What happened last month
During the month of March, the Senate has continued its effort to confirm various nominees to ensure President Trump’s administration is staffed with qualified individuals to advise him during his tenure. Unfortunately, this process has gone much more slowly than expected with continual procedural hurdles erected by Senate Democrats. However, the Senate with the support of Senator Lee confirmed Mr. Zinke as Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Carson as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Perry as Secretary of Energy, Ms. Verma as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Mr. Coats as the Director of National Intelligence, Mr. Breyer and Mr. Reeves as Members of the Untied States Sentencing Commission, Mr. Friedman as US Ambassador to Israel, and Ms. Duke as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security. The Senate’s final action taken prior to the State work period was to confirm Mr. Neil Gorsuch as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Gorsuch filled the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Additionally, the Senate has disapproved of another ten regulations finalized during Obama’s presidency, which effectively repeals these burdensome rules. The repealed regulations include two of the Department of Education’s rules that limited state flexibility regarding their accountability plans and the preparation of their teachers; the Bureau of Land Management’s burdensome “Planning 2.0” rule; the federal acquisition regulation that would “blacklist” American employers bidding on federal contracts and trying to navigate the federal labor law bureaucracy; an Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s record keeping requirement; and the Health and Human Services’ rule that limited states’ ability to prioritize who received Title X grant dollars.
Finally, the Senate also voted on the treaty that would ratify the accession of Montenegro to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
What to expect this month
After the two week state work period, the Senate is expected to confirm Mr. Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture. The Senate will likely devote the remainder of the week on funding the federal government through . Currently, the federal government is operating under a funding mechanism that is known as a Continuing Resolution, which is set to expire on . Negotiations surrounding the levels and contents of the funding bill are ongoing.
During May, Congress expects to receive President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal. This will help the Senate Budget Committee develop a 2018 budget resolution which should contain levels for which the Appropriations Committee uses to draft stand-alone appropriations bills to fund the government for the 2018 fiscal year starting after .
Additionally, the House may send the Senate the American Health Care Act (H.R.1628) which repeals parts of Obamacare and replaces it with other healthcare reform efforts. The Senate may take up this bill under special, expedited procedures that would not require 60 votes to end debate and that would guarantee a series of votes on amendments that the Senate refers to as “vote-a-rama.”
Other than consideration of the American Health Care Act, the Senate will continue to focus on confirming President Trump’s nominees, which may include the confirmation of Mr. Acosta to be Secretary of Labor, Mr. Clayton to be a Member of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms. Wilson to be Secretary of the Air Force, and Dr. Gottlieb to be Commissioner of Food and Drugs.
Bills we are introducing
This upcoming D.C. work period Senator Lee hopes to introduce a number of pieces of legislation that would
- protect Americans from being detained indefinitely, without charge or trial
- eliminate organizations that waste taxpayer money by duplicating the dissemination of government-funded research and information
- ensure that state law governs species that are contained only in intrastate commerce and that have no commercial value
- strengthen federal welfare programs to incentivize transition from welfare to work and to ensure the federal government has an accurate accounting of all means-tested welfare spending
Federal Update from Senator Mike Lee