Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of July 30, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House is in recess until Sept. 4, while the Senate is in session this week. The Senate will vote on several important pieces of legislation: (1) the FY 2019 four-bill appropriations "minibus" package (H.R. 6147): Interior-Environment; Financial Services-General Government; Transportation-HUD; and Agriculture-Rural Development; (2) the House-passed 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); and (3) the House-passed Conference Report for the $717 billion FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5515). The Senate will also likely vote this week to formally go to conference with the House on the 2018 Farm Bill (H.R. 2); the House unanimously approved a motion to go to conference on the bill on July 18 and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appointed a combined 47 conferees to work on the bill.
 
On Thursday, voters in Tennessee head to the polls to vote in Democratic and Republican primaries for House and Senate races. On Monday, President Trump will host Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte; on Tuesday, Trump will sign the "Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act" (H.R. 2353) into law, and then he will go to Tampa, Florida for a roundtable on workforce development and a political rally; on Thursday, Trump will go to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, for a roundtable with supporters and a rally.
Week in Review

House Appropriations Committee Passes FY 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill
 
On July 25, the House Appropriations Committee approved its $51.4 billion FY 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations bill by a vote of 29-22. The bill provides $5 billion for physical barriers and associated technology along the U.S. southern border and $7.2 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including: $538 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program; $661 million for the Urban Area Security Initiative; $700 million for firefighter assistance grants; $249 million for pre-disaster mitigation grants; and $262.5 million for flood mapping activities. The Committee also adopted 18 amendments to the bill, including amendments that add bill language amending the Stafford Act to increase access for rental assistance following declared national disasters and language providing additional flexibility under the FEMA public assistance statute of limitations. The bill marks the 12th and final FY 2019 appropriations bill that the Committee has passed. The bill text is available here; the bill report is available here; and the Trump Administration's views on the bill are available here. The Committee also approved a revised Report on the Suballocation of Budget Allocations for FY 2019 (i.e., 302(b)s). Read more.
House T&I Committee Chairman Releases Legislative Framework on Infrastructure
 
On July 23, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) released a legislative discussion draft outlining his plan to invest in the nation's infrastructure, including both transportation and water infrastructure. While the discussion draft reflects a number of priorities of interest to Democrats, it is only a Chairman's draft, not a bipartisan package as we expected earlier this year and is unlikely to move through the committee structure during the remainder of the 115th Congress. However, it is likely to move the infrastructure discussion forward, prompting much discussion on its program elements and the revenues-raisers it identifies to pay for this multi-year, multi-sector investment. The draft bill language, a section-by-section outline, and other information can be found here. Read more. 
House Passes NFIP Extension Act
 
On July 25, the House passed, by a vote of 366-52, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Extension Act of 2018 ( S. 1182), which extends the authorization for NFIP from July 31 to November 30, 2018, in order to cover the Atlantic hurricane season. People financing the purchase of homes located in flood-prone areas with federally guaranteed mortgages are required to buy flood insurance through the program run by FEMA. The National Association of Realtors has estimated that more than 1,300 closings on home sales would be delayed or canceled each day the program lacks legal authorization. The Senate will likely pass S. 1182 by July 31. Read more. 
House Passes Water and Agriculture Tax Reform Act
 
On July 24, the House passed, by voice vote, the Water and Agriculture Tax Reform Act of 2018 ( H.R. 519), which  amends the tax code to allow mutual irrigation and ditch companies to reinvest revenue earned from non-member sources. H.R. 519 allows these cooperatives to raise more than 15% of their revenue from non-member sources and still maintain their non-profit status, so long as they reinvest the revenue in maintenance, operations, or infrastructure. The bill now heads to the Senate. Read more.
House Passes ACCESS BROADBAND Act
 
On July 23, the House passed, by voice vote, the Advancing Critical Connectivity Expands Service, Small Business Resources, Opportunities, Access, and Data Based on Assessed Need and Demand (ACCESS BROADBAND) Act ( H.R. 3994). The bill establishes a single point of contact office to streamline management of federal broadband resources across multiple agencies and create a simpler process for small businesses and local economic developers to access them, including informational workshops for local businesses and economic developers. The new office would be called the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth and would be created within the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The bill now heads to the Senate. Read more. 
House Passes Private Property Rights Protection Act
 
On July 23, the House passed, by voice vote, the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 1689), which addresses the controversial 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision Kelo v. City of New London, which expanded the eminent domain power granted by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. In Kelo, the Court ruled that "economic development" can be justified as a "public use" under the Constitution's Takings Clause. H.R. 1689 would make any state or locality that uses the economic development justification for eminent domain ineligible from receiving federal economic development funds for two years. Additionally, the legislation bars the federal government from exercising eminent domain powers for the purposes of economic development. It is unclear whether the Senate will have time to consider H.R. 1689 prior to the conclusion of the 115th Congress on January 3, 2019. The House previously passed the Private Property Rights Protection Act three previous times (in 2005 by a vote of 376-38; in 2012 by voice vote; and in 2014 by a vote of 353-65), but the Senate never considered the bill. Read more.
House Passes Conference Report for FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act
 
On July 26, the House passed, by a vote of 359-54, the Conference Report for the $717 billion FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act ( H.R. 5515). The Conference Report authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy. The Senate is expected to pass the Conference Report during the week of July 30 and a summary of the bill is available here. Read more. 
House Passes Three Healthcare-related Bills
 
On July 24 and 25, the House passed the following three healthcare-related bills:
  • Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2018 (H.R. 184), passed by a vote of 283-132, permanently repeals the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Trump Administration stated that the President would sign the bill into law if presented to him;
  • Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018 (H.R. 6311), passed by a vote of 242-176, postpones, for another two years, a levy on health insurance providers and increases the contribution limits for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The Trump Administration stated that the President would sign the bill into law if presented to him; and the
  • Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018 (H.R. 6199), passed by a vote of 277-142, provides Americans the ability to choose how they spend their Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs), 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. The Trump Administration stated that the President would sign the bill into law if presented to him.
Read more here and here.