Capitol Hill Update: February 26, 2018


The House and Senate are in session this week. But the week will be cut short because the body of Rev. Billy Graham will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday and Thursday.


Seven bills are currently on the suspension calendar for Monday and one on Tuesday. Two bills are currently scheduled to be on the floor Tuesday, both of which are subject to a rule to limit or prevent amendments. Those bills are H.R. 4296, which relates to operational risk capital requirements, and H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA).

The House Rules Committee will likely adopt an amendment to FOSTA offered by Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) on Monday that will incorporate the worst elements of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA).

Both bills deal with sex traffickers who use the Internet to facilitate trafficking. Although there are concerns about FOSTA, it’s a better bill that SESTA. The differences between the two are so notable, that it’s difficult to reconcile the language. As TechDirt explains, the approach the House plans to take may actually have the effect of hurting sex trafficking victims and small Internet service providers.


The Senate will convene on Monday at 3:00 pm and consider the nomination of Elizabeth Branch to serve as a judge on the Eleventh Circuit. It isn’t clear whether the chamber will cut short the week due to Rev. Graham’s body lying in state in the Rotunda, although we assume that we’re looking at a short week.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has published the Restoring Internet Freedom Order in the Federal Register. As you know, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is planning to introduce a disapproval resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) of 1996. He hasn’t been able to introduce it yet because the CRA requires the citation from the Federal Register in the disapproval resolution.

Publication in the Federal Register doesn’t necessarily start the process, but it could. Here’s why. The CRA allows Congress to cancel a rule within 60 legislative days (not necessarily the same as traditional calendar days) after its publication in the Federal Register or its submission to Congress, whichever comes later. The rule still has to go through the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Once that process is complete, the rule will be submitted to Congress. All rules submitted can be viewed on the Government Accountability Office’s Congressional Review Act page

Theoretically, Sen. Markey, who has lined up the support of 49 senators, including Susan Collins ("R"-Maine), could introduce the resolution at any time. He doesn’t have to wait for submission to Congress. He could decide to wait to extend out the 60 legislative days into the next Congress, but it’s highly unlikely that the OIRA review will take that long, or even close to that long. It’s more likely we’re talking about days or weeks for submission to Congress.