Saturday, January 28, 2017

Congress Last Week

Chamber Activity

Congressional Record — January 23-27, 2017

House voted 238-183 to pass H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion & Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017.

House votes to cut abortion funding permanently
The law would codify the Hyde Amendment and close loopholes in Obamacare

House passes major abortion bill | Washington Examiner
The legislation, which passed 238-183, would make the Hyde amendment permanent. The amendment, which has been added to spending bills for decades, bans any federal funding from being used to provide abortions. In addition, it would target Obamacare plans that cover elective abortions. It would not provide Obamacare customers with subsidies used to pay down the cost of insurance if the insurance plan covers abortions.

House votes to permanently ban taxpayer funds for abortion
“That’s what we should be all about. Life affirming and the saving of human life,” said Smith. It does allow exceptions for cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life in danger. The three Democrats who voted for the legislation were Reps. Henry Cuellar (Texas), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.).

The bill would also permanently prohibit the District of Columbia from using its local funds approved by Congress for abortion services.

Senate confirmed the nomination of Mike Pompeo, of Kansas, to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

U.S. Senate confirms Pompeo to be Trump's CIA director
Sixty-six senators backed Pompeo and 32 voted against. All the opposition was from Democrats, except for Senator Rand Paul, a leading Republican advocate for strict control of surveillance. Shortly afterward, Pompeo was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence.

Senate confirmed the nomination of Nikki R. Haley, of South Carolina, to be the Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations.

U.S. Senate confirms Haley as Trump's U.N. ambassador
The U.S. Senate voted almost unanimously on Tuesday to confirm South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations, sending a rising Republican star to represent President Donald Trump at an institution he has criticized. Haley was backed by 96 senators, with only four opposed.

Senate confirms Trump's UN ambassador
Haley appeared to share her commander in chief's skepticism about America's heavy burden of United Nations dues, using the committee hearing to question if American values are reflected by a group that recently voted to condemn Israel for building of settlements in the West Bank. The Israel vote has drawn backlash from lawmakers in both parties.

Legislation Introduced

States Could Keep Obamacare Under Cassidy-Collins Replacement
State legislatures would be able to choose, in 2018, whether to continue to support the insurance market and institutions put in place by former President Barack Obama’s law, or to opt into a new system with many of the same consumer protections but fewer regulations. Under the new system, insurance coverage would be much less comprehensive but likely would be cheaper.


House Committees

Week of January 22 - 28, 2017

Committee on the Budget: Full Committee held a hearing entitled “The Failures of Obamacare: Harmful Effects and Broken Promises.” Testimony was heard from public witnesses.

Americans Experience Personally ObamaCare's Broken Promises
Rep. Diane Black, R-TN, led the hearing attended by virtually all of the committee’s members. She was named interim chair after Rep. Tom Price was nominated to be HHS Secretary in the Trump administration.  Like Dr. Price, an orthopedic surgeon, Rep. Black also has real world medical experience after working for 40 years as nurse in Tennessee. She called the hearing to make it very clear ObamaCare has failed to come close to delivering on its lofty promises.  “Premiums in our state [of Tennessee] are rising by an average of 63 percent, and three-fourths of our counties only have one coverage option to choose from on the Obamacare exchange,” she said.  Clearly, replace cannot be built on the wreckage of ObamaCare.

Committee on Ways and Means: Subcommittee on Oversight held a hearing on examining the effectiveness of the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act. Testimony was heard from public witnesses.

Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: Full Committee held a hearing entitled “Ongoing Intelligence Activities”. This hearing was closed.

U.S. lawmakers want documents on Russia election probe


Senate Committees

Committee on Foreign Relations: Committee ordered favorably reported the nomination of Rex W. Tillerson, of Texas, to be Secretary of State.

Senate panel clears Tillerson's path to be secretary of state
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 11-10 to approve Tillerson, with every Republican backing the former oil executive and every Democrat opposing him.

Manchin to support Tillerson for State Department post
Manchin noted that he has known Tillerson "for years"  and pointed to his executive experience leading Exxon Mobil Corp. as "critical."

Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs: Committee ordered favorably reported ... The nomination of Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., of Florida, to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

U.S. Senate panel approves Carson for housing secretary post
Ben Carson, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead U.S. housing policy, won approval on Tuesday from the Senate committee reviewing the qualifications of the retired neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate. The endorsement by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, by a voice vote shown on its website, cleared the way for a full Senate vote on Carson's appointment as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Warren backs Carson for HUD secretary
Warren lamented Carson’s “inexperience in the field,” but said she would not stand in the way of his confirmation. The former Republican presidential candidate was advanced by the Senate Banking Committee earlier in the day and is expected to be confirmed by the upper chamber in the near future.

Warren defends her vote for Carson amid liberal ire

Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation: Committee ordered favorably reported the following business items: ... The nominations of Elaine L. Chao, of Kentucky, to be Secretary of Transportation, and Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., of Florida, to be Secretary of Commerce.

U.S. Senate panel advances Ross, Chao nominations on voice vote
A U.S. Senate committee swiftly approved Republican President Donald Trump's nominees for commerce and transportation secretaries by voice vote on Tuesday, signaling that they will face little resistance to approval by the full Senate. Members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee voiced no objections to the nominations of billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, 79, as commerce secretary and veteran government administrator Elaine Chao, 63, as transportation secretary. Republicans control the Commerce committee by a single vote.

Committee on Finance: Committee concluded a hearing to examine the nomination of Thomas Price, of Georgia, to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, after the nominee, who was introduced by Senator Isakson, testified and answered questions in his own behalf.

Tom Price survives Senate committee’s scrutiny
Trump’s pick to lead the Health and Human Services Department carefully navigates questions about his record, Obamacare’s replacement

Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: Committee concluded a hearing to examine the nomination of Mick Mulvaney, of South Carolina, to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget, after the nominee, who was introduced by Senators Graham and Cotton, testified and answered questions in his own behalf.

Mulvaney vows to give Trump straight talk on entitlements
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) gave no signs of shedding his reputation as a fiscal hawk during separate confirmation hearings with two Senate panels Tuesday. “The only thing I know to do is tell the president the truth,” Mulvaney said. “I have to imagine that the president knew what he was getting when he asked me to fill this role,” he said. “I’d like to think it’s why he hired me.”

Budget Nominee Mulvaney an Investor in Gold, Silver
President Donald Trump’s pick to oversee the federal budget holds stock in a range of funds, from gold and uranium mining to the global airline industry

For first time in 30 years, John McCain may block a president's budget chief
On MSNBC yesterday, McCain said he's "very, very worried" Mulvaney will "continue his efforts to slash the military, which has been cut by 21 percent in the last eight years. I don't think any of us believe that we're 21 percent safer." In other words, the old war hawk can't stand a fiscal hawk like Mulvaney. This opposition seems uncharacteristic and perhaps hypocritical after McCain helped advance Democrat nominees who oversaw drastic cuts to military funding.

Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship: Committee concluded a hearing to examine the nomination of Linda E. McMahon, of Connecticut, to be Administrator of the Small Business Administration, after the nominee, who was introduced by Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, testified and answered questions in her own behalf.

McMahon dodges smackdown from Small Business Committee
Former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) head Linda McMahon called upon her experience as the former CEO of the pro-wrestling empire in an attempt to convince senators that she’s the right choice to run President Trump’s Small Business Administration (SBA).

Trump pick to head SBA, wrestling's Linda McMahon, receives warm Senate reception

Republican senator presses McMahon on EPA water rule
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) pressed Linda McMahon, President Trump’s nominee to head the Small Business Administration, on whether she’ll push the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to repeal the Waters of the United States rule.

Sessions — Attorney General

Democrats delay vote on Sessions nomination

Lawsuit filed to get information on Sessions

NRA ratchets up pressure to confirm Sessions

Other Committee News

Senate energy panel delays Tuesday votes on Perry and Zinke
The Senate energy committee said late Monday it had delayed "until further notice" a meeting on Tuesday in which the panel had been slated to vote on President Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of the interior, Rep. Ryan Zinke, and his pick for secretary of energy, Rick Perry.

First Health Care Repeal Deadline Missed by Congress
Members of the House Budget Committee told Roll Call Jan. 23 they anticipate that Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce will report in mid-to-late February.

Senate committee moving forward with Russia hacking probe
The Senate Intelligence Committee is moving forward with its probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential race.

Second Hill panel to probe possible ties between Russia, Trump campaign
The House Intelligence Committee is now looking into alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, the panel’s leaders said Wednesday, making it the second congressional investigation into the sensitive issue.Ryan: GOP will replace Obamacare, cut taxes and fund wall by August


Capitol Hill

GOP freshman: No more safe spaces for lawmakers
A freshman Republican lawmaker from Pennsylvania showed up in Washington this year and wasn't happy with the "members only" signs he saw throughout the Capitol, and has introduced legislation to ban them entirely.

GOP lawmaker proposes removing ‘Members Only’ signs from Capitol
Elevators near both chambers are also set aside for lawmakers rushing to votes. But they can otherwise be used by the general public at any time. Moreover, the elevator customs are typically not enforced. It’s not unusual to see staffers board at the same time as lawmakers.

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