Legislative roundup for July 16, 2015

Corker, Alexander doubt nuclear deal with Iran

Iranian-American relations
Photo source.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, commented Tuesday on the announcement of a nuclear agreement with Iran.

“Throughout these negotiations, I have expressed significant concerns to the administration about the crossing of red line after red line as we have moved from a goal of dismantling Iran’s nuclear capabilities to managing its proliferation,” he said.

Corker continued, “I want to read the agreement in detail and fully understand it, but I begin from a place of deep skepticism that the deal actually meets the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. In the coming days, Congress will need to scrutinize this deal and answer whether implementing the agreement is worth dismantling our painstakingly-constructed sanctions regime that took more than a decade to establish. Iran continues to be the lead sponsor of terrorism in the world and relieving sanctions would make the Tehran regime flush with cash and could create a more dangerous threat to the United States and its allies.

“Without the passage of our bill, Congress would have had no role in reviewing and voting on an agreement. Once the president submits to Congress all of the documents associated with this deal, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will conduct a rigorous review during which time congressional sanctions will remain in place. Whatever actions the House and Senate ultimately take, the American people will have a full and open debate that a national security issue of this magnitude deserves.”

Similarly, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday, “I am very skeptical, but I will carefully review this complex agreement, listen closely to the Senate debate, and vote based upon what I believe will help keep our country safe.”

Earlier this year, Alexander voted in favor of bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that would require Congress to review — and if necessary, reject — any final deal the Obama administration makes with Iran.

A Corker press release said that, without the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (Public Law 114-17), there would have been no limitation on the president’s use of waivers to suspend the sanctions Congress put in place; no requirement that Congress receive full details of any agreement with Iran; no review period for Congress to examine and weigh in on an agreement; no requirement that the president regularly certify Iran is complying; and no way for Congress to rapidly reimpose sanctions should Iran cheat.

The review period does not begin until all documents associated with an agreement are submitted to Congress along with assessments on compliance and non-proliferation. Once all documents are received, Congress will have 60 days for the initial review.

Twelve additional days are provided if the House and Senate send a joint resolution to the president, and 10 more days are allowed for Congress to override a presidential veto.

Anti-slavery initiative passes Senate hurdle

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) applauded funding for his bipartisan initiative to end modern slavery. The initiative was included in the Senate Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill, which was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee July 9.

The End Modern Slavery Initiative will work in concert with the private sector and foreign governments to help eliminate modern slavery around the globe.

Corker commented, “This important funding for The End Modern Slavery Initiative begins a vigorous effort to help end slavery worldwide, which affects more than 27 million people, especially women and children. I appreciate the support of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the numerous organizations and faith-based institutions that have helped raise awareness about the devastating conditions of slavery and human trafficking that exists in more than 167 countries around world, including our very own. I’ve seen firsthand the terrible conditions and impacts of slavery, and I am proud that we are another step closer to establishing what will be a transformational initiative.”

The FY 2016 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations bill providing $25 million for this effort.

“The End Modern Slavery Initiative Foundation” will fund programs outside the United States that:

  • Contribute to the freeing and sustainable recovery of victims of modern slavery, prevent individuals from being enslaved, and enforce laws to punish individual and corporate perpetrators of modern slavery;
  • Set out clear, defined goals and outcomes that can be empirically measured; and
  • Achieve a measurable 50 percent reduction of modern slavery in targeted populations.

To review the bill, go online to 1.usa.gov/1fFDitx. For a summary of the legislation, go to 1.usa.gov/1LeQOQh.

New bill would speed up claims across state lines

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher (TN-08) introduced legislation Thursday to advance uniformity, reciprocity and consumer protections for claims adjusting across state lines.

Under current law, consumers are forced to wait as independent claims adjusters face a patchwork of inconsistent state laws and regulations that delay prompt and efficient adjustment of claims.

The Claims Licensing Advancement for Interstate Matters (CLAIM) Act will help independent insurance adjusters expedite the filing of insurance claims, ensuring that millions of dollars in insurance claims are promptly handled to help consumers repair and rebuild communities – including in times of disaster.

“Since independent claims adjusters are required to take a license examination in every state they work,” Fincher said, “adjusters are often forced to take time off from work to travel to each state in which they seek a license. This is a costly burden that impacts the claims adjuster, their employer and ultimately the consumer who ends up paying for these costs in higher premiums. My bill puts an end to this costly burden by authorizing independent claims adjusters licensing reciprocity so their home-state license is valid in any other state. By streamlining the claims adjustment process, consumers will be protected and individual claims adjusters will be able to respond in a faster, cost-effective manner.”

The CLAIM Act streamlines claims adjusting across state lines. States that do not currently license adjusters will not need to do so.

Fully recognizing and respecting state oversight of insurance matters, the CLAIM Act has the following provisions:

  • Enables independent claims adjusters to handle claims more efficiently and effectively across state lines in an increasingly nationwide marketplace by spurring state licensing reciprocity; and
  • Protects consumers by encouraging those states that license adjusters to adopt uniform licensing criteria.