Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of March 5, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are in session this week. The House will consider 15 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services (RAY BAUM'S) Act of 2018 (H.R. 4986), which would reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission for FYs 2019 and 2020 at $333.1 million annually and includes key provisions from the Senate-approved MOBILE NOW Act (S. 19) to boost the development of next generation 5G wireless broadband by identifying more spectrum-both licensed and unlicensed-for private sector use. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the Comprehensive Regulatory Review Act (H.R. 4607), which would require agency reviews to identify outdated financial regulations to be conducted every seven years, instead of every 10 years; the Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act of 2017 (H.R. 1917), which would block EPA standards governing emissions from brick and clay tile manufacturers until all related court challenges have been resolved and would delay the phase-two compliance date for EPA standards governing residential wood heaters, hydronic heaters, and forced-air furnaces by three years, until May 15, 2023; and the Satisfying Energy Needs and Saving the Environment (SENSE) Act (H.R. 1119), which would subject coal refuse power plants to less stringent emission standards for complying with certain EPA air pollution rules.
 
The Senate will vote on the nominations of Karen Scholer to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Texas; Tilman "Tripp" Self III to be U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Georgia; and Terry Doughty to be U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana. The Senate will then vote on the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155), which would give small and medium-sized banks relief from regulations issued after the 2008 financial crisis while avoiding controversial issues, such as weakening the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
 
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. Stopgap spending runs through Friday, March 23, giving lawmakers less than three weeks to pass a bill. Negotiators are trying to resolve disputes over issues including reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), self-driving vehicles, extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and authorizing new border security upgrades as they fill in the blanks of the budget deal that raised the caps on defense and domestic outlays. Their goal is to finalize the bill by March 9 and file the bill by March 12 in time for the full House to debate it two days later and pass is by March 16 in order to give the Senate all of the week of March 19 to debate and pass the bill.
 
On Monday, President Trump will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley; on Tuesday, Trump hosts the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven; on Thursday, Trump holds a Cabinet meeting; and on Friday, Trump meets with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Trump will also formally announce further details this week about new global tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum this week.
 
On Tuesday, voters in Texas will held to the polls to vote in the first Congressional Democratic and Republican primaries of 2018 election. In elections where no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election on May 22.
Week in Review

President Trump Signs Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act Into Law
 
On February 26, President Trump signed the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2017 ( Public Law 115-129) into law, which directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to require providers that transmit voice calls to register with the agency and establish quality standards for transmitting voice calls. These reforms will "help ensure small businesses, families, and emergency responders in rural America can once again rely upon their telephone calls being completed." The Senate passed the bill on August 3, 2017 by Unanimous Consent and the House passed it on February 9 by voice vote. Read more... 
Senate Confirms Eight Trump Administration Nominees
 
During the week of February 26, the Senate confirmed the following three Trump Administration nominees by recorded vote:
  • By a vote of 73-23, Elizabeth Branch to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (Alabama, Florida, and Georgia);
  • By a vote of 50-49, Russell Vought to be Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote); and
  • By a vote of 69-28, A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. to be U.S. District Judge for the District of South Carolina.
The Senate also confirmed five nominees by voice vote:
  • Bill Northey to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services;
  • Gregory Doud to be Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative;
  • Jason Kearns to be a Member of the U.S. International Trade Commission for the term expiring December 16, 2024;
  • Dennis Shea to be a Deputy U.S. Trade Representative (Geneva Office); and
  • C. J. Mahoney to be a Deputy U.S. Trade Representative (Investment, Services, Labor, Environment, Africa, China, and the Western Hemisphere).
Senate Passes Rural Wireless Access Act
 
On March 1, the Senate passed, by Unanimous Consent, the Rural Wireless Access Act of 2017 ( S. 1621), which would require the Federal Communications Commission to establish a consistent methodology for its collection of coverage data about the available speed tiers and performance characteristics of commercial mobile and data service for the Universal Service program or any similar programs. This improved data would ensure that funds provided for expanding broadband infrastructure are applied equitably between rural and urban areas. Read more... 
House Passes Bill Curbing Online Sex Trafficking
 
On February 27, the House passed, by a vote of 388-25, 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. Currently, those websites have avoided prosecution by court interpretations of immunity protections under current law. President Trump applauded the passage of H.R. 1865. Read more... 
House Passes Bill Curbing Capital Requirements on Banks
 
On February 27, the House passed, by a vote of 245-169, a bill ( H.R. 4296) which would impose new conditions and restrictions on how bank regulators calculate and implement a class of banking capital called "operational risk capital." Operational risk capital is a relatively new capital standard that only large systematically important banks are required to maintain to absorb losses stemming from inadequate or failed internal controls, fraud or errors caused by people and systems, or external events such as cyberattacks that might otherwise pose a threat to financial stability and cost taxpayers money. Read more...
President Trump Signs Four Executive Orders
 
During the week of February 26, President Trump signed four Executive Orders (E.O.s):
  • E.O. 13824, President's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition: this E.O. revokes  E.O. 13545 of June 22, 2010 and amends E.O. 13265 of June 6, 2002 to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a national strategy to expand children's participation in youth sports, encourage regular physical activity, including active play, and promote good nutrition for all Americans;
  • E.O. 13825, 2018 Amendments to the Manual for Courts-Martial, United States: makes amendments to the Manual for Courts-Martial, United States;
  • E.O. 13826, President's Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Ukraine: continues, for one year, the national emergency declared in E.O. 13660 of March 6, 2014 regarding Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine; and
  • E.O. 13827, President's Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Venezuela: continues, for one year, the national emergency declared in  E.O. 13692 of March 8, 2015 regarding Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela.
Trump Sends 17 Nominations to Senate and Announces Intent to Nominate 14 Individuals to Key Administrative Posts
 
During the week of February 26, President Trump formally sent 17 nominations to the Senate for consideration, including:
  • Theodore Garrish to be an Assistant Secretary of Energy (International Affairs);
  • Paul Lawrence to be Under Secretary for Benefits of the Department of Veterans Affairs;
  • Henry Hudson to be a Member of the United States Sentencing Commission for a term expiring October 31, 2021;
  • William Otis to be a Member of the United States Sentencing Commission for a term expiring October 31, 2021;
  • William Pryor Jr. to be a Member and Chair of the United States Sentencing Commission for a term expiring October 31, 2023; and
  • Luis Restrepo to be a Member of the United States Sentencing Commission for a term expiring October 31, 2019.
Trump also announced his intent to nominate 14 individuals to positions in the Trump Administration, including:
  • Peter Wright to be an Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (Office of Solid Waste);
  • Jon Peede to be the Chairperson of the National Endowment for the Humanities;
  • Charles Verdon to be Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Energy;
  • Lisa Porter to be Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering;
  • Patrick Fuchs to be a Member of the Surface Transportation Board for a five-year term;
  • Michelle Schultz to be a Member of the Surface Transportation Board for a five-year term;
  • James Campos to be the Director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact in the Department of Energy; and
  • Michael Desmond to be Chief Counsel for the Revenue Service and Assistant General Counsel in the Department of the Treasury.