May 15, 2017

Legislative Focus: Nominees in the Senate; Ways and Means Takes up Tax Reform
The Senate convenes today at 3 p.m. ET to consider the nomination of Jeffrey Rosen to be deputy secretary of Transportation, with a cloture vote expected at 5:30 p.m. Rosen would serve under Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. The chamber this week is also expected to take a cloture vote on the nomination of Rachel Brand to be associate attorney general.

The House returns Tuesday and will begin debate on a number of law enforcement-related bills, including “suspension” measures that would authorize probation officers to make arrests (H.R. 1039) and allow use of certain grant funds to hire veterans as career law enforcement officers (H.R. 1428). Another bill (H.R. 115) would add targeting, murder or attempted murder of law enforcement officers to the list of aggravating factors courts and juries use to determine whether a death sentence is justified.

House Ways and Means this week will host the first hearing aimed at getting a major tax bill through Congress. It comes after months of behind-the-scenes negotiating.

Key Hearings and Markups

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

  • Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee hearing on “Leveraging Federal Funding: Innovative Solutions for Infrastructure.” Tuesday, May 16 at 3:15 p.m., 406 Dirksen Bldg.
  • Full committee hearing on “Improving America’s Transportation Infrastructure: The Road Forward.” Wednesday, May 17 at 10 a.m., 406 Dirksen Bldg.

House Appropriations Committee

  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on “Emerging Transportation Technologies.” Thursday, May 18 at 10 a.m., 2358-A Rayburn Bldg.

House Education and the Workforce Committee

  • Full committee markup of H.R.2353, the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.” Wednesday, May 17 at 10 a.m., 2175 Rayburn Bldg.

House Natural Resources Committee

  • Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee hearing on “Reviewing Recent State Successes with the Rigs to Reefs Program.” Wednesday, May 17 at 10 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.
  • Federal Lands Subcommittee hearing on “Seeking Better Management of America’s Overgrown, Fire-Prone National Forests.” Wednesday, May 17 at 2 p.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.
  • Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee hearing on H.R.2371, the “Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act”; and the “Water Rights Protection Act.” Thursday, May 18 at 10 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

  • Full committee hearing on “The Need to Reform FAA and Air Traffic Control to Build a 21st Century Aviation System for America.” Wednesday, May 17 at 10 a.m., 2167 Rayburn Bldg.
  • Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee hearing on “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Improving Water Quality through Integrated Planning.” Thursday, May 18 at 10 a.m., 2167 Rayburn Bldg.

House Ways and Means Committee

  • Full committee hearing on “How Tax Reform Will Grow Our Economy and Create Jobs.” Thursday, May 18 at 10 a.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg.
  • Health Subcommittee hearing on “Current Status of the Medicare Program, Payment Systems, and Extenders.” Thursday, May 18 at 2 p.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg.

The Week in Review

Perdue Announces New Undersecretary of Trade and USDA Reorganization
Last week, Secretary Perdue created the position of undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who will work to advocate for American agricultural exports. Perdue is eliminating the undersecretary of rural development and reorganizing the Rural Development Service to report directly to the secretary’s office. Perdue is also reorganizing the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Forest Service, but stressed that workforce reduction was not part of the plan. The NRCS will merge with the Farm Service Agency and Risk Management Agency under the new Farm Production and Conservation mission, with its own undersecretary. This allows the undersecretary for natural resources and environment to focus on the Forest Service.

FEMA Seeks Comment on NIMS Resource Management Guidance and Tools
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released five documents to strengthen the Resource Management component of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). NIMS provides a framework to enable communities work together to effectively manage threats and hazards. The purpose of the documents is to enhance interoperability and the effectiveness of mutual aid. The documents include the NIMS Guideline for the National Qualification System (NQS), NIMS Job Titles/Position Qualifications and accompanying Position Task Books (PTBs), the NIMS Guideline for Mutual Aid, and an updated NIMS Guideline for the Credentialing of Personnel.  FEMA will host a series of engagement webinars to describe the draft documents and answer participants’ questions about providing feedback. To review NIMS Resource Management supplemental guidance and tools, and to obtain additional webinar information, click here.

President Trump Signs Cybersecurity EO
Last week, President Trump signed an Executive Order to improve the cyber security of federal networks and strengthen the nation’s critical infrastructure. Specifically, the Order requires the federal government to use the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to manage cybersecurity risk; identify authorities and capabilities that agencies could employ to support the cybersecurity efforts of critical infrastructure entities that are at the greatest risk of attack; recruit more cybersecurity experts to help defend the nation from hacks; and voluntarily cooperate with the private sector to develop strategies to defend and reduce attacks from botnets, among other provisions. To access the full text of the Executive Order, click here.