(UPDATED - 3/10/20): This bill has been amended to serve as the legislative vehicle for three bills, including the NO BAN Act, the Access to Counsel Act, and the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act. In its original form, the bill was known as the FUTURE Act and reauthorized funding for historically black colleges & universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions, after passing the House & the Senate (with revisions), the House removed the FUTURE Act's provisions from the bill. A breakdown of the three bills now included in this legislative package can be found below.
NO BAN Act
This section would prohibit the executive branch from denying entry to the U.S. from any class of non-citizens based on their religion.
It would allow the executive branch to temporarily suspend or restrict the entry of a certain class of non-citizens (either immigrants or non-immigrants) if, based on specific & credible facts, their entry would undermine the security or public safety of the U.S., the preservation of human rights, democratic processes or institutions, or international stability. The State Dept. & Dept. of Homeland Security would be required to:
Only issue a suspension or restriction when required to address specific acts related to a compelling interest listed above;
Narrowly tailor the suspension or restriction to use the least restrictive means to achieve the compelling governmental interest;
Specify the duration of the suspension or restriction; and
Consider waivers to any class-based restriction or suspension and apply a rebuttable presumption in favor of granting family-based and humanitarian waivers.
In exercising its authority to suspend or restrict entry, the executive branch would be required to notify Congress with the specific evidence it claims supports the need for the suspension or restriction. Within 48 hours, the State Dept. & DHS would provide a briefing and submit a written report to Congress that describes:
The action and its specified objective;
The estimated number of individuals who will be impacted;
The constitutional and legislative authority under which the action took place; and
The circumstance necessitating such action, including how it complies with the limits imposed by this bill, as well as any intelligence informing such actions.
If the executive branch doesn’t provide a briefing and written report to Congress within 48 hours, the travel suspension or restriction would be lifted. If the report is provided, an unclassified version would be made publicly available.
Whenever DHS finds that a commercial airline has failed to comply with regulations for the detection of fraudulent documents used by passengers traveling to the U.S. (including personnel training requirements), DHS may suspend the entry of some or all non-citizens transported to the U.S. by that airline.
This bill would rescind presidential proclamations and executive orders that were enacted to restrict entry from specified countries upon enactment. DHS would be required to produce several reports related to the number of visa applications that were restricted by those executive actions.
For the purpose of this bill, the term “public safety” would include efforts necessary to contain a communicable disease of public health significance.
This section’s full title is the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act.
Access to Counsel Act
This section would require that access to legal counsel or another “interested party” be provided to specified persons during inspection upon their entry to the U.S. at ports of entry or deferred inspection sites.
Covered individuals would include U.S. nationals; lawful permanent residents; non-citizens seeking admission as an immigrant with a valid unexpired immigrant visa; non-citizens seeking admission as a non-immigrant with a valid non-immigrant visa; a refugee; a returning asylee; or a non-citizen approved for parole with a valid advance parole document.
DHS would have to provide covered individuals with a meaningful opportunity to consult with counsel and an interested party within one hour after the beginning of the secondary inspection process and as necessary throughout the inspection process (including during deferred inspection); allow counsel and an interested party to advocate on behalf of the covered individual such as by providing the immigration officer with information, documentation, and other evidence in support of the individual; and accommodate a request by the covered individual for counsel or an interested part to appear in-person at the secondary or deferred inspection site.
Covered individuals could also consult with an “interested party” including a relative, their visa sponsor, or any person, organization, or entity with a bona fide connection to the individual.
This section would take effect 180 days after enactment.
Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act
This section would codify definitions of “product hopping” and “patent thicketing” within the Federal Trade Commission Act. This would empower the FTC to challenge such practices as anti-competitive and enable the FTC to use its equitable remedy authority to keep companies from capitalizing on their abuse of the system.
“Product hopping” takes advantage of the FDA approval system to get around pharmacy-level generic substitution laws. When a drugmaker makes a new version (such as a minor reformulation) of a drug, the generic version of the old drug can’t be substituted for the new drug because the generic is tied to the old version.
“Patent thicketing” is a practice in which manufacturers take advantage of the complex interplay of different kinds of patents (methods of manufacture, formulations, devices, uses, as well as the underlying composition of matter patents) that are inherent to one drug to deploy patents strategically to prevent competition. This forces would-be competitors to fight through what can sometimes be hundreds of patents before their drugs can be approved.