Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of August 27, 2018 
Congressional Outlook

The Senate is in session this week, while the House is in recess until September 4. The Senate will be considering 16 nominations, including: Lynn Johnson to be the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Family Support; Richard Clarida to be Vice Chairman and a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for a four-year term; Joseph Hunt to be an Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division; Isabel Patelunas to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Intelligence and Analysis; and 12 individuals to be U.S. District Judges in Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, Iowa, and Texas.
Senators are expected to enter into conference negotiations with the House within the next week in order to reconcile Senate-passed spending bills, with roughly five weeks-11 legislative working days-to hash out their differences and no concrete assurances that President Trump will sign any of the FY 2019 appropriations bills into law by Sept. 30 without a promise for funding for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said recently that the chamber plans to take action in September on things such as the minibus conference reports, the 2018 Farm Bill, the 2018 FAA Reauthorization bill as well as the nomination of Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
The Senate this week will also pay tribute to the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), whose body will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Friday, followed by a Saturday service at the Washington National Cathedral and a private burial on Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland.
On Tuesday, voters in Arizona and Florida will head to the polls to vote in Democratic and Republican primary elections for local, state, House and Senate races. Oklahoma will also hold primary runoff elections for four House races and several state races on Tuesday.
On Monday, President Trump and the First Lady will welcome Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his wife Margaret Kenyatta to the White House to "explore ways to bolster trade and investment between the two countries, while strengthening security cooperation"; the two will also host a dinner "celebrating Evangelical leadership"; on Tuesday, Trump will have lunch with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. On Wednesday, Trump will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Trump and the First Lady will host a reception for the White House Historical Association.
Week in Review

Senate Passes $854 Billion FY 2019 Defense and Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill
On August 23, the Senate passed, by a vote of 85-7, the "Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019" ( H.R. 6157), which covers nearly 70 percent of discretionary federal spending. The bill includes $675 billion for the Department of Defense ($607.1 billion in base funding and $67.9 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations); $12.1 billion for the Department of Labor; $90.1 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services; $71.4 billion for the Department of Education; and $5.7 billion for 14 independent federal agencies, including the Social Security Administration; National Labor Relations Board; National Mediation Board; Corporation for National and Community Service; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; and Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Senate also unanimously approved 57 amendments to the bill. The House and Senate will likely form a conference committee on this minibus package in September, in order to have it signed into law by Sept. 30, 2018, before the beginning of FY 2019. The White House provided its views on the minibus in a Statement of Administration Policy, as well as two letters sent by White House OMB Director Mick Mulvaney (see   here and here). A summary of the Defense section of the bill is available here and a summary of the Labor-HHS-Education section of the bill is available here. Read more.  
Sen. John McCain Dies at the Age of 81
On August 25, longtime Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) passed away at the age of 81 in his native Arizona due to glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. McCain served in the House from 1983-1987 and in the Senate from 1987-2018, where he served as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee since January 2015 and previously served as Chairman of the Senate Commerce and Indian Affairs Committees. Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey has stated that he will announce Sen. McCain's successor after his funeral has concluded on September 2 at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland. The appointee will serve until November 3, 2020, when a special election will be held for the remaining two years of Sen. McCain's six-year term that concludes on January 3, 2023. Possible appointees include McCain's wife Cindy; the governor's chief of staff, Kirk Adams; former Sen. Jon Kyl; state Treasuer Eileen Klein; businesswoman and diplomat Barbara Barrett; real estate development company president Karrin Taylor Robson; and former Reps. John Shadegg and Matt Salmon. Read more.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Wife Indicted on Dozens of Fraud and Campaign Finance Charges
On August 21, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and his wife, Margaret, were indicted on dozens of criminal charges including wire fraud and campaign finance crimes. The indictment, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, accuses the couple of converting more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for personal expenses and filing false campaign finance records with the Federal Election Commission to cover up the true nature of the expenses. The 60-count indictment accuses the couple of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, falsification of records and aiding and abetting in the prohibited use of campaign contributions. Within hours of its issuance, Hunter assailed the investigation as politically motivated just weeks before the fall campaign season gets underway. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) nevertheless announced that Hunter had been stripped of his committee assignments. Read more. 
EPA Announces New Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule
On August 21, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced that the EPA has proposed a new rule, entitled the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing coal-fired electric utility generating units and power plants across the country. The proposal establishes emission guidelines for states to use when developing plans to limit GHGs at their power plants. According to the EPA, the "ACE Rule replaced the prior administration's overly prescriptive and burdensome Clean Power Plan (CPP) and instead empowers states, promotes energy independence, and facilitates economic growth and job creation." The EPA will take public comments on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register (i.e., late October 2018) and will hold a public hearing. Read more.
U.S. and China Impose New Tariffs on Each Other
On August 22, the U.S. and China imposed fresh tariffs on $16 billion of each other's goods in the middle of trade talks aimed at averting the worsening conflict between the world's two biggest economies. China also said it would lodge a complaint about the new American tariffs to the World Trade Organization. The U.S. will collect an additional 25 percent in duties on Chinese imports ranging from motorcycles to steam turbines and railway cars, and the Chinese retaliation will see a similarly sized tax on items including coal, medical instruments, waste products, cars and buses. Read more. 
Education Department Considering Federal Education Grants to Put Guns in Schools
On August 23, it was reported that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering whether to allow states to use federal funding for academic enrichment and student services to buy guns for educators. The $1 billion student support program, known as the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, is intended for the country's poorest schools and calls for school districts to use the money toward three goals: providing a well-rounded education, improving school conditions for learning and improving the use of technology for digital literacy. However, the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law in December 2015, is silent on weapons purchases, and that omission would allow Secretary DeVos to use her discretion to approve or deny any state or district plans to use the enrichment grants under the measure for firearms and firearm training, unless Congress clarifies the law or bans such funding through legislative action. Read more.