House Continues Regulation Roll-back
Senate Closes in On Nominee Votes
The House took up five joint resolutions to roll-back regulations from various federal departments during the Obama Administration, passing all on party-line votes.
H.J.Res. 42 nullifies a rule that permits States to enact legislation to provide for the State-conducted testing of an unemployment compensation applicant for the unlawful use of controlled substances, as a condition of unemployment compensation eligibility if the applicant was discharged for unlawful use of controlled substances by his or her most recent employer, or if suitable work is only available in an occupation for which drug testing is regularly conducted. Passed House.
H.J.Res. 66 nullifies the rule that establishes that, for purposes of Title I of ERISA, the terms “employee pension benefit plan” and “pension plan” do not include an individual retirement plan …established and maintained pursuant to a state payroll deduction savings program… if the program satisfies all of the conditions set forth in the regulation. The rule, then would ‘support state efforts to establish retirement savings plans. Passed House.
H.J.Res. 67 nullifies a regulation that describes how cities and counties may design and operate payroll deduction savings programs for private-sector employees, including programs that use automatic enrollment, without causing the states or private-sector employers to have established employee pension benefit plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).’ Passed House.
H.J.Res. 69 nullifies the rule that maintains existing mandates for the conservation of natural and biological diversity, biological integrity, and environmental health on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska related to predator control keeping in place the taking of wildlife for subsistence purposes. The rule prohibited such practices as shooting wolves from helicopters. Passed House.
H.J.Res. 43 would nullify the final rule to require that no recipient making sub-awards for the provision of services (abortion) as part of its Title X project may prohibit an entity from participating for reasons other than its ability to provide Title X services. (contraceptive services, natural family planning methods, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, HIV testing and prevention, cervical and breast cancer screening, preconception health services, pregnancy testing and counseling, sterilization services, basic infertility services, and other patient education and referrals.) Passed House.
The Senate has approved of David Shulkin as secretary of Veterans Affair by a vote of 100–0.
The confirmation of Linda McMahon to run the Small Business Administration was confirmed by a vote of 81 – 19.
The nomination of Steve Mnuchin as Secretary of Treasury was agreed to by a vote of 53–47.
The nomination of Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services was confirmed by a vote of 52-47.
The nomination of Mick Mulvaney to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget was confirmed by a vote of 51-49.
The nomination of Scott Pruitt to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency was confirmed by a vote of 52 – 46
Nominations that have gained cloture to continue at this time include Ryan Zinke, to be Secretary of the Interior; Ben Carson, to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; and James Richard Perry, to be Secretary of Energy.
Andrew Puzder, the nominee for labor secretary, withdrew his nomination when it became obvious that he did not have the votes from Republicans.
Other House Action
HR 974 authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in awarding a contract for the procurement of goods or services, to give preference to offerors based on the percentage of the offeror’s full-time employees who are veterans. Passed House.
HR 244 proposes encouraging voluntary private sector investments to recruit, employ, and retain men and women who have served in the United States military with annual presidential awards to private sector employers recognizing the efforts. Passed House.
Red River Survey
HR 428 directs the Bureau of Land Management to commission a survey to identify the South Bank boundary line with respect to land along a specified 116-mile stretch of the Red River in Oklahoma and Texas…’ Passed House.
VA Benefit Info Access
HR 512 provides that ‘The Secretary shall provide to each veteran who submits a claim for benefits an opportunity to permit a covered congressional employee employed in the office of the Member of Congress representing the district where the veteran resides to have access to all of the records of the veteran in the databases of the Veterans Benefits Administration.’ Passed House.
Senators agreed with HR 255 through which 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 and Senate.
H.J.Res 40 nullifies a rule that identifies on a prospective basis, individuals who receive Disability Insurance benefits under title II of the Social Security Act or Supplemental Security Income payments under title XVI of the Act and who also meet certain other criteria, including an award of benefits based on a finding that the individual’s mental impairment meets or medically equals the requirements of section 12.00 of the Listing of Impairments and therefore would deny the right to own a firearm. Passed House. Passed Senate.