February 27, 2017

Legislative Focus: Governors on the Hill, Presidential Address, Confirmations and Executive Orders
Governors begin their morning with President Trump, Vice President Pence and Cabinet Secretaries at the White House discussing issues of national importance including health care, infrastructure and tax reform. Governors will spend the remainder of the day on the Hill continuing their work with federal partners.

The Office of Management and Budget will share the Administration’s budget blueprint of top-line discretionary spending numbers today. On Tuesday the President will address a joint session of Congress for the first time and is expected to cover a wide-array of topics with impacts for states including immigration, taxes, regulations, the Affordable Care Act, multinational trade agreements, and defense and homeland security spending. The President is expected to sign various executive orders with energy and environmental implications this week.

In the Senate, Cabinet confirmations continue. Wibur Ross is expected to be confirmed Secretary of Commerce today, followed by action on Secretary-designate Zinke for the Interior Department, Ben Carson for Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Former Governor Rick Perry for Secretary of the Department of Energy. All are expected to be in place by the end of the week.

The House meets on Tuesday to consider H.R. 998, which would create a commission to review existing federal regulations and identify those that should be repealed. The House will reconvene at approximately 8:35 p.m. for a Joint Session of Congress to receive the President’s Address. Later in the week, the House is expected to consider two bills on regulatory policy (H.R. 1009 and H.R. 1004).

Senate Floor: The Senate convenes at noon ET to consider the nomination of Wilbur Ross to be Secretary of Commerce.

House Floor: The House convenes at noon, and at 2 p.m. for legislative business. First votes are expected at 6:30 p.m.

Key Hearings and Markups

Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee

  • Full committee hearing on “Connecting America: Improving Access to Infrastructure for Communities Across the Country,” witnesses include Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. Wednesday, March 1, at 10 a.m., 106 Dirksen Bldg.
  • Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet Subcommittee hearing on “Exploring the Value of Spectrum to the U.S. Economy.” Thursday, March 2, at 9:30 a.m., G-50 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

  • Full committee hearing on “Flood Control Infrastructure: Safety Questions Raised by Current Events.” Wednesday, March 1, at 10:30 a.m., 406 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Judiciary Committee

  • Full committee hearing on “Improving Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System.” Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 10 a.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Select Intelligence Committee

  • Full committee hearing on the nomination of former Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., to be Director of National Intelligence. Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 2 p.m., 106 Dirksen Bldg.

House Agriculture Committee

  • Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee hearing on “The Next Farm Bill: Conservation Policy.” Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 10 a.m., 1300 Longworth Bldg.
  • Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee hearing on “The Next Farm Bill: International Market Development.” Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 2 p.m., 1300 Longworth Bldg.

House Education and Workforce Committee

  • Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee hearing on “Providing More Students a Pathway to Success by Strengthening Career and Technical Education.” Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 10 a.m., 2175 Rayburn Bldg.
  • Full committee hearing on “Legislative Proposals to Improve Health Care Coverage and Provide Lower Costs for Families,” including H.R.1101, the “Small Business Health Fairness Act”; the “Self-Insurance Protection Act”; and the “Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act.” Wednesday, March 1, at 10 a.m., 2175 Rayburn Bldg.

House Judiciary Committee

  • Full committee markup of H.R.372, the “Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017″; H.R.1215, the “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017″; and H.Res.111, Resolution of inquiry directing the attorney general to transmit certain documents to the House of Representatives relating to the financial practices of the president. Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 10 a.m., 2141 Rayburn Bldg.

House Natural Resources Committee

  • Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee hearing on “Modernizing Western Water and Power Infrastructure in the 21st Century.” Wednesday, March 1, at 10 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

  • Aviation Subcommittee hearing on “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: State of American Airports.” Wednesday, March 1, at 11 a.m., 2167 Rayburn Bldg.

The Week in Review

U.S. Departments of Justice and Education Withdraw Guidance on School Access to Sex-segregated Facilities
Last week, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education issued a guidance letter to schools rescinding guidance established by the Obama Administration that interprets the Title IX prohibition on sex discrimination found in the Every Student Succeeds Act to require access to sex-segregated facilities based on gender identity. This includes allowing transgender students to use facilities of their choice based on their gender identity as opposed to their gender at birth. The Departments cited recent litigation regarding school restrooms and locker rooms, a lack of public process such as formal rulemaking on the issue and deference to states in establishing educational policy as the basis for their decision to rescind the guidance. Further litigation regarding sex-segregated school facilities should be expected.

USDA to Invest $103 Million for Disaster Recovery in FY2017
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will invest up to $103 million in fiscal year 2017 for disaster recovery efforts to help state, local and tribal governments respond to natural disasters through the Emergency Watershed Protection(EWP) Program. USDA has approved $9 million to fund disaster recovery projects in response to damage caused by Hurricane Matthew, and Louisiana will receive financial assistance in purchasing floodplain easements. USDA’s National Resources Conservation Services administers the EWP Program which funds up to 75 percent of eligible disaster recovery projects and permanent floodplain easements. USDA is still accepting requests for FY2017 funding.

DHS Issues Implementation Memorandum on President’s Interior Public Safety EO
Secretary Kelly of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a memorandum that implements the executive order titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” issued by President Trump on Jan. 25, 2017. The memorandum provides guidance for DHS personnel regarding the enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws and is applicable to the activities of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Specifically, the memorandum guides DHS to no longer exempt classes or categories of undocumented immigrants from potential enforcement; strengthens programs and utilizes existing statutory authorities to execute the nation’s immigrations laws; establish the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office within the Office of the Director of ICE to create a programmatic liaison between ICE and known victims of crimes committed by undocumented citizens; and hires an additional 10,000 ICE officers and agents, among other provisions. A full copy of the memorandum is available here.