Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of October 15, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are both in recess until Tuesday, November 13, one week after Election Day. When the Senate returns it will consider the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 (S. 140) and 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. When the House returns in November, it may consider a bill introduced by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Oct. 12 entitled the Build the Wall, Enforce the Law Act of 2018 (H.R. 7059), which would provide $23.4 billion in additional funding for President Trump's proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as several other immigration enforcement measures.
 
On Monday, President Trump and the First Lady are traveling to the Florida panhandle and central Georgia to witness emergency recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Michael. On Wednesday, Trump will hold a Cabinet meeting and award the Medal of Honor to 80-year old retired Marine Sergeant Major John Canley for conspicuous gallantry in 1968 during the Vietnam War. On Thursday, Trump will travel to Missoula, Montana for a political rally with GOP Senate candidate Matt Rosendale and Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT). On Friday, Trump will travel to Mesa, Arizona for a political rally with Governor Doug Ducey (R-AZ), GOP Senate candidate Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ). On Saturday, Trump will travel to Elko, Nevada for a political rally with GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), and Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV).      
Week in Review

Senate Passes America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018
 
On October 10, the Senate passed, by a vote of 99-1, the America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021; aka, the Water Resources Development Act [WRDA]). The House previously passed the bill on Sept. 13 by voice vote, which means the bill will now be sent to President Trump's desk to be signed into law. Among other things, the legislation: authorizes several new Corps of Engineers studies, construction and environmental restoration projects as recommended by the Chief of the Corps; reauthorizes the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund at more than $4.4 billion over the next three years; eases the streamlining process for hydropower projects; reauthorizes the popular Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) through FY 2021; and, initiates a study with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review the Trump Administration's controversial proposal to move at least parts of the Corps out of the Defense Department. Summaries of the bill are available here. Read more.
Senate Rejects CRA Disapproval Resolution Regarding Trump Administration's Rule on Short-Term Health Care Plans
 
On October 10, the Senate rejected, by a vote of 50-50, a Congressional Review Act (CRA) disapproval resolution ( S. J. Res. 63), introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), which would have nullified a recent Trump Administration rule on short-term health insurance plans issued by the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services Departments on August 3, 2018. The rule, which took effect on Oct. 2, allows consumers to purchase "short-term limited-duration" health plans that do not comply with all of the benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including coverage of prescription drugs, maternity care or people with pre-existing medical conditions. Under the new rule, consumers can keep these plans for almost 12 months and renew them for up to three years. The Obama Administration shortened how long a consumer can stay in a short-term plan to just under three months in 2016. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) joined with all 49 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus in voting in favor of the resolution. Read more.
Senate Confirms 36 of President Trump's Executive and Judicial Nominees
 
On October 11, before recessing for four weeks, the Senate confirmed 21 executive and 15 judicial nominees, including:
  • Jeffrey Clark to be Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources, confirmed by a vote of 52-45;
  • Eric Dreiband to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, confirmed by a vote of 50-47;
  • James Stewart to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, confirmed by voice vote;
  • Robert McMahon to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, confirmed by voice vote;
  • James Morhard to be Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, confirmed by voice vote; and
  • Peter Gaynor to be Deputy Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, confirmed by voice vote.
Trump Signs Justice Served Act Into Law
 
On October 9, President Trump signed the Justice Served Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-257) into law, which authorizes, during FYs 2019-2022, the Department of Justice to award grants under the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program for the purpose of increasing the capacity of prosecutors to address the backlog of violent crime cases involving suspects identified through DNA evidence. The House passed the bill on May 15 by a vote of 377-1 and the Senate passed it on September 26 by voice vote. Read more.
Trump Signs Two Bills Into Law Aimed at Drug Costs
 
On October 10, President Trump signed two bills into law regarding drug prices and transparency:
  • Public Law 115-262, the Know the Lowest Price Act of 2018: this bill prohibits Medicare Prescription Drug Plan sponsors and Medicare Advantage organizations from restricting or penalizing the disclosure of certain drug pricing information to enrollees. The Senate passed the bill on September 4 by Unanimous Consent and the House passed it on Sept. 25 by voice vote; and
  • Public Law 115-263, the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act: this bill prohibits health insurers from restricting or penalizing the disclosure of certain drug pricing information to enrollees, and to require the filing of settlements between biosimilar product developers. The Senate passed the bill on September 17 by a vote of 98-2 and the House passed it on Sept. 25 by voice vote.
Trump Signs Save Our Seas Act Into Law
 
On October 11, President Trump signed the Save Our Seas (SOS) Act of 2018 ( Public Law 115-265) into law, which reauthorizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA)   Marine Debris Program through FY 2022; promotes international action to reduce marine debris; strengthens certain Coast Guard requirements to promote safety in the maritime industry; and authorizes the establishment of a Coast Guard Blue Technology center of expertise. The Senate passed the bill on September 26 by Unanimous Consent and the House passed it on Sept. 27 by voice vote. Read more. 
Trump Signs Missing Children's Assistance Act Into Law
 
On October 11, President Trump signed the Missing Children's Assistance Act of 2018 ( Public Law 115-267) into law, which reauthorizes, through FY 2023, the Justice Department's grants related to missing children, including the annual $40 million grant to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and other organizations that help prevent and respond to offenses committed against vulnerable children. The bill ensures continued federal support of efforts by state and local entities to recover missing and exploited children-including children who are the victim of kidnapping and child pornography crimes. The bill also includes measures to ensure that school personnel, law enforcement, individuals and other non-governmental organizations can receive technical assistance and training on how to prevent, recover, and help missing, abducted, or exploited children. The Senate passed the bill on September 27 by Unanimous Consent and the House passed it on Sept. 28 by voice vote. Read more.