Text: S.2875 — 111th Congress (2009-2010)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (12/11/2009)


111th CONGRESS
1st Session
S. 2875


To establish the Commission on Measures of Household Economic Security to conduct a study and submit a report containing recommendations to establish and report economic statistics that reflect the economic status and well-being of American households.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

December 11, 2009

Mr. Feingold introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs


A BILL

To establish the Commission on Measures of Household Economic Security to conduct a study and submit a report containing recommendations to establish and report economic statistics that reflect the economic status and well-being of American households.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Commission on Measures of Household Economic Security Act of 2010”.

SEC. 2. Findings.

Congress finds that—

(1) Federal and State governments, policymakers, legislators, and private sector entities depend on the economic statistics that are published by the Federal Government;

(2) Federal economic statistics are used, among other things—

(A) to judge our Nation’s economic performance over time; and

(B) to provide policymakers and legislators with the information necessary to design appropriate economic policies and other programs to address the well-being of American individuals and households;

(3) questions have been raised about the sufficiency of existing reported economic measures and statistics to provide a meaningful and accurate reflection and assessment of the economic well-being of American individuals and households;

(4) the most commonly reported economic statistics, such as gross domestic product, unemployment rate, and consumer price indices, do not adequately or accurately reflect the economic status of average American individuals and households; and

(5) a more accurate, transparent, coherent, and comprehensive assessment of the economic well-being of American households and regular reporting of such information would allow Federal and State governments—

(A) to better track and judge the economic status of average Americans; and

(B) to develop better, more accurate, and more responsive policies to address concerns that are more directly relevant to American households.

SEC. 3. Establishment of Commission on Measures of Household Economic Security.

(a) Establishment.—There is established the Commission on Measures of Household Economic Security (referred to in this Act as the “Commission”).

(b) Membership.—

(1) COMPOSITION.—The Commission shall be composed of 8 members, of whom—

(A) 2 shall be appointed by the majority leader of the Senate, in consultation with the chairmen and ranking members of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate, the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate, and the Joint Economic Committee, of whom 1 shall be an employee of the Bureau of Economic Analysis;

(B) 2 shall be appointed by the minority leader of the Senate, in consultation with the chairmen and ranking members of the committees referred to in subparagraph (A), of whom 1 shall be an employee of the Census Bureau;

(C) 2 shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, in consultation with the chairmen and ranking members of the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives; the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives; and the Joint Economic Committee, of whom 1 shall be an employee of the Bureau of Labor Statistics; and

(D) 2 shall be appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives, in consultation with the chairmen and ranking members of the committees referred to in subparagraph (C), of whom 1 shall be an employee of the Federal Reserve.

(2) QUALIFICATIONS.—Members of the Commission shall be—

(A) appointed on a nonpartisan basis; and

(B) academic or government policy experts in the field of economics, statistics, or other specialty field that is directly related to the duties of the Commission described in section 4(a).

(3) DATE.—The members of the Commission shall be appointed not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(c) Period of Appointment; Vacancies.—Members shall be appointed for the life of the Commission. Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.

(d) Chairman and Vice Chairman.—The Commission shall select a Chairman and Vice Chairman from among its members.

(e) Meetings.—

(1) INITIAL MEETING.—Not later than 60 days after the date on which all members of the Commission have been appointed, the Commission shall hold its first meeting.

(2) REGULAR MEETINGS.—During the life of the Commission, the Commission shall meet—

(A) at the call of the Chairman; and

(B) not less frequently than once every 3 months.

(f) Quorum.—A majority of the members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for purposes of transacting the business of the Commission, but a lesser number of members may hold hearings.

(g) Rules.—The Commission may establish by majority vote any other rules for the conduct of the Commission’s business, in accordance with the provisions of this Act and other applicable law.

SEC. 4. Duties of the Commission.

(a) Study.—The Commission shall identify, study, and evaluate—

(1) existing economic statistics and data collected and reported by agencies of the Federal Government that describe the economic well-being of American households;

(2) ways to synthesize, expand, augment, improve, and modernize the statistical measures described in paragraph (1) to provide a more accurate, transparent, coherent, and comprehensive assessment of the economic well-being of American households by—

(A) determining the cost, logistics, implementation time, and reliability of producing new statistics;

(B) recommending improved standards and methodologies for measuring and reflecting the economic well-being of American individuals and households; and

(C) considering the development of statistical measures to describe—

(i) the current debt situation of American individuals and households, including a description of the categories of debt, such as credit card debt, education related loans, and mortgage payments;

(ii) the movement of Americans between salaried jobs with benefits to single or multiple wage jobs with limited or no benefits, including a comparison of income that includes the value of benefits programs, such as health insurance and retirement plans;

(iii) the percentage of Americans who are covered by both employer-provided and individual health care plans and the extent of health care coverage per dollar paid by both employers and employees;

(iv) the savings rate, including both standard savings plans and pension plans;

(v) the disparity in income distribution over time and between different demographic and geographic groups;

(vi) the number of Americans receiving cash or near cash transfer payments from the Federal Government and a State government and the percentage of household income represented by such benefits; and

(vii) the breakdown of household expenditures between categories such as food, shelter, medical expenses, debt servicing, and energy;

(D) the relevance, development, and implementation of nonmarket satellite accounts, including accounts related to—

(i) household production;

(ii) investments in formal education and the resulting stock of skill capital;

(iii) investments in health and the resulting stock of health capital;

(iv) activities of the non-profit and volunteer sectors; and

(v) environmental assets and services.

(b) Consultation.—In conducting the study under this section, the Commission shall consult with relevant government leaders, representative citizen groups, and experts, including—

(1) the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors;

(2) the Secretary of Commerce;

(3) the Secretary of Labor;

(4) the Secretary of the Treasury;

(5) the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers;

(6) the Comptroller General of the United States;

(7) the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency;

(8) the Secretary of Health and Human Services;

(9) the Director of the Bureau of Economic Analysis;

(10) the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics;

(11) the Committee on National Statistics, National Research Council at the National Academies; and

(12) representative groups of citizens, from sample populations selected through methodologies and procedures recommended by appropriate experts, that represent national geographic, economic, and employment diversity.

(c) Report.—Not later than 18 months after the date of the first meeting of the Commission, the Commission shall submit a report to Congress that contains—

(1) a detailed statement of the findings and conclusions of the Commission; and

(2) recommendations for such legislation and administrative actions as the Commission considers appropriate, including—

(A) a list of economic statistics that should be reported regularly to more accurately reflect the economic status and well-being of American households, and the uses and benefits of such statistics;

(B) the costs, logistics, estimated implementation time, and reliability of producing the statistics referred to in subparagraph (A); and

(C) the need for, and benefits of, establishing a standing commission after the termination of the Commission to address or recommend actions with respect to—

(i) household economic information;

(ii) non-market satellite accounts; and

(iii) other economic indicators and measurements that are the subject of study and evaluation by the Commission.

SEC. 5. Powers of the Commission.

(a) Hearings.—The Commission may hold such hearings, sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, and receive such evidence as the Commission considers advisable to carry out this Act.

(b) Information From Federal Agencies.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Commission may secure such information directly from any Federal department or agency as the Commission determines to be necessary to carry out this Act. Upon request of the Chairman of the Commission, the head of such department or agency shall furnish such information to the Commission.

(2) CONFIDENTIALITY.—The Commission shall maintain the same level of confidentiality for such information made available under this subsection as is required of the head of the department or agency from which the information was obtained.

(c) Postal Services.—The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as other departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

(d) Contract Authority.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Subject to the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (41 U.S.C. 251 et seq.), the Commission may enter into contracts with Federal and State agencies, private firms, institutions, and individuals for the conduct of activities necessary to the discharge of its duties and responsibilities.

(2) DURATION.—A contract, lease, or other legal agreement entered into by the Commission may not extend beyond the date of the termination of the Commission.

SEC. 6. Commission personnel matters.

(a) Compensation of Members.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided under paragraph (2), each member of the Commission who is not an officer or employee of the Federal Government may be compensated at a rate equal to the daily equivalent of the maximum annual rate of basic pay for level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5, United States Code, for each day (including travel time) during which such member is engaged in the performance of the duties of the Commission.

(2) FEDERAL EMPLOYEES.—All members of the Commission who are officers or employees of the United States shall serve without compensation in addition to that received for their services as officers or employees of the United States.

(b) Travel Expenses.—The members of the Commission shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates authorized for employees of agencies under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, while away from their homes or regular places of business in the performance of services for the Commission.

(c) Staff.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Chairman of the Commission may, without regard to the civil service laws and regulations, appoint and terminate an executive director and such other additional personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to perform its duties. The employment of an executive director shall be subject to confirmation by the Commission.

(2) COMPENSATION.—The Chairman of the Commission may fix the compensation of the executive director and other personnel without regard to chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, United States Code, relating to classification of positions and General Schedule pay rates, except that the rate of pay for the executive director and other personnel may not exceed the rate payable for level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of such title.

(3) PERSONNEL AS FEDERAL EMPLOYEES.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—The executive director and any personnel of the Commission who are employees shall be employees under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, for purposes of chapters 63, 81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, 89A, 89B, and 90 of such title.

(B) MEMBERS OF BOARD.—Subparagraph (A) may not be construed to apply to members of the Commission.

(d) Detail of Government Employees.—Any Federal Government employee may be detailed to the Commission without reimbursement. Such detail shall be without interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege.

(e) Procurement of Temporary and Intermittent Services.—The Chairman of the Commission may procure temporary and intermittent services under section 3109(b) of title 5, United States Code, at rates for individuals which do not exceed the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay prescribed for level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of such title.

(f) Volunteer Services.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding section 1342 of title 31, United States Code, the Commission may—

(A) accept and utilize the services of volunteers serving without compensation; and

(B) reimburse such volunteers for local travel and office supplies, and for other travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in accordance with section 5703 of title 5, United States Code.

(2) STATUS.—A person providing volunteer services to the Commission shall be considered an employee of the Federal Government in the performance of those services for the purposes of—

(A) chapter 81 of title 5, United States Code (relating to compensation for work related injuries);

(B) chapter 11 of title 18, United States Code (relating to conflicts of interest); and

(C) chapter 171 of title 28, United States Code (relating to tort claims).

(g) Administrative Support.—Upon the request of the Commission, the Administrator of General Services shall provide to the Commission, on a reimbursable basis, the administrative support services necessary for the Commission to carry out its responsibilities.

SEC. 7. Termination of the Commission.

The Commission shall terminate 90 days after the date on which the Commission submits the report under section 4(c).

SEC. 8. Authorization of appropriations.

(a) In general.—Of the amounts made available for the Bureau of Labor Statistics for fiscal year 2010, not less than $2,500,000 shall be made available for the activities of the Commission under this Act.

(b) Availability.—The amounts made available for the activities of the Commission under subsection (a) shall remain available until the date on which the Commission is terminated pursuant to section 7.