Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of January 29, 2018 
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are both in session this week. The House will consider   seven bills under suspension of the rules, including the "Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017" (S. 534), which 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. The House will also vote on an updated FY 2018 Defense Appropriations bill (H.R. 4877), which provides $659.2 billion in full year funding, including $584 billion in base funding and $75.1 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations funding.
The Senate on Monday will vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S. 2311), which would make it a crime to perform an abortion on a fetus after 20 weeks. If cloture is not invoked on S. 2311, the Senate will proceed to a roll call on limiting debate on the nomination of David Stras to be a U.S. Circuit Court judge for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota).
This is a short legislative week on Capitol Hill with both parties planning policy retreats. House and Senate Republicans travel Wednesday to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, for a three-day policy meeting at The Greenbrier. Senate Democrats will be attending a one-day retreat at George Washington's Mount Vernon in Virginia. House Democrats will hold their annual retreat next week in Cambridge, Maryland.
On Tuesday night, President Trump will deliver his first State of the Union to a joint session of Congress, as lawmakers continue talks to try to patch together deals on FY 2018 spending and legalizing the immigration status of the 800,000 so-called Dreamers. During tomorrow's speech, Trump plans to give Congress an outline of his $1.7 trillion investment in rebuilding the nation's dilapidated bridges and roads. A key question is how Trump proposes to finance it. The White House has also announced that it will release its FY 2019 budget proposal to Congress on Monday, February 12.
Current spending talks are aimed at agreeing on raising funding caps for defense and domestic programs, an adjustment needed to avoid automatic sequestration. Democrats are demanding rough parity between increases in defense and domestic spending. Republicans want a steep rise in defense spending. The current spending bill, which Congress passed on January 22 to reopen the federal government, expires on Thursday, February 8. Democrats, who forced a recent three-day shutdown by blocking Senate consideration of a spending patch that did not protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, are reacting angrily to Trump's latest immigration proposal. In return for supporting a path to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million Dreamers, Trump is demanding a drastic reduction in family immigration and a $25 billion trust fund to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Week in Review

Trump Signs 17-Day Government Funding Bill Into Law, Ending 3-Day Shutdown
On January 22, President Trump signed a 17-day Continuing Resolution ( Public Law 115-120) into law, which ended a three-day government shutdown that began at 12:01am, January 20 over an impasse on immigration-related issues. The CR funds the federal government through Thursday, February 8, and also includes: a 17-day extension of the National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) authorization; a six-year reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP); and the delay of three taxes associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Senate passed the CR by a vote of 81-18, while the House passed it by a vote of 266-150. Read more... 
White House Releases Framework on Immigration Reform and Border Security
On January 25, the White House released its Framework on Immigration Reform and Border Security. The Framework includes legalization and a 10-12 year pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and other DACA-eligible undocumented immigrants; $25 billion for a border wall system; ending extended-family chain migration; and eliminating the visa lottery. Read more... 
Two White House Infrastructure Documents Leaked to Press
On January 22, a six-page infrastructure-related draft document from the White House was leaked to the press, which describes "funding principles" and "principles for infrastructure improvements" for the Trump Administration's infrastructure plan. The spending breakdown in the document states: Infrastructure incentives initiative (50%); transformative draft projects (10%); rural infrastructure (25%); federal credit programs (7%); federal capital financing fund (5%). Additionally, on Jan. 26, a 23-page draft document outlining the White House's proposal to scale back environmental requirements, shorten federal timelines and limit judicial reviews in order to speed up the approval process for infrastructure projects was leaked to the press. White House officials have stated that both documents are discussion drafts and not the final proposal from the Administration, which will likely release a detailed infrastructure plan in the next one-three weeks. Read more here and here.
Trump Signs RAISE Family Caregivers Act Into Law
On January 22, President Trump signed the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act of 2017 ( Public Law 115-119) into law. The bill directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop and make publicly available a National Family Caregiving Strategy that identifies recommended actions for recognizing and supporting family caregivers in a manner that reflects their diverse needs. Read more... 
Senate Confirms Five Trump Administration Nominees
Last week, the Senate confirmed the following Trump Administration nominees:
  • By a vote of 84-13, Jerome Powell to be the 16th Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System;
  • By a vote of 55-43, Alex Azar to be the 24th U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services;
  • By a vote of 50-49, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to be the 5th U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom;
  • By a vote of 89-1, R.D. James to be the 12th Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, overseeing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and
  • By voice vote, Jonathan Pittman to be an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
Senate Passes Veteran PEER Act
On January 25, the Senate passed, by voice vote, the Veteran Partners' Efforts to Enhance Reintegration (PEER) Act" ( S. 1873). The bill would expand veterans' access to peer specialist services by specifically targeting shortcomings in the current program, including peer specialists' restricted participation in primary care services; persistent stigma attached to seeking treatment for mental health disorders; and under-promoted proven successes of the peer specialist program in veteran reintegration. Read more...  
Trump Imposes Tariffs on Imports of Solar Products and Washing Machines
On January 23, President Trump signed two Presidential Proclamations (see here  and here) which slap steep tariffs on imports of solar energy cells and washing machines, the first major step by the Trump Administration to erect the kind of trade barriers Trump has frequently said are necessary to protect manufacturers in the U.S. Read more... 
DOJ Threatens to Subpoena Records in Escalating Battle with "Sanctuary" Jurisdictions
On January 24, the U.S. Department of Justice sent letters threatening to subpoena 23 "sanctuary" jurisdictions that have policies it suspects might be unlawfully interfering with immigration enforcement. The jurisdictions, which include Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, have been asked by the Bureau of Justice Assistance to provide documents and "any orders, directives, instructions, or guidance to your law enforcement employees." Read more... 
Trump Sends 19 Nominations to Senate for Consideration
During the week of January 22, President Trump formally sent 19 nominations to the Senate for their consideration, including: Rohit Chopra, Noah Phillips, Joseph Simons, and Christine Wilson to be Federal Trade Commissioners. Trump also announced his intent to nominate James Reilly to be Director of the U.S. Geological Survey; and Seth Appleton to be Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for Policy Development and Research.