for the week ending March 3, 2017
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Another week of curious messages from the White House, some of which involve Congress or will involve Congress, emphasizes the partisan divide over the question of establishing a commission to investigate any involvement between White House staff and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. Republicans think it is too soon to establish such a commission and would allow the House Judiciary Committee to do its own investigation which doesn’t seem to have much momentum but is rather a waiting game as the FBI continues its complicated probes into the allegations.
New York Democrat Gerald Nadler attempted to move forward asking for clarification on the status of President Trump and his financial and business holdings since in office by introducing to the Judiciary Committee a Resolution of Inquiry intended to direct the Attorney General to transmit certain documents to the House of Representatives relating to those financial practices of the President. Nadler, like many Democrats, do not believe the President successfully divested himself of his business interests and the affect that could have on his foreign policy decisions.
Nadler’s Resolution also requests information regarding any contact Trump campaign associates may have had with Russian officials during the campaign. He sought information on any criminal or counterintelligence investigation targeting President Donald J. Trump, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Roger Stone, or any employee of the Executive Office of the President.
House Judiciary Committee Chair, Rep Bob Goodlatte (R-VA-6th) rejected the Resolution. Goodlatte said that the Resolution was premature. Nadler lost his bid on the Judiciary panel by a vote of 18 to 16.
The matter of Trump divesting himself from business interests so to avoid imminent conflicts of interest began before he was elected and continue through the inauguration but has taken on greater urgency with recent press stories resulting from information from 9 US intelligence officials that several Trump insiders contacted Russian officials during the campaign and further conclusions from the FBI that Russian diplomats discussed the 2016 campaign amongst themselves. The press also reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Trump surrogate during the campaign when he was a Senator and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also had contact with Russian Ambassador during the campaign but Sessions holds that despite his answer during the review of his nomination to AG that he had no contact with the Russians his wordage rather shows that his answer may have meant he had no contact as a campaign surrogate. His role on the FA Committee would necessarily require contact with ambassadors of carious countries including Russia.
House Republicans continued their effort to roll back regulations from the Obama and previous administrations with the party-line passage of H.J.Res. 83 nullifying an Office of Safety and Health Administration (Department of Labor) rule requiring employers to keep records of workplace injuries. The requirement previously met resistance in court and the agency continued to require the information so that it may conduct investigations if necessary.
The regulation removal and control effort was taken to another level this week with the passage of three bills; HR 998 creates a commission to review rules and sets of rules in accordance with specified criteria to determine if a rule or set of rules should be repealed to eliminate or reduce the costs of regulation to the economy. HR 1004 requires federal agencies to post in a central location all public comments the agency makes about a proposed rule during the proposed rule stage. The bill also prohibits agencies from actively soliciting support for a proposed rule during the phase that is meant to gather public input on possible regulatory action. HR 1009 creates the Regulatory Working Group to review to assist agencies in identifying and analyzing important regulatory issues.
Senators continued to question various presidential nominees concluding in the acceptance of Ryan Zinke to be Secretary of the Interior confirmed by a vote of 68 – 31; Wilbur Ross to be Secretary of Commerce confirmed by a vote of 72–27; and Benjamin S. Carson, Sr. to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development confirmed by a vote of 58-41. The nomination of Richard Perry to be Secretary of Energy successfully gained cloture to move forward by a vote of 99 to 99.
The big ticket passing the House this week was the Senate-passed S 442 authorizing spending and programs for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Early in the year for an authorization bill it would provide $19,508,000,000 for Exploration, Space Operations, Science, Aeronautics, Space Technology, Education, Safety, Security, and Mission Services, Construction and Environmental Compliance and Restoration, and for Inspector General. The bill seeks to further investigate space and its options not only in near space travel such as from Earth to Moon but deep space travel and exploration in space beyond the Moon. Visiting Mars is a clear intention of the bill.
In other matters the House agreed to several land bills including HR 88 modifying the boundary of Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee; HR 699 relates to certain land exchanges in the Mt. Hood Wilderness in the State of Oregon; HR 863 oversees a written agreement with the Department of the Interior to receive donation of at least 10,000 square feet of space in the Colt Armory Complex.
The House also agreed to HR 228 which aims to facilitate the ability of Indian tribes to integrate the employment, training, and related services from diverse Federal sources and to HR 1033
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The Secret Obamacare Replacement
Mosul, Iraq / ISIS Syria
Magic Mondays with Rep. Marc Pocan (video)
Political Humor (Video)
The Senate and House are adjourning and will return to work Monday, March 6th. The next edition of TheWeekinCongress.com will be published Thursday evening March 9th.
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