Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of July 9, 2018 
Congressional Outlook

Both the House and Senate are in session this week. Starting tomorrow, the House will consider 16 bills and resolutions under suspension of the rules, which limits debate to 40 minutes, bars amendments and requires a two-thirds majority for passage or adoption. For the remainder of the week, the House will consider: a bill to reauthorize National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries programs through 2022 and give regional managers more flexibility over fisheries in federal waters and in resolving any conflicts with the Endangered Species Act and the Antiquities Act (H.R. 200); a bill to authorize appropriations for intelligence activities and to require assessments of cybersecurity threats to U.S. election systems and Russian efforts to influence elections in other countries (H.R. 6237); a bill to allow the Bureau of Reclamation to transfer ownership of water facilities to non-federal entities without an act of Congress (H.R. 3281); a bill to amend two wilderness study areas in Oregon (H.R. 2075); and a bill to require that independent regulatory agencies comply with reporting requirements related to unfunded federal mandates (H.R. 50). The Senate will spend the week considering nominations. 
The House will also welcome a new member this week. Michael Cloud (R-TX) was elected to serve out the remaining term of former Representative Blake Farenthold (R), who resigned late last year after settling a sexual harassment claim.
Finally, President Trump is set to announce his Supreme Court nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy at 9:00 p.m. tonight. It is reported that the President is deciding among four finalists, all federal appellate judges: Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit, Brett M. Kavanaugh of the District of Columbia Circuit, Raymond M. Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit, and Thomas M. Hardiman of the Third Circuit. All four were on a list of 25 candidates the White House compiled with input from the conservative Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. 
Week in Review

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt Resigns
On July 5, Scott Pruitt stepped down as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after numerous controversies regarding his spending habits, management practices and ethics lapses. Several of the allegations against Pruitt are now under review by EPA's Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office and others. Andrew Wheeler, the agency's top deputy, will become Acting Administrator today. Wheeler is not expected to change EPA policy priorities that were set in motion by Pruitt. Read more... 
Trump Administration Imposes Tariffs on $34 Billion Worth of Chinese Imports, China Responds In-Kind
After several months of threatening to levy certain Chinese imports, on July 6, the Trump Administration made good on its promise by imposing a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods. A total of 818 Chinese goods are affected by the tariffs, which largely target industrial goods in the aerospace, information and communications technology, robotics, industrial machinery, new materials, and automobiles sectors. "The list does not include goods commonly purchased by American consumers such as cellular telephones or televisions," according to the Office of the U.S Trade Representative. Some of the specific goods include cranes, bulldozers, oil and gas drilling platforms, harvesters and other large agricultural vehicles, some livestock and food processing equipment, printer and copy machine parts, machinery for making glass products such as light bulbs, aircraft engines and engine parts, boat motors, and lithium batteries. A second wave of tariffs is expected to be announced in a few weeks.  
China quickly responded by announcing an equal amount of tariffs on American imports, which largely target agricultural products. China said that the first $34 billion will be followed up by another $16 billion once the U.S.'s second wave of tariffs goes into effect in a few weeks. Some of the products impacted by China's tariffs include beef, pork, chicken, duck, salmon, tuna, cod, trout, lobster, crab, shrimp, oysters, mussels, milk, butter, various cheeses, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, almonds, pistachios, apples, prunes, lemons, wheat corn, rice, soybeans, whiskeys, tobacco, certain electric and hybrid cars, and many others. Read more... 
Interior Department Testing Process to Speed Up Reviews
The Department of Interior (DOI) is currently conducting a pilot program to test a process for speeding up Federal Register notices that aims to reduce review times from 100 days to 18 days. According to DOI spokeswoman Faith Vander Voort, the pilot process is as follows: once a state director recommends a Federal Register notice for publication to D.C., the notice is either cleared within headquarters and sent to publication or returned for deficiencies within 18 days. The pilot process is currently being used by the Bureau of Land Management's Colorado offices and is expected to "be expanded to other bureaus in the future," according to Voort. The pilot is part of the Department's overall reorganization initiative.   Read more...