Weekly Legislative Update
Week of August 7, 2017
The House and Senate are both in summer recess until Tuesday, September 5. The House and Senate are scheduled to hold two "pro forma" sessions each week on Tuesday and Friday for the remainder of the summer recess, with no formal business being conducted. The Senate chose to hold pro forma sessions in order to prevent President Donald Trump from making recess appointments during August.
A long list of must-pass bills awaits lawmakers when they return in September. These include: passing a government funding bill to avoid a federal shutdown beginning Oct. 1; extending the government's borrowing authority by raising the debt ceiling to avoid a default on federal obligations on Sept. 29; and short-term extensions of programs with authorizations that expire on Sept. 30, including the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) power to collect ticket and fuel taxes to operate its air-traffic-control and safety programs; the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP); the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP); the EB-5 regional center foreign-investors visa program; and vocational-education grants under the Carl Perkins Act of 2006.
The House and Senate are also likely to begin hearings and markups in September related to tax reform, in the aftermath of the failure, by the Senate, to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Additional items that may be considered include: adoption of a FY 2018 Budget Resolution, which is needed to set the stage for a tax code overhaul using the reconciliation procedure that requires only 51 votes in the Senate for passage; and the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810).
President Trump is currently on a 17-day "working vacation" at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, returning to Washington, DC on Sunday, August 20.
The TFG Weekly Legislative Update will be taking a three-week break, returning the week of Sept. 5.
Senate Confirms 76 Trump Administration Nominations
During the week of July 31, the Senate voted to confirm a total of 76 Trump Administration nominations.
As of August 7
, 117 nominees who require Senate confirmation have been confirmed; 106 nominees have been formally nominated by the White House, but not yet confirmed; and 354 key executive nominations that require Senate confirmation have not yet been made or announced by the White House.
The Senate took recorded votes on the following four nominations:
- By a vote of 92-5, Christopher A. Wray to be the 8th Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation;
- By a vote of 66-31, Kevin C. Newsom to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit;
- By a vote of 50-48, Marvin Kaplan to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board; and
- By a vote of 79-17, Dan R. Brouillette to be Deputy Secretary of Energy.
- Richard V. Spencer, Secretary of the Navy;
- Ryan McCarthy, Under Secretary of the Army;
- Lucian Neimeyer, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment;
- Matthew Donovan, Under Secretary of the Air Force;
- Ellen Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics;
- Neal J. Rackleff, Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Community Planning and Development;
- Anna M. Farias, Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity;
- Althea Coetzee, Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration;
- David Pekoske, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration;
- Elinore F. McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, HHS;
- Lance A. Robertson, Assistant Secretary for Aging, HHS;
- Jessica Rosenworcel, Member of the Federal Communications Commission;
- Brendan Carr, Member of the Federal Communications Commission;
- Robert Sumwalt, Member of the National Transportation Safety Board;
- Mark Buzby, Administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration;
- Robert Sumwalt, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board;
- J. Christopher Giancarlo, Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission;
- Brian D. Quintenz, Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission;
- Rostin Behnam, Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission;
- Neil Chatterjee, Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and
- Robert F. Powelson, Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Senate Passes FDA Reauthorization Act
On August 3, the Senate passed, by a vote of
, the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 (
), which reauthorizes, for FYs 2018-2022, the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) critical medical product user fee program, ensuring the agency has the
tools it needs to more efficiently deliver safe and effective drugs and devices to patients.
The House previously passed the bill by voice vote on July 12, and the White House has
that President Trump will sign the bill into law. The also Senate passed a separate bill, the Trickett Wendler Right to Try Act of 2017 (
), which would expand access to experimental treatments for people with terminal illnesses
Senate Passes 33 Bills by Voice Vote/Unanimous Consent
During the week of July 31, the Senate passed 33 bills (see
) by either voice vote or Unanimous Consent. These bills include:
- Rapid DNA Act of 2017 (H.R. 510): establishes a system for the integration of Rapid DNA instruments for use by law enforcement to help reduce the DNA backlog;
- Elder Abuse Prevention and Protection Act of 2017 (S. 178): increases training for federal investigators and prosecutors and calls for the designation of at least one prosecutor in each federal judicial district who will be tasked with handling cases of elder abuse; ensures that the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection and the Justice Department will both have an elder justice coordinator; and increases penalties for perpetrators - including mandatory forfeiture;
- Pro bono Work to Empower and Represent (POWER) Act of 2017 (S. 717): directs that each year, the U.S. Attorney in each judicial district across the country hold at least one event, in partnership with domestic violence service providers or volunteer lawyer projects, which promotes pro bono legal services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault;
- Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S. 860): reauthorizes the original 1974 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Act, and takes steps to reduce the unnecessary incarceration of youth, improves safeguards for minors who encounter the justice system and strengthens services that encourage a smooth transition back into society;
- Senior Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 (S. 81): helps protect seniors from fraud schemes by strengthening the reporting system to ensure complaints of fraud are handled quickly by the appropriate law enforcement agencies;
- AFG and SAFER Program Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S. 829): reauthorizes, through FY 2023, the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs;
- Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless (MOBILE NOW) Act (S. 19): boosts the development of next-generation gigabit wireless broadband services, including 5G, by ensuring more spectrum is made available for commercial use and by reducing the red tape associated with building broadband networks;
- Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act (S. 88): convenes a working group of federal entities that would consult with private sector stakeholders to provide recommendations to Congress focusing on how to plan for, and encourage, the growth of the Internet of Things in the United States;
- Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2017 (S. 96): requires the FCC to establish quality and reliability standards for rural phone networks;
- Trickett Wendler Right to Try Act of 2017 (S. 204): aims to establish a new pathway for terminally ill patients to gain access to experimental drugs that have not been approved by the FDA;
- Jessie's Law (S. 581): helps ensure that medical professionals have full knowledge of their patient's previous opioid addiction if the patient gives consent; and
- Save our Seas (SOS) Act of 2017 (S. 756):boosts the federal government's domestic and international response to the millions of tons of plastic and other waste that litter shores, threaten ecosystems, and disrupt commerce; would also foster cooperation between the U.S. and other nations to confront the crisis worldwide.
Trump Signs Two Bills Into Law
On August 2, President Donald Trump
the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (
strengthens and expands statutory sanctions on Iran, Russia, and North Korea
. On August 4, President Trump
the Wounded Officers Recovery Act of 2017 (
), which allows the U.S. Capitol Police Memorial Fund to provide financial assistance to Capitol Police officers injured in the line of duty, including Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner, who were injured defending Members of Congress and others during the shooting at the June 14, 2017 practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity
Trump Announces Nominations to Administrative Posts
Last week, the White House announced that the following 29 nominations had been sent to the Senate for consideration:
- Daniel M. Gade to be a Member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for a term expiring July 1, 2021;
- Melissa S. Glynn to be an Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Enterprise Integration);
- John Henderson to be an Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Installations, Environment, and Energy;
- Robert J. Higdon, Jr. to be Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina for the term of four years;
- Thomas L. Kirsch II to be U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana for the term of four years;
- Ted McKinney to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs;
- John M. Mitnick to be General Counsel, Department of Homeland Security;
- Ryan D. Nelson to be Solicitor of the Department of the Interior;
- Richard Glick to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the term expiring June 30, 2022;
- Kevin J. McIntyre to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the remainder of the term expiring June 30, 2018 and to be a Member of FERC for the term expiring June 30, 2023. (Reappointment);
- Jamie McCourt to be U.S. Ambassador to France and Monaco;
- Scott C. Blader to be U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin for the term of four years;
- Michael B. Brennan to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals;
- Richard D. Buchan III to be U.S. Ambassador to Spain and Andorra;
- Donald C. Coggins, Jr. to be U.S. District Judge for the District of South Carolina;
- Elizabeth A. Copeland to be a Judge of the United States Tax Court for a term of fifteen years;
- Terry A. Doughty to be U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana;
- Robert M. Duncan, Jr. to be U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky for the term of four years;
- Leonard S. Grasz to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals;
- Thomas J. Hushek to be U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan; and
- Michael J. Juneau to be U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana;
- John R. Lausch to be U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois for the term of four years;
- J. Douglas Overbey to be U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee for the term of four years;
- Charles E. Peeler to be U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia for the term of four years;
- William J. Powell to be U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia for the term of four years;
- A. Marvin Quattlebaum, Jr. to be U.S. District Judge for the District of South Carolina;
- Holly L. Teeter to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Kansas;
- Patrick J. Urda to be a Judge of the United States Tax Court for a term of fifteen years; and
- Robert E. Wier to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky.