Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of April 9, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are in session this week. The House will consider 6 bills under suspension of the rules, including a joint resolution (H.J. Res. 2) which proposes a constitutional amendment to require government spending to equal revenue starting five years after the amendment is ratified; the amendment would need two-thirds' majorities in both the House and Senate and ratification by 38 states to become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the Stress Test Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 4293), which scales back financial institution stress tests; the Financial Stability Oversight Council Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 4061), which requires non-bank companies labeled as systemically important financial institutions to have more opportunities to challenge their designation by the Financial Stability Oversight Council; and the Volcker Rule Regulatory Harmonization Act (H.R. 4790), which exempts insured banks with $10 billion or less in assets and limited trading activity from the Volcker Rule.
 
The Senate will vote on six nominations this week: Claria Boom to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky; John Ring to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board; Patrick Pizzella to be Deputy Secretary of Labor; Andrew Wheeler to be Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; John Broomes to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Kansas; and Rebecca Jennings to be U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Kentucky.
 
Two weeks after enacting the final FY 2018 appropriations legislation, lawmakers are ramping up work on a new set of spending bills for FY 2019. Seven Cabinet secretaries (Agriculture, Energy, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor, Transportation, and Treasury) are testifying before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in defense of their department budgets and priorities this week.
 
On Monday, Republican Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, was sworn-in to the Senate by Vice President Pence to succeed former Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), who resigned on April 1 due to health reasons. On Thursday, Rep.-elect Conor Lamb (D-PA) will be sworn-in to the House after winning a March 13 special election to succeed former Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), who resigned last October over a sex scandal. In addition, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) will officially take over the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee before budget hearings begin on Wednesday, replacing Sen. Cochran in the position.

On Tuesday, President Trump will meet with the emir of Qatar and host the University of Alabama football team at the White House. On Wednesday, Trump will sign into law the "Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017" (H.R. 1865), which proposes to combat online sex trafficking by providing new tools to law enforcement to prosecute criminal actor websites, which have hosted advertisements for prostitution and solicitation of victims of sex trafficking. On Thursday, Trump will have lunch with Vice President Pence and will give a speech that the White House says will be about tax cuts. On Friday, Trump flies to Lima, Peru to attend the Summit of the Americas to discuss immigration, border security, and trade issues, and will meet with Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski; following the President's participation at the summit, he will travel to Colombia to meet with President Juan Manuel Santos.
Week in Review

Trump Signs Memorandum on Securing the Southern Border of the United States
 
On April 4, President Trump signed a Memorandum for the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security entitled "Securing the Southern Border of the United States." The Memo authorizes the three Cabinet members to deploy 2,000-4,000 National Guard units to the southern border with Mexico and that the troops "or a large portion of them" will remain until a border wall is built. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she is working with the governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas on the deployment plan to "start the negotiations." Read more... 
Trump Signs Memorandum on Ending 'Catch and Release' at the Southern Border
 
On April 6, President Trump signed a Memorandum for the Attorney General and the Secretaries of State, Defense, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services entitled "Ending 'Catch and Release' at the Border of the United States and Directing Other Enhancement to Immigration Enforcement." The Memo directs his Administration to promptly submit reports laying out what further steps are needed to "strengthen immigration enforcement, secure our border, and end 'catch and release,' the dangerous practice whereby aliens who have violated our Nation's immigration laws are released into the United States shortly after their apprehension." Read more... 
Trump Threatens to Impose New Tariffs on Chinese Imports
 
On April 5, President Trump threatened to impose new tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese imports, on top of tariffs the administration had already announced regarding $50 billion in U.S. imports of Chinese products like motor vehicles and home appliances. China hit back at the administration's first announcement, proposing $50 billion worth of tariffs on U.S. soybeans, cars, chemicals and other goods. Read more...
States, Cities Sue Trump Administration Over Census Citizenship Question
 
On April 3, seventeen states, the District of Columbia, and six cities filed a lawsuit against the federal government, arguing that the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census form is unconstitutional. The suit, in which the U.S. Conference of Mayors is also a plaintiff, said that adding the citizenship question to the form was arbitrary and will "fatally undermine the accuracy of the population count." Read more... 
Trump Administration Sues California Over State Law on Federal Land Transfers
 
On April 2, the Trump administration sued the state of California, attempting to block a state law that limits transfers of federal lands. The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Sacramento, argues that the law is unconstitutional because it interferes with Congress' right to control the sale of federal property. Read more... 
Justice Department Imposes Quotas on Immigration Judges
 
On April 3, the Justice Department introduced production quotas for immigration judges in an effort to reduce court backlogs, a move that raises concerns among judges and attorneys that legal decisions may be rushed. The standards by the department's Executive Office for Immigration Review, which include six other measures set to take effect Oct. 1, said judges must complete 700 cases a year to earn a satisfactory grade. Read more... 
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) Resigns; Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) Announces Retirement
 
On April 6, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), who previously announced he was retiring from Congress at the end of 2018, abruptly resigned. In 2017, revelations came out that Farenthold was engaged in lewd and abusive behavior towards several of his staffers. On April 2, Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) announced her retirement at the end of 2018, amid criticism of her handling of domestic violence allegations against her now-former chief of staff by a female staffer.
U.S. Imposes New Sanctions on Senior Russian Politicians
 
On April 6, the Trump Administration imposed new sanctions on senior Russian politicians, companies and business leaders. The sanctions list cites attempts by Russia to undermine Western democracies, support of Ukrainian separatists and Russia's backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The sanctions target 17 Russian government officials, a state-owned weapons trading company, seven oligarchs and 12 companies affiliated with them. Read more...
Trump Signs Four Bills Into Law
 
On April 3 and 4, President Trump signed the following four bills into law:
  • Public Law 115-160, the "Secret Service Recruitment and Retention Act of 2018," which extends through 2018 the waiver that allows U.S. Secret Service employees performing protective services to receive premium pay up to level II of the Executive Schedule;
  •  Public Law 115-161, the "Ceiling Fan Energy Conservation Harmonization Act," which harmonizes the date of compliance with energy conservation standards for ceiling fan light kits and ceiling fan motors;
  •  Public Law 115-162, which designates a facility of the United States Postal Service located at 621 Kansas Avenue in Atchison, Kansas, as the Amelia Earhart Post Office Building; and
  • Public Law 115-163, the "Kennedy-King National Commemorative Site Act," which designates the Landmark for Peace Memorial, in Indianapolis, Indiana, as the Kennedy-King National Commemorative Site.
Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Five Individuals to Key Administrative Posts
 
During the week of April 2, President Trump announced his intent to nominate five individuals to positions in the Trump Administration, including:
  • Justin Muzinich to be the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury;
  • Duane Caneva to be Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Homeland Security;
  • Rubydee Calvert to be a Member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as the Public TV Stations Representative, for the remainder of a six-year term expiring January 31, 2022;
  • Laura Ross to be a Member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the remainder of a six-year term expiring January 31, 2022; and
  • Heidi King to be Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Department of Transportation.