Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of July 16, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are in session this week. The House will consider 38 bills under suspension of the rules including the Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act of 2018 (H.R. 3906), which would establish an EPA task force on stormwater infrastructure funding; and the Promoting Flood Risk Mitigation Act (H.R. 5846), which would require the Government Accountability Office to study FEMA's policies for helping state and local governments buy flood-damaged properties. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the " Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019" which provides FY 2019 funding for the Department of the Interior, EPA, Treasury Department, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality; a resolution (H. Con. Res. 119) expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the U.S. economy; and a vote on a motion to set up a formal House-Senate conference committee for the 2018 Farm Bill (H.R. 2).
 
The Senate this week will consider the nominations of Scott Stump to be Assistant Secretary of Education for Career, Technical, and Adult Education; Jim Blew to be Assistant Secretary of Education for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development; Randal Quarles to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve; Andrew Oldham to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit; and Ryan Bounds to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit. The Senate may also consider the nomination of Robert Wilkie to serve as the 10th Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
 
House and Senate appropriators hope to meet this week to reconcile differences between the three-bill "minibus" (H.R. 5895) each chamber has passed covering FY 2019 Military Construction-VA, Energy and Water Development, and Legislative Branch appropriations. The conference committee meeting, originally scheduled for last week, was postponed because House members didn't have time to prepare after a markup of the Labor-HHS-Education bill extended until almost midnight. Appropriators still have to hash out how to provide about $1.7 billion for a new law offering veterans' more flexibility in seeking subsidized health-care outside of VA facilities.
Week in Review

Trump Nominates Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court
 
On July 9, President Trump announced that he was nominating 53-year old D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, replacing retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Senate Republicans have set a goal of confirming Kavanaugh by October 1. Several Democrats have announced their opposition to Kavanaugh, though it is not clear if the Democratic caucus will be completely united behind his position. The votes of three Democrats who voted for Trump's last Supreme Court nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, and are up for re-election in states Trump won in 2016 - North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin - are in play. Read more.  
Senate Votes for Conference Committee for FY 2019 Energy-Water/Military Construction-VA/Legislative Branch Minibus Appropriations Bill
 
On July 10, the Senate voted 91-8  for the creation of a formal House-Senate conference committee for the FY 2019 Energy-Water Development, Military Construction-VA, Legislative Branch Appropriations bill. The House voted in late June to establish a conference committee and the conferees will likely meet the week of July 16 or 23 in order to pass the first three FY 2019 appropriations bills well before the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2018. Read more.
Trump Signs Firefighter Cancer Registry Act Into Law
 
On July 9, President Trump signed the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-194) into law, which establishes and maintains a voluntary registry of firefighters to collect data on cancer incidence and authorizes $2 million in federal funds to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from FYs 2018-2022. Data gathered would include a number of potential risk factors, including but not limited to the status of the firefighter (volunteer, paid-on-call, or career), number of years on the job, the number of incidents attended, and the type of incidence. The collection of this data would allow for improved equipment, enhanced safety protocols and preventative techniques for our firefighters. Read more.
House Passes Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Bill
 
On July 11, the House passed, by a vote of 222-193, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act (H.R. 200). The bill amends and reauthorizes the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the law governing America's fisheries policies. H.R. 200 would create exemptions to the requirement that fishery managers set reasonable timelines for rebuilding depleted fish populations; and curb the use of science-based annual catch limits (ACLs) by exempting certain species from these catch limits. The bill also contains text of the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act (H.R. 2023), which authorizes regional fishery management councils to use "alternative" fishery management measures in developing a fishery management plan for a recreational fishery or the recreational component of a mixed-use fishery. Read more.
House Passes Reclamation Title Transfer and Non-Federal Infrastructure Incentivization Act
 
On July 12, the House passed, by a vote of 233-184, the Reclamation Title Transfer and Non-Federal Infrastructure Incentivization Act (H.R. 3281). The bill authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to convey the title to federal water infrastructure facilities, such as dams or irrigation canals, maintained by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to nonfederal entities if certain conditions are met. Under current law, BOR may transfer day-to-day operational and maintenance responsibilities of these Reclamation facilities to project beneficiaries but requires specific Congressional authorization to transfer ownership of BOR assets. H.R. 3281 removes this existing law by empowering the Secretary of the Interior to convey the title. Rather than requiring Congressional approval, the bill gives Congress a ninety day window to pass a joint resolution of disapproval to prevent a conveyance from moving forward. Read more. 
House Passes Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act
 
On July 13, the House passed, by a vote of 230-168, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act (H.R. 50). The bill would amend the Congressional Budget Act and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) by eliminating the current reporting exemption held by independent regulatory agencies, like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Consumer Product Safety Commission; requiring federal agencies to consult with private corporations (but not other stakeholders or the public) before proposing any new rules; and requiring the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), at the request of a committee Chairman or Ranking Member, to conduct analyses into the direct cost of promulgated rules on state, local, and tribal governments-also including forgone business profits as a "direct cost." Read more.