Tea Party Patriots Weekly Report from Washington for 1/29/17
The House will come back into session on Monday, with no votes scheduled before 6:30 PM. The house will stay in session through Friday, with no votes scheduled later than 3 PM.
The Senate will return on Monday, with the first vote set for 5:30 PM. The Senate will be in session until Friday.
LAST WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House returned on Monday and moved to take up 11 bills under Suspension of the Rules. They got through two of them on Monday evening – H.R. 423, the Anti-Spoofing Act, which passed by a vote of 398-5, and H.R. 582, the Kari’s Law Act, which passed by a vote of 408-0.
On Tuesday, the House took up and passed H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017, which makes permanent the Hyde Amendment to prohibit taxpayer-funded abortions. As important, it ends the use of federal funds to pay for subsidies to people purchasing health insurance plans that include abortion coverage on the ObamaCare exchanges. The bill passed by a vote of 238-183, with no Republicans voting against and three Democrats voting for the bill. The bill now heads to the Senate, where Democrats are sure to put up a fight.
Then the House broke for the week.
THIS WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
When the House comes back into session on Monday, they’ll move to take up seven bills on the Suspension Calendar.
On Tuesday, they’ll try to take up 19 more bills on the Suspension Calendar. Most of these bills are non-controversial bills dealing with various aspects of homeland and cyber security.
On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to take its first votes on Resolutions of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act. The two resolutions Tuesday will disapprove a rule submitted by the Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule, which could destroy tens of thousands of mining jobs and put up to 64 percent of the nation’s coal reserves off limits, according to the National Mining Association, and a rule submitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to “Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers,” which adds a stiff compliance burden on U.S.-based energy companies that is not applied to their foreign competitors.
On Thursday, there will be two more Resolutions of Disapproval. The first disapproves a rule submitted by the Social Security Administration relating to implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 that would increase scrutiny on up to 4.2 million disabled Americans if they attempt to buy a firearm. The second disapproves the final rule submitted by the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration relating to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, a rule that would have attempted to deny any federal contracts to any business accused of violating federal labor laws – before the company even had a chance to defend itself in court.
And on Friday, the House will take up one more Resolution of Disapproval, disapproving the final rule of the Bureau of Land Management relating to “Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation.”
(While we’re on the subject of Resolutions of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, I want to share with you perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned about Washington in the last year, and that is this: The Congressional Review Act, contrary to my prior belief, and the belief of just about everyone I know who knows about these things, does NOT limit Congress to disapproving rules and regulations promulgated by federal agencies only in the last 60 legislative days. Prior to what I learned this week, I was operating under the assumption that the 115th Congress would be able to review and disapprove about 180 rules and regulations issued under the Obama Administration, going back to about June of last year. That would have included the Interior Departments “streams” rule, the Department of Labor’s overtime-pay rule, and the EPA’s methane rule. Which would have been nice, but limited.
But because of a hitch in the law, it turns out Congress may be able to go all the way back to the beginning of the Obama Administration. The first line of the law “requires any federal agency promulgating a rule to submit a ‘report’ on it to the House and Senate. The 60-day clock starts either when the rule is published or when Congress receives the report – whichever comes later,” as Kim Strassel wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
Seems there are many rules that were never reported to Congress. And if the Trump Administration now does so, the 60-legislative-day clock starts ticking NOW … which means Congress can pass a Resolution of Disapproval under the CRA, and do away with rules that were promulgated eight years ago.
And not just that, but this – the CRA is not limited merely to rules and regulations issued by federal agencies. “Guidance” issues by agencies is also covered, like the “Obama Administration’s controversial guidance on transgender bathrooms in schools or on Title IX and campus sexual assault.” As Strassel notes, “it is highly unlikely agencies submitted reports to lawmakers on these actions.”
AND not just THAT, but THIS – “Once Congress overrides a rule, agencies cannot reissue it in ‘substantially the same form’ unless specifically authorized by future legislation. The CRA can keep bad regs and guidance off the books even in future Democratic administrations – a far safer approach than if Mr. Trump simply rescinded them.”)
LAST WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate returned on Monday and moved to take up the confirmation of Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The planned six-hour debate was truncated to about four hours, and Pompeo was confirmed by a vote of 66-32.
On Tuesday, the Senate took up the confirmation of former SC Gov. Nikki Haley to serve as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. She was confirmed by a vote of 96-4.
THIS WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate will return on Monday. At 5:30 PM, the Senate will hold a cloture vote on the nomination of Rex Tillerson to serve as Secretary of State. A simple majority will be required to limit debate.
On Tuesday, pursuant to a unanimous consent agreement, at approximately 12:20 PM the Senate will vote to confirm Elaine Chao to serve as Secretary of Transportation. A simple majority will be required to confirm the nomination.
We’re up to four – count ‘em, FOUR – members of President Trump’s cabinet having been confirmed. They’re the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
On Monday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to send Rex Tillerson’s nomination to serve as Secretary of State to the floor of the Senate with a favorable recommendation.
On Tuesday, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee voted to send Ben Carson’s nomination to serve as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to the floor of the Senate with a favorable recommendation.
The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee voted to send Elaine Chao’s nomination to serve as Secretary of Transportation to the floor of the Senate with a favorable recommendation, and did the same with Wilbur Ross’s nomination to serve as Secretary of Commerce. Chao will get her confirmation vote on Tuesday, at 12:20 PM.
The Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee will vote on Linda McMahon’s nomination to serve as Administrator of the Small Business Administration on Monday, January 30.
Betsy DeVos, nominated to serve as Secretary of Education, will get a confirmation vote in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Tuesday, January 31, at 10 AM.
Steve Mnuchin, nominated to serve as Secretary of the Treasury, will get a confirmation vote in the Finance Committee on Monday, January 30 at 6 PM.
Rick Perry, nominated to serve as Secretary of Energy, will have a confirmation vote in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday, January 31 at 9:30 AM.
Congressman Tom Price, nominated to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services, will have a confirmation vote in the Finance Committee on Tuesday, January 31 at 10 AM.
Sen. Jeff Sessions will have his confirmation vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, January 31 at 9:30 AM.
David Shulkin, nominated to serve as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, will have his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Wednesday, February 1.
Congressman Ryan Zinke, nominated to serve as Secretary of the Interior, will have his confirmation vote in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday, January 31 at 9:30 AM.
GOP lawmakers meeting in Philadelphia during their annual retreat couldn’t come to agreement on the fundamentals of what they want to see in a GOP replacement plan. It’s clear they need a spine – they’re apparently worried they will inflict political damage on themselves if they actually follow through on the promises they’ve made to American voters to four straight election cycles now to actually repeal this horrendous law. Why? Because they’ve allowed the left to frame the debate according to its own terms and metrics. Instead of judging a reform plan or plans by which ones increases patient choice, or brings down costs, or any number of other factors, they’ve allowed the Democrats and the media – ah, but I repeat myself – to use one metric only: How many people have an insurance card. Note, I said how many people have an insurance CARD, meaning they’ve got something they consider health insurance, and NOT how many people are actually receiving health care. But even if they HAD limited themselves to judging replacement plans by how many people were actually receiving health care, it would STILL be the wrong metric. Because if that’s the metric, then subsidies and mandates are definitely the way to go. You simply cannot reach the coverage numbers the left demands if you give people the freedom to choose NOT to purchase health insurance.
Congressional GOP leaders are clearly waiting for guidance from the Trump Administration, which won’t be coming until after Congressman Tom Price is confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Senate Finance Committee is set to vote on his confirmation on Tuesday morning at 10 AM.
President Trump announced that he would unveil his nominee for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court on Thursday, February 2.
Live by the sword, die by the sword. Barack Obama, who spent the last six years of his eight-year presidency implementing government policy by executive order, is learning the truth of that adage as he watches his successor undo his legacy one executive order at a time.
In his first week in office, President Trump has issued a number – 17, by my count – of executive orders aimed at overturning the Obama legacy. The professional left, not surprisingly, has begun wailing and gnashing teeth. And even congressional Republicans seem more than a bit taken aback.
But it’s not the number of executive orders issued that’s important, it’s the content. And in virtually every case, the executive order contains language making clear that the President recognizes that statute trumps executive order – that is, each executive order contains language saying “the Secretary of This or That shall undertake these actions to the extent allowable by current statute,” or words to that effect.
In this way, the Trump executive orders are very different from many of the Obama executive orders, which failed to note that statute proscribed the president’s ability to direct federal agencies, and, in some cases, put the directed agency head in direct conflict with current statute.
Those Obama executive orders, in other words, were unlawful. Trump’s, by contrast, are lawful. Big difference.
So, let’s take a quick review of President Trump’s executive orders.
Here they are, with an assist from Politico:
- The President’s first executive order, issued on Inauguration Day, provides relief from ObamaCare.
- Freezing all pending regulations.
- Reinstating the Mexico City policy, denying U.S. taxpayer funding for foreign NGOs that perform or promote abortions.
- Terminating the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
- Freezing hiring for the federal workforce.
- Restarting the Keystone XL pipeline.
- Restarting the Dakota Access pipeline.
- Expediting Environmental Reviews on Infrastructure Projects.
- Promoting “Made in the USA” pipelines.
- Reviewing domestic manufacturing regulation.
- Increasing border security measures, which includes:
- Begin planning, designing and constructing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, including identifying available federal funds and working with Congress for additional funding;
- Hiring 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents;
- Ending the Obama Administration’s “catch and release” policy;
- Reinstating section 287-G of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1996, so state and local law enforcement agents can act in support of federal immigration officers.
- Pursuit of illegal immigrants, which directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to:
- Prioritize undocumented immigrants for removal, including those with criminal convictions;
- Hire 10,000 additional immigration officers at U.S. ICE;
- Prohibit U.S. funding to “sanctuary” jurisdictions;
- Reinstate the Secure Communities program;
- Sanction countries that refuse to accept the return of undocumented immigrants deported from the U.S.
- Reevaluating visa and refugee programs, which includes:
- Cutting the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. in FY 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000;
- Suspending for 120 days the entry of all refugees to the U.S.;
- Suspending for 90 days the entry of all “immigrants and nonimmigrants” from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, and Syria; this may also apply to citizens of Libya, Yemen, and Somalia depending on the interpretation;
- Barring all Syrian refugees for an indefinite period;
- Directing the Secretary of Homeland Security to implement a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system
- Strengthening the military
- Institutes a five-year lobbying ban for former Trump Administration officials, and a lifetime ban on lobbying for foreign governments.
- Restructure the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council
- Create a plan to defeat the Islamic State, with a preliminary report to be delivered by the Secretary of Defense within 30 days.
The travel ban went into effect immediately upon issuance of the executive order Friday night, and by Saturday the ACLU had filed suit on behalf of two Iraqi men who were detained at JFK in New York. One of them had worked for 10 years for U.S. military forces in Iraq as an interpreter, and was seeking to join his wife in New York.
A federal judge ruled in favor of the detainees and ordered them released.
In her ruling, District Judge Ann Donnelly wrote that “The petitioners have a strong likelihood of success in establishing that the removal of the petitioner and others similarly situated violates their rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution,” and, “There is imminent danger that, absent the stay of removal, there will be substantial and irreparable injury to refugees, visa-holders, and other individuals from nations subject to the January 27, 2017 Executive Order.”
The ruling affects only those international travelers who had already arrived in the United States after President Trump signed the executive order. That’s no more than a few hundred people.
BUT … and this is a big “but” … the two men had already been released, courtesy of waivers that were written into the executive order, which gave the Secretary of Homeland Security authority to issue exemptions on a case-by-case basis. So, in fact, in the case that the ACLU chose for its lawsuit, the executive order worked as planned, and the two men were released as they should have been, without need of a lawsuit.
Nevertheless, Democrats will have a field day, and weak-kneed Republicans are already caterwauling. Interestingly, House GOP Leaders, including Speaker Ryan and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, are backing up the Trump executive order, and Senate Majority Leader McConnell says he won’t take issue with it.
Of all the executive orders issued this week, this is the one that’s going to become a major issue.
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