Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of June 11, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are in session this week. The House will consider 36 bills under suspension of the rules, all of which are intended to address the opioid addiction epidemic. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the Securing the International Mail Against Opioids Act of 2018 (H.R. 5788), which gives additional tools to federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service to curb international shipments of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids; the Transitional Housing for Recovery in Viable Environments Demonstration Program Act (H.R. 5735), which sets aside low-income housing vouchers to help people recovering from opioid and other substance use disorders receive transitional housing services; and the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act of 2017 (H.R. 2851), which establishes a new category of synthetic opioids and other drugs under the Controlled Substances Act.
 
The Senate this week will vote on the $707.7 billion FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5515/S. 2987). Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) says he may offer an amendment that would empower Congress to overrule President Trump's imposition of tariffs based on national-security concerns. Trump cited the impact of imported metals on the U.S. industrial base as a national security threat when he levied 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. An amendment by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) would bar the Trump Administration from implementing a deal negotiated by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to allow Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corp. from continuing to purchase smartphone components and other electronics from U.S. suppliers such as Qualcomm Inc.
 
The House Appropriations Committee will markup the FY 2019 Defense and Financial Services-General Government Appropriations bills on Wednesday, while the Senate Appropriations Committee will markup the FY 2019 Interior-Environment, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Legislative Branch Appropriations bills on Thursday.
 
The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee is scheduled to markup its version of the 2018 Farm Bill on Wednesday, the "Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018," which would reauthorize commodity, trade, rural development, agricultural research and food and nutrition programs. The Senate measure does not include sweeping changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, unlike the House measure (H.R. 2) that failed to pass on May 18, in part, because of Democrats' opposition to stricter work requirements.
 
On Tuesday, voters in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Virginia head to the polls to vote in Democratic and Republican primaries for House and Senate races.
Week in Review

House Passes WRDA 2018
 
On June 6, the House passed, by a vote of 408-2, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018 ( H.R. 8), legislation that authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out water resources development activities through cost-sharing partnerships with non-federal sponsors. Authorized activities include navigation, flood damage reduction, shoreline protection, hydropower, dam safety, water supply, recreation, environmental restoration and protection, and disaster response and recovery. The House adopted, by voice vote, 50 amendments to WRDA before final passage. A summary of H.R. 8 is available here and letters of support are available here. The Trump Administration stated that it " remains committed to working with the Congress on this legislation to address the Nation' s water resources challenges, and if H.R. 8 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he sign the bill into law." The Senate is expected to consider their version of WRDA, the America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 2800), within the next several weeks. Read more. 
House Passes FY 2019 Energy-Water Development, Legislative Branch, Military Construction-VA Appropriations Minibus Bill
 
On June 8, the House passed, by a vote of 235-179, the $145 billion "Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2019" (H.R. 5895), which funds the Department of Energy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Congressional entities, DoD military construction activities, and the VA for FY 2019. The House considered 62 amendments to the bill, adopting 47 and rejecting 15. The Trump Administration stated that it " welcomes the House's timely consideration of appropriations legislation, and looks forward to working with the Congress well in advance of 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." The House's three-bill package could see a vote in the Senate this month. Read more.
House Passes $15 Billion Rescissions Package
 
On June 7, the House passed, by a vote of 210-206, the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act ( H.R. 3), which would rescind nearly $15 billion in previously approved government funding. President Trump sent his initial list of rescissions to Congress on May 8 and sent a list of revisions to that list on June 5. Because the funds in question were unobligated or associated with expired programs, canceling the budget authority to spend them would do little to affect actual spending. As far as deficits go, the Congressional Budget Office found that the bill would only cut about $1.1 billion in spending over a decade, an infinitesimal amount when compared to annual spending that has already topped $4 trillion, mostly from mandatory spending outside the budgetary process. The Trump Administration stated that " If H.R. 3 were presented to the President in its current form, his advisors would recommend that he sign the bill into law." The Senate has until June 22 to pass the bill with only 51 votes. Read more.
Senate Agriculture Committee Unveils 2018 Farm Bill
 
On June 8, Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) unveiled their version of the 2018 Farm Bill, the "Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018," which will be marked up on June 13. The text of the bill is available here and a section-by-section summary is available here. Read more. 
House Passes Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act
 
On June 6, the House passed, by a vote of 394-13-2, the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act of 2018 ( H.R. 3249), which establishes the Project Safe Neighborhoods Block Grant program within the Justice Department to reduce violent crime by improving upon existing nation-wide partnerships among federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutors through evidence-based and data-driven approaches. The bill authorizes $50 million a year for three consecutive years to provide localities the tools they need to prevent crimes committed by criminal street gangs and transnational organized crime groups. Thirty percent of the funding will fund initiatives in areas with an increased incidence of violent crimes, firearm offenses, human trafficking and drug trafficking. The remaining funds will be used to foster and improve existing partnerships with a focus on prosecuting individuals with a leadership role in a gang. Read more. 
House and Senate Appropriations Committees Markup and Pass Three FY 2019 Appropriations Bills
 
During the week of June 4, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees marked up and passed the following three FY 2019 Appropriations bills:
  • Interior-Environment: By a vote of 25-20, the HAC passed this $35.25 billion spending bill, which includes $3.9 billion for wildland firefighting and prevention programs; $500 million for "Payments in Lieu of Taxes" (PILT); $7.958 billion for the EPA, including $2.6 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan funds and $75 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA); $6.1 billion for the U.S. Forest Service; $1.6 billion for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; $360 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF); and a full repeal of the 2015 "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rule; the HAC also approved 13 amendments to the bill;
  • Transportation-HUD: By a vote of 31-0, the SAC passed this $71.4 billion spending bill, which includes $1 billion for the BUILD grant program (formerly TIGER); $255 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement grants program; $300 million for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grants; $2.6 billion for Capital Investment Grants; $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program; $22.8 billion for tenant-based Section 8 vouchers; and $11.7 billion for project-based Section 8;
  • Military Construction-VA: By a vote of 31-0, the SAC passed this $97.1 billion spending bill, which includes $10.3 billion to fund 169 military construction projects and $86.4 billion in discretionary funding for the VA.
Mitch McConnell Cancels Senate August Recess
 
On June 5, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that he was cancelling most of the Senate's annual August recess, an election year move that will force vulnerable Democrats to shuffle their campaign schedules. The Senate will now recess for one week in early August instead of the entire month. McConnell stated that "Due to the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the president's nominees, and the goal of passing appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year, the August recess has been canceled." Read more.