Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of January 16, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are both in session this week. The House will consider 11 bills under suspension of the rules. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the Home Mortgage Disclosure Adjustment Act (H.R. 2954), which would expand an exemption from mortgage loan reporting requirements to cover more lenders; the World Bank Accountability Act of 2017 (H.R. 3326), which would authorize the U.S. government to contribute $3.29 billion over three years to the World Bank's International Development Association, fulfilling the Trump Administration's request to reduce the authorization level by 15 percent; and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 4712), which would allow medical professionals to be criminally charged and subjected to civil liability if they do not provide medical care to a child that survives an abortion procedure.
 
The Senate this week will vote on the House-passed FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S. 139), which would extend the National Security Agency's controversial electronic surveillance authority under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act through Dec. 31, 2023; the authority is set to expire on Jan. 19, 2018. Section 702 allows the NSA to conduct electronic surveillance on foreign nationals outside the U.S. The measure would require the FBI to demonstrate probable cause before accessing Americans' communications collected under the NSA's surveillance program, with exceptions. It would codify the NSA's decision to stop collection of messages between third parties that merely reference a surveillance target and establish procedures to allow such collections with congressional oversight.
 
Congress must pass another Continuing Resolution (CR) this week to temporarily fund the federal government, likely through February 16, in order to avoid a government shutdown beginning at 12:01am on January 20 and to provide more time for Congressional leaders to reach an agreement on (1) a long-term funding bill for the remainder of FY 2018; (2) raising the spending caps for defense and non-defense spending for FYs 2018 and 2019; and (3) an immigration deal centered around protecting the 800,000 so-called Dreamers from being deported from the U.S. beginning March 5.
 
President Trump last week rejected a bipartisan proposal to permanently extend the Dreamers' protections from deportation under the Deferred Action from Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama Administration initiative. Trump wants Congress to appropriate more money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, end family-based immigration preferences, and shut down the diversity lottery that grants about 50,000 visas annually to people in countries from which few people immigrate to the U.S. If House Republicans remain united, it would be up to Senate Democrats to decide whether to block a vote in their chamber on the 4-week CR to force action on the Dreamers and other demands. The 51-member Senate Republican Conference will need at least nine Senate Democrats to vote with them in order to pass the CR. In addition, Democrats want a six-year reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which funds state-run medical-care programs for low-income families that do not qualify for Medicaid, to be included in the CR.
Week in Review

Trump Signs Executive Order on Broadband in Rural America
 
On January 8, President Trump signed Executive Order 13821, entitled "Streamlining and Expediting Requests to Locate Broadband Facilities in Rural America" at the American Farm Bureau Federation's Annual Convention in Nashville, TN. The E.O. is aimed at promoting the expansion of broadband Internet into rural areas that lack connectivity. Trump also signed a Presidential Memorandum addressed to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke requiring him to develop a plan to support rural broadband deployment. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue also released the USDA's Rural Prosperity Task Force Report. Read more...
Trump Signs Executive Order on Supporting Veterans with Mental Health Treatment
 
On January 9, President Trump signed Executive Order 13822, entitled " Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition From Uniformed Service to Civilian Life." The E.O. directs the Secretaries of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs to develop and submit a Joint Action Plan to provide "seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources for transitioning uniformed service members in the year" following military service. Read more...
Trump Signs 17 Bills Into Law
 
During the week of Jan. 8, President Trump signed 17 bills into law, including:
  • Public Law 115-112, the "International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act," which requires U.S. Customs and Border Protection to increase the number of chemical screening devices used to interdict fentanyl and other narcotics illegally imported into the United States; and
  • Public Law 115-113, the "Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017," which requires the Justice Department to submit a report to Congress on mental health services and practices that could be adopted by Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies; and allows the use of grant funds under the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program to establish peer mentoring mental health and wellness pilot programs within State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.
Trump Administration Ends Legal Status for 200,000 Salvadorans Living in the U.S.
 
On January 8, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will end the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation that has allowed almost 200,000 people from El Salvador to live and work legally in the U.S. since a pair of devastating earthquakes hit the Central American country in 2001. DHS said the protective status will end on September 9, 2019, and the decision came weeks after 45,000 Haitians lost protections that were granted after their country's deadly 2010 earthquake. Read more...
Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump Administration's Move to End DACA
 
On January 9, U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California ruled that the Trump Administration that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Trump has said he will end on March 5, 2018, should remain in effect until legal challenges brought in multiple courts are resolved. On January 16, the Justice Department said that it would take the "rare step" of asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Judge Alsup's ruling, and bypass the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Read more...
House Passes FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017
 
On January 11, the House passed, by a vote of 256-164 , the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S. 139), which would extend the NSA's controversial electronic surveillance authority under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act through Dec. 31, 2023. The House failed to pass an amendment, the USA RIGHTS Act, by a vote of 183-233, which would have imposed a series of new safeguards, including a requirement that officials obtain warrants in most cases before hunting for, and reading, emails and other messages of Americans that were swept up under the surveillance. The White House stated that President Trump will sign the bill into law if it passed. The Senate will consider the bill during the week of Jan. 16. Read more... 
House Passes Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2017
 
On January 10, the House passed, by a vote of 239-173, legislation which combines a controversial bill: H.R. 986 - Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2017, with two non-controversial bills: S. 249 - Correcting 99-Year Lease Language for the Pueblos of Santa Clara and Ohkay Owingeh in New Mexico and S. 140 - To amend the White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act of 2010 to clarify the use of amounts in the WMAT Settlement Fund. H.R. 986 would expand tribal sovereignty by amending the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to add Native American tribes and any commercial enterprise or other institution owned and operated by a tribe on tribal lands to the list of entities (such as state and local governments) that are excluded from the definition of employer and therefore are excluded from coverage under the NLRA. Read more...
Senate Passes Coordinated Ocean Monitoring Research Act
 
On January 8, the Senate passed, by Unanimous Consent, the Coordinated Ocean Monitoring Research Act ( S. 1425), which would reauthorize the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) through FY 2021 and authorize up to $40.2 million annually for the program. IOOS is a network of 17 federal partners and 11 regional associations that collects data to support national defense, search-and-rescue operations, marine commerce, navigation safety, weather forecasting, energy siting and production, economic development, and coastal ecosystem management. Read more... 
Senate Confirms Four Federal District Judges
 
During the week of Jan. 8, the Senate voted to unanimously confirm the following four federal district judges: William Campbell to be a U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee; Thomas Parker to be a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee; Michael Brown to be a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Georgia; and Walter Counts to be a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Texas.
Trump Renominates 75 Nominees and Announces Intent to Nominate Other Individuals
 
On January 8, President Trump renominated 75 nominees that were returned to the White House on January 3 by the Senate, the last day of the first session of the 115th Congress. These nominations include: Andrew Wheeler to be EPA Deputy Administrator; Kathleen Hartnett White to be Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Susan Combs to be Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Policy Management and Budget; and Barry Myers to be the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These 75 nominees will need to be voted on again by the relevant Senate Committees of jurisdiction in order for the full Senate to consider the nomination. President Trump also sent 13 new nominations to the Senate for consideration last week (see here and here), in addition to announcing his intent to nominate nine individuals to key positions in his Administration (see here  and here).