The House and Senate are both in session this week. The House will consider
under suspension of the rules, including the Strengthening Coastal Communities Act of 2018 (H.R. 5787), which would codify
digital maps of protected areas on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the Manage Our Wolves Act (H.R. 6784), which would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the gray wolf from the endangered and threatened species list under the Endangered Species Act before the end of FY 2019.
The Senate will consider the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 (S. 140), which reauthorizes the Coast Guard through FY 2019 and
establishes a framework for the service to enforce an EPA-led standard setting initiative for national ballast water discharge rules. Under the agreement, the EPA will have the lead role in establishing standards for discharges, while the Coast Guard will have the lead role in monitoring and enforcing those standards. Existing rules would stay in place until finalization of enforceable new standards. The Senate will also vote on the nomination of Michelle Bowman to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for a term expiring January 31, 2020.
On Wednesday, the House and Senate Republican Conferences for the new 116th Congress will each vote behind closed doors to fill their leadership rosters. Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Liz Cheney (R-WY) are set to fill the top three positions of House Minority Leader, Minority Whip, and Conference Chair, respectively. Additionally, the House GOP will vote on the positions of Conference Vice Chair, Conference Secretary, National Republican Congressional Committee Chair, and Policy Committee Chair. Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Thune (R-SD), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) are set to either remain or fill the top four positions of Senate Majority Leader, Majority Whip, Conference Chairman, and Policy Committee Chairman, respectively. Additionally, the Senate GOP will vote on the positions of Conference Vice Chair and Senate Republican Senatorial Committee Chair.
The 90+ new Representatives-elect will make their first trips to Capitol Hill for freshman orientation this week. Check-in and registration is today, the class photo is tomorrow, and new member briefings will be held Thursday. The seven Senators-elect (Mitt Romney [R-UT], Josh Hawley [R-MO], Mike Braun [R-IN], and Reps. Marsha Blackburn [R-TN], Kevin Cramer [R-ND], Jacky Rosen [D-NV], and Kyrsten Sinema [D-AZ]) will be attending their orientation as well.
As for legislation, lawmakers return Tuesday with a number of outstanding issues totackle before the new Congress begins on January 3, 2019. Negotiations will begin this week to work through difficult FY 2019 spending and policy decisions that include debates over border wall funding, stiffening work requirements for food stamp recipients as part of a renewal of the 2018 Farm Bill, National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reauthorization, a disaster relief package, budget and appropriations reform legislation, executive and judicial nominations, and possible tax fixes.