It was a dizzying week in Washington, even for the most veteran of politicos…

House passed bill related to abortion services and insurance coverage. President Trump signed several executive actions related to immigration, regulations, border security, infrastructure, refugees, manufacturing, and trade and pipeline deals. Senate approved two more Trump nominees, installing a new CIA Director and UN Ambassador. Lawmakers left town for annual retreats. House Intelligence joined in Russia hacking investigation. Three confirmation hearings, three new appointees, and four nominees progressed in Senate confirmation process. Republican senators introduced first two Obamacare replacement plans. Lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence appeared at annual March for Life.

 

Hyde Amendment  |  Executive Actions  |  Approved Nominees  |  Congressional Retreats  |  Russia Investigation  |  Cabinet and Agency Appointments  |  Affordable Care Act  |  March for Life  |  ICYMI

 


House passed bill related to abortion services and insurance coverage

 

This week House passed bill to permanently authorize the Hyde Amendment. The final vote was 238-183, largely along party lines. See how your representative voted.

Heard of the Hyde Amendment? It prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion or health plans that cover abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger. Currently, it's not a permanent law but rather a "rider" that's been included in annual appropriations bills since 1976.

What happens now? The legislation heads to the Senate. Let your senators know what you think!

 

POPVOX HR 7 Christopher Smith Hyde Amendment

 

 


 

Executive Orders and Memoranda


President Trump signed many executive actions this week in a wide range of policy areas. In general, these orders and memos explain to executive branch employees what to prioritize and how. In some areas, Congress has given the executive branch explicit authority to set the policy, such as determining the number of refugees who can enter the U.S. each year. However, spending federal money requires Congress, and changing existing rules requires the rulemaking process.

Some edicts began immediately, while others require other circumstances, such as the confirmation of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director nominee, Rep. Mick Mulvaney [R, SC-5]. As with former President Obama, many of the executive actions signed this week will face legal challenges and a long road to implementation, while others are having immediate effects.

Several of these actions will require Congressional action (such as approving supplemental funds for the border wall or to hire additional immigration and customs enforcement officers), so we've created pages for each order and memo issued in President Trump's first week as president. As always, you can use POPVOX to tell your lawmakers what you think.

 

POPVOX Executive Actions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Order: Regarding the "Economic burden" of the Affordable Care Act
Directs the Secretary (legal shorthand for Health and Human Services as an agency) to take all legal steps to remove "regulatory burdens" of the Affordable Care Act.

 

Memo: Regulatory freeze pending review
Notice to all agencies to freeze any existing rulemakings or legal actions.

 

Memo: Reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy
Reinstates 2001 presidential memo prohibiting nongovernmental organizations that receive U.S. funding from either performing or providing counseling or information on abortion.

 

Memo: Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
Directs the U.S. Trade Representative to notify the signatories of the TransPacific Partnership immediately that the U.S. is removing itself as a signatory to the trade deal.

 

Memo: Hiring freeze for federal employees
No new hires after January 22, 2017. Directs the OMB Director to develop a long-term plan within 90 days to reduce the federal workforce.

 

Order: Designation of "High priority" infrastructure projects
Directs the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality to decide if any infrastructure project is “high priority” and if so to coordinate with related agencies on deadlines for expedited review. If a deadline is missed, the head of the agency must write to the CEQ chairman explaining the cause for the delay and steps taken to rectify.

 

Memo: American-made steel
Directs the Secretary of Commerce to produce a plan within six months for mandating the use of American-made steel in pipelines within the U.S.

 

Memo: KeystoneXL Pipeline Expedited review
Invites TransCanada to resubmit application and orders the Secretary of State to make a decision within 60 days. Then provides for expedited environmental review after approval.

 

Memo: Dakota Access Pipeline Expedited review
Directs the Secretary of the Army to expedite review of the proposed pipeline, consider environmental requirements satisfied, and grant any waivers requested.

Memo: Calling for plan to reduce manufacturing regulations
Directs the Secretary of Commerce to collect public comments for 60 days on ways to reduce regulations on American manufacturers and then to produce a plan within 60 days with recommended actions.

 

Memo: Interior, immigration enforcement
Instructs the Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary and Attorney General to ensure sanctuary jurisdictions are not eligible for federal grants. Will publish a weekly list of "criminal actions committed by aliens" in sanctuary jurisdictions. Instructs DHS to prioritize deportations for people who have been convicted of or charged with any criminal offenses or who have "abused any program related to receipt of public benefits."

 

Memo: Border security, immigration enforcement
Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to immediately plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border. Instructs the Secretary to immediately construct, operate, and control (or establish contracts to construct, operate, and control) new detention facilities to detain "aliens" at or near the border with Mexico. Directs the Attorney General to immediately send officers and judges to the southern border. 

 

Order: Refugees and Visa limitations
Bars all refugees from Syria. Suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days and reduces total annual refugee admission to 50,000 annually. Citizens from seven countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen) are barred from the U.S. for 90 days, during which time the U.S. will seek agreements on information-sharing with these countries. 

 

Looking for more information? We've posted a more detailed overview here and will continue to update it. Send any questions to outreach@popvox.com.


 

Two more Trump nominees confirmed


This week the Senate voted to confirm two more Trump nominees — Rep. Mike Pompeo [R, KS-4] for CIA Director and now former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley [R] for United Nations Ambassador. 

Pompeo became the third confirmed appointee on Monday after Senate Democrats called for additional debate. The final vote was 66-32. Then Tuesday evening the Senate approved Haley to serve as the next ambassador to the United Nations by a vote of 96-4.

Missed the confirmations of the first two Trump nominees? Catch up on how your senators have been voting, and let your senators know how to vote on pending nominations.

 


 

Lawmakers depart D.C. for annual retreats

 


Congressional Republicans spent three days in Philadelphia for annual policy retreat. The packed schedule included policy workshops, performance from White Ford Bronco, and addresses from President Trump, Vice President Pence, and British Prime Minister Theresa May. Lawmakers assembled in bicameral groups to discuss legislative path forward for tax reform, infrastructure, and healthcare.

There's still a lot to decide regarding the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, but House members anticipate a vote in March. Speaker Ryan laid out 200-day Congressional agenda, looking to complete health care and tax overhauls by August. Speaker Ryan said Congress will consider border wall funding before end of this fiscal year (that's September 30), but no word on whether the supplemental funding of $12-15 billion will be offset. 

Meanwhile, Democratic senators headed to West Virginia for annual retreat. Not much is known about the "tight-lipped" two-day event, but there were several panels on reconnecting with rural voters. Sen. Joe Manchin [D, WV] moderated a panel of West Virginia residents who voted for President Trump. The second day focused on Democrats' legislative agenda and how to respond to executive orders and upcoming Supreme Court nomination.

If nothing else, enjoy these pics of lawmakers in ~casual~ attire.

 


 

House Intelligence launches second Russia hacking investigation


House Intelligence Committee announced bipartisan investigation into Russian hacking allegations, including possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. The announcement marks the second Hill investigation into such allegations.

The scope of the investigation mirrors that of Senate Intelligence investigation and will include:

  • Counterintelligence concerns related to the 2016 presidential election, including any links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns
  • Russian cyber activity and "active measures" directed against the U.S. and its allies
  • U.S. government response to Russian active measures and any possible impact on intelligence relationship and traditional alliances
  • Possible leaks of classified information related to the intelligence community's assessments of these matters

Meanwhile, Senate Intelligence voted to approve a "formal investigative plan" and set tentative deadline of three months to complete the investigation.

 


POPVOX Cabinet and Agency Appointments Update

 

 

Three confirmation hearings, three new appointees, and four nominees moving on

 

The following nominees cleared committee, meaning their nominations now head to the full Senate for consideration:


Senate committees held three confirmation hearing this week:

Meanwhile, Senate HELP Chair Lamar Alexander denied request from Senate Democrats to hold a second hearing for Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos and rescheduled confirmation hearing for Secretary of Labor nominee, Andrew Puzder.

Trump team announced three additional picks:

Pai is the most senior Republican commissioner at the FCC and did not require Senate approval before becoming FCC Chairman. His current five-year term expires at the end of this year and then he will need to be reconfirmed by the Senate. There are still two vacancies on the commission, but President Trump would only be able to name one more Republican due to partisan restrictions. As the new head of the FCC, Chairman Pai introduced a plan to reduce net neutrality rules.

LaFleur is one of three FERC commissioners (also a five-member panel). The current chairman Norman Bay will resign from the commission effective next Friday, leaving the board with just two commissioners. So what's FERC do? The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is an "independent board that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil." 

Wilson, however, will need to be approved by the Senate. Acting Secretary of the Air Force Lisa Disbrow will continue to serve until the Senate confirmation process is complete. Wilson previously served in the House representing New Mexico's first congressional district from 1998 to 2009. Wilson was the first female military veteran elected to a full term in Congress.

 


What's up with the Affordable Care Act? 


One of the first major actions of the 115th Congress was starting the process for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through budget reconciliation. The budget resolution set a date of January 27 for committees to submit their recommendations.  None of the four committees tasked with drafting reconciliation bills made that deadline. (Lawmakers previously described the deadline as more of a placeholder and expected it to slip.)

Reconciliation is not the usual way Congress passes legislation. Instead, it's a three-step process that begins with a budget resolution. Why is it being used for this? Well, legislation passed through this process cannot be filibustered, meaning the Senate only needs 51 votes to pass the reconciliation bill. Now would be a really good time to learn about the federal budget process, specifically reconciliation. This graphic from Roll Call demonstrates how the process will be used in this case.

So mark your calendars with a new deadline — House Ways and Means and House Energy and Commerce are expected to report legislation in mid to late February, as confirmed by interim House Budget Chair Diane Black. It is unclear when Senate Finance and Senate HELP will report legislation.

So there's still a long ways to go in this process, but this week did include the first two ACA replacement bills.

Sens. Bill Cassidy [R, LA] and Susan Collins [R, ME] introduced the first Senate replacement plan for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposal would let states choose whether to remain in Obamacare exchanges or opt into a new system with similar consumer protections and fewer regulations. The proposal would maintain many of the ACA's revenue streams, including the Cadillac tax and the health insurance tax.

Later in the week, Sen. Rand Paul [R, KY] introduced another replacement plan — one that eliminates the baseline regulations established by the Affordable Care Act for minimum requirements of insurers, as well as individual and employer mandates. Paul's plan includes a $5,000 tax credit per individual that could be spent on premiums or deposited in a health savings account. Senator Paul was the only Republican senator to vote against the budget resolution that includes instructions to repeal Obamacare — refusing to vote for repeal until lawmakers decided on a replacement. Catch up on the budget resolution process here.

Keep an eye out next week for the first Senate committee hearing this Congress related to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

 

POPVOX Rand Paul Obamacare Replacement Act S. 222POPVOX Bill Cassidy Patient Freedom Act S. 191

 

 

 

     

 

 

 


Lawmakers and Vice President Pence appear at March for Life


Thousands gathered at the Washington Monument for the 44th Annual March for Life. The demonstration is held every year, marking the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Several lawmakers joined the program, including Sen. Joni Ernst [R, IA] and Reps. Chris Smith [R, NJ-4] and Mia Love [R, UT-4]. Vice President Mike Pence addressed the rally, becoming the first sitting vice president to do so.

 


#ICYMI


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.