The Refugee Act of 1980

November 4, 1980: United States elections. Republicans swept to victory in the Senate, but Democrats retained their diminished majority in the House.

Each bill must be considered by a committee before reaching the floor for consideration. There are 17 Senate committees and 70 subcommittees, each overseeing a different policy area.

The Refugee Act of 1980

The Refugee Act of 1980 was a pivotal moment in America’s humanitarian leadership. It created a formal system for refugee resettlement, aligned the definition of “refugee” with internationally recognized standards, and established annual quota admissions ceilings that could be adjusted in emergencies. It also required annual consultation between Congress and the president.

The Act authorized grants to private nonprofit voluntary agencies for initial resettlement of refugees in the United States and set forth the terms and conditions for such assistance. It also established a process for reviewing and adjusting the refugee ceiling in response to emergencies, and it provided funds for local employment-related services.

Today, the National Archives has made this legislation available online. We are proud to share it as a reminder of the great American tradition of helping people fleeing war, poverty, and oppression. You can view the full document in our West Rotunda Gallery, or see a sample page on our National Archives Flickr stream.

The Windfall Profits Tax

There have been a number of proposals by federal lawmakers and advocacy groups to institute a windfall profits tax on the oil industry. These taxes are meant to discourage companies from making excessive profits during times of crisis and ensure that consumers are not being exploited.

The United States implemented a similar tax during the 1980s as a response to sharply increased oil prices, but this was more of an excise tax on domestic production rather than a windfall profits tax. The tax was expensive to implement and resulted in lower than expected revenue, leading it to be repealed in 1988.

This type of government intervention is a bad idea because it punishes select companies and reduces investment in those sectors. Profit cyclicality is not exclusive to the oil industry and other sectors that are affected by commodity price fluctuations would suffer as well. These reduced investments could ultimately deprive American consumers and workers of important new breakthroughs and advancements.

The National Women’s History Museum

The National Women’s History Museum researches, collects and exhibits the contributions of women to America’s social, cultural, economic and political life. Founded in 1996, the museum is currently working to secure a permanent home on or near the National Mall. Until then, the museum shares its work through an online presence and educational programs.

According to data from NBC News, the 118th Congress is one of the oldest in recent history. The average age of a representative is 53 years old and the average for senators is 59.

The museum has a number of programs, exhibits and lectures that highlight trailblazing females in Colorado and across the country. One example is a house tour that focuses on the stories of Denver pioneers, including their inspiring daughters. The Center also hosts the annual Women Making History Awards. The award honors women who have made significant contributions to our nation’s history. Past winners include Sherie Randolph, who worked with SNCC to register Black voters; and Eleanor Holmes Norton, who advocated for a seat at the table for women in federal policy making.

The Government Funding Gap

The Constitution says, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” This means that the federal government can only spend as much as it has been allocated. When that limit is reached, a funding gap is created.

The recent government shutdown is the 18th since fiscal year 1977, but it was unusual in that no regular appropriations bills were enacted before it began. Most of the gaps occur in the form of stopgap “continuing resolutions” that keep the government running until lawmakers can pass a full budget bill.

BPC is working with Congress and lawmakers of both parties to reform the budget process. It’s time to get the system back on track so that Congress can regularly pass full appropriations bills before the October 1 deadline, rather than relying on multiple CRs. Ultimately, a fully funded budget should ensure adequate levels of discretionary spending while also providing the flexibility to reduce mandatory programs during economic downturns.