Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of February 5, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are both in session this week. The House will consider nine bills under suspension of the rules, including the Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act (H.R. 2371), which would require WAPA to post data about its prices, operating costs, and financial management on its website. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017 (H.R. 772), which would provide restaurants and retail food establishments more discretion in how they display nutritional information on menus; and the Mortgage Choice Act of 2017 (H.R. 1153), which would relax a restriction on fees paid to lender-affiliated title companies in "qualified mortgage" transactions. It will be another truncated week for the House, as House Democrats hold their annual legislative retreat on Maryland's Eastern shore in Cambridge, MD from Wednesday-Friday.
 
On Monday, the Senate will vote on the nomination of Andrei Iancu to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
 
Congress confronts another funding deadline this week, although with scant chance of a government shutdown this time. Congress is set to vote on a fifth Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government running after midnight Thursday. House Republicans are working on a measure to extend government funding, at enacted FY 2017 levels, through Friday, March 23, although a final decision has not yet been made. The CR may also include raising the debt limit in order to avoid a federal default in late February-mid March; additional disaster aid for Florida, Texas, California, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands; $90 million in additional funding for the Internal Revenue Service to help carry out the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act; and funding flexibility for the military, including to help contractors stay on schedule for certain shipbuilding deliveries.
 
This time Senate Democrats are not threaten ing a government shutdown, saying they anticipate sufficient progress in bipartisan talks over a measure that would extend protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said there will be a Senate floor debate on an immigration measure if an agreement is not reached by Feb. 8. Even if the Senate can muster the 60 votes needed to advance such a bill, prospects are far from rosy in the House, where conservatives are demanding border wall funding and restrictions on family visas. Another temporary funding patch is necessary because leaders are still negotiating a larger spending package for the remainder of FY 2018. That would entail reaching a bipartisan agreement on raising spending caps for defense and non-military programs.
 
President Trump and the First Lady traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday to participate in a "meet and greet" and briefing on opioids at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Trump also toured Sheffer Corporation and delivered remarks on tax reform. Vice President Mike Pence departed on Monday for South Korea to lead the Presidential Delegation for the Opening Ceremony and events of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games, which begins Friday.
Week in Review

Trump Delivers First State of the Union Address
 
On January 30, President Trump delivered his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Trump renewed his pledge to offer a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants, but only as part of a broader package of changes to immigration policies. In the 80-minute speech he also called for $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure spending and partnerships with states and the private sector, and said he signed an executive order directing the Pentagon to keep open the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and re-examine the military's detention policy. Read more... 
House and Senate GOP Attend Policy Retreat
 
From Jan. 31--Feb. 2, the House and Senate Republican Conferences attended a policy retreat at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia to discuss their policy agenda for 2018. President Trump spoke to the attendees as well, echoing his State of the Union speech and advising his party that in order to advance an agenda in 2018, compromise is a necessity. The Senate Democratic Conference also held their retreat at Mount Vernon in Virginia. Read more...
EPA/Corps Finalize Delay in Obama-era WOTUS Rule

On January 31, the Trump Administration finalized a delay in the "applicability date" of the 2015 Clean Water Rule regulating "waters of the U.S." (WOTUS) for two years. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers first proposed delaying the WOTUS rule in December 2017, arguing that the delay would provide nationwide consistency in the regulation if the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals' stay of the regulation were invalidated. Confirming the Administration's fears, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that district courts have jurisdiction over legal challenges to the WOTUS rule. While the 6th Circuit stay remains in place for now, it will be withdrawn imminently, something the Administration mentions in its final regulation delaying the Obama-era rule. Read more... 
House Passes FY 2018 Defense Appropriations Bill
 
On January 30, the House passed, by a vote of 250-166, the FY 2018 Defense Appropriations bill ( H.R. 695), which provides $584 billion in base discretionary appropriations for the Department of Defense, $75 billion in additional discretionary appropriations designated for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), and another $5 billion designated as emergency spending. Prior to last week's vote, the House already passed defense appropriations for FY 2018 twice, but the Senate has not voted on a defense spending bill because Congress has yet to agree to a budget deal that would set the top-line dollar figure for defense and non-defense funding. The White House stated that President Trump would sign H.R. 695 into law if Congress passed it. Read more... 
Senate Fails to Advance Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
 
On January 29, the Senate failed to advance, by a vote of 51-46, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act ( S. 2311 ). The bill would make it a crime to perform an abortion on a fetus after 20 weeks. 60 votes were needed to advance the bill for a final vote; two Republicans voted against the motion to proceed, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), while three Democrats voted in favor, Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Joe Manchin (D-WV). The White House stated that President Trump would sign S. 2311 into law if Congress passed it. Read more... 
Senate Confirms Federal Appeals Court Judge for the 8th Circuit
 
On January 30, the Senate confirmed, by a vote of 56-42, David Stras to be a jJudge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota). The Senate also confirmed on Jan. 29, by voice vote, Gregory Maggs to be a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Read more... 
Senate Confirms HHS Assistant Secretary for Legislation
 
On January 30, the Senate confirmed, by voice vote, Matthew Bassett, to be Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Legislation, a position which serves HHS Secretary Alex Azar as the primary link between the Department of Health and Human Services and Congress.
Congress Passes Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act
 
On January 29, the House passed, by a vote of 406-3, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act ( S. 534); the Senate passed the bill by voice vote on Jan. 30. The bill would make coaches and other adults associated with national amateur sports organizations to report suspected cases of child abuse to an oversight organization and law enforcement. Read more...  
Senate Passes Bill to Combat Human Trafficking
 
On January 30, the Senate passed, by voice vote, the Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign Authorization Act ( H.R. 4708); the House previously passed the bill on Jan. 11 by voice vote. The bill would "help protect victims of human trafficking by providing the right tools to federal, state, and local law enforcement, as well as private sector organizations to increase awareness and better defend against this heinous threat." Read more... 
Trump Signs Two Bills Into Law
 
On January 29, President Trump signed the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017 ( Public Law 115-121) into law, which  grants federal recognition to six Virginia Indian tribes: the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock, Monacan, and the Nansemond tribes. On Jan. 31, Trump signed the Alex Diekmann Peak Designation Act of 2017 ( Public Law 115-122 ) into law, which designates a mountain peak in the State of Montana as the "Alex Diekmann Peak".
Trump Signs Executive Order to Keep Guantanamo Bay Prison Open
 
On January 30, President Trump signed Executive Order 13823 entitled "Protecting America Through Lawful Detention of Terrorists." The E.O. r evokes the section of the Obama Administration's previous E.O. ordering the closing of the detention facilities at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (GTMO), and affirms that the U.S. maintains the option to detain additional enemy combatants at GTMO when necessary. Read more...
Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Seven Individuals to Serve in Administration
 
During the week of January 29, President Trump announced his intent to nominate seven individuals to positions in the Trump Administration, including John Whitley to be an Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller. Read more...