Text: H.R.2989 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

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Public Law No: 115-77 (11/02/2017)

 
[115th Congress Public Law 77]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]



[[Page 131 STAT. 1251]]

Public Law 115-77
115th Congress

                                 An Act


 
To establish the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission <<NOTE: Nov. 
                        2, 2017 -  [H.R. 2989]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Frederick 
Douglass Bicentennial Commission Act. 36 USC prec. 101 note.>> 
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Frederick Douglass Bicentennial 
Commission Act''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress makes the following findings:
            (1) Born into slavery on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 
        1818 and given the name Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey 
        after his mother Harriet Bailey, Frederick Douglass has been 
        called the father of the civil rights movement.
            (2) Douglass rose through determination, brilliance, and 
        eloquence to shape the American Nation. He was an abolitionist, 
        human rights and women's rights activist, orator, author, 
        journalist, publisher, and social reformer.
            (3) Taught basic reading skills by his mistress until she 
        was forced to stop, Douglass continued to teach himself to read 
        and write and taught other slaves to read despite risks 
        including death.
            (4) During the course of his remarkable life Frederick 
        Douglass escaped from slavery, became internationally renowned 
        for his eloquence in the cause of liberty, and went on to serve 
        the national government in several official capacities.
            (5) Forced to leave the country to avoid arrest as an 
        escaped slave, he returned to become a staunch advocate of the 
        Union cause and helped recruit African-American troops for the 
        Union Army, including two of his sons, Charles and Lewis 
        Douglass. His personal relationship with Abraham Lincoln helped 
        persuade the President to make emancipation a cause of the Civil 
        War.
            (6) With the abolition of slavery at the close of the Civil 
        War, Douglass then turned his attention to the full integration 
        of African-Americans into the political and economic life of the 
        United States. Committed to freedom, Douglass dedicated his life 
        to achieving justice for all Americans, in particular African-
        Americans, women, and minority groups. He envisioned America as 
        an inclusive Nation strengthened by diversity and free of 
        discrimination.
            (7) Douglass served as an advisor to Presidents. Abraham 
        Lincoln referred to him as the most meritorious man of the 
        nineteenth century. Douglass was appointed to several offices.

[[Page 131 STAT. 1252]]

        He served as the United States Marshal of the District of 
        Columbia under Rutherford B. Hayes' administration; President 
        James Garfield appointed Douglass the District of Columbia 
        Recorder of Deeds. In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison 
        appointed Frederick Douglass to be the United States minister to 
        Haiti. He was also appointed by President Grant to serve as 
        Assistant Secretary of the Commission of Inquiry to Santo 
        Domingo.
            (8) Douglass lived in the District of Columbia for 23 of his 
        57 years as a free man, and in recognition of his leadership and 
        continuous fight for justice and freedom, his home, Cedar Hill, 
        was established as a National Historic Site in Anacostia, in 
        Southeast Washington, DC.
            (9) The statue of Frederick Douglass in the United States 
        Capitol is a gift from the almost 700,000 residents of the 
        District of Columbia.
            (10) All Americans could benefit from studying the life of 
        Frederick Douglass, for Douglass dedicated his own life to 
        ensuring freedom and equality for future generations of 
        Americans. This Nation should ensure that his tireless struggle, 
        transformative words, and inclusive vision of humanity continue 
        to inspire and sustain us.
            (11) The year 2018 marks the bicentennial anniversary of the 
        birth of Frederick Douglass, and a commission should be 
        established to plan, develop, and carry out, and to recommend to 
        Congress, programs and activities that are fitting and proper to 
        celebrate that anniversary in a manner that appropriately honors 
        Frederick Douglass.
SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT.

    There is established a commission to be known as the Frederick 
Douglass Bicentennial Commission (referred to in this Act as the 
``Commission'').
SEC. 4. DUTIES.

    The Commission shall have the following duties:
            (1) To plan, develop, and carry out programs and activities 
        that are fitting and proper to honor Frederick Douglass on the 
        occasion of the bicentennial anniversary of Douglass' birth.
            (2) To recommend to Congress programs and activities that 
        the Commission considers fitting and proper to honor Frederick 
        Douglass on such occasion, and the entity or entities in the 
        Federal Government that the Commission considers most 
        appropriate to carry out such programs and activities.
SEC. 5. MEMBERSHIP.

    (a) <<NOTE: President.>>  Number and Appointment.--The Commission 
shall be composed of 16 members appointed as follows:
            (1) Two members, each of whom shall be a qualified citizen 
        described in subsection (b), appointed by the President.
            (2) One member, who shall be a qualified citizen described 
        in subsection (b), appointed by the President on the 
        recommendation of the Governor of Maryland.
            (3) One member, who shall be a qualified citizen described 
        in subsection (b), appointed by the President on the 
        recommendation of the Governor of Massachusetts.

[[Page 131 STAT. 1253]]

            (4) One member, who shall be a qualified citizen described 
        in subsection (b), appointed by the President on the 
        recommendation of the Governor of New York.
            (5) One member, who shall be a qualified citizen described 
        in subsection (b), appointed by the President on the 
        recommendation of the Mayor of the District of Columbia.
            (6) Three members, at least one of whom shall be a Member of 
        the House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the 
        House of Representatives.
            (7) Three members, at least one of whom shall be a Senator, 
        appointed by the majority leader of the Senate.
            (8) Two members, at least one of whom shall be a Member of 
        the House of Representatives, appointed by the minority leader 
        of the House of Representatives.
            (9) Two members, at least one of whom shall be a Senator, 
        appointed by the minority leader of the Senate.

    (b) Qualified Citizen.--A qualified citizen described in this 
subsection is a private citizen of the United States with--
            (1) a demonstrated dedication to educating others about the 
        importance of historical figures and events; and
            (2) substantial knowledge and appreciation of Frederick 
        Douglass.

    (c) Time of Appointment.--Each initial appointment of a member of 
the Commission shall be made before the expiration of the 60-day period 
beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act.
    (d) <<NOTE: Time period.>>  Continuation of Membership.--If a member 
of the Commission was appointed to the Commission as a Member of 
Congress, and ceases to be a Member of Congress, that member may 
continue to serve on the Commission for not longer than the 30-day 
period beginning on the date that member ceases to be a Member of 
Congress.

    (e) Terms.--Each member shall be appointed for the life of the 
Commission.
    (f) Vacancies.--A vacancy in the Commission shall not affect the 
powers of the Commission but shall be filled in the manner in which the 
original appointment was made.
    (g) Basic Pay.--Members shall serve on the Commission without pay.
    (h) Travel Expenses.--Each member shall receive travel expenses, 
including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in accordance with sections 
5702 and 5703 of title 5, United States Code.
    (i) Quorum.--Six members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum 
but a lesser number may hold hearings.
    (j) Chair.--The Commission shall select a Chair from among the 
members of the Commission.
    (k) <<NOTE: New York.>>  Meetings.--The Commission shall meet at the 
call of the Chair. Periodically, the Commission shall hold a meeting in 
Rochester, New York.
SEC. 6. DIRECTOR AND STAFF.

    (a) Director.--The Commission may appoint and fix the pay of a 
Director and such additional personnel as the Commission considers to be 
appropriate.
    (b) Applicability of Certain Civil Service Laws.--
            (1) Director.--The Director of the Commission may be 
        appointed without regard to the provisions of title 5, United

[[Page 131 STAT. 1254]]

        States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service, 
        and may be paid without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 
        and subchapter III of chapter 53 of that title relating to 
        classification and General Schedule pay rates.
            (2) Staff.--The staff of the Commission shall be appointed 
        subject to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, 
        governing appointments in the competitive service, and shall be 
        paid in accordance with the provisions of chapter 51 and 
        subchapter III of chapter 53 of that title relating to 
        classification and General Schedule pay rates.
SEC. 7. POWERS.

    (a) Hearings and Sessions.--The Commission may, for the purpose of 
carrying out this Act, hold such hearings, sit and act at such times and 
places, take such testimony, and receive such evidence as the Commission 
considers to be appropriate.
    (b) Powers of Members and Agents.--Any member or agent of the 
Commission may, if authorized by the Commission, take any action that 
the Commission is authorized to take by this Act.
    (c) Obtaining Official Data.--The Commission may secure directly 
from any department or agency of the United States information necessary 
to enable the Commission to carry out this Act. Upon request of the 
Chair of the Commission, the head of that department or agency shall 
furnish that information to the Commission.
    (d) Mails.--The Commission may use the United States mails in the 
same manner and under the same conditions as other departments and 
agencies of the United States.
    (e) <<NOTE: Reimbursement.>>  Administrative Support Services.--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 under this Act.

    (f) Gifts.--The Commission may solicit, accept, use, and dispose of 
gifts, bequests, or devises of money or other property for the purpose 
of carrying out its duties.
    (g) Volunteer and Uncompensated Services.--Notwithstanding section 
1342 of title 31, United States Code, the Commission may accept and use 
voluntary and uncompensated services as the Commission determines 
necessary.
SEC. 8. REPORTS.

    (a) Initial Report.--Not later than August 1, 2018, the Commission 
shall submit to Congress an initial report containing its 
recommendations under section 4(2).
    (b) Final Report.--Not later than June 1, 2019, the Commission shall 
submit a final report to Congress, and shall include in the final 
report--
            (1) a summary of its activities and programs;
            (2) a final accounting of the funds the Commission received 
        and expended; and
            (3) any other information that the Commission considers to 
        be appropriate.
SEC. 9. TERMINATION.

    The Commission shall terminate 30 days after submitting the final 
report pursuant to section 8(b).

[[Page 131 STAT. 1255]]

SEC. 10. NO ADDITIONAL FUNDS AUTHORIZED.

    No Federal funds are authorized or may be obligated to carry out 
this Act.

    Approved November 2, 2017.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 2989:
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HOUSE REPORTS: No. 115-340 (Comm. on Oversight and Government Reform).
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 163 (2017):
            Oct. 11, considered and passed House.
            Oct. 18, considered and passed Senate.
DAILY COMPILATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS (2017):
            Nov. 2, Presidential statement.

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