Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of August 13, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The Senate returns to DC this week on Wednesday, while the House is in recess until September 4. The Senate will consider the nominations of A. Marvin Quattlebaum, Jr. and Julius Richardson to be U.S. Circuit Judges for the Fourth Circuit. The Senate will then begin consideration of its FY 2019 $675 billion Defense (S. 3159) and $179.3 billion Labor-HHS-Education (S. 3158) Appropriations bills, which covers nearly 70 percent of discretionary federal spending, combining the military funds that Republicans support with the domestic programs that Democrats prioritize.
 
The minibus package includes: $2.8 billion for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grants to states; $3.7 billion to fight opioid abuse, with funds targeted towards improving treatment and prevention efforts, finding alternative pain medications, workforce needs, and behavioral health; $3.4 billion for mental health treatment, prevention, and research; $5.2 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program; $10.1 billion for Head Start; $3.7 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP); $242 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services; $445 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; and $1.1 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service.
 
Notable Senate hearings this week include an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing to "Examine Implementation of Clean Water Act Section 401 and S. 3303, the Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2018"; a Commerce Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission"; and a Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing entitled "Oversight of Efforts to Protect Unaccompanied Alien Children from Human Trafficking and Abuse."
 
On Tuesday, voters in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin head to the polls to vote in Democratic and Republican primary elections for local, state, and House and Senate races.
 
On Monday, President Trump will travel to Hanger 2060 in Fort Drum, New York, to give remarks and sign the "John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019" (H.R. 5515) into law; Trump is then heading to Utica, New York, where he will meet with supporters at a Hilton and attend a political fundraiser before returning to Washington. On Tuesday, Trump will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and on Thursday he will hold a Cabinet meeting and have lunch with Vice President Pence.
Week in Review

Trump Administration Encourages States to Take Over Water Permitting
 
On August 7, it was reported that the Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are encouraging states to take over their controversial Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting program and are boosting their process for allowing them to do so. The process of obtaining a dredge-and-fill permit can be one of the most time consuming and expensive aspects of major projects for industries such as mining, homebuilding and oil and gas. The Trump Administration says its goal is to streamline that process, allowing states to be one-stop shops by assuming responsibility for implementing that part of the CWA. A July 30 memo from R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, marks the first step in that process. James outlined a narrow interpretation of the CWA's requirement for the federal government to retain oversight of waterways used for interstate navigation, a move that would allow states to assume control of over most wetlands and streams within their boundaries. The issue is entirely separate from the question of which waterways are protected under the CWA - the fight over the definition of Waters of the United States. EPA, which holds ultimate oversight of the 404 program, is also updating its regulations for how the program can be taken over by the states, according to David Ross, EPA's Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water. Read more. 
Trump Administration Announces Plan for Creation of Space Force
 
On August 9, Vice President Mike Pence announced, at the Pentagon, the Trump Administration's plans to create a sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, the United States Space Force. The plan would begin creating a military command dedicated to space and establish a "Space Force" as soon as 2020, the first since the Air Force was formed in 1947. Pence warned of the advancements that potential adversaries are making and issued what amounted to a call to arms to preserve the military's dominance in space. But the monumental task of standing up a new military department, which would require approval by Congress, may require significant new spending and a reorganization of the largest bureaucracy in the world. And the idea has already run into fierce opposition inside and outside the Pentagon, particularly from the Air Force, which could lose some of its responsibilities. Read more. 
Trump Reimposes Sanctions on Iran
 
On August 6, President Trump signed Executive Order (E.O.) 13846, "Reimposing Certain Sanctions With Respect to Iran." The E.O. reimposed, effective August 7, numerous sanctions affecting financial transactions that involve U.S. dollars, Iran's automotive sector, the purchase of commercial planes and metals including gold. A second batch of U.S sanctions targeting Iran's oil sector and central bank are set to be reimposed on November 5, 2018. The sanctions were originally lifted by the U.S. in connection with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Act of July 14, 2015 (JCPOA), which Trump pulled out of on May 8 and stated is " a horrible, one-sided deal, failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb, and it threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos." Read more.