Increasing the Debt Limit, Extending Government Funding, and Protecting Vets, Veteran Moms and the Capitol Police

Increase of Public Debt Limit(S 1301) – This bill was enacted on Oct. 14 in order to increase the public debt limit. The debt was increased by $480 billion, the amount projected by the Treasury Department to be needed through early December in order to avoid surpassing the public debt limit. Had this stopgap legislation not been passed, it would have created the potential for a severe economic crisis in which the government would have run out of money to pay back existing debts, government salaries and other pre-existing obligations. The bill was initially introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on April 22; it passed in the House on Sept. 29 and in the Senate on Oct. 7. It was signed into law on Oct. 14.

Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act (HR 5305) – The bill was both introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and passed in the House on Sept. 21; then passed by the Senate on Sept. 30. It authorizes appropriations for federal agencies for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022, including providing emergency assistance for activities related to natural disasters and evacuees from Afghanistan. The bill is also known as a continuing resolution (CR), which prevented a government shutdown that would otherwise have occurred if the 2022 appropriations bills had not been enacted by Oct. 1, when the new fiscal year began. The legislation was signed and enacted in the nick of time by the president on Sept. 30.

Protecting Moms Who Served Act of 2021 (S 716) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) on March 17. The purpose of the legislation is to codify maternity care coordination programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Specifically, the VA must work with local non-VA maternity care providers for training and support related to the unique needs of pregnant and postpartum veterans, particularly with regard to mental and behavioral health conditions. The bill passed in the Senate on Oct. 7 and is currently under consideration in the House.

A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to designate one week each year as Buddy Check Week for the purpose of outreach and education concerning peer wellness checks for veterans, and for other purposes. (S 544) – This bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to designate one week each year as Buddy Check Week for veterans to conduct peer wellness checks. It also mandates that the VA ensure the Veterans Crisis Line has a plan to handle potential increases in calls during that week. The bill was introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) on March 2 and passed in the Senate on Oct 7. It is currently under consideration in the House.

Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (HR 3237) – This legislation provides $1.9 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations for the legislative branch and federal agencies for preventive measures in response to what happened at the U.S. Capitol Complex on Jan. 6. Because this funding is designated as emergency spending, it is exempt from discretionary spending limits. The funding is allocated for expenses such as security-related upgrades, repairs to facilities damaged by the attack, reimbursements for the costs of responding to the attack, support for prosecutions, the establishment of a quick reaction force within the District of Columbia National Guard to assist the Capitol Police, and mandatory use of body-worn cameras by Capitol Police officers who interact with the public. The bill was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) on May 14. It was passed in the House on May 20, in the Senate on July 29, and signed into law by the president on July 30.