Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of October 9, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The Senate is in session this week, while the House is in recess until November 13. The Senate will vote on the House-passed America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (i.e., the Water Resources Development Act [WRDA]; S. 3021), which would authorize numerous port revitalization, flood control and other infrastructure projects, as well as set policy for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Senate will also vote on the nominations of Jeffrey Clark to be Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources; Eric Dreiband to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights; and James Stewart to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.  Senate Democrats may also force a vote this week in relation to  S. J. Res. 63 , which would disapprove a rule on short-term, limited duration health insurance plans issued by the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services Departments on August 3, 2018. The rule, which took effect Oct. 2, permits "skinny" plans that don't include the protections required by the Affordable Care Act. T he resolution would use the Congressional Review Act, which allows for resolutions overturning regulations to be passed with simple majorities in both chambers. 
 
On Tuesday, President Trump will travel to Council Bluffs, Iowa for a political rally with Governor Kim Reynolds (R-IA) and Rep. David Young (R-IA). On Wednesday, Trump will travel to Erie, Pennsylvania for a political rally with GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner (R-PA), Senate candidate Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA). On Friday, Trump will travel to Lebanon, Ohio for a political rally with GOP gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine, Senate candidate Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH), and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH). On Saturday, Trump will travel to Richmond, Kentucky for a political rally with Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY).
Week in Review

Senate Confirms Brett Kavanuagh to Supreme Court
 
On October 6, the Senate confirmed 53-year old Justice Brett Kavanaugh to a lifetime seat on the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 50-48-1, the narrowest margin of victory for a Supreme Court nominee since 1881. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined Republicans in supporting Kavanaugh's nomination, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted "present" instead of "no" to accommodate the absence of Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT). Chief Justice John Roberts and former Justice Anthony Kennedy administered the Constitutional Oath and Judicial Oath, respectively, to Kavanaugh on Oct. 6 in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court, officially making him the 114th Justice of the Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy also administered the Judicial Oath to Kavanaugh in a public ceremony at the White House on Oct. 8. The Supreme Court will now have a solid 5-4 conservative majority for the foreseeable future, with Chief Justice Roberts now serving as the median Justice, ideologically, of the nine-member Court. Read more.
Trump Signs 5-Year FAA Reauthorization Bill Into Law
 
On October 5, President Trump signed the $96.7 billion FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 into law ( Public Law 115-254). The House passed the bill on Sept. 26 by a vote of 398-23, and the Senate passed the bill on Oct. 3 by a vote of 93-6. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration through 2023 and includes the text of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) 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 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. A summary of the FAA provisions are available here; a summary of the DRRA is available here; and a section-by-section summary is available here. Read more.
Senate Passes Comprehensive Opioid Response Bill, Sending it to President Trump's Desk
 
On October 3, the Senate passed, by a vote of 98-1, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act ( H.R. 6); the House passed the bill on Sept. 28 by a vote of 393-8. The bill authorizes an array of grant programs to help curb the opioid addiction epidemic and 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. President Trump stated that he "loo k[s] forward to signing this historic legislation."  A section-by-section summary of H.R. 6 is available  here Read more.
U.S. and Canada Reach Deal to Salvage NAFTA
 
On September 30, the U.S. and Canadian governments reacheddramatic, last-minute deal on revising the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), lifting a cloud of uncertainty over the quarter-century-old continental commercial bloc. The pending agreement will allow Canada to join an accord reached in late August between the U.S. and Mexico and diminishes the prospects for President Trump to follow through on his threats either to kill NAFTA outright or to break the trilateral pact into separate pieces. NAFTA 2.0-to be officially called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)-makes significant changes to the rulebook that has governed continental commerce since 1994. The biggest impact is expected to be on the region's largest industry, autos, requiring a greater portion of vehicles to be made in North America and with high-wage labor in the U.S. and Canada. The new deal for the first time sets rules for financial-services and digital businesses that have emerged since the bloc was created, aimed at pleasing sectors from drugmakers to Wall Street. The USMCA must win ratification by Congress, where trade deals have become increasingly difficult to pass.  Trump Administration officials said they do not expect the pact to face a Congressional vote until 2019, when the House may be under control of Democrats reluctant to support the agreement. The USCMA is expected to clear the Mexican and Canadian legislatures with little opposition.  Read more.
Trump Administration Sues California Over Net Neutrality Law
 
On September 30, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would be suing the State of California in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to block the implementation of a brand new law, the California Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act of 2018, that Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) enacted earlier on Sept. 30 which restores net neutrality rules in California that were repealed under the Trump Administration, setting up a legal battle with the federal government over whether states can prevent companies from blocking access to the Internet. The state law prohibits broadband and wireless companies from blocking, throttling or otherwise hindering access to Internet content, and from favoring some websites over others by charging for faster speeds. California is one of more than 25 states to consider net neutrality protections since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in late 2017 to reverse the Obama-era Internet regulations. Read more.