Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of May 29, 2018 
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are in recess this week. When the House returns the week of June 4, it will consider the FY 2019 Energy-Water Development, Legislative Branch, Military Construction-VA minibus appropriations package (H.R. 5895) and the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018 (H.R. 8), legislation that "provides for improvements to the Nation's ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood protection, ecosystem restoration, and other water resources infrastructure." The House Appropriations Committee will also likely markup the FY 2019 Interior-Environment and Financial Services-General Government Appropriations bills.
When the Senate returns, it will vote on three judicial nominations: Robert Wier to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Fernando Rodriguez, Jr. to be U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Texas; and Annemarie Axon to be U.S. Judge for the Northern District of Alabama. In addition to those nominations, the Senate may consider the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act; the America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 2800); and additional nominations, including Kenneth Marcus to be Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Senate Appropriations Committee will also markup the FY 2019 Transportation-HUD and Military Construction-VA Appropriations bills.
During the week of June 4 or June 11, the House will likely vote on the $15.3 billion rescissions package President Trump submitted to Congress on May 8; the Senate has a deadline of June 22 to pass the package with at least 51 votes. During the week of June 18, the House will likely consider a re-vote on the 2018 Farm Bill (H.R. 2) after the House votes on a conservative immigration bill (H.R. 4760) from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) earlier that same week.
There is also a group of 213 House members (as of May 29, 2018), including 23 Republicans and 190 Democrats, who have signed a discharge petition which would force a vote on a "queen of the hill rule" that would set up votes on four immigration measures, with the one getting the most votes above the required simple majority threshold prevailing. The process, which requires 218 signatures to be initiated, is likely to produce a bill that a majority of Democrats and a minority of Republicans support and would occur on June 25 at the earliest.
Week in Review

House T&I & Senate EPW Committees Pass WRDA 2018 Bills
During the week of May 21, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) and Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committees each passed their respective Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bills. The House T&I Committee passed its WRDA 2018 bill ( H.R. 8) unanimously, including approving a manager's amendment from Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and 19 additional amendments from Committee members. The Senate EPW Committee also unanimously passed its America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 ( S. 2800), including a manager's amendment that contains the text of the Securing Required Funds for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF WIN) Act. The House will consider H.R. 8 during the week of June 4, while the Senate will likely consider its bill during mid-late June. Read more. 
House and Senate Appropriations Committees Markup and Pass Three FY 2019 Appropriations Bills, Approve 302(b)s
During the week of May 21, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees marked up and passed the following three FY 2019 Appropriations bills:
  • Transportation-HUD: By a vote of 34-17, the HAC passed this $71.8 billion spending bill, which includes $750 million for the multimodal BUILD grant program (formerly known as TIGER); $300 million for the CRISI rail grants; $2.6 billion for Capital Investment Grants projects; $300 million for Bus and Bus Facilities grants; $50 million for Low or No-Emission Bus grants; $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program; $1.2 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program; $30.8 billion for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and Public and Indian Housing programs; and $2.5 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants. The Trump Administration explained its views on the bill here.
  • Energy-Water Development: By a vote of 30-1, the SAC passed this $43.8 billion spending bill, which includes $6.927 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and $1.493 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation; and
  • Agriculture-Rural Development: By a vote of 31-0, the SAC passed this $145.1 billion spending bill, which includes $879.1 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service; $150 million for the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations program; $1.25 billion for rural water and waste program loans; $800 million for water and waste grants; $425 million for the rural broadband loan and grant pilot program; $6.15 billion in discretionary funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); $73.219 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); and $23.184 billion for Child Nutrition programs.
Both Committees also released and approved their FY 2019 Reports on the Suballocation of Budget Allocations (302(b)s), which state how much money each of the twelve FY 2019 appropriations bills is authorized to spend in total. The allocations can be viewed here and here.
House Passes Prison Reform Bill
On May 22, the House passed, by a vote of 360-59, the "Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person (FIRST STEP) Act" ( H.R. 5682), which would direct the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to conduct risk- and needs-assessments for every offender upon sentencing, and then to offer individualized, evidence-based recidivism reduction plans to all inmates. Programs could include vocational training, educational support, substance abuse treatment, mental health care, anger-management courses, faith-based initiatives or other resources proven to lower the chance that men and women reoffend. President Trump supports passage of H.R. 5682. Read more. 
House Passes "Right to Try" Act, Sending Bill to President Trump
On May 22, the House passed, by a vote of 250-169, the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017 (S. 204), which would allow patients with life-threatening conditions to ask drug makers to share treatments that have cleared initial preliminary testing but haven't been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The Senate passed the bill on August 3, 2017 by Unanimous Consent, sending it to President Trump's desk. The Trump Administration stated that President Trump will sign the bill into law during the week of May 28. Read more. 
House Passes FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act
On May 24, the House passed, by a vote of 351-66, the $717 billion FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act ( H.R. 5515), which authorizes FY 2019 appropriations for DoD activities and military construction. Prior to final passage, the House considered several hundred amendments to the bill. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved its own version of the FY19 NDAA on May 24 by a vote of 25-2, considering over 300 amendments. The Senate will likely consider the bill during June. The Trump Administration stated that it " appreciates the bill's provisions that enable implementation of the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy, both of which focus on are turn to principled realism in an era of great power competition [and] looks forward to working with the Congress to address [the Administration's] concerns." Read more.
Trump Signs Dodd-Frank Rollback Bill Into Law
On May 24, President Trump signed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (Public Law 115-174) into law, which rolls back several Dodd-Frank Act regulations for small and medium-sized banks and includes the Municipal Finance Support Act that classifies certain municipal bonds as high quality liquid assets. The House passed the bill on May 22 by a vote of 258-159, while the Senate passed it on March 14 by a vote of 67-31. Read more.
Senate Passes VA MISSION Act, Sending Bill to President Trump
On May 23, the Senate passed, by a vote of 92-5, the $55 billion VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act of 2018 ( S. 2372), which will change how the VA pays for private care, expand a VA  caregiver program and start a review of the VA's aging infrastructure. The House previously passed the bill on May 16 by a vote of 347-70, meaning the bill will be sent to President Trump's desk to be signed into law. Read more.  
Senate Confirms Brian Montgomery to be HUD's Assistant Secretary of Housing
On May 23, the Senate confirmed, by a vote of 74-23, Brian Montgomery to be  the Assistant Secretary of Housing at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Montgomery will be responsible for overseeing the $400 billion Federal Housing Administration's insurance portfolio and will oversee HUD's regulatory responsibilities in the areas of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the housing mission of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the manufactured housing industry. Read more.
Trump Signs Three Additional Bills Into Law
During the week of May 21, President Trump signed the three following bills into law:
  • Public Law 115-172, which nullifies the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's March 21, 2013 bulletin regulating indirect auto lenders for compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act;
  • Public Law 115-173, the "Securely Expediting Clearances Through Reporting Transparency (SECRET) Act of 2018," which requires reports on security clearance background investigations; and
  • Public Law 115-175, the "Black Hills National Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act," which transfers administrative jurisdiction of approximately 200 acres of Federal land to the Department of Veterans Affairs for the Black Hills National Cemetery in the State of South Dakota.
Trump Signs Three Executive Orders Rolling Back Civil-Service Protections for Federal Workers
On May 25, President Trump signed  three Executive Orders (E.O.s) which roll back civil-service protections that federal employees have enjoyed for a generation, making it easier to fire poor performers, curtailing time employees can be paid for union work and directing agencies to negotiate tougher union contracts. In singing the three E.O.s ( 13836, 13837, and 13838), Trump took his first significant steps toward fulfilling a campaign promise he made to overhaul a federal bureaucracy he told voters was awash in "waste, fraud and abuse." The changes have been championed by Republicans who have sought to rein in the size and reach of the federal bureaucracy of 2 million, which under Trump has been gradually shrinking through hiring freezes and unfilled vacancies. The trio of E.O.s - which can be undone by the next president - could have a much more dramatic impact. They immediately drew polarized reactions, with public employee unions casting them as an attack on civil servants and conservatives praising the overhaul as a win for accountability. Read more.