Window on Washington - This Week in the Nation's Capital - June 2, 2017 Vol. 1, Issue 11
- House Appropriators Float 12-Bill Omnibus Before Recess: House Republicans are weighing an ambitious plan to pass a 12-bill appropriations package for fiscal 2018 ahead of the August recess, top GOP appropriators told CQ Roll Call on Thursday. The package effectively would be an instant omnibus — one that consists of 12 spending bills written by the GOP-controlled House Appropriations Committee (Roll Call).
- Debt Fight Blindsides Congress: President Donald Trump’s top economic aides are urging Capitol Hill leaders to raise the debt ceiling by the end of July, and Congress is totally unprepared to do so. Lawmakers in both parties thought they would have until the fall to act, and they had planned to roll the always-difficult vote into a broader spending package that could be more easily swallowed. That strategy may now have to be tossed aside with the debt limit deadline approaching faster than expected (Politico).
- President Trump Moves Closer to His Stated Goal of Repealing Dodd-Frank: When a House panel approved the Financial Choice Act, it helped Trump advance repealing Dodd-Frank (NPR).
- Cassidy, Hatch, Warren, Whitehouse Introduce Bipartisan College Transparency Act: U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced legislation to modernize the college reporting system for postsecondary data in order to provide greater transparency for students, families, institutions, and policymakers (Associated Press).
- Trump Calls for End to Filibuster: President Trump called for the Senate to end the filibuster and allow legislation to pass with a simple majority, saying it would help his agenda to pass “fast and easy.” “The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy. Dems would do it, no doubt!” Trump tweeted. However, the GOP can pass healthcare bills and tax reform with a 51-vote majority if Republicans can reach agreements among themselves (The Hill).
- House Democrats Unveil New Gun Bill Focused on Mental Health: House Democrats introduced legislation Friday designed to keep firearms from the hands of the severely mentally ill. Sponsored by Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), the measure would expand the list of people prohibited from buying or possessing guns to include a broader swath of mental health patients and convicted criminals (The Hill).
- Americans Like Obamacare Better Than GOP Plan, Poll Finds: More Americans than ever before like Obamacare, and they think the existing healthcare law is better than the Republican alternative, a new poll shows. It's divided along partisan lines, but the Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 55 percent of people have an unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable view of the proposed American Health Care Act and 31 percent have a favorable view. In contrast, 49 percent have a favorable view of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (NBC News).
- Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Reinstate Travel Ban: President Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to revive his controversial travel ban executive order, hoping that the justices will give the green light to a policy repeatedly blocked by lower courts (Politico).
- High-Speed Rail Rules Delayed Amid Trump Deregulatory Order: Federal safety standards for high-speed rail have been delayed as the Federal Railroad Administration determines how to release new rules while adhering to President Donald Trump’s order that agencies eliminate two regulations for every one they issue (Bloomberg).
- Infrastructure vs. Climate Change: Under the leadership of Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee would prioritize infrastructure over the environment and climate goals (Bloomberg BNA).
- Local Backlash: President Donald Trump's infrastructure plan disappointed local and state leaders who were expecting federal financial support. The $1 trillion plan proposed using federal money as an incentive for local governments and private investors to raise funds on their own (Bloomberg News).
- White House to Poach Senate for National Economic Council: The White House is planning to poach a leading Republican congressional trade staffer to fill a key post on its National Economic Council (Politico).
- Trump Withdrawing U.S. From Paris Climate Agreement but Open to Returning: President Trump will pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord. “The United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris Accord or really an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States,” the president said in the Rose Garden. “So we are getting out but we are starting to negotiate and we’ll see if we can make a deal that’s fair” (ABC News).
- Trump Exit Will Not Bar Successor From Rejoining Climate Pact: Trump’s announcement, which brought an end to a furious battle between factions in his administration that either favored staying in or getting out of the Obama-negotiated deal, will not prevent a future president from re-joining the 2015 Paris Agreement (Bloomberg).
- Commerce's Ross Says Best Chance for NAFTA Revamp is by January: U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the strongest chance for completing an overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement is through early next year before Mexican presidential elections (Bloomberg).
Department of Defense
- U.S. Shows It Can Shoot Down North Korean Missile in Successful Test: The Missile Defense Agency’s ground-based defense system successfully intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile during the first live-fire test of its kind Tuesday, the agency said, a demonstration meant to show the U.S. ability to shoot down any incoming missiles launched from North Korea (Space News).
Department of Energy
- US Seeking Tariffs on Solar Panel Imports: The United States has filed a petition with the World Trade Organization (WTO) that could allow it to slap emergency tariffs or quotas on imported solar cells (The Hill).
- Tax Incentives: Energy Secretary Rick Perry selected a consultant to proceed with a study to determine the impact of renewable energy tax incentives on coal-based electricity (E&E News).
- EPA to Clear Backlog of New Chemical Approvals by July: The backlog of new chemicals being reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to be cleared by July due to staffing, policy and procedural changes the agency has made (Bloomberg).
- Task Force: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt recently created a task force to move forward with cleanup of hazardous waste contamination at Superfund sites around the country (The Hill).
- Methane Rule: The White House stayed methane regulations that required oil and gas drillers to reduce and report their emissions (The Santa Fe New Mexican).
- Buyout: The Environmental Protection Agency sent a memo to its employees detailing a buyout program to reduce staff by September (Reuters).
Department of Interior
- Trump’s Budget Renews Debate on Arctic Refuge Oil Drilling: President Donald Trump’s plan to help balance the federal budget features a new attempt to open the coastal plain of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to petroleum drilling (PBS).
Department of Labor
- Unemployment Rate Falls to Lowest in 16 Years, But U.S. Job Market Stumbles in May, Adding Just 138,000 Jobs: U.S. job growth came in below expectations in May with employers adding just 138,000 jobs while the unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent, the lowest it has been in more than 16 years (Washington Post).
- CFPB Rule Uncertain, Mixed Fates for Others: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule, which covers financial products, has not been finalized yet and is in a perilous position. Some consumer advocates argue the bureau should go ahead with it, but others caution that Congress could undo the rule as it did with one covering federal contractors, and permanently bar the bureau from regulating arbitration in the future (Bloomberg).
- Fired FBI Director Comey to Testify June 8 Before Senate Panel: James Comey will testify June 8 before the Senate Intelligence Committee, further delaying the congressional calendar (Bloomberg).
- Fed to Release U.S. Bank Stress Test Results on June 28: The U.S. Federal Reserve announced on Thursday that it would release the results of its 2017 bank stress tests on June 28 and the results of separate stress tests required under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law on June 22 (Reuters).
- Commercial Crew Vehicles May Fall Short of Safety Threshold: The two companies developing commercial crew vehicles for NASA may not be able to meet a safety threshold specified in their contracts (Space News).
- Stratolaunch Rolls Out Giant Aircraft: Stratolaunch, the company backed by billionaire Paul Allen to develop air-launch systems, rolled out its giant carrier aircraft for the first time May 31 in advance of ground and flight tests (Space News).
- Spaceport Checkup Delays Proton Return to Flight to June 7: The first launch of Russia’s Proton rocket in nearly a year is now scheduled for June 7, a nine-day slip driven by a review of the ground systems at the rocket’s launch site. When Proton finally lifts off, it will be carrying EchoStar 21, a 6,900-kilogram commercial telecommunications satellite for Englewood, Colorado-based fleet operator EchoStar (Space News).
- SpaceX to Launch First Reused Dragon: A Dragon cargo spacecraft SpaceX plans to launch to the International Space Station this week will be making its second trip there as the company extends its approach to reusability (Space News).
- Lockheed Wins $46 Million Contract Addition for Missile Warning Satellites: The Air Force announced May 26 it is adding $45.99 million to an existing Lockheed Martin contract for the construction of two missile warning satellites (Space News).
- The Far-Reaching Implications of Trump's Regulatory Reform Campaign: The noise level of Donald Trump’s first four months as president has overshadowed a series of actions that could reshape American life for decades — efforts to rewrite or revoke regulations affecting everything from student loans and restaurant menus to internet privacy, workplace injuries and climate change (Politico).
- Economists Raise Red Flag on Trump’s Two-for-One Regulatory Order: A politically diverse group of 95 economists wrote an open letter to the Trump administration, raising red flags about the president’s executive order that requires federal agencies to eliminate two regulations for every one they want to issue (Bloomberg).
- House Intelligence Panel Subpoenas Flynn: The House intelligence committee issued subpoenas Wednesday to former national security adviser Michael Flynn and to President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as part of the probe into Russian activity during the 2016 election (CNN).
- Trump Signs Waiver Delaying Move of US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem: Trump signs waiver delaying move of US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem (Washington Examiner).
- White House Orders Agencies to Ignore Democrats’ Oversight Requests: The White House is telling federal agencies to blow off Democratic lawmakers' oversight requests, as Republicans fear the information could be weaponized against President Donald Trump (Politico).
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