Saturday, January 21, 2017

Congress Last Week

Chamber Activity

The House was not in session this week.

The Senate on Tuesday passed H.R. 72, the GAO Access and Oversight Act of 2017, 99-0.

Senate passes Sasse bill to open school lunch, food stamp records
“The bill would ensure the Government Accountability Office can access the National Directory of New Hires database, equipping GAO to audit unemployment insurance claims, quarterly wage data, and information on new hires, Sen. Ben Sasse said.  The GAO is a watchdog organization within the government that often reports to Congress, providing needed facts for legislative decisions.  Last March, the GAO was unable to comply with Sasse’s request to audit school lunch programs to ensure that assistance was targeted to kids who needed it most.”

Members of both chambers met on the west front of the Capitol for the Inauguration of President Donald Trump. Immediately following, the Senate confirmed the first two of the new President's nominees.

Senate confirms first nominees of Trump era
“In a 98-1 vote, the Senate confirmed retired Gen. James Mattis to be Defense secretary. Immediately after that vote, the Senate confirmed retired Gen. John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security by a vote of 88-11.”

Senate confirms Kelly as Trump's Homeland Security secretary

Mattis, Kelly confirmed to Cabinet positions

Also making headlines in the Senate this week were a pair of bills related to miners' health care. Considering this is related to health care and federal spending, its worth noting.

Senators introduce dueling miners bills
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced on Tuesday that he is filing legislation that would include a "permanent extension" for retired coal miners and their dependents. … The benefits are currently scheduled to expire at the end of April after senators included a four-month extension in last year's funding bill. … But a separate bill, backed by a bipartisan group of senators, would address both healthcare for miners and their families as well as a separate pension fund that is heading toward insolvency.”

Weekly Digest of the Congressional Record
January 17-20, 2017

GAVEL DOWN: Closing out the Week in Congress (Jan. 16-20, 2017)

House Committees

No hearings held this week

Senate Committees
(Dates as recorded in the Congressional Record)

January 17, 2017

Zinke — Interior

Zinke expresses some difference from Trump on climate change, Russia

Interior nominee Zinke disputes Trump on climate change

Trump's Interior pick: Climate change is not a hoax

DeVos — Education

DeVos vows to be advocate for 'great' public schools

Trump’s education secretary nominee escapes Senate confirmation hearing mostly unscathed

Betsy DeVos Hearing Highlights the Need for Less Government Control in Education

Sanders tangles with Trump’s Education pick over college costs

Why Betsy DeVos’ Support for School Choice Could Help America’s Schoolchildren

Trump's Education Pick Betsy DeVos Criticized for Donating Millions to Christian Organizations

Senate committee vote on DeVos postponed

January 20, 2017

Mattis — Defense

Senate confirms retired generals as first two Trump cabinet members

Mattis, Kelly confirmed to Cabinet positions

Ross — Commerce

Commerce nominee Ross gets warm Senate reception

Commerce nominee Ross: Tackling NAFTA is first priority, then China

Commerce nominee Ross hints Trump might use trade power

Perry — Energy

Rick Perry says he regrets vow to abolish Energy Department

Perry vows solution to Yucca Mountain impasse

Trump's energy pick Perry softens stance on climate change

Dems blast Trump plans for deep spending cuts

How Rick Perry Can Free Up US Energy From Government Favoritism

Pruitt — EPA

Senate Committee holds hearings on Scott Pruitt EPA nomination

Trump's EPA nominee: We will obey Congress

EPA nominee vows to restore state power

Pruitt at EPA confirmation: Human activity a factor in global warming

EPA pick Pruitt: Climate change not a hoax

Mnuchin — Treasury

Mnuchin Defends Banking Past, Advocates Strong U.S. Dollar

Treasury nominee Mnuchin defends mortgage record at OneWest Bank

Treasury pick Mnuchin fights questions about tax shelters, 'foreclosure machine'

Mnuchin Says Long-Term Strength of U.S. Dollar Is Important

Mnuchin Grapples With the Strong-Dollar Dilemma Left by Rubin

MNUCHIN: The US may need 'a 21st century version' of Glass-Steagall

Mnuchin Calls for Boosting IRS Despite House Plan to Streamline

Haley — UN Ambassador

Nikki Haley breaks with Trump on Russia: 'I don't think we can trust them'
During the hearing, Haley also expressed disappointment that President Barack Obama's administration allowed the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution last month to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Better to review Iran deal than withdraw from it: Trump U.N. pick Haley

Haley: No Muslim registry under Trump administration

Price — Health and Human Services

Price Faces Tough Questions on Stock Trading, Health Care Law

Price backs Trump's goal of universal health coverage

Rep. Tom Price defends his medical investments

Price won't promise not to cut Medicare, Medicaid

Price pledges orderly Obamacare exit

HHS Pick Tom Price Pledges to Meet ‘Needs of All’ After Obamacare Repeal

Senate Finance panel to hold Price hearing next week
Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced the Jan. 24 hearing on Tuesday, calling Price "immensely qualified" to lead HHS.

How Tom Price Could Restore the Doctor-Patient Relationship

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