Weekly Legislative Update
Week of April 2, 2018
The House and Senate are in recess this week, returning to Washington the week of April 9. When the House returns, it will consider the Financial Stability Oversight Council Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 4061), which amends the Dodd-Frank Act to require the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), when determining whether to subject a U.S. or a foreign nonbank financial company to supervision by the Federal Reserve, to consider the appropriateness of imposing heightened prudential standards as opposed to other forms of regulation to mitigate identified risks to U.S. financial stability. Additionally, the House will likely consider a vote on a "balanced-budget amendment" to the U.S. Constitution next week.
The Senate will vote on six nominations next week:
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.
Key dates facing Congress during the remainder of 2018 include: (1) reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by July 31; (2) reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by September 30; and (3) passing a FY 2019 appropriations bill, or Continuing Resolution (CR), by September 30. Other legislative priorities for 2018 include the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act; the 2018 Farm Bill; the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA); and an omnibus energy package, among other issues such as immigration, infrastructure, and further action on the opioid crisis.
Trump Fires VA Secretary David Shulkin
On March 28, President Trump fired U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, by tweet, and nominated White House physician Ronny Jackson to replace him. Shulkin said in an interview that he was standing in the way of political forces in the Trump administration that want to privatize the VA and that the White House did not allow him to respond to defend himself against the controversies involving expensive travel. Key congressional Republicans-already facing a stack of Trump nominees in the Senate-are taking a cautious approach to Trump's nomination of Jackson to lead the VA. Read more...
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Orders Reinstatement of Citizenship Question in 2020 Census Questionnaire
On March 26, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross
his decision that the 2020 Census will include a question on citizenship status, which has not appeared on the Census since 1950. The Commerce Department said it was making the change, which was required to present to Congress on the final questionnaire by March 31, to help the Justice Department's efforts to enforce the Voting Rights Act. Critics suggest the revival of a citizenship question could undermine the proper count in minority communities, particularly in those with large populations of undocumented immigrants. New York, California, and other states vowed on March 27 to stop the U.S. government from asking the citizenship question.
Trump Signs Four Bills Into Law
On March 26 and 27, President Trump signed the following four bills into law:
- Public Law 115-156, the "Removing Outdated Restrictions to Allow for Job Growth," which directs the Secretary of Agriculture to release the deed restriction pertaining to certain land previously conveyed to the City of Old Town, Maine;
- Public Law 115-157, a bill which redesignates the Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center in Fargo, North Dakota, as the Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center;
- Public Law 115-158, the "Eliminating Government-funded Oil-painting Act," which prohibits the use of Federal funds for the costs of painting portraits of officers and employees of the Federal Government; and
- Public Law 115-159, the "State Veteran Home Adult Day Health Care Improvement Act of 2017," which requires VA to expand alternative services for veterans eligible for nursing home care.
Trump Scores His First Revised Trade Deal, with South Korea
March 28, the White House announced President Trump's first revamp of a U.S. trade deal,
an agreement with South Korea
that would allow U.S. automakers greater access to the country's markets.
Seoul has agreed to double to 50,000 the number of cars each U.S. automaker can sell in South Korea without meeting local safety standards. Under the revamped deal, the U.S. will extend a 25-percent tariff on pickup-truck imports until 2041. The tariff was set to expire in 2021 under the existing trade agreement, the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS), which came into force in 2012. Meanwhile, South Korea agreed to limit its steel exports to the U.S. to about 2.7 million tons of year, in exchange for relief from the 25-percent tariff Trump announced earlier this month. Later in the week,
he may "hold up" the trade deal finalized with South Korea in an effort to gain more leverage ahead of potential talks with North Korea. Read more...
Trump Expels 60 Russian Diplomats from U.S.; Russia Expels 60 American Diplomats from Russia
On March 26, President Trump
the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats the U.S. identified as intelligence agents and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle, the most forceful action Trump has taken against Russia to date, in response to Russia's alleged use of a nerve agent to poison a former Russian spy living in the U.K.. Of those being expelled, 48 work at the Russian embassy in Washington as 12 are posted at the United Nations in New York. On March 29, Russia escalated the confrontation with the U.S. by expelling 60 American diplomats and unspecified number of envoys from other countries.
Attorney General Sessions Says He Won't Approve Second Special Counsel
On March 29, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he will not appoint a special counsel to investigate a range of allegations from congressional Republicans regarding actions at the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In a
to the chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Judiciary Committee, and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Sessions said he directed U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah John Huber to continue an internal review into whether a special counsel may be needed in the future.
Senate Confirms 29 Trump Administration Nominees
During the weeks of March 12 and 19, the Senate confirmed the 28 following Trump Administration nominees by voice vote, in addition to confirming
to be Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection by a recorded vote of
- Gilbert Kaplan to be Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade;
- Jeffrey DeWit to be Chief Financial Officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration;
- Nazakhtar Nikakhtar to be an Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis;
- William McSwain to be U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for the term of four years;
- Matthew Harris to be U.S. Marshal for the District of Utah for the term of four years;
- Johnny Kuhlman to be U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Oklahoma for the term of four years;
- Joseph McClain to be U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Indiana for the term of four years;
- David Weaver to be U.S. Marshal for the District of Colorado for the term of four years;
- David Ryder to be Director of the Mint for a term of five years;
- Thomas Workman to be a Member of the Financial Stability Oversight Council for a term of six years;
- Thomas Cullen to be U.S.Attorney for the Western District of Virginia for the term of four years;
- Robert Hur to be U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland for the term of four years;
- David Joseph to be U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana for the term of four years;
- Steven Mnuchin to be U.S. Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, U.S. Governor of the African Development Fund, U.S. Governor of the Asian Development Bank, and U.S. Governor of the International Monetary Fund;
- Anne White to be an Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environmental Management;
- Brent Park to be Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, National Nuclear Security Administration;
- James Williams to be Chief Financial Officer, Department of Labor;
- Mark Schneider to be Director of the Institute of Education Science, Department of Education for a term of six years;
- Carlos Trujillo to be Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the Organization of American States;
- Robert Pence to be U.S. Ambassador to Finland;
- Edward Prado to be U.S. Ambassador to Argentina;
- Trevor Traina to be U.S. Ambassador to Austria;
- Erik Bethel to be U.S. Alternate Executive Director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a term of two years;
- Judy Shelton to be U.S. Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development;
- Kevin Moley to be an Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs;
- Josephine Olsen to be Director of the Peace Corps;
- Marie Royce to be an Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs; and
- Tim Thomas to be Federal Cochairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Trump Announces Intent to Nominate 13 Individuals to Key Administrative Posts
During the weeks of March 12, 19, and 26, President Trump announced his intent to nominate 13 individuals to positions in the Trump Administration, including:
- Aimee Jorjani to be Chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation for the remainder of a four year term expiring on June 10, 2021;
- Mark Schultz to be Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, Department of Education;
- Joseph Mondello to be U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad & Tobago;
- Stephen Akard to be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions (with the Rank of Ambassador), Department of State;
- Sharon Gustafson to be General Counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for a term of four years;
- Michael Faulkender to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy;
- William McIntosh to be an Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency for International and Tribal Affairs;
- Kenneth George to be U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay;
- Rebecca Slaughter to be a Member of the Federal Trade Commission for the remainder of a seven-year term expiring September 25, 2022;
- James Anderson to be an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities;
- John Rakolta, Jr. to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates;
- Kyle McCarter to be U.S. Ambassador to Kenya;
- Mark Rosen to be the U.S. Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund for a term of two years.