H.R. 306 would require federal agencies, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Environmental Protection Agency, to implement strategies to acquire, use, and maintain information technologies expected to increase energy efficiency. The bill also would direct agencies to pursue activities aimed at enhancing the energy efficiency of data center. Passed House.
Energy Jobs Preparations
Under HR 338 The Secretary of Energy shall prioritize education and training for energy and manufacturing-related jobs in order to increase the number of skilled workers trained to work in energy and manufacturing-related fields, including by encouraging the Nation’s education system to equip students with the skills, mentorships, training, and technical expertise necessary to fill the employment opportunities vital to managing and operating the Nation’s energy and manufacturing industries. Scheduled, not yet debated.
Women in Space
Under HR 255 The National Science Foundation is encouraged to promote entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women and to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world. Passed House.
More Women in Space
Under HR 321 not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit to Congress a plan for how NASA can best facilitate and support both current and retired astronauts, scientists, engineers, and innovators, including early career female astronauts, scientists, engineers, and innovators, to engage with K-12 female STEM students and inspire the next generation of women to consider participating in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to pursue careers in aerospace. Passed House.
Budget Resolution Passes –
Mattis Gets Waiver
Government Regulations Controlled
The Senate passed SCR 3, the reconciliation budget for 2017 that will fund the government into March, set revenues, outlays and deficits for ten years and projects Social Security funding also over ten years. The bill directs certain Senate and House committees to each find at least $1 billion in cost cutting over ten years and estimates the deficit to be over $1 trillion in ten years as well.
The bill largely retains parliamentary procedures such as dynamic scoring, a process under which CBO calculates the economic impact of bills out forty years. The bill also shows Social Security in the black over the next ten years.
The levels of new budget authority, outlays, direct spending, new entitlement authority, revenues, deficits, and surpluses for a fiscal year or period of fiscal years shall be determined on the basis of estimates made by the Chairman of the Committee on the Budget of the applicable House of Congress and will not be subject to any point or order objection.
In addition to bills aiming for Congress to claw back its constitutional powers (Below under Regulations) it believes has been usurped by presidencies over the past 45 years the bill gives Members the authority to zero out funds for department programs and agencies and individual government employees. Passed Senate. Passed House.
The bill took on 29 amendments all or which failed mostly to the chair sustaining objections that the amendments violated the Budget Enforcement Act and was passed 51 to 49.
Defense Secretary Nominee
Senators also took up S 84, a bill that waives the requirement of Secretary of Defense nominees to have been out of office for seven years before qualifying to be accepted as the nominee. President-elect Trump’s nominee, Ret. Marine General James Mattis has only been out of service for over three years. Passed Senate and House.
Three bills took on government regulations this week beginning with HR 5, that amends the Administrative Procedure Act to revise and expand the requirements for federal agency rule-making by requiring agencies to base all preliminary and final factual determinations on evidence and to consider the legal authority under which the rule may be proposed, the specific nature and significance of the problem the agency may address with the rule, any reasonable alternatives for the rule, and the potential costs and benefits associated with such alternatives. Passed House.
The second bill, HR 78, requires that before issuing a regulation under the securities laws the Commission shall clearly identify the nature and source of the problem that the proposed regulation is designed to address, utilize the Chief Economist to assess the costs and benefits, both qualitative and quantitative, of the intended regulation, identify and assess available alternatives to the regulation that were considered, including modification of an existing regulation, and ensure that any regulation is accessible, consistent, written in plain language, and easy to understand and shall measure, and seek to improve, the actual results of regulatory requirements. Passed House.
H.R. 238 would authorize appropriations to operate the Commodity Futures Trading Commission through 2019 and to make changes in some of the agency’s operating procedures. The bill also would amend the Commodity Exchange Act to provide greater protections for customer funds held by entities that broker transactions in commodity futures and to relax requirements on certain participants in swap transactions.Passed House.
Nat. Security Innovation
Under HR 239 the Under Secretary for Science and Technology shall support the research, development, testing, evaluation, and transition of cybersecurity technologies, including fundamental research to improve the sharing of information, analytics, and methodologies related to cybersecurity risks and incidents, consistent with current law. Passed House.
Nat. Security Innovation II
Under HR 240 the Secretary of Homeland Security shall engage with innovative and emerging technology developers and firms, including technology-based small businesses and startup ventures, to address homeland security needs; and may identify geographic areas in the United States with high concentrations of such innovative and emerging technology developers and firms, and may establish personnel and office space in such areas, as appropriate. Passed House.
National Talent Put to Use
HR 39 establishes a program to encourage successful entrepreneurs, executives, and innovators to join the Government and work in close cooperation with Government leaders, to create meaningful solutions that can help save lives and taxpayer money, fuel job creation, and significantly improve how the Government serves the American people. Scheduled.
Broadband Provider Disclosures
Under HR 288 those small business broadband internet access service providers with fewer than 250,000 subscribers would be exempt from disclosing publicly, accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding their use under current law. Passed House.
HR 309 establishes a National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission to evaluate, and recommend solutions regarding better coordination and the leveraging of programs within the Department of Health and Human Services and other Federal agencies that relate in any way to supporting appropriate clinical care for people with pre-diabetes, diabetes and the chronic diseases and conditions that are complications of or caused by diabetes. Passed House.
HR 302 ‘Provides that for purposes of medical professional liability insurance or civil and criminal malpractice liability determinations, a physician or athletic trainer who is authorized to practice medicine in a state (primary state) and who provides medical services to an athlete or athletic team in a state where such professional is not authorized to practice (secondary state) shall be deemed to have provided such medical services in the primary state. Passed House.
Maternity Care Shortage
Under HR 315 “The Secretary, acting through the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, shall designate maternity care health professional shortage areas in the States and at least annually thereafter review and, as necessary, revise such designations.” “…the Secretary shall seek input from relevant provider organizations and other organizations with expertise in maternity care. Passed House.
HR 304, for the purpose of enabling emergency medical services practitioners to dispense controlled substances in schedule II, III, IV, or V to ultimate users receiving emergency medical services, authorizes the Attorney General, at the request of the emergency medical services agency employing such practitioners, register such emergency medical services agency … in lieu of registering the individual practitioners or one or more medical directors of such agency. Passed House.
Senate Committees carried on the interviews with several nominees by President-elect Donald Trump to include Senator Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General, Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, and Rep. Mike Pompeo as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Other nominees scheduled include Dr. Ben Carson – Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Elaine Chao – Secretary of Transportation; and James Mattis – Secretary of Defense.
Hearings on other nominees have been delayed due to the nominees’ yet having filed various documents for vetting by the US Office of Ethics. Those nominees are Betsy DeVos – Department of Education; Andrew Puzder – labor secretary nominee; and Wilbur Ross – secretary of commerce.
Trump will have to fill nearly 700 vacancies that require Senate approval in the short run and ultimately over 4000 positions must be filled.