Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of July 23, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are in session this week. The House will consider 41 bills under suspension of the rules including the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2018 (S. 1182), which extends the NFIP for four months, through November 30, 2018 (it's authorization is set to expire July 31); the ACCESS BROADBAND Act (H.R. 3994), which establishes a new Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to centralize management of federal broadband resources; the Water and Agriculture Tax Reform Act of 2018 (H.R. 519), which amends the tax treatment of mutual water storage and delivery companies so that they can maintain their non-profit status even if more than 15% of their revenue comes from non-members; and the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 1689), which restricts state and local governments from exercising eminent domain.
 
For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2017 (H.R. 184), which permanently repeals the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA); the Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018 (H.R. 6199), which provides Americans the ability to choose how they spend their Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and other similar tax preferred health accounts by allowing them to be used to purchase over-the-counter medications and expenses for sports and fitness; and the Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018 (H.R. 6311), postpones, for another two years, a levy on health insurance providers and increases the contribution limits for HSAs. The House may also vote on the conference report for the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5515).
 
On Monday, the Senate will vote on the nomination of Robert Wilkie to serve as the 10th Secretary of Veterans Affairs. For the remainder of the week, the Senate will vote on a four-bill FY 2019 appropriations "minibus" package: Interior-Environment; Financial Services-General Government; Transportation-HUD; and Agriculture-Rural Development. On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee is marking up its FY 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which funds the Department of Homeland Security, including all Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs. Upon completion of the Senate minibus bill, the Senate will have passed seven FY 2019 appropriations bills and the House will have passed six FY19 bills.
 
House Republicans this week will release a legislative framework on infrastructure before leaving Washington for the House's five-week August recess. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) has been gathering ideas in recent months for the plan coming out of his Committee. The proposal may not get a vote this year but would set the infrastructure agenda for Republicans in the new 116th Congress, should they retain control of the House.
 
On Tuesday, Georgia voters head to the polls to vote in primary runoff elections for various state and federal offices. On Tuesday, President Trump will travel to Kansas City, Missouri for the VFW National Convention, before a roundtable and event with supporters. On Wednesday, Trump will meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and have lunch with Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen; he will also meet with EU President Jean-Claude Juncker. On Thursday, Trump will travel to Dubuque, Iowa, and Granite City, Illinois.
Week in Review

House Passes FY 2019 Interior-Environment & Financial Services Appropriations Minibus Bill
 
On July 19, the House passed, by a vote of 217-199, the Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019 (H.R. 6147). The $35.252 billion Interior-Environment bill provides $3.94 billion for Wildland Fire Management; $360 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund; $500 million for Payment in Lieu of Taxes; and $8.323 billion for the EPA, including $1.54 billion for Clean Water State Revolving Fund grants, $1.013 billion for Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants, and $75 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) grants. The bill includes 18 policy riders, including repealing the WOTUS rule; exempting the California WaterFix project from judicial review under state or federal law; and exempting water projects operated by the California Department of Water Resources from judicial review. The House approved 48 amendments and rejected 14 amendments to the bill.
 
The $23.4 billion Financial Services-General Government bill provides $216 million for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund; $11.6 billion for the IRS; $741.9 billion for the Small Business Administration; $335 million for the FCC; and $2.99 million for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The bill includes 18 policy riders, including prohibiting funding to implement Executive Order 13690 which establishes a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard. The House approved 13 amendments and rejected 3 amendments to the bill. The White House issued a  Statement of Administration Policy for the minibus bill, stating that " The Administration welcomes the House's timely consideration of appropriations legislation, and looks forward to working with the Congress well before the end of the fiscal year to enact individual bills that provide sufficient funding to essential programs without further jeopardizing the Nation's fiscal state." Read more.
House Passes Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure & Promoting Flood Risk Mitigation Acts
 
On July 16, the House passed, by voice vote, the Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act of 2018 (H.R. 3906), which requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a task force on stormwater infrastructure funding, including federal, state, and local government officials, and representatives from private and nonprofit entities. The House also passed, by voice vote, the Promoting Flood Risk Mitigation Act (H.R. 5846), which requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) policies for helping state and local governments buy flood-damaged properties. Read more here and here.
House Agrees to Go to Conference with Senate on 2018 Farm Bill  
 
On July 18, the House, by Unanimous Consent, approved a motion to go to conference on the 2018 Farm Bill ( H.R. 2). With only a week and a half left of July for both the House and Senate to work and an August recess looming for the House, lawmakers are ramping up their efforts to beat a September 30 deadline for having a comprehensive farm policy law in place. Senate Republican leaders have said they intend to keep that chamber in session for the last three weeks of August instead of taking their traditional month-long recess. On June 28, the Senate voted 86-11 to pass its Farm Bill substitute to H.R. 2, which did not include the sweeping changes to food-stamp work requirements that the House version carried. A House-Senate conference committee would have to iron out the differences to arrive at a bill both chambers can agree on. The significant differences between the two bills have left some thinking an extension of current law is the most likely outcome even as agriculture committee leaders have said they still intend to get a bill done within that timeframe. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) named 29 Republican conferees and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) named 18 Democratic conferees. Read more. 
House Passes Resolution Opposing Carbon Tax
 
On July 19, the House passed, by a vote of 229-180-2, a non-binding resolution ( H. Con. Res. 119) "expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy." Read more. 
Trump Administration Proposes Revisions to ESA Rules
 
On July 19, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) jointly released proposed revisions to regulations implementing Section 4 and Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Section 4 of the ESA includes procedures for listing species as endangered or threatened, recovery plans, and critical habitat designations. Section 7 requires consultation between other federal agencies and the Services to ensure that actions are not likely to harm endangered or threatened species, or result in the "destruction or adverse modification" of critical habitat. The proposed rules will be published in the Federal Register on July 25, at which time the public comment period will be open for 60 days, or until September 24 (unless extended). Read more. 
Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Census Bureau Director
 
On July 18, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Dr. Steven Dillingham to be the 25th Director of the Census Bureau at the Department of Commerce for the remainder of a five-year term expiring December 31, 2021. If confirmed by the Senate, Dillingham would oversee the next once-in-a-decade census that will determine how many seats in Congress each state receives and how hundreds of billions of tax dollars are distributed to state and local governments. The Census Bureau has lacked a Senate-confirmed Director since June 30, 2017 when Director John H. Thompson resigned. Read more. 
Trump Signs Executive Order Establishing National Council for the American Worker
 
On July 19, President Trump signed Executive Order 13845 "Establishing the President's National Council for the American Worker." The Council will provide a forum for the development of a national strategy to address urgent workforce issues. The Council will be co-chaired by the Secretaries of Commerce and Labor, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, and the Advisor to the President overseeing the Office of Economic Initiatives. Read more.