Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of September 4, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are both in session this week. The House will consider 15 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2018 (H.R. 4318), which would temporarily reduce or eliminate import duties for more than 1,600 items. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on a motion to go to conference with the Senate on the $854 billion FY 2019 Defense-Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations minibus package (H.R. 6157); the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (H.R. 1635), which would expand financial counseling for students who take out federal loans and grants; the Ensuring Small Scale LNG Certainty and Access Act (H.R. 4606), which would expedite the approval process for applications to import or export small volumes of liquefied natural gas; and the Community Security and Safety Act of 2018 (H.R. 6691), which would rewrite the statutory definition of "crime of violence" to include specific offenses, including murder, assault, sexual abuse, burglary, and terrorism. The House may also consider the House-Senate Conference Report for the $145 billion FY 2019 Energy and Water Development-Legislative Branch-Military Construction and VA Appropriations minibus package (H.R. 5895), if it's ready for action.
 
The Senate will vote on Elad Roisman to be a member of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and will then consider eight federal district judgeships for Pennsylvania, Florida, Connecticut, Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also stated last week that the Senate would be ready to take up a package of bills to address the opioid crisis as soon as this week. The package, led by the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 (S. 2680), developed by the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, represents the work of four panels. If passed, the package would have to be reconciled with a package of opioid-related legislation, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), which the House passed on June 22 by a vote of 396-14.
 
The Senate Judiciary Committee this week is holding several days of contentious nomination hearings for DC Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, succeeding former Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired on July 31. The House-Senate conference committee crafting a 2018 Farm Bill (H.R. 2) will also meet for the first time this Wednesday, as lawmakers try to sort out competing approaches to conservation, low-income nutrition and other programs. Although most of the heavy work falls on committee staff and the top four leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, the meeting of conferees could shed light on which direction a final bill seems likely to go.
 
This week, voters in Massachusetts and Delaware will head to the polls to vote in Democratic and Republican primary elections for local, state, House and Senate races. Additionally, on Tuesday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey named former Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) to succeed Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in the Senate. Kyl, who previously served in the Senate from 1995-2013, has agreed to serve at least through the end of 2018, however, he may serve until November 2020 if he chooses, at which a point a special Senate election would occur to elect a new Senator for the remaining two years of Sen. McCain's six year term through January 3, 2023.
 
On Tuesday, President Trump met with the United States Travel Association CEOs. On Wednesday, Trump will meet with the Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Sabah, at the White House. On Thursday, Trump will travel to Billings, Montana for a campaign rally with Senate candidate Matt Rosendale.
Week in Review

Senate Confirms 33 Nominees
 
On August 28, the Senate confirmed 33 nominees to the Trump Administration and federal judiciary, including five by recorded vote and 28 by voice vote. These nominations include:
  • Lynn Johnson to be the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Family Support, confirmed by a vote of 67-28;
  • Richard Clarida to be Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for a four-year term, confirmed by a vote of 69-26;
  • Joseph Hunt to be an Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, confirmed by a vote of 72-23;
  • Isabel Patelunas to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Intelligence and Analysis, confirmed by a vote of 75-20;
  • Karen Evans to be Assistant Secretary of Energy for Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response, confirmed by voice vote;
  • Dawn Stump and Dan Berkovitz to be Commissioners of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, confirmed by voice vote
  • James Hubbard to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment, confirmed by voice vote; and
  • James Anderson to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities, confirmed by voice vote.
Trump Signs Executive Order on Strengthening Retirement Security in America
 
On August 31, President Trump signed Executive Order (E.O.) 13847, entitled "Strengthening Retirement Security in America." The E.O. directs the Departments of Labor and the Treasury to consider issuing regulations and guidance that would make it easier for businesses to offer retirement plans; the Departments will consider changes to make it easier for businesses to join together to offer Association Retirement Plans (ARPs), also known as Multiple Employer Plans. The E.O. also directs the Departments of Labor and the Treasury to consider ways to improve notice requirements to reduce paperwork and administrative burdens, and for the Treasury Department to review the rules on required minimum distributions from retirement plans to see if retirees could keep more money in 401(k)s and Individual Retirement Accounts for longer. Read more.
Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Several Individuals to Administration
 
On August 31, President Trump announced his intention to nominate and appoint several individuals to the Trump Administration, including:
  • Alexandra Dunn to be an Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency for Toxic Substances;
  • Raymond Vela to be Director of the National Park Service, Department of the Interior;
  • Jay Angle to be Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Department of Agriculture, for a term of six years; and
  • Jayne Harkins to be the Commissioner of the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission for United States and Mexico.