WEEKLY UPDATE: The Week Ahead in Congress (Jan 9-13, 2017)

6 min read

The focus of the week will be on the Senate, which will hold nine confirmation hearing for Trump nominees along with what promises to be an eventful "vote-o-rama" on the Budget Resolution that would repeal the Affordable Care Act. The House will continue its focus on changes to the regulatory process with a series of bills that call for increased cost-benefit analysis and justification for regulations from the executive branch.

This week will be the last full week of the Obama presidency, with Inauguration Day coming next Friday, January 20. President Obama will give his farewell address in Chicago on Tuesday night and President-elect Trump will hold his first press conference since July on Wednesday.

PAY ATTENTION: This is one of those weeks with so much news that it makes it easy for important things to be buried under the headlines.

Confirmation Hearings in the Senate

Some of the most consequential events of the Trump presidency start before Inauguration Day: confirmation hearings for the President-elect’s key appointments. NINE confirmation hearings are scheduled for this week.

See: A Guide to Watching Hearings on Presidential NominationsClick the links below to weigh in with a message to your senators on these pending nominations.


January 10-11, 9:30 AM ET – Senate Judiciary

Sen. Jeff Sessions [R, Alabama]
Attorney General Nominee






January 10, 3:30 PM ET – Homeland Security

Retired Gen. John Kelly
Secretary of Homeland Security nominee






January 11, 9:15 AM ET – Foreign Relations

Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary of State nominee






January 11, 10:00 AM ET – Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Rep. Mike Pompeo
CIA Director nominee






January 11, 10:00 AM ET – Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

Betsy DeVos
Secretary of Education nominee






January 11, 10:15 AM ET – Commerce

Elaine Chao
Secretary of Transportation nominee






January 12, 10:00 AM ET – Banking

Dr. Ben Carson
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development nominee






January 12, 10:00 AM ET – Banking

Wilbur Ross
Secretary of Commerce nominee






January 12, 10:30 AM ET – Armed Services

Ret. General James Mattis
Secretary of Defense nominee






Senate Vote-o-Rama Budget Resolution with instructions to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare)

The first item on the Senate's agenda for the 115th Congress is a budget resolution to set up the process for repealing ObamaCare. Repeal through the budget process means that only 51  votes will be required to pass. It also sets up one of the stranger Senate traditions that only occurs on a budget resolution: the Vote-o-rama. As defined by the statffer who coined the phrase, the vote-o-rama is:

an extended sequence of back-to-back votes in the United States Senate. A side effect of special rules for considering the budget resolution or a reconciliation bill, a vote-a-rama may last 10, 20, 30 hours or more, and occurs after all time for debate has expired but before a vote on final passage.

Votes on several amendments to the budget are already scheduled, including:

  • A Balanced Budget amendment (S.A. 1) from Sen. Rand Paul [R, Kentucky] (read full statement)
  • An amendment (S.A. 19) from Sen. Bernie Sanders [I, Vermont] "to prevent the Senate from breaking Donald Trump's promise that "there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid"



In the House: Limits on the Regulatory Process


The House will vote on several measures that would change the rulemaking process:







Sponsor: Rep. Bob Goodlatte

The bill combines six regulatory reform bills, including:

  • Requiring agencies to choose the lowest-cost rulemaking alternative that meets statutory objectives and requiring increased public input for major and billion-dollar rules. (Regulatory Accountability Act)
  • Repealing the Chevron and Auer doctrines which require judicial deference to agency interpretations of statutes (Separation of Powers Restoration Act)
  • Requirug agencies to consider direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of new regulations on small businesses—and seek to reduce them. (Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act)
  • Requiring agencies to postpone the implementation of any rule imposing an annual cost on the economy of at least $1 billion if a petition seeking judicial review of that regulation is filed within 60 days of the rule taking effect. (REVIEW Act)
  • Requiring submission and monthly publication of new proposed regulations in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, to be posted on the Internet on a monthly and annual basis. (ALERT Act)
  • Requiring agencies to publish plain-language, online summaries of new proposed rules (Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act)

















Sponsor: Rep. Michael Conaway

The bill would amend the Commodity Exchange Act to provide greater protections for customer funds held by entities that broker transactions in commodity futures and to relax requirements on certain participants in swap transactions. (A swap is a contract that calls for an exchange of cash between two participants, based on an underlying rate or index or on the performance of an asset.)


















Sponsor: Rep. Ann Wagner

The bill would specify new requirements for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to meet when developing or amending regulations. The bill would direct the SEC to expand the scope of its analysis of the effects of regulations to include an assessment of the problem the proposed regulation is designed to address, its costs and benefits, and available alternatives, and would require the SEC to review and consider modifying its regulations every five years. Under the bill, when adopting or amending rules expected to have an economic impact greater than $100 million annually, the SEC would need to develop and publish a plan to assess whether the regulation has achieved its stated purpose. Within two years of publishing such a rule, the bill would require the SEC to publish a report on the rules’ costs, benefits, and other consequences using the performance measures identified in the plan issued when the rule was adopted. Source: CBO










Also in the House: Medical Access and Innovation; Startups and Technology

H.R. 309: National Clinical Care Commission Act 
Sponsor: Rep. Pete Olson

The bill would establish a public/private sector commission of specialists, physicians, non-physician health care professionals and patient advocates to review federal activities related to the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and other metabolic, autoimmune, and insulin-resistant diseases.

H.R. 315: Improving Access to Maternity Care Act
Sponsor: Rep. Michael Burgess

Instructs the Health Resources and Services Administration to identify areas of shortage of full scope maternity providers for eligibility under the National Health Services Corps.

H.R. 302: Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Brett Guthrie

Extends medical liability protection for athletic trainers and other sports medicine professionals who deliver care to athletic teams across state lines.

H.R. 304: Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Richard Hudson

Allows emergency medical practitioners to administer controlled substances in the field via direction from a medical director, including a verbal order issued by one or more medical directors. 

H.R. 353: Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Frank Lucas 

Requires the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to prioritize weather research to improve weather data, forecasts, and warnings for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy.

H.R. 79: HALOS Act
Sponsor: Rep. Steve Chabot

Defines the term "angel investor group" and clarifies that rules against "general solicitation" do not apply to certain events and startups may pitch their companies without first certifying that all in attendance are accredited investors. 

H.R. 306: Energy Efficient Government Technology Act
Sponsor: Rep. Anna Eshoo

The bill would require federal agencies, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Environmental Protection Agency, to implement strategies to acquire, use, and maintain information technologies expected to increase energy efficiency.

H.R. 338: To promote a 21st century energy and manufacturing workforce
Sponsor: Rep. Bobby Rush

The bill requires the Secretary of Energy to prioritize education and training for manufacturing and energy-related jobs (both renewable and nonrenewable) in order to increase the number of skilled workers.

H.R. 288: Small Business Broadband Deployment Act
Sponsor: Rep. Greg Walden 

The bill extends the temporary exemption granted to small businesses by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from enhanced disclosure requirements for Internet service providers (ISPs) in the Open Internet Order by five years.

H.R. 321: Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act
Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Comstock 

Requires NASA to develop a plan for facilitating and supporting retired astronauts, scientists, engineers, and innovators to engage with K-12 female STEM students in an attempt to inspire young women to consider participating in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to pursue careers in aerospace.

H.R. 255: Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act
Sponsor: Rep. Elizabeth Esty

Authorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF) to encourage entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world

H.R. 239: Support for Rapid Innovation Act of 2017, as amended
Sponsor: Rep. John Ratcliffe 

Requires the Under Secretary for Science and Technology (S&T) to support cybersecurity research, development, testing, evaluation and transition and to coordinate those activities with other Federal agencies, industry, and academia.

H.R. 240: Leveraging Emerging Technologies Act of 2017, as amended
Sponsor: Rep. John Ratcliffe 

Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to engage with innovative and emerging technology developers and firms to address homeland security needs.

H.R. 274: Modernizing Government Travel Act
Sponsor: Rep. Seth Moulton 

Requires the General Services Administration (GSA) to implement regulations allowing federal employees to use alternative transportation options such as Uber, Lyft, and bike-share for official travel.

H.R. 39: TALENT Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Kevin McCarthy 

Codifies the Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program.


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill 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.