May 8, 2017

Legislative Focus: Nominations, Russia and Food and Drug Administration Bill
After a busy week last week, the Senate looks to defense and state nominations, alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and a Food and Drug Administration bill. The Senate is expected to work through nominations on the floor, while the House is on a one-week recess. Additionally, a federal appeals court will hear President Trump’s revised travel ban.

The House met for pro forma session at 9:00 a.m. ET, but Representatives are out for the week.

The Senate convened at 2 p.m. to consider the nomination of Heather Wilson to be Air Force Secretary. Votes on her nomination are expected to be at 5:30 p.m. tonight. Next the Senate will turn to the nomination of Scott Gottlieb to head the Food and Drug Administration.

Key Hearings and Markups

Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee

  • Full committee hearing on “Pesticide Registration under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act: Providing Stakeholders with Certainty through the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act.” Thursday, May 11 at 9:30 a.m., 328-A Russell Bldg.

Senate Armed Services Committee

  • Full committee hearing on “United States Cyber Command.” Tuesday, May 9 at 9:30 a.m., G-50 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

  • Water and Power Subcommittee hearing on pending legislation, including S.685, the “Clean Water for Rural Communities.” Wednesday, May 10 at 2:30 p.m., 366 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

  • Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee hearing on “Water Resources: The Role of the Public and Private Sectors.” Tuesday, May 9 at 2:30 p.m., 406 Dirksen Bldg.
  • Full committee hearing on “Conservation, Consultation, and Capacity: State Views on the Need to Modernize the Endangered Species Act.” Wednesday, May 10 at 10 a.m., 406 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

  • Full committee markup of S.1028, the “Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act”; and S.934, the “Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act.” Wednesday, May 10 at 10 a.m., G-50 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

  • Full committee hearing on “Cyber Threats Facing America: An Overview of the Cybersecurity Threat Landscape.” Wednesday, May 10 at 10 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

The Week in Review

Senate Passes Omnibus Spending Bill
Last week the Senate passed, 79-18, a $1.1 trillion omnibus package to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, Sept 30. The House had previously passed the measure 309-118.

House Passes American Health Care Act
On Thursday, the House passed H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), 217-213. The bill would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by eliminating tax penalties for individuals who don’t purchase health insurance and erasing tax increases for high-income earning individuals and the health industry. The legislation, among other provisions, would make cuts to the Medicaid program; allow states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients; and transform subsidies for people who purchase health insurance – primarily based on people’s incomes and premium costs – into tax credits that rise with consumers’ ages. The Senate is expected to make several changes to the legislation before entering conference negotiations with the House.

Interior Secretary Zinke Signs Orders Implementing New Energy Strategy
Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ryan Zinke last week signed two secretarial orders aimed at unleashing America’s offshore energy potential and growing the U.S. economy. The first order implements President Trump’s Executive Order signed Friday and directs the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to develop a new five-year plan for oil and gas exploration in offshore waters and reconsider a number of regulations governing those activities. The second order establishes a new position – Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy – to coordinate the Interior Department’s energy portfolio that spans nine of the Department’s ten bureaus.

USDA Extends Flexibilities for States on School Meal Regulations and Announces New Regulatory Processes
Last week Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue gave a proclamation directing USDA to continue to allow states flexibilities in implementing certain nutritional requirements for school meals from the 2010 Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act and begin a new regulatory process for some school meal requirements. The proclamation continues state authority to exempt schools from meeting whole grain requirements through the 2017-2018 school year and directs USDA to begin a new regulatory process to provide permanent flexibilities to states with regard to whole grain requirements. It also extends the timeline for schools to comply with Target II sodium requirements through 2020 and directs USDA to begin a new regulatory process to allow schools to serve one percent fat flavored milks, which have been prohibited in schools since 2010.