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Window on Washington - This Week in the Nation's Capital - October 13, 2017, Vol. 1, Issue 30

Oct 13, 2017



  • House Passes Bill on Disaster Funding: House Republicans easily passed a supplemental spending bill that included $36.5 billion of disaster aid with a vote of 353-69 after some initial worries on Thursday afternoon that it might not have the votes to pass the legislation after multiple Members of the Freedom Caucus stated they were opposed. The package includes disaster aid and funding for flood instance claims in response to the hurricanes as well as funding to assist with fighting the wildfires in the West. (CNN)
  • White House Immigration Proposal Could Impact FY18 Appropriations: Over the weekend, the White House released a list of immigration reforms, including funding for a border wall and curbs on federal grants to sanctuary cities, that would need to be a part of a DACA deal. Some of these items are considered nonstarters for Democrats and some moderate Republicans and in response, Democrats have stated that they would be willing to withhold votes on spending bills if these items were included which could potentially cause a government shutdown. (The Washington Post)
  • Senate Appropriations Markups Will Resume Next Week: The Senate Appropriations Committee has announced that it will markup the FY18 Interior and Homeland Security appropriations bills on Thursday. Additionally, it is worth noting that Politico this morning reported that Senator Cochran, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is still recovering at his home from a health concern. While his staff states he will be returning to Capitol Hill next week, it is unclear if this could affect the appropriations process for the remainder of the year but the markups for next week are expected to occur. (Senate Appropriations Committee)

Tax Reform

  • Challenges Pile Up for Republicans on Tax Reform: After six months, Republican leaders have released the broad outline of their tax reform plan, a policy area that unites a party stricken with divisions and distractions that have stymied their ability to achieve a major legislative accomplishment so far this year. Now comes the hard part. (NBC News)
  • Republicans Close to Compromise on State, Local Tax Deduction: Enough lawmakers from high-tax states had been opposed to the elimination of the state and local tax deduction that it threatened tax reform. A compromise could include capping the deduction on those with incomes between $200,000 to $400,000. (Politico)
  • Trump Wants Democratic Support for Tax Bill but Slams Party at PA Rally: Speaking to an audience of long-haul truckers Wednesday evening in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, President Trump delivered a passionate sales pitch for the plan and pledged to convince Republican lawmakers and "maybe some of those Democrats" to vote for the plan, despite also criticizing them for their past support of tax increases. (Roll Call)
  • Ryan Urges Conservatives to Take on Criticisms of GOP Tax Plan: Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is urging conservatives to push back against criticism of the GOP's tax plan as he seeks to build momentum for his top legislative priority, and he specifically defended proposed corporate tax rate cuts and the plan to do away with the deduction for state and local taxes at a Thursday speech. (The Hill


  • House, Senate Pushing Bipartisan Dodd-Frank Changes: With Republican large-scale effort to overhaul Dodd-Frank stalled, there are signs that bipartisan efforts on both sides of Capitol Hill to make incremental changes are gaining momentum. The House Financial Services Committee marked up a number of bills that make smaller regulatory changes, many of which appear to have bipartisan support. On the Senate side, sources say that Banking Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) and the panel's ranking Democrat, Sherrod Brown (OH) may also be close to unveiling bipartisan legislation to make changes to Dodd-Frank. (Credit Union Times


  • House Delays Floor Vote on CHIP Reauthorization: Energy and Commerce Chairman Walden delayed sending the Children's Health Insurance Program reauthorization to the floor in order to continue negotiations with Democrats on how to fund the program. Democrats are opposed to Republican efforts to pay for the program through increasing Medicare costs for wealthier seniors. Walden said if an agreement was not reached by the end of the week that he would then proceed with advancing the legislation. (Washington Examiner)
  • House Holds Hearing on Program that Gives Hospitals Discounts on Prescription Drugs: The 340B Drug Pricing Program makes some providers, such as children's hospitals, federal health centers and specialty clinics, eligible for discounts of between 25 to 50 percent on outpatient drugs. Some Republicans have concerns that the recipients of these discounts don't adequately utilize these savings to ensure low-income patients have access to essential health services and treatments as required by the program. (Morning Consult)


  • House Lawmakers Criticize Secretary Perry's Plan to Support Coal and Nuclear Plants: Multiple Democrats and one Republican at an Energy and Commerce hearing said the plan would disrupt the energy markets and support power plants that are not competitive. Secretary Perry also defended his use of private and government planes during the hearing. (Bloomberg


  • Meet the Republican Who Might Cut a Dreamers Deal: Senator Thom Tillis, a reliable Republican on most issues, approached the No. 2 Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, to discuss the fate of hundreds of thousands of "Dreamers." If a deal can be done to win over the warring parties and a president who has swung back and forth on the issue, it might start with Tillis, who has methodically carved out a profile as a pro-immigration Republican at a time when the GOP has swerved sharply to the right. (Politico)


  • Defense Bill Goes to Conference: The House voted to form a conference committee with the Senate to negotiate the competing versions of the National Defense Authorization Act. The list of House conferees is available here. (The Hill)


Executive Branch


  • In Executive Order, HHS and Other Agencies Directed to Rewrite Health Insurance Rules: The order is largely aimed at allowing for the creation of cheaper and less regulated health insurance plans that could be marketed across state lines. Some experts say this would undermine the insurance exchanges as healthier people move to the new cheaper plans and the exchanges as the only option for those with illnesses. Any changes would likely take months to finalize and consumers should not expect changes for next year. (STAT News)
  • White House Plans to End Healthcare Subsidies: The White House confirmed that it will end cost-sharing reductions to health insurance companies that help lower-income Americans afford coverage. Ending the payments is grounds for any insurer to back out of its federal contract to sell health plans for 2018. House Republicans had previously sued HHS over the legality of the payments and a federal court agreed that they were illegal. The Obama Administration has appealed that ruling and the Trump Administration will be dropping the appeal. (The Washington Post)
  • White House Document States that Only Congress Can Remove the Individual Mandate: An administration document that accompanies the executive order signed by President Trump Thursday states that "only Congress can change the law" when it comes to the mandate leading to the assumption that the Administration plans to continue enforcement. However, the document also states that HHS has the ability to define a hardship exemption for the purpose of the individual mandate leaving the likelihood that HHS will create more exemptions. (The Hill)
  • NIH Announces Cancer Moonshot Public-private Research Collaboration: NIH is partnering with 11 biopharmaceutical companies in an effort to increase the number of therapies that use the body's immune system to fight cancer. NIH will contribute $160 million and each company will contribute up to $1 million each year over five years. (Scientific American)
  • Eric Hargan will Serve as HHS Acting Secretary: Hargan was confirmed as deputy secretary by the Senate on a 57-38 vote last week. (Politico)


  • EPA Announces Repeal of Major Obama-Era Carbon Emissions Rule: The Environmental Protection Agency announces that Scott Pruitt, the chief of the agency, had signed a measure to repeal President Obama's signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a bitter fight over the future of America's efforts to tackle global warming. (The New York Times)
  • EPA's 4-year Strategic Plan Does Not Mention 'Climate Change:' A four-year plan for President Trump's EPA contains no mention of the words "climate change." The 38-page document, released for public comment last week, does not include the phrases "climate change," "carbon dioxide" or "greenhouse gas emissions." This is in stark contrast to President Obama's 80-page plan, which listed "Addressing Climate Change and Improving Air Quality" as one of its central goals, and referenced climate change more than 40 times. (The Hill

Department of Education

  • DeVos Sets New Priorities for Grant Money: The Education Department is proposing 11 priorities for grant awards which include school choice, promoting STEM, assisting disable students, and promoting innovative education. (Education Week)

Department of Justice

  • Justice Department Warns Major Cities that their Sanctuary City Policies Are in Violation of Federal Law: Cities on the attorney general's warning list include New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Chicago as well as its surrounding county. The Justice Department said that cities that continue to violate the federal statue related to the delivery of immigration related information to federal authorities will have certain grant funding withheld. (Newsweek)

Department of Transportation

  • Innovators Urged to Speak Out on U.S. DOT Proposed Autonomous Vehicle Policies: The Alliance for Transportation Innovation details its concerns with proposed rules by the U.S. DOT, saying that while it is a good start, it is also incompatible with the current pace of innovation. (The Hill

Department of Labor

  • Department of Labor Proposes to Delay Implementation of Disability Claim Regulations: The Department of Labor has recently signed a proposed Rule to delay for ninety (90) days (through April 1, 2018) the applicability of the Final Rule amending the claims procedure requirements applicable to ERISA-covered employee benefit plans that provide disability benefits. (JD Supra


  • NASA to Leverage Current Planning/SLS System for 45-day Exploration Report: At the Oct. 5 inaugural meeting of the reconstituted National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence announced that NASA would be charged with developing plans for a human return to the moon as a stepping stone for later missions to Mars, requiring the development of an updated "human exploration roadmap" identifying long-term goals for human space exploration and missions needed to accomplish them. (Space News)
  • $30 Billion/Year Over Next Decade for Space Industry to Manufacture & Launch ~300 Satellites Annually: According to the 20th edition of the report, Satellites to be Built & Launched, Euroconsult anticipates that 300 satellites with a mass over 50 kg will be launched on average each year by 2026 for government agencies and commercial organizations worldwide. This is a threefold increase over the past decade as the satellite market experiences a paradigm shift with the rise of small satellites and mega constellations. (Space Ref)
  • New Telescope Attachment Allows Ground-Based Exoplanet Observations: A new, low-cost attachment to telescopes allows previously unachievable precision in ground-based observations of exoplanets -- planets beyond our solar system. (Space Ref)


  • Trump Warns It's 'Possible' the US will Drop Out of NAFTA: The 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement is in peril as President Trump meets with Justin Trudeau: "If we can't make a deal, it'll be terminated and that will be fine." U.S. proposals include limiting the number of federal government contracts that Mexican and Canadian companies can win, a provision that would cause the deal to automatically expire in five years unless all three countries vote to renew, and changes in how much of a product needs to be made in North America to come under NAFTA protections. (The Guardian)
  • First Solar Comes Out in Favor of a Section 201 Trade Case Remedy: First Solar, the largest U.S.-based solar panel manufacturer, has been relatively quiet about the controversial Section 201 trade case brought by U.S.-based crystalline silicon PV manufacturers Suniva and SolarWorld Americas. That is, until now.In a letter filed Tuesday, First Solar urged the U.S. International Trade Commission to put in place a remedy that protects U.S. cell and module manufacturers. According to Goldman Sachs analysts, this is the first time the company has publicly offered support for a remedy in the case. (Green Tech Media)

White House

  • Trump Says He Won't Fill 'A Lot' of Vacant Appointments: President Trump said that the size of some federal agencies is "unnecessary," offering an explanation as to why he has left vacant so many positions requiring a presidential appointment. (Politico)
  • Trump to Nominate Kelly's White House Deputy as DHS Secretary: The White House announced on Wednesday that President Trump will nominate Kirstjen Nielsen to run the Department of Homeland Security. (Politico)


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