Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of March 19, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are in session this week. The House will consider 11 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Strengthening Local Transportation Security Capabilities Act (H.R. 5089), which would reduce emergency response times by putting more federal law enforcement officers and resources near high-risk surface transportation assets. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the Alleviating Stress Test Burdens to Help Investors Act (H.R. 4566), which exempts non-bank financial institutions that are not under supervision by the Federal Reserve from the Dodd-Frank Act's stress testing requirements; the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2018 (H.R. 5247), which would improve access to experimental treatments for patients with terminal diseases or conditions; and the Financial Stability Oversight Council Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 4061), which amends the Dodd-Frank Act to require the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), when determining whether to subject a U.S. or a foreign nonbank financial company to supervision by the Federal Reserve, to consider the appropriateness of imposing heightened prudential standards as opposed to other forms of regulation to mitigate identified risks to U.S. financial stability.
 
The Senate will vote on the nomination of Kevin McAleenan to be Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Senate will also vote on the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (H.R. 1865), which proposes to combat online sex trafficking by providing new tools to law enforcement to prosecute criminal actor websites, which have hosted advertisements for prostitution and solicitation of victims of sex trafficking. The Senate may also vote on a resolution (S.J. Res. 54) directing the removal of U.S. Armed Forces from ongoing hostilities in Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress, under a provision of the 1973 War Powers Act.
 
House and Senate negotiators are still trying to complete an agreement on a must-pass $1.2 trillion spending measure to fund the federal government for the remainder of FY 2018. The current stopgap spending bill runs through Friday, March 23, giving lawmakers less than a week to pass a bill. Negotiators are trying to resolve disputes over various policy riders that have held up agreement on the bill. House leaders may release the text of the omnibus package as soon as Monday night, with a vote by Wednesday, with Senate consideration on Thursday and Friday.
 
On Monday, President Trump will travel to New Hampshire to deliver remarks on the opioid epidemic at Manchester Community College. On Tuesday, Trump will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House. 
Week in Review

Cabinet Secretaries Testify to Senate Committee to Sell Infrastructure Plan
 
On March 14, five Trump Administration secretaries testified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to defend and sell President Trump's infrastructure plan, which was released in early February. The hearing, which aimed to examine the various infrastructure policy reforms proposed by the Administration, featured Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. The biggest issue discussed at the hearing was how to pay for the proposal, which the White House has yet to officially comment on. After the hearing, Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) told reporters, "There are some other offsets that we could come up with to put together a decent package, but to get the big really robust package the president's talking about, we have to come up with a significant source of revenues...And so far those haven't been identified." Read more...
Farm Bill Talks Stalled in the House
 
The farm bill is up for reauthorization in 2018, and consideration of both bills has generally been on track, with both committees planning to markup legislation in March or April. However, last week consideration ran into a snag in the House after Democrats opposed possible cuts to the food stamps program, also known as SNAP. Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN), the House Agriculture Committee's top Democrat, said Thursday that he would heed his colleagues' request that he stop negotiations until Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) gives members the text of the proposed farm bill, along with cost estimates and impact assessments. The Chairman originally hoped to release the farm bill text in preparation for markup the week of March 12 or March 19.
 
The Chairman could move the legislation out of committee without help from Democrats, but that could make it more difficult to win support from the Democratic Caucus on the House floor. If there were any conservatives that were not supportive of the legislation, Chairman Conaway would need some Democratic votes to avoid defeat on the House floor. Read more...
President Trump Fires Secretary of State Tillerson, Removes H.R. McMaster from National Security Advisor Position, Makes Other Personnel Changes
 
Last week, President Trump made several major personnel changes, starting with the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, March 13. Rumored tension between the President and Secretary Tillerson has been circulating since the beginning of the administration, reportedly on major issues such as the Paris Climate Agreement, the Iran Nuclear Deal, and how to address the North Korea issue. "We were not really thinking the same," Trump told reporters after being asked why he fired Tillerson.
 
Tillerson's last day will be March 31. Until then, his responsibilities will be delegated to Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. The President has nominated CIA Director Mike Pompeo to succeed Tillerson. Gina Haspel, the current CIA Deputy Director, stands to take over the CIA.
 
Also last week, President Trump decided to remove General H.R. McMaster as his National Security Advisor-he is actively discussing potential replacements. And, although not directly fired by President Trump, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired just hours before he was scheduled to retire after two decades at the agency. Shortly after being fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, President Trump said on Twitter that McCabe's dismissal was "a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI -A great day for Democracy." 
 
John McEntee, a personal assistant to Trump, was also fired from the White House after being denied a security clearance. In addition, Trump chose Larry Kudlow, an economist and senior CNBC contributor, to replace Cary Cohn as National Economic Council director. Read more...
Justice Department Sanctions 24 Russian Entities and Individuals Over 2016 Election Interference, Cyberattacks
 
On March 15, the Justice Department placed new sanctions on 24 Russian entities and individuals for interfering in the 2016 election and conducting a series of damaging cyberattacks. These sanctions represent a step towards tougher punishment of Russia for its increasingly aggressive actions; however, the move is already prompting calls for more actions. "The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in U.S. elections, destructive cyberattacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. Mnuchin added that Treasury is planning to impose additional sanctions "to hold Russian government officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilizing activities by severing their access to the U.S. financial system." Read more...
Senate Passes Dodd-Frank Reform Bill
 
On March 14, the Senate passed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155) by a vote of 67-31. The bill would roll back several Dodd-Frank Act regulations for small and medium-sized banks. The bill does include a provision that would classify certain municipal bonds as high quality liquid assets - a NATaT priority. However, S. 2155 and the House's Dodd-Frank reform bill are substantially different. Reconciling the differences between the two may prove difficult. Read more...
House Passes Secure Our Schools Program Reauthorization
 
On March 14, the House passed the Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act of 2018 (H.R. 4909) by a vote of 407-10. The bill would reauthorize DOJ's Secure Our Schools program at $75 million annually for FYs 2019-2028. There is also a version of the STOP School Violence Act in the Senate. The two bills are roughly similar but are not the same-the Senate STOP Act would authorize more grant funding, for example. Read more...
House Passes Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Bill
 
On March 14, the House passed the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 3249) by voice vote. The bill would formally establish a DOJ grant program -Project Safe Neighborhoods - to combat gun and gang violence, and would authorize $50 million annually from FYs 2018-2020 for the program. Read more...
House Passes Taking Account of Institutions with Low Operation Risk Act
 
On March 14, the House passed the Taking Account of Institutions with Low Operation Risk (TAILOR) Act of 2017 (H.R. 1116) by a vote of 247-169. The bill would require federal regulators to tailor the rules they issue to the risk profile and business models of the banks that they oversee. Read more...
House Passes Financial Institutions Examination Fairness and Reform Act
 
On March 15, the House passed the Financial Institutions Examination Fairness and Reform Act (H.R. 4545) by a vote of 283-133. The bill would give large financial institutions a chance to appeal adverse findings of bank examiners. Read more...
House Passes Regulation A+ Improvement Act
 
On March 15, the House passed the Regulation A+ Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 4263) by a vote of 246-170. The bill would allow companies to raise as much as $75 million a year from securities sold to the public with limited registration and disclosure requirements, a $25 million increase to the current threshold. Read more...