Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of April 30, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are in recess this week. Next week, the House will likely vote on a Senate-passed 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. During the week of May 14, the House will vote on the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), which the House Agriculture Committee marked up and passed on April 18 by a party-line vote of 26-20.
 
The Senate next week will vote on six federal circuit court judicial nominations: Kurt Engelhardt to be Judge for the 5th Circuit (Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas); Joel Carson III to be Judge for the 10th Circuit (Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming); John Nalbandian to be Judge for the 6th Circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee); and Michael Brennan, Michael Scudder, and Amy St. Eve to be Judges for the 7th Circuit (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin). Senate Democrats are also preparing to force a floor vote to restore net neutrality rules repealed by President Trump's Federal Communications Commission this past December, creating a public clash they hope will help them in the midterm elections. Democrats are planning to take the procedural step May 9 to compel the vote on the CRA disapproval resolution (S.J. Res. 52), which could set up the vote as soon as the week of May 14. Senate Democrats have 50 votes lined up - more than enough to force a vote under the Congressional Review Act, but one shy of the 51 required for passage; Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is the only Republican who has pledged support for the effort so far.
 
On Monday, President Trump is meetingwith Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. On Tuesady, Trump presents the Commander in Chief's trophy to the Army football team, meets with the crew of Southwest Flight 1380 and meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. On Wednesday, Trump speaks at the National Teacher of the Year reception. On Thursday, Trump participates in an event for the National Day of Prayer. On Friday or Saturday, Trump is likely to address the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Dallas, Texas.
Week in Review

House Passes FAA Reauthorization Bill
 
On April 27, the House passed, by a vote of 393-13, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 4), which reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration through FY 2023; the current FAA authorization expires on Sept 30, 2018. Title VI of the bill includes the text of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA), which includes "bipartisan FEMA reforms providing greater focus on pre-disaster mitigation in order to lessen the impacts of future disasters, saving lives and saving taxpayer dollars." A section-by-section summary of H.R. 4 is available here, and more detailed information on the FAA provisions of the bill and the DRRA are available here and here. The House also considered 113 amendments to H.R. 4, approving 105 and rejecting 8. The Trump Administration issued a Statement of Administration for H.R. 4, stating that " The Administration appreciates the House's commitment to passing a timely bill to reauthorize the FAA and looks forward to working with all Members to enact legislation that modernizes our aviation systems, appropriately strengthens the Government's ability to respond to and address UAS threats, reduces regulatory burdens, and protects taxpayer dollars." H.R. 4 now heads to the Senate for consideration within the next several months. Read more.
Trump Signs Two Bills Into Law
 
On April 23, President Trump signed the following two bills into law:
  • Public Law 115-167, the "AGOA and MCA Modernization Act," which amends and provides additional authorities related to the African Growth and Opportunity Act and the Millennium Challenge Act; and
  • Public Law 115-168, the "Keep America's Refuges Operational Act," which authorizes appropriations for programs that provide for the volunteer, community partnership, and educational activities of national wildlife refuges.
VA Secretary Nominee Ronny Jackson Withdraws Nomination
 
On April 26, Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson withdrew himself from consideration to be U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs after lawmakers received damaging allegations that he created a toxic work environment, drunkenly wrecked a car and maintained poor prescription records while serving in the federal government. Jackson has served as the White House Physician since 2013. Read more.
Third Federal Judge Rules Against Trump Move to End DACA
 
On April 24, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates ruled against the Trump Administration's justification for winding down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, saying the Department of Homeland Security's explanation was unpersuasive and too flimsy. The decision opened up the possibility that the administration could be ordered to take new DACA applications, which no other judge has required, if DHS does not come up with a new explanation for ending the program. Read more. 
Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Bill to Protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller
 
On April 26, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 14-7 to approve a bill that would protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired without cause, even though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said the measure will not get a vote on the Senate floor. The bill, the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act ( S. 2644), was supported by all 10 Democratic Senators on the Committee, in addition to Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Read more. 
Trump Signs Memorandum Maintaining Secrecy Over Some Classified JFK Assassination Documents
 
On April 26, President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies stating that he will be withholding, until October 26, 2021, the publication of some documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy because of national security concerns. Read more.
Republican Debbie Lesko Wins Special Arizona House Election
 
On April 24, former Republican state senator Debbie Lesko defeated Democratic physician Hiral Tipirneni in a special election in Arizona's 8th Congressional District to fill the vacancy left by former Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), who resigned on December 8, 2017 over sexual misconduct allegations. Lesko defeated Tiperneni by 5.2 percentage points ( 52.6% to 47.4%) in a Congressional District that President Trump won by 21 percentage points in 2016. Lesko will be sworn into the House on May 7. Read more. 
House Passes Bill Related to Columbia and Snake River Dams and Salmon
 
On April 25, the House passed, by a vote of 225-189, a bill ( H.R. 3144) to require dams along the Columbia River and its tributaries in the Pacific Northwest to continue using current practices regarding salmon until at least 2022, and block any action that restricts electrical generation at federal dams on the Snake River, a tributary of the Columbia River, without further congressional action explicitly authorizing it. The current Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) operation plan was struck down by the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in 2016 after it found that the plan was inadequate and jeopardized the existence of several listed salmon and steelhead fish species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Read more. 
Senate Confirms Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, in addition to 27 other nominees
 
On April 26, the Senate confirmed, by a vote of 57-42, former CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be the 70th U.S. Secretary of State; he was sworn into office later that same day by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. In addition to all 50 present Senate Republicans voting in favor of his nomination, seven Senate Democratic Caucus also voted for Pompeo: Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Doug Jones (D-AL), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Bill Nelson (D-FL). The Senate last week also confirmed, by recorded vote:
  • Stuart Kyle Duncan to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit (Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas), by a vote of 50-47; and
  • Richard Grenell to be the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, by a vote of 56-42.
The Senate also reached an agreement to approve 25 nominations by voice vote last week, including:
  • Lt. General Paul Nakasone to be Commander of U.S. Cyber Command and Director of the National Security Agency;
  • Mick Zais to be Deputy Secretary of Education;
  • Kenneth Barbic to be an Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Congressional Affairs;
  • Rebecca Slaughter to be a Federal Trade Commissioner for the term of seven years from September 26, 2015;
  • Rohit Chopra to be a Federal Trade Commissioner for the unexpired term of seven years from September 26, 2012;
  • Noah Phillips to be a Federal Trade Commissioner for the term of seven years from September 26, 2016;
  • Joseph Simons to be a Federal Trade Commissioner for the term of seven years from September 26, 2016;
  • Christine Wilson to be a Federal Trade Commissioner for term of seven years from September 26, 2018 and for the unexpired term of seven years from September 26, 2011;
  • Jon Peede to be Chairperson of the National Endowment for the Humanities for a term of four years;
  • Timothy Garrison to be U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri for the term of four years;
  • Kenji Price to be U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii for the term of four years; and
  • Nicola Hanna to be U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California for the term of four years.
Trump Announces Intent to Nominate/Appoint 19 Individuals to Key Administrative Posts

During the week of April 23, President Trump announced his intent to nominate or appoint 19 individuals to positions in the Trump Administration, including:
  • James Carroll Jr. to be Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy;
  • Jeffrey Gerrish to be Acting President of the Export-Import Bank;
  • James Reeder to be a member of the Mississippi River Commission for a term of nine years;
  • A.J. Hicks to be a non-voting member of the Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency;
  • A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. to be Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia);
  • Julius "Jay" Richardson to be Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit;
  • Richard Sullivan to be Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Connecticut, New York, Vermont);
  • Roy Altman to be District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida;
  • Thomas Barber to be District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida;
  • Rodolfo "Rudy" Ruiz II to be District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida;
  • Rodney Smith to be District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida;
  • T. Kent Wetherell II to be District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida;
  • Richard Hertling to be a Judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims;
  • Kim Gaffney to be U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Wisconsin;
  • Denny King to be U.S. Marshal for the Middle District of Tennessee;
  • Susan Pamerleau to be U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Texas;
  • Barrett Rich to be U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Tennessee;
  • Richard Taylor Jr. to be U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Texas; and
  • Enoch "Nick" Willard to be U.S. Marshal for the District of New Hampshire.