Sunday, January 29, 2017

Daily Brief: Legislative Snapshot Saturday, January 28, 2017

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The Daily Brief:
Legislative Snapshot
Saturday, January 28, 2017

"Standing Together as One . . . Under the Cross of Christ"

" . . . and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom."
(Daniel 7:22b)

Inauguration Week


To view a summary of the activity of Congress during the week of the Inauguration, Congressional Activity for Inauguration week">please go here.

Last Week on the Hill


A Summary of key activity, for prayer, in Congress last week


House voted 238-183 to pass H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion & Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017.

House votes to cut abortion funding permanently
The law would codify the Hyde Amendment and close loopholes in Obamacare

House passes major abortion bill | Washington Examiner
The legislation, which passed 238-183, would make the Hyde amendment permanent. The amendment, which has been added to spending bills for decades, bans any federal funding from being used to provide abortions. In addition, it would target Obamacare plans that cover elective abortions. It would not provide Obamacare customers with subsidies used to pay down the cost of insurance if the insurance plan covers abortions.

House votes to permanently ban taxpayer funds for abortion
"That's what we should be all about. Life affirming and the saving of human life," said Smith. It does allow exceptions for cases of rape, incest or if the mother's life in danger. The three Democrats who voted for the legislation were Reps. Henry Cuellar (Texas), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.).

The bill would also permanently prohibit the District of Columbia from using its local funds approved by Congress for abortion services.


Senate confirmed the nomination of Mike Pompeo, of Kansas, to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

U.S. Senate confirms Pompeo to be Trump's CIA director
Sixty-six senators backed Pompeo and 32 voted against. All the opposition was from Democrats, except for Senator Rand Paul, a leading Republican advocate for strict control of surveillance. Shortly afterward, Pompeo was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence.

Senate confirmed the nomination of Nikki R. Haley, of South Carolina, to be the Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations.

U.S. Senate confirms Haley as Trump's U.N. ambassador
The U.S. Senate voted almost unanimously on Tuesday to confirm South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations, sending a rising Republican star to represent President Donald Trump at an institution he has criticized. Haley was backed by 96 senators, with only four opposed.

Senate confirms Trump's UN ambassador
Haley appeared to share her commander in chief's skepticism about America's heavy burden of United Nations dues, using the committee hearing to question if American values are reflected by a group that recently voted to condemn Israel for building of settlements in the West Bank. The Israel vote has drawn backlash from lawmakers in both parties.


Committee on Foreign Relations: Committee ordered favorably reported the nomination of Rex W. Tillerson, of Texas, to be Secretary of State.

Senate panel clears Tillerson's path to be secretary of state

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 11-10 to approve Tillerson, with every Republican backing the former oil executive and every Democrat opposing him.

Manchin to support Tillerson for State Department post Manchin noted that he has known Tillerson "for years" and pointed to his executive experience leading Exxon Mobil Corp. as "critical."

Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs: Committee ordered favorably reported ... The nomination of Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., of Florida, to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

U.S. Senate panel approves Carson for housing secretary post

Ben Carson, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead U.S. housing policy, won approval on Tuesday from the Senate committee reviewing the qualifications of the retired neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate. The endorsement by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, by a voice vote shown on its website, cleared the way for a full Senate vote on Carson's appointment as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Warren backs Carson for HUD secretary

Warren lamented Carson's "inexperience in the field," but said she would not stand in the way of his confirmation. The former Republican presidential candidate was advanced by the Senate Banking Committee earlier in the day and is expected to be confirmed by the upper chamber in the near future.

Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation: Committee ordered favorably reported the following business items: ... The nominations of Elaine L. Chao, of Kentucky, to be Secretary of Transportation, and Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., of Florida, to be Secretary of Commerce.

U.S. Senate panel advances Ross, Chao nominations on voice vote

A U.S. Senate committee swiftly approved Republican President Donald Trump's nominees for commerce and transportation secretaries by voice vote on Tuesday, signaling that they will face little resistance to approval by the full Senate. Members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee voiced no objections to the nominations of billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, 79, as commerce secretary and veteran government administrator Elaine Chao, 63, as transportation secretary. Republicans control the Commerce committee by a single vote.

Committee on Finance: Committee concluded a hearing to examine the nomination of Thomas Price, of Georgia, to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, after the nominee, who was introduced by Senator Isakson, testified and answered questions in his own behalf.

Tom Price survives Senate committee's scrutiny Trump's pick to lead the Health and Human Services Department carefully navigates questions about his record, Obamacare's replacement

Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: Committee concluded a hearing to examine the nomination of Mick Mulvaney, of South Carolina, to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget, after the nominee, who was introduced by Senators Graham and Cotton, testified and answered questions in his own behalf.

Mulvaney vows to give Trump straight talk on entitlements

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) gave no signs of shedding his reputation as a fiscal hawk during separate confirmation hearings with two Senate panels Tuesday. "The only thing I know to do is tell the president the truth," Mulvaney said. "I have to imagine that the president knew what he was getting when he asked me to fill this role," he said. "I'd like to think it's why he hired me."

Budget Nominee Mulvaney an Investor in Gold, Silver President Donald Trump's pick to oversee the federal budget holds stock in a range of funds, from gold and uranium mining to the global airline industry

For first time in 30 years, John McCain may block a president's budget chief.

On MSNBC yesterday, McCain said he's "very, very worried" Mulvaney will "continue his efforts to slash the military, which has been cut by 21 percent in the last eight years. I don't think any of us believe that we're 21 percent safer." In other words, the old war hawk can't stand a fiscal hawk like Mulvaney. This opposition seems uncharacteristic and perhaps hypocritical after McCain helped advance Democrat nominees who oversaw drastic cuts to military funding.

Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship: Committee concluded a hearing to examine the nomination of Linda E. McMahon, of Connecticut, to be Administrator of the Small Business Administration, after the nominee, who was introduced by Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, testified and answered questions in her own behalf.

McMahon dodges smackdown from Small Business Committee

Former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) head Linda McMahon called upon her experience as the former CEO of the pro-wrestling empire in an attempt to convince senators that she's the right choice to run President Trump's Small Business Administration (SBA).

Trump pick to head SBA, wrestling's Linda McMahon, receives warm Senate reception

Republican senator presses McMahon on EPA water rule

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) pressed Linda McMahon, President Trump's nominee to head the Small Business Administration, on whether she'll push the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to repeal the Waters of the United States rule.


a. Nomination of Jeff Sessions to Serve as Attorney General Delayed in Senate

- Democrats delay vote on Sessions nomination - The Hill

Senate Democrats are delaying a vote on Sen. Jeff Sessions's nomination to be President Trump's attorney general, arguing they want more time to review the pick.

"As we have done for most nominees I'm asking that the vote for Sen. Sessions be held over until next week," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote on the Alabama Republican's nomination during a Tuesday morning meeting. The committee's approval is a first step to being scheduled for a full Senate vote. (Read more)

b. Senate energy panel delays Tuesday votes on Perry and Zinke - Reuters

The Senate energy committee said late Monday it had delayed "until further notice" a meeting on Tuesday in which the panel had been slated to vote on President Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of the interior, Rep. Ryan Zinke, and his pick for secretary of energy, Rick Perry. (Read more)

> > > Prayer Request:

Using the Word of God, cry out for a breakthrough in all three of these nominations. May His Word shatter every barrier to these nominations, in His name, amen.

It is written:
"Is not my word like fire," declares the Lord, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?" (Jer. 23:29)


a. Committee on the Budget: Full Committee held a hearing entitled "The Failures of Obamacare: Harmful Effects and Broken Promises." Testimony was heard from public witnesses.

b. Americans Experience Personally ObamaCare's Broken Promises

Rep. Diane Black, R-TN, led the hearing attended by virtually all of the committee's members. She was named interim chair after Rep. Tom Price was nominated to be HHS Secretary in the Trump administration. Like Dr. Price, an orthopedic surgeon, Rep. Black also has real world medical experience after working for 40 years as nurse in Tennessee. She called the hearing to make it very clear ObamaCare has failed to come close to delivering on its lofty promises. "Premiums in our state [of Tennessee] are rising by an average of 63 percent, and three-fourths of our counties only have one coverage option to choose from on the Obamacare exchange," she said. Clearly, replace cannot be built on the wreckage of ObamaCare.

c. Committee on Ways and Means: Subcommittee on Oversight held a hearing on examining the effectiveness of the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act. Testimony was heard from public witnesses.

d. States Could Keep Obamacare Under Cassidy-Collins Replacement - Roll Call

State legislatures would be able to choose, in 2018, whether to continue to support the insurance market and institutions put in place by former President Barack Obama's law, or to opt into a new system with many of the same consumer protections but fewer regulations. Under the new system, insurance coverage would be much less comprehensive but likely would be cheaper. (Read more)


First Health Care Repeal Deadline Missed by Congress - Roll Call
Members of the House Budget Committee told Roll Call Jan. 23 they anticipate that Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce will report in mid-to-late February. (Read more)

Senate committee moving forward with Russia hacking probe -The Hill
The Senate Intelligence Committee is moving forward with its probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential race. (Read more)

Second Hill panel to probe possible ties between Russia, Trump campaign - POLITICO
The House Intelligence Committee is now looking into alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, the panel's leaders said Wednesday, making it the second congressional investigation into the sensitive issue.Ryan: GOP will replace Obamacare, cut taxes and fund wall by August. (Read more)

Next Week on the Hill

Week of January 28 - February 2, 2016

Senate Chamber

Floor Schedule

Program for Monday: After the transaction of any morning business (not to extend beyond 5 p.m.), Senate will resume consideration of the nomination of Rex W. Tillerson, of Texas, to be Secretary of State, with a vote on the motion to invoke cloture thereon at 5:30 p.m.

McConnell to force vote on Trump's State Department pick
"I'll be filing cloture on Secretary of State nominee [Rex] Tillerson, which will ripen next week," McConnell told reporters during a weekly press conference. The move would set up a procedural vote early next week and get Tillerson through the Senate by the end of the week.

House Chamber

Weekly Schedule

Monday & Tuesday: Suspension Votes

Wednesday - Friday: Activity Under the Congressional Review Act

Text of Bills for the Week of Jan. 30, 2017

House to launch attack on Obama energy regs next week
The House will launch an attack Monday on former President Barack Obama's midnight regulations targeting the coal and natural gas industries, using powers extended to it under former President Bill Clinton for Congress to unravel specious federal rules.

Republicans to kill U.S. rules on corruption, environment, labor and guns next week
Congressional Republicans are set to overturn a slew of Obama-era regulations next week, including a controversial anti-bribery rule aimed at U.S. resource companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Chevron Corp (CVX.N), according to a top lawmaker. Other rules eyed for quick overturning by Congress include newly minted environmental, gun control and labor relations measures, sources said. Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can use simple majority votes to stop recent regulations in their tracks. The timing in the law means that any rules that became final after May 31 could go on the chopping block.

Senate Committee Meetings

Committee Meetings Schedule

Monday, January 30, 2017 (2 meetings)

Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Organizational business meeting to consider committee rules, an original resolution authorizing expenditures by the committee during the 115th Congress, and the nomination of Linda E. McMahon, of Connecticut, to be Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 (2 meetings)

Organizational business meeting to consider committee rules, S. 178, to prevent elder abuse and exploitation and improve the justice system's response to victims in elder abuse and exploitation cases, and the nomination of Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, to be Attorney General, Department of Justice.

Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Organizational business meeting to consider committee rules and subcommittee membership during the 115th Congress, and the nomination of Elisabeth Prince DeVos, of Michigan, to be Secretary of Education.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017 (2 meetings)

Organizational business meeting to consider committee rules, and an original resolution authorizing expenditures by the committee during the 115th Congress; to be immediately followed by a hearing to examine stopping senior scams, focusing on developments in financial fraud affecting seniors.

House Committees Meetings

Week of January 29 - February 4, 2017

Monday, January 30, 2017 (1 meeting)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 (5 meetings)

"Fraud, Waste and Abuse under the Affordable Care Act"
Subcommitte on Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules (Committee on Oversight and Government Reform)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 (9 meetings)

"Rescuing Americans from the Failed Health Care Law and Advancing Patient-Centered Solutions"
Committee on Education and the Workforce

Thursday, February 2, 2017 (7 meetings)

Israel, the Palestinians, and the United Nations: Challenges for the New Administration 
Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa (Committee on Foreign Affairs)

"Helping Students Succeed Through the Power of School Choice"
Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education (Committee on Education and the Workforce)

Patient Relief from Collapsing Health Markets
Subcommittee on Health (Committee on Energy and Commerce)

2017 Outlook


What to expect to see happen in Congress this year


1) Pending Supreme Court Nomination

2) Repeal of Affordable Care Act

3) Presidential Address to Congress
a. Ryan invites Trump to address Congress on February 28 - The Hill
Trump's remarks will technically not be a State of the Union address. It is traditional, however, for incoming presidents to speak before Congress in their first months in office. (Read more)

b. Ryan says Trump to address joint session of Congress Feb. 28 - Reuters
"This will be an opportunity for the people and their representatives to hear directly from our new president about his vision in our shared agenda," Ryan, leader of the Republican-controlled House, said at a news conference. (Read more)


Ryan maps out GOP timeline for ObamaCare, tax reform
PHILADELPHIA - Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday mapped out the GOP's 200-day legislative strategy, saying Republicans will repeal and replace portions of ObamaCare by spring and tackle tax reform before the August recess.

Ryan: GOP will replace Obamacare, cut taxes and fund wall by August
PHILADELPHIA - House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday outlined a packed legislative agenda for this year in which Republicans would repeal and replace Obamacare by April, fund Donald Trump's border wall shortly after that and approve a sweeping tax reform package by August.

Republicans set aggressive agenda on health care, regulations and tax reform
PHILADELPHIA - Republican leaders laid out an aggressive legislative agenda Wednesday that would have Congress repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act, pass replacement measures and embark on a major tax code overhaul, all within the first 200 days of blanket GOP control in Washington.

Trump takes control of GOP agenda
President Donald Trump told House Speaker Paul Ryan he "liked" the Republicans' 200 day agenda that includes repealing and replacing Obamacare and overhauling the tax code. But he told Ryan something was missing. Trump asked lawmakers to include the massive infrastructure spending project that he promised voters during the campaign. Now it's been added to the GOP's already packed to-do list, outlined at the Republican retreat at a hotel in downtown Philadelphia. It's not clear whether it will match Trump's $1 trillion proposal for repairing the nation's crumbling roads and bridges, but infrastructure is now "front and center," according to those who heard details of the GOP plan.

Supreme Court

Trump huddles with Senate leaders ahead of Supreme Court battle
President Trump met with Senate leaders on Tuesday afternoon as he gears up to announce his Supreme Court nominee next week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) - the top two members on the Judiciary Committee - sat down with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Tuesday to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy.

Senate GOP: We'll fill Supreme Court seat with or without Democrats
PHILADELPHIA - The Senate's No. 3 Republican told reporters at a GOP retreat Wednesday the Senate will fill the Supreme Court vacancy even if Democrats threaten to mount a filibuster, and suggested the GOP may be ready to invoke another "nuclear option" if needed.

Trump would favor Senate rule change if Supreme Court choice blocked
On Tuesday, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he told Trump that Democrats would fight any nominee they consider to be outside the mainstream. Assuming all 52 Senate Republicans back Trump's nominee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would either need to lure eight Democrats to his side or change the rules and ban the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations.

Trump backs curbing filibuster if Dems block Supreme Court pick
Trump told Fox News that he would back getting rid of the 60-vote threshold for high court nominees if he can't win over the support of at least eight Democrats for his nominee, who is expected to be announced next week.

Affordable Care Act Repeal

Walden: Other Bills May Carry Health Care Replacement
The House Energy and Commerce Committee could look to attach legislation intended to overhaul the 2010 health care law onto several other bills expected to advance this year, panel chairman Greg Walden said Tuesday.

Conservatives, GOP Committee Chairs Back Away From Bill Allowing States That Like Obamacare to Keep Obamacare

According to a senior Republican aide, GOP committee chairmen, as well as conservative lawmakers, are moving against the bill introduced earlier this week by Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine.
"I don't think we have the luxury of this dragging out for a lengthy period of time. There is a reason to wrap it up. This is a very intense effort of consultation with all three branches about how to do this in the relatively near future," McConnell said. He said doesn't want wrangling over ObamaCare to trample on time he has set aside for tax reform later this year. "We want to complete this exercise before we get to the second budget reconciliation for tax reform," he said.


Trump, GOP set to battle on spending cuts
Many of the proposals that the officials are reviewing would gain support from a majority of conservative House Republicans, who have sought to cut the federal deficit by scrapping government programs they view as unnecessary. But some of Trump's targets have fans in the GOP-controlled Congress, particularly in the Senate.

Ryan says U.S. House will put up funds to build Mexico border wall: MSNBC interview

GOP eyes special spending bill to pay for border wall
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told colleagues Wednesday that he will likely move a supplemental spending bill this year to pay for President Trump's massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

GOP leaders won't say how border wall will be paid for
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said Thursday that Congress will pass a supplemental bill before Sept. 30 that would fund a wall building project, which will cost about $12 billion to $15 billion, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. But Ryan dodged a question about whether Congress would raise taxes or cut spending to pay for such an endeavor.

Search for Billions to Pay for Border Wall Confronts Congress
Spicer told reporters Trump would seek to impose a 20 percent border tax on imports from Mexico. Republican leaders said Thursday they plan to pony up $12 billion to $15 billion in the coming months to begin construction of President Donald Trump's proposed border wall, but that large sum of money may be just the first installment to fund a project that could cost taxpayers as much as $40 billion, according to some independent estimates.

Ryan: GOP planning 'expansive' infrastructure budget
President Trump has called for $1 trillion infrastructure investment, but GOP leaders aren't yet committing to a spending level. Ryan said the size of the House GOP plan "is going to be determined by the fiscal space we create" in the budget. Ryan added that infrastructure spending would not be limited to roads and bridges, but will also include pipelines, Federal Aviation Administration spending and "so many other things."

Ryan tiptoes around deficit concerns for 2017 legislation
The issue may come to a head in the next few months when lawmakers will be asked to raise the federal debt ceiling.

Inside the GOP debate over strengthening defense spending, despite the cost
On Friday, President Trump announced his plans to lavish spending on the nation's military in remarks at the Pentagon near Washington. But just one day beforehand, congressional Republicans debated the costs of such a buildup and how to pay for it at their annual policy retreat in Philadelphia.

Senate Operations

McConnell plans longer hours, more Friday sessions
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to work longer hours, more Fridays and potentially keep the Senate in 24/7 at times to complete confirming President Donald Trump's Cabinet and begin pushing his legislative agenda, according to senators and aides briefed on the plan. The move could help head off potential complaints from Trump and House Republicans that the chamber's glacial pace is hurting the party.

Frustrated Republicans press McConnell to kill the filibuster
PHILADELPHIA - Rep. Trent Franks had a simple question for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during a private GOP meeting here Wednesday: Would he take up anti-abortion legislation the House passed? McConnell shot back that it would never get through the Senate because Democrats aren't "pro-life" and have the votes to stop it. So why don't you just change the rules? Rep. Bruce Poliquin demanded moments later. McConnell dodged, suggesting it's not going to happen.

McConnell all but rules out filibuster change
McConnell has argued throughout his Senate career that the chamber's rules can only be modified with a two-thirds vote, a striking contrast from his predecessor, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who triggered the nuclear-option in 2013 to shield executive branch and most judicial nominees from filibusters.

McConnell warns Trump to back off on killing filibuster
McConnell had this to say to the new president: That's not your call. "That's not a presidential decision. That's a Senate decision," McConnell told POLITICO in an interview Friday that focused mostly on the Supreme Court. "What I've said to him, and I've stated publicly and I'll say today: We're going to get this nominee confirmed."

Presidential Address to Congress

Ryan invites Trump to address Congress on February 28
Trump's remarks will technically not be a State of the Union address. It is traditional, however, for incoming presidents to speak before Congress in their first months in office.

Ryan says Trump to address joint session of Congress Feb. 28
"This will be an opportunity for the people and their representatives to hear directly from our new president about his vision in our shared agenda," Ryan, leader of the Republican-controlled House, said at a news conference.

Congressional Productivity

Trump: This Congress may be the busiest Congress ever
The major policy legislation Republicans hope to get across the finish line by summer are in addition to traditionally difficult votes to raise the nation's borrowing limit and pass federal spending bills. The government is operating for the most part off a temporary spending bill that expires in March. Republicans must also pass fiscal year 2018 spending measures in order to provide federal funding beyond the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.

Trump promises 'busiest Congress' in decades
"We're here now because tens of millions of Americans have placed their hopes in us, to transfer power from Washington, D.C. and give it back to the people." Trump thanked House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and told them the White House would no longer be a legislative graveyard. "We're actually going to sign the stuff that you're writing, you're not wasting your time," he said.

The Bible Readathon

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