113th Congress Accomplishments
Passed into Law
- On December 18, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Federal Information Security Modernization Act. The House version of the bill was introduced by Chairman Issa, Ranking Member Cummings, Rep. Mica, and Rep. Connolly to protect federal information by moving the government toward real-time monitoring for cyber threats and increased oversight of federal data breaches.
- On December 18, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Smart Savings Act, which was introduced by Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings to change the default investment fund in the Thrift Savings Plan for new hires from the Government Securities Investment Fund to an age-appropriate target date asset allocation Lifecycle Fund.
- On November 26, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments, which was introduced by Ranking Member Cummings to improve the process for handling executive privilege claims to ensure the timely release of presidential records.
- On September 26, 2014, President Obama signed into law the All Circuit Review Extension Act, which was introduced by Ranking Member Cummings and joined by Reps. Issa, Farenthold, Connolly, and Van Hollen, to extend a pilot program under the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act for three additional years.
- On May 9, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, which was introduced by Chairman Issa and joined by Ranking Member Cummings, to require the Department of Treasury to develop government-wide data standards and to transfer authority from OMB to the Secretary of Treasury to maintain the website that provides public information about awards of federal funds to improve the transparency of federal spending data (USAspending.gov).
- On November 27, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Drug Quality and Security Act, which includes several provisions authored by Ranking Member Cummings to improve drug safety and efficacy, deter price gouging, and strengthen oversight of “gray market” drug companies.
- Ranking Member Cummings was successful in stripping an anti-environment, anti-transparency provision from the Agricultural Act of 2014 that was signed into law on February 7, 2014. He wrote a letter to conferees urging that it be kept out of the conference agreement.
- On May 23, 2013, Ranking Cummings introduced the Defense Base Insurance Improvement Act to require the insurance program and benefits requirements imposed on defense contractors with respect to on-the-job injuries to be provided under a government self-insurance program. The bill would require the Departments of Defense and Labor to jointly develop and execute an implementation strategy for the self-insurance program. Report language was included in the NDAA of 2014 which requires the Departments to examine this issue further and submit a plan of action to Congress.
- On September 16, 2014, the House passed the Electronic Message Preservation Act, introduced by Ranking Member Cummings, which would modernize the requirements of the Federal Records Act and the Presidential Records Act to ensure that email records are preserved. This legislation was approved by the Committee on July 24, 2014, as an amendment to the Federal Records Accountability Act of 2014.
- On July 23, 2014, the House passed the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, which included the Net Price Calculator Improvement Act authored by Ranking Member Cummings to improve existing Net Price Calculators used by students and their families to estimate the cost of attending college while enhancing the transparency and consistency of information provided to students.
- On February 25, 2014, the House passed the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act, which was introduced by Chairman Issa and joined by Ranking Member Cummings and Rep. Quigley, to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by establishing a presumption of openness for agencies processing FOIA requests, requiring electronic disclosure of documents requested three or more times, strengthening the FOIA Ombudsman, and establishing a pilot program for an online FOIA portal.
- On October 28, 2013, the House passed the Veterans Economic Opportunity Act, which included several provisions authored by Ranking Member Cummings to expand home foreclosure protections for servicemembers, their families, and veterans with disabilities.
- On April 15, 2013, the House passed the Government Accountability Office Improvement Act, which Ranking Member Cummings and Chairman Issa introduced to authorize GAO to obtain federal agency records, make and retain copies of agency records, and administer oaths when investigating fraud or federal employee misconduct. The bill was also passed by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, but the Senate took no further action.
Passed by Committee
- On June 20, 2013, the Committee passed the Presidential Library Donation Reform Act, which Rep. Duncan and Ranking Member Cummings introduced to bring transparency to the presidential library fundraising process by requiring organizations that raise funds and their affiliated facilities to disclose information about their donors to the National Archives and Records Administration. The legislation would also require the Archives to make that information available on its website in a searchable, sortable, and downloadable format.
- On May 22, 2013, the Committee passed the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act, which Ranking Member Cummings and Rep. Quigley introduced to establish and maintain a single website accessible by the public for obtaining electronic copies of all congressionally-mandated reports.
- On March 20, 2013, the Committee passed the Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments, which was introduced by Ranking Member Cummings and Rep. Clay to strengthen the Federal Advisory Committee Act, close loopholes that have developed in the implementation of the Act, and enhance the transparency of agency advisory committees.
Significant Legislation with No Movement
- On November 20, 2014, Ranking Member Cummings introduced the Medicaid Generic Drug Price Fairness Act, which would require drug companies to reimburse Medicaid if they raise the prices of their generic drugs more quickly than inflation. Senator Sanders introduced the Senate companion.
- On July 31, 2014, Rep. Edwards, joined by Ranking Member Cummings and others, introduced the Federal Employee Pension Fairness Act, which would repeal current law requiring federal employees hired after 2012 to pay increased contributions to their annuities under the Federal Employees Retirement System.
- On March 26, 2014, Rep. Connolly, joined by Ranking Member Cummings and others, introduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act, which would increase the annual adjustment to the rates of basic pay for federal employees under the General Schedule and the Federal Wage System by 3.3% in 2015.
- On February 10, 2014, Ranking Members Lynch and Cummings introduced the Security Clearance Reform Act, which would require the President to submit a strategic plan to improve security clearance and background investigation activities to the Oversight Committee, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. The legislation also includes provisions that would incentivize state and local jurisdictions to cooperate with criminal history record requests of the Office of Personnel Management.
- On July 31, 2013, Ranking Member Cummings introduced the Witness Security and Protection Grant Program Act, which would create a competitive grant program to state, tribal, and local governments to establish or maintain programs that provide protection or assistance to witnesses in court proceedings involving a homicide, a serious violent felony, a serious drug offense, gangs, or organized crime.
- On July 16, 2013, Ranking Member Cummings introduced the Innovate to Deliver Act, which would address the U.S. Postal Service’s financial challenges through innovative structural changes, such as creating a new Chief Innovation Officer and authorizing the agency to develop new sources of revenue.
- On April 24, 2013, Ranking Member Cummings was joined by Reps. Waters, Miller, Conyers, Waxman, Tierney, Lofgren, and Schakowsky in introducing the Mortgage Settlement Monitoring Act, which would increase oversight and accountability of the multi-statement mortgage settlement agreement between 49 states, 11 of our nation’s largest banks, and federal regulators that terminated the Independent Foreclosure Review.
- On February 5, 2013, Ranking Member Cummings, along with Reps. Meehan, Maloney, and Rigell, introduced the first bipartisan bill in the House in the 113th Congress to make firearms trafficking a federal crime. The Gun Trafficking Prevention Act would combat the flow of firearms to violent criminals, international drug cartels, and a host of other dangerous people by creating a dedicated federal statute criminalizing firearms trafficking. More than 100 Members from both political parties signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, and was endorsed by law enforcement officials from across the country.
Proactive Investigations and Inquiries
- Ebola: Ranking Member Cummings advocated forcefully and successfully for additional funding to combat Ebola at its source in Africa, calling on Congress to increase funding above the President’s request based on critical information obtained at an October 2014 hearing before the Oversight Committee. As a result, Congress appropriated an additional $451.7 million for the Economic Support Fund as part of the omnibus appropriations bill.
- Nursing Home Rating System: After receiving a letter from Ranking Member Cummings raising concerns regarding the Nursing Home Five Star Quality Rating System, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced several initiatives to improve the ratings system, including additional site inspections and the inclusion of new quality measures to make the system less susceptible to manipulation.
- Generic Drug Pricing: Ranking Member Cummings and Senator Bernard Sanders launched an investigation into the rising prices of some generic medicines, sending letters to 14 generic drug manufacturers. Senator Sanders called a hearing on the issue on November 20, 2014, at which Ranking Member Cummings testified alongside several other witnesses.
- HGH Use in the NFL: After Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings facilitated negotiations between the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players’ Association regarding the implementation of human growth hormone (HGH) testing and held a bipartisan hearing on the science behind HGH testing, the parties announced an agreement on September 17, 2014, to amend the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy to include testing of NFL players for HGH beginning during the 2014 NFL season. Testing began at the start of the 2014 NFL season as scheduled.
- Voting Rights Forum: On January 14, 2013, Ranking Members Connolly and Cummings held a forum with national election experts, state and local officials, and civil rights groups to examine the challenges voters faced on Election Day 2012, as well as reforms needed to ensure that every eligible voter can cast their ballot at a well-managed polling place that is efficient, modern, and secure.
- GAO Investigation: On December 11, 2014, Ranking Member Cummings and Rep. Joaquín Castro sent a letter requesting that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) expand its examination of the impacts of state voter identification laws on the ability of American citizens to exercise their right to vote. GAO accepted this request and began reviewing these questions.
Preventing Sexual Assaults
- On April 23, 2013, Ranking Members Cummings and Speier asked the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation to review sexual assault and harassment prevention policies and reporting procedures established by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA). On October 23, 2014, the Inspector General issued a report in response to the Members’ request, which found that “better program management and oversight are required for USMMA’s efforts to address sexual assault and harassment.”
Combating Firearms Trafficking
- On March 12, 2013, Ranking Member Cummings and Reps. Scott Rigell and Carolyn Maloney convened a bipartisan forum regarding gun crimes that resulted from “straw purchasing” and other gun trafficking efforts. Entitled “Victims and First Responders: The Critical Need for Gun Trafficking Legislation,” the forum included victims, first responders, and experts.
- Higher Education Financial Aid: More than 100 colleges changed their policies after Ranking Member Cummings announced findings of an investigation indicating that 111 colleges and universities required applicants to submit forms other than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid in order to be evaluated for federal student aid.
- Foreclosure Crisis: Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings sent requests to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency regarding the premature termination of the Independent Foreclosure Review (IFR) and the $9.3 billion settlement that abruptly replaced it in January 2013. Documents obtained by the Committee showed no reliable data on error rates at the time the IFR was terminated, but preliminary data showed double-digit error rates in some error categories at some servicers.
- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Contractor Discrimination: On December 11, 2014, Ranking Members Cummings and Waters and Rep. Moore led 26 Members in requesting that the Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) review Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s oversight of companies contracted to maintain foreclosed properties. Their request followed allegations that Fannie and Freddie contractors provided deficient services in African-American, Latino, and other minority communities when compared to maintenance in majority white communities. The Inspector General agreed and plans to issue a report.
- Non-Bank Specialty Mortgage Servicing GAO Inquiry: On October 20, 2014, Ranking Member Cummings and Senator Warren requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) initiate a study on the vulnerability of non-bank mortgage servicers to economic downturns, given the lack of capital requirements and the risks posed to consumers as a result of growth in this industry. The request followed several years of growth in non-bank mortgage servicing and reports from government agencies, including the Office of Inspector General of the FHFA, that detail a corresponding increase in consumer complaints and lawsuits. GAO accepted the request and will undertake the study in 2015.
- Broader Reviews by DOD IG: After receiving a letter from Ranking Member Cummings, the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office changed its whistleblower policies to include reviews of allegations by more employees authorized to receive protected disclosures.
- Amicus Brief in Whistleblower Case: Ranking Member Cummings, along with Senators Grassley and Wyden, and Reps. Issa, Farenthold, and Lynch, filed an amicus brief in support of whistleblower Robert MacLean’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. MacLean was a former air marshal with the Transportation Security Administration who was terminated for publicly disclosing that the agency planned to ground air marshals from long distance flights despite knowledge of imminent Al Qaeda attacks. On January 21, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the argument made in the Members’ amicus brief that only a law passed by Congress can exclude a disclosure from protection under the Whistleblower Protection Act.
- Requests for Enhanced Committee Oversight: For more than a year, Ranking Member Cummings has been pressing repeatedly for enhanced oversight of cyber-security measures in both the private and public sector, requesting hearings and information on reported data breaches at Home Depot, Target, Kmart, Community Health Systems, USIS, U.S. Postal Service, State Department, JPMorgan Chase, and other financial institutions. Ranking Member Cummings plans to request that the Oversight Committee include this issue as one of its core investigative priorities for the 114th Congress.