Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of October 1, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The Senate is in session this week, while the House is in recess until November 13. The Senate will consider the House-passed FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 302), which reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration through 2023 and includes the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 which reforms several FEMA programs to help communities better prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against disasters of all types. The Senate will also consider the House-passed Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), which authorizes an array of grant programs to help curb the opioid addiction epidemic. The measure contains provisions from dozens of proposals and would modify Medicare prescription drug coverage, Medicaid coverage for inpatient treatment, Food and Drug Administration import oversight, and authorize a panoply of grant programs to aid local treatment providers and law enforcement. The Senate may also soon consider the House-passed America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021), which would authorize numerous port revitalization, flood control and other infrastructure projects, as well as set policy for the Army Corps of Engineers.
 
Senate Republican leaders will be working this week to solidify support for Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation amid an FBI inquiry into sexual-assault allegations against the nominee. The demand by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) for a week's delay in the vote so the FBI can investigate accusations of sexual assault and misconduct by a teenage Kavanaugh disrupted leadership's plans for a speedier confirmation this week. Still, the Senate could vote on Kavanaugh's nomination by Friday, the deadline for the FBI to complete its supplemental background investigation of the allegations, which the nominee angrily denied at last week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. The Senate first would have to vote to limit debate on Kavanaugh's confirmation, which was teed up by a voice vote Friday night to proceed to the nomination. Four senators who have described themselves as undecided - Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) - hold the key to Kavanaugh's confirmation in a Senate that Republicans control by a 51-49 majority.
 
On Monday, President Trump will award the Medal of Honor to Ronald J. Shurer II, for conspicuous gallantry for actions he took in April 2008 as a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army; the President will also travel to Johnson City, Tennessee, where he will hold a roundtable with supporters and then hold a political rally for Senate candidate Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). On Tuesday, Trump will travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to speak at the National Electrical Contractors Association Convention about workforce development, and will then head to Southaven, Mississippi, for a round table and political rally for appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS). On Thursday, Trump heads to Rochester, Minnesota for a political rally for GOP gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson and House GOP candidate Jim Hagedorn. On Saturday, Trump heads to Topeka, Kansas for a political rally for GOP gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach and House GOP candidate Steve Watkins.
Week in Review

Trump Signs $854 Billion FY 2019 Defense-Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Minibus and 10-Week CR Into Law
 
On September 28, President Trump signed the $854 billion " Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019" ( Public Law 115-245) into law. The Senate passed the bill on Sept. 18 by a vote of 93-7 and the House passed it on Sept. 26 by a vote of 361-61. In addition to providing nearly 70 percent of all federal discretionary spending, the bill also includes a 10-week Continuing Resolution (CR) which will temporarily fund the federal government, at enacted FY 2018 levels, from October 1-December 7, 2018. The CR will apply to all federal departments and agencies under the jurisdiction of the seven FY 2019 appropriations bills that were not enacted prior to the beginning of FY 2019: Interior-Environment; Financial Services; Agriculture-Rural Development; Transportation-HUD; Homeland Security; Commerce-Justice-Science; and State-Foreign Operations. The FY19 funding levels for these remaining bills will be finalized by Congress in the lame-duck period in late November/early December 2018. Summaries of the FY19 Defense-Labor-HHS-Education minibus package are available here and here. Read more. 
House Passes 5-Year FAA Reauthorization Bill; Trump Signs One-week FAA Extension Into Law
 
On September 26, the House passed, by a vote of 398-23, the $96.7 billion FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 ( H.R. 302), which reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration through 2023 and includes the text of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 ( H.R. 4460) which reforms several FEMA programs to help communities better prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against disasters of all types. The bill also contains provisions related to airport infrastructure, aviation safety, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reform, and $1.68 billion in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) funding to help with recovery efforts for Hurricane Florence. The House and Senate also passed, by Unanimous Consent, the "Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2018, Part II" ( H.R. 6897 ) which extends an FAA authorization from October 1-7, in order to provide the Senate additional time to pass the long-term FAA bill; Trump signed the one-week FAA extension into law on Sept. 29. The Senate is expected to pass H.R. 302 prior to Oct. 7. A short summary of H.R. 302 is available here, while a more detailed summary is available here. Read more. 
House Passes Comprehensive Opioid Response Bill
 
On September 28, the House passed, by a vote of 393-8, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act ( H.R. 6), which authorizes an array of grant programs to help curb the opioid addiction epidemic. The measure contains provisions from dozens of proposals and would modify Medicare prescription drug coverage, Medicaid coverage for inpatient treatment, Food and Drug Administration import oversight, and authorize a panoply of grant programs to aid local treatment providers and law enforcement. The Senate is expected to pass H.R. 6 during the week of Oct. 1 and send it to President Trump's desk to be signed into law. A detailed summary of H.R. 6 is available here. Read more. 
House Passes Tax Reform 2.0 Bills
 
On September 27 and 28, the House passed three bills that collectively provide a $631 billion extension of tax cuts. The legislation is not expected to be taken up by the Senate and is largely designed to help Republicans on the campaign trail, members say. The three bills include the:
  • Family Savings Act of 2018 (H.R. 6757), passed by a vote of 240-177, provides individuals with more flexibility to save for retirement and unrelated businesses to offer joint retirement plans, including Universal Savings Accounts (USAs), which are new tax sheltered savings accounts with no income limit for participants that would allow individuals to withdraw funds for any purpose before retirement age tax free; removing the 70.5 age limit on IRA retirement account contributions and exempting seniors with less than $50,000 in their retirement accounts from taking the required minimum distributions once they turn 70.5; allowing a penalty free withdrawal from retirement accounts to cover the birth or adoption of a child; expanding qualified 529 education savings accounts to include homeschooling and apprenticeship costs; and some administrative adjustments for small businesses offering retirement plans for their employees; 
  • American Innovation Act of 2018 (H.R. 6756), passed by a vote of 260-156, expands how much a new small business can deduct for start-up and organizational expenditures incurred during the first year of the business; it also allows the Net Operating Losses and tax credits of a start-up business to transfer should its ownership change, potentially facilitating fundraising by or acquisition of more start-up businesses.
  • Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act of 2018 (H.R. 6760), passed by a vote of 220-191, which makes permanent the individual and small business tax cuts from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, currently set to expire in 2025. These include the lower top tax rate for the wealthy; lower taxes on so-called "pass through" income; the doubled estate tax exemption to $22 million per couple; the cap on the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT); the cap on mortgage interest deduction; and several middle class tax deductions.