This Week in Congress: 10.8.07-10.12.07

FISA

The House Select Committee on Intelligence will move forward with its markup of legislation to revise the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, this week. Lack of congressional oversight continues to be a major problem in the intelligence community, and Congress must find a way to balance the need to secure Americans’ safety without committing unnecessary violations of civil liberties.

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Housing

To address the crisis in the sub-prime mortgage market, the House will continue its discussions this week on the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act, H.R. 2895. The bill amends the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act, establishing a special fund in the Treasury that can be accessed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Secretary of HUD will be able to use the funds to increase the supply of affordable, quality housing, particularly for low-income Americans.

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War Contractors

The House will hold hearings this week on H.R. 400, a bill ensuring that existing laws regarding profiteering and fraud also apply to contractors in Iraq, a timely issue in the aftershocks of the recent Blackwater scandal.

The bill will grant the federal government extraterritorial jurisdiction over cases of war profiteering and fraud, as well as impose fines and jail terms of up to 20 years for contractors who knowingly defraud the United States.

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Homeland Security

The House Homeland Security Committee will conduct a hearing Thursday to evaluate the implementation of the SAFE Port Act, H.R. 4954, passed Sept. 11, 2006. The act originally created regulations for the prevention of terrorist attacks on maritime facilities and planned possible actions to minimize the effects of any potential attack.

This week, the committee will discuss whether the act is successful and what changes need to be made to continue to guarantee the safety of our ports.

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