Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of May 14, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are in session this week. The House will consider nine bills under suspension of the rules, including the Justice Served Act of 2018 (H.R. 4854), which would require the Justice Department to award grants to state and local governments to prosecute cases involving violent crime suspects identified through DNA evidence. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the Protect and Serve Act of 2018 (H.R. 5698), which would mandate that anyone convicted of intentionally harming or killing, or attempting to harm or kill, a police officer face 10 years to life in prison; the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks ( MISSION) Act of 2018 (S. 2372), which would consolidate programs allowing veterans to seek health care outside of the Veterans Affairs Department and also provide $5.2 billion in mandatory funding to extend the current Veterans Choice Program until it's replaced by the consolidated program a year after enactment; and the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2; i.e., the Farm Bill), which would reauthorize agriculture and nutrition programs for five years, covering nutrition assistance, commodity support, crop insurance, conservation, farm credit, rural development, forestry, horticulture, trade programs, and more.
 
The Senate will vote on four federal circuit court judicial nominations: Michael Scudder and Amy St. Eve to be Judges for the 7th Circuit (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin); Joel Carson III to be a Judge for the 10th Circuit (Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming); and John Nalbandian to be a Judge for the 6th Circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee). The Senate will also vote Wednesday on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) disapproval resolution (S.J. Res. 52) which would restore net neutrality rules repealed by the Federal Communications Commission this past December (and published in the Federal Register on February 22, 2018).
 
Lawmakers continue to work on a new set of spending bills for FY 2019. The House Appropriations Committee this week is marking up its FY19 Energy-Water Development, Agriculture, and Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bills, while the Interior-Environment and Transportation-HUD Subcommittees are marking up their FY19 bills. Several Senate Appropriations Subcommittees will be hearing testimony on FY 2019 budget proposals from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, FBI Director Chris Wray, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, and FTC Chairman Joseph Simons.
 
On Tuesday, voters in Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon, and Pennsylvania head to the polls to vote in Democratic and Republican primaries for local, state, and federal offices.
 
On Tuesday, P resident Trump is speaking at the 37th annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service and will then have lunch on Capitol Hill with Senate Republicans. On Wednesday, Trump hosts Uzbeki President Shavkat Mirziyoyev at the White House. On Thursday, Trump is having lunch with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Week in Review

Trump Administration Proposes $15.4 Billion Rescission in Past Budget Authority
 
On May 8, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) submitted a $15.4 billion rescission package to Congress, which proposes 38 rescissions of budget authority from programs under the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, and the Treasury, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency. Under the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, once the President submits his requests, funding proposed for rescission can be withheld for up to 45 calendar days while Congress is in session. During that time, Congress can take up the President's requests in one or more rescission bills, amend them with lawmakers' own proposals, or do nothing. Read more. 
Trump Administration Updates Federal Agency Regulatory Priority List
 
On May 9, the OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) released the Trump Administration's updated spring 2018 Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, a comprehensive list of all regulations that federal agencies will pursue or cut over the next 12 months. Central to President Trump's regulatory agenda is implementation of Executive Order (E.O.) 13771, which requires agencies to eliminate two rules for every new one they issue and to offset the cost of new rules. The spring agenda shows that the Trump Administration is working on 499 deregulatory actions and 133 regulatory actions subject to E.O. 13771. Read more.
Trump Announces Withdrawal of U.S. from Iran Nuclear Deal
 
On May 8, President Trump announced that the United States will pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, dealing a major blow to U.S. allies who had pushed for the United States to remain in the accord. Iran's government will now decide whether to withdraw or try to salvage what's left of the deal. Read more. 
Trump Signs Executive Order Regarding Federal Appointments for Military Spouses
 
On May 9, President Trump signed Executive Order (E.O.) 13832 entitled "Enhancing Noncompetitive Civil Service Appointments of Military Spouses," which would " provide significantly greater opportunity for military spouses to be considered for Federal competitive service positions." Read more.
Trump Signs Two Bills Into Law
 
During the week of May 7, President Trump signed the following two bills into law:
  • Public Law 115-170, the "Admiral Lloyd R. "Joe" Vasey Pacific War Commemorative Display Establishment Act," which authorizes the Pacific Historic Parks association to establish a commemorative display to honor members of the United States Armed Forces who served in the Pacific Theater of World War II; and
  • Public Law 115-171, the "Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act of 2017," which requires a report on the actions of certain foreign countries with regard to the disposition of Holocaust era assets.
Trump Administration Announces Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices
 
On May 11, the Trump Administration announced its long-awaited "Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-of-Pocket Costs." The Blueprint proposes to lower prescription drug prices, calling for modest changes to the way Medicare pays for costly drugs and changes to government rules that the Trump Administration says have allowed drugmakers and pharmacy-benefit managers to game the system. The announcement represented a shift for President Trump, who had said he would embrace more far-reaching ideas such as allowing the importation of lower-cost prescription drugs and letting Medicare directly negotiate with drugmakers. Read more.
Group of House Republicans Move to Force DACA Vote, in Defiance of Speaker Ryan
 
On May 9, a group of moderate House Republicans -Carlos Curbelo of Florida, Will Hurd of Texas, and California lawmakers Jeff Denham and David Valadao-filed a discharge petition that would force a series of votes on different immigration bills if 218 members sign on. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) opposes the maneuver being used, saying it would be a "spectacle on the floor." Read more.
Senate EPW Committee Unveils 2018 WRDA Bill
 
On May 8, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) introduced its version of legislation to reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The bill is entitled America's Water Infrastructure Act ( S. 2800). A section-by-section summary of the bill is available here. The EPW Committee is likely to markup the bill within the next several weeks, during which time the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is likely to unveil their version of the WRDA bill as well. Read more. 
House Passes CRA Disapproval Resolution Blocking 2013 CFPB Auto Guidance
 
On May 8, the House passed, by a vote of 234-175, a Congressional Review Act (CRA) disapproval resolution ( S.J. Res. 57) to block Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) guidance issued on March 21, 2013 that was meant to stop discriminatory markups on indirect loans made by car dealers. The vote marks the first time Congress has used its authority under the 1996 CRA to strike down an action taken by an agency years ago, instead of just within the narrow window prescribed by the law. The move also marked a broadening of how Congress has generally used the CRA to include regulatory guidance and not only formal agency rules that were recently issued. Under the terms of the CRA, S.J. Res. 57 will not only nullify the rule, but will also prevent the CFPB from considering a "substantially similar" rule in the future. The Senate passed the resolution on April 18 by a vote of 51-47, sending it to President Trump to be signed into law. Read more. 
House Passes Citizens Right to Know Act
 
On May 9, the House passed, by a vote of 221-197, the Citizens' Right to Know Act of 2018 ( H.R. 2152), which would  effectively favor the commercial bail system, also known as the "money bail system," by requiring state or local governments that use Department of Justice (DOJ) grant funding to pay for pretrial service programs, an alternative to money bail, to report and publish certain detailed and personal information to the DOJ annually about defendants using those programs. Any state or local government that fails to comply with the reporting requirement would receive a 100% reduction in their DOJ grant allocation. Read more.
House Passes Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act
 
On May 9, the House passed, by a vote of 230-185, the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act of 2018 (H.R. 5645), which would curb the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) authority to challenge mergers and acquisitions through administrative proceedings. The bill would also require the FTC to challenge proposed mergers or acquisitions through the federal courts rather than through its own administrative procedures. Read more.
House Passes Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act
 
On May 10, the House passed by a vote of 340-72, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2018 ( H.R. 3053), which would require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to issue a final decision to authorize construction of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada within 30 months. Read more. 
Senate Confirms Two Federal Appeals Court Judges, Three Additional Nominees by Voice Vote
 
During the week of May 7, the Senate confirmed the following two federal appeals court judges:
  • Kurt Engelhardt to be a Judge for the 5th Circuit (Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas), by a vote of 62-34; and
  • Michael Brennan to be a Judge for the 7th Circuit (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin), by a vote of 49-46.
The Senate also confirmed three nominees by voice vote:
  • Patrick Hovakimian to be a Member of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the United States for a term expiring September 30, 2020;
  • Gregory Forest to be U.S. Marshal for the Western District of North Carolina for the term of four years; and
  • Bradley Maxwell to be U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Illinois for the term of four years.
Senate Passes Improving Access to Behavioral Health IT Act
 
On May 7, the Senate passed, by Unanimous Consent, the Improving Access to Behavioral Health Information Technology Act (S. 1732) to help behavioral health care providers - like psychologists and psychiatric hospitals - adopt electronic health records. The legislation would authorize the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide incentives to adopt electronic health technology to behavioral health care providers, improving the coordination and quality of care for Americans with mental health, addiction, and other behavioral health care needs. Read more.
Senate Passes Firefighter Cancer Registry Act
 
On May 10, the Senate passed, by Unanimous Consent, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2017 (H.R. 931), which would create a national cancer registry for firefighters diagnosed with the deadly disease. The bill calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor and study the relationship between career-long exposure to dangerous fumes and toxins and the incidence of cancer in firefighters to determine if there is a link, and to develop better protective gear and prevention techniques. Read more.