Whole new year, whole new Congress…

House and Senate kicked off the 115th Congress, focusing on veterans’ bills, regulatory reform, and foreign affairs. House passed bill making it easier to overturn multiple rules. House passed resolution disapproving of United Nations Security Council resolution concerning Israeli settlements. Trump administration announced more nominees, and Senate confirmation hearings scheduled for next week. Senate Republicans took the first step toward dismantling the Affordable Care Act, and House Republicans reversed course on controversial OCE amendment.

115th Congress   Midnight Rules  |  UNSC Israel Resolution 
Nominees  |  OCE  |  ObamaCare  |  ICYMI

Welcome, 115th Congress!

As laid out in the Constitution, Congress convened a new session at noon on January 3, complete with the prayer and pledge, election of the Speaker of the House, and swearing-in of Members and Delegates (meet the new members). In the House, the 115th Congress kicked off with chaos and controversy over adoption of new House rules package. (see OCE controversy). Eventually, the House agreed to new rules package, adding fines for video streaming and reinstating the Holman Rule to allow lawmakers to reduce specific government employees' pay to $1.

While the official oath of office takes place in groups on the House and Senate Floor, the staged ceremonial oaths are where the action happens. C-SPAN featured the all-day #BidenCam capturing the Vice President joking with Senate families. Meanwhile, Speaker Ryan maintained decorum on the House side, even leading to the grounding of a “dabbing” teenager.

The House took its first votes, veterans bills from Reps. Costello and Roe; while the Senate moved to begin work on a budget resolution that would start the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act.

House passed bill to allow in bulk reversal of recent regulations

The House passed a bill to roll back regulations with a single disapproval resolution by a vote of 238-184, largely along party lines. Currently, the Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows Congress to overturn a single rule through a joint resolution of disapproval. This legislation would amend the CRA to allow a disapproval resolution to contain more than one rule. Last year the House passed the same legislation by a vote of 240-179. Now the bill heads to the Senate. 

Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 (H.R. 21
Sponsor: Rep. Darrell Issa [R, CA-49]

House passed resolution disapproving of UN resolution on Israeli settlements

The House passed a resolution opposing a recently passed United Nations Security Council resolution regarding Israel. If you're just catching up (I know the holidays, right?) — at the end of December the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution condemning Israel's settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

What makes this noteworthy?
Well, it's the first resolution condemning Israeli settlements in disputed territories to be adopted by the Security Council in more than three decades. Also, it's unique because the U.S. abstained rather than vetoing like in previous years. This abstention allowed the measure to pass. Have more questions about the UNSC and the veto power? We've got you covered.

What now?
The House resolution is non-binding and more of a statement. It calls on the United Nations to repeal its resolution. The Senate is expected to follow suit next week with a similar resolution introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio [R, FL].

More Cabinet and agency selections announced; Confirmation hearings scheduled for next week

This week the Trump administration announced nominees for three positions that require Senate approval.

Meanwhile, six confirmation hearings were scheduled for the same day as President-elect Donald Trump's first press conference since July. So tune into C-SPAN next week for live, gavel-to-gavel coverage of all the confirmation hearings.

Several nominees were on the Hill meeting with senators, including Rex Tillerson and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Senate Democrats announced plans to delay the confirmation of eight presidential nominees and introduced legislation to limit tax breaks for Trump nominees.

It's still YOUR government

If you ever questioned whether constituents still influence lawmakers, here's another example telling you YES, YOU DO.

This week House Republicans approved an amendment to place the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) under the oversight of the House Ethics committee, eliminating its independence and restricting its jurisdiction. The amendment was quickly pulled, largely in response to thousands of constituents contacting their lawmakers. Catch up on how it all went down and why your lawmakers need to hear from you.

POPVOX New Year's Resolution

ObamaCare: the talk of the town

On Wednesday, both President Obama and Vice President-elect Mike Pence came to the Hill to talk about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Obama met with Democrats and discussed ways to defend the law, while Pence met with Republicans and brainstormed ways to repeal and replace the law.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans took the first step toward dismantling the 2010 Affordable Care Act with budget resolution from Senate Budget Chair Mike Enzi. The resolution instructs committees with health jurisdiction to draft reconciliation bills by Jan. 27, which will then be combined for consideration by both chambers. Now would be a really good time to learn about the federal budget process, specifically reconciliation.

POPVOX New State Laws


Please keep in mind that highlighting specific legislation does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.