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Capitol Hill Update: February 27, 2017

02/27/2017

Schedule:

The House and Senate are in session this week.

Joint Session:

The House and Senate will convene on Tuesday night for a joint session of Congress. While not a formal State of the Union address, President Donald Trump will address Congress on his legislative priorities for the year, which includes regulatory reform, the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare, and tax reform. The address will begin at 9:00 pm and should be carried by cable news outlets and CSPAN.

House:

Back from the Presidents' Day recess, the House will begin the week on Monday by taking several bills up under suspension of the rules, requiring a three-fifths majority for passage. Most of the bills on the suspension calendar have local implications for the sponsoring Members' districts. The House will also take up the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act, S. 442, sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act, H.R. 1033, sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.).

On Tuesday, the House will consider the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act, H.R. 998, sponsored by Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.). This bill establishes a commission to review existing federal rules regulations and identify burdensome regulations that can be repealed. The commission, which expires after five years, would have a statutory goal of reducing regulatory costs by 15 percent.

Either Wednesday or Thursday, the House will consider H.J.Res. 83, another resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, to cancel the Department of Labor's "Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness." The final rule, which was published in December, will cost the economy nearly $2 billion over five years.

Continuing the regulatory theme for the remainder of the week, the House will take up OIRA Insight, Reform, and Accountability Act, H.R. 1009, introduced by Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.). The bill directs the administrator of the White House Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to develop a Regulatory Working Group to review existing regulations and identify those that are burdensome, duplicative or out of date. The bill also puts OIRA in statute, bringing it under the oversight of Congress.

The House will consider the Regulatory Integrity Act, H.R. 1004, sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.). The bill directs federal agencies to publish in one central location any and all statements made about a proposed rule. This brings much-needed transparency to the regulatory process. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a stealth public relations campaign to support the expansion of its authority under the Clean Water Act. This bill would have required the EPA to put these communications in one location.

Finally, on Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, H.R. 372, introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.). The bill would eliminate the antitrust exemption for health insurers under the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945.

Senate:

The Senate will continue to approve President Trump's cabinet nominees. Wilbur Ross, who has been tapped to serve as secretary of the Commerce Department, should be confirmed Monday. The Senate will also begin the process of confirming Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) to serve as secretary of the Department of the Interior. Movement on Gov. Rick Perry's (R-Texas) confirmation to lead the Department of Energy and Dr. Ben Carson's nomination to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development are likely to begin this week.