the end of each session it dies.  I would be shocked if it even comes to a vote this time.

This bill calls for the creation of a Social Work Reinvestment Commission that would advise Congress and the Secretary Health and Human Services on policy issues related to the recruitment, retention, research, and reinvestment in social work.

So far the bill has 22 co-sponsors in the House and has been assigned to House Education and the Workforce committee.  So far there is no matching bill in the Senate.

You can read the bill here.

Status as of January 14th: Still in committee in the House and Senate.

*New * The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013

Though I have talked about this many times I did not have this particular bill on the list last year. 20 years after first being introduced ENDA was put to a vote and passed the Senate. The problem is that the House has not brought the bill to the floor.

Despite how far the fight for LGBT equality has come in recent years it is still legal in many state for an employer to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. ENDA would put an end to this practice.

You can read the bill here.

Photo Credit: By Lawrence Jackson (Executive Office of the President of the United States) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Posted by Rachel L. West

In addition to being the founder of The Political Social Worker blog, I am a consultant. My consulting practice offers advocacy and community outreach solutions to nonprofits, social good organizations, and private practitioners. Additionally, I offer career coaching to macro social work students and professionals.

2 comments

  1. Congressman Barbara Lee, a tireless crusader for social rights exemplifies the meaning of political social work. She is fearless and strong, and doesn’t back down from her principles for the common good. I am a supporter of the Acts you have outlined in your post (thank you), and have encouraged my students to support those bills.

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