for the week ending March 31, 2017
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The big story on the Hill this week is not about legislation but rather the House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russian hacking of the 2016 election and any conversations Trump staff had with Russians before and after the election.
The Committee investigation is led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA-22) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA-28) and seemed off to a good start until Nunes made a late night visit to the White House grounds to meet with an unidentified person who, reportedly, gave Nunes document relevant to the investigation. Nunes first went to House Speaker Paul Ryan, then met with the press but did not reveal who he met with and the contents of the document. Nunes then met with Trump reportedly giving him a heads up on the new information then again with the press.
Nunes never shared the new information with Schiff or the committee. Planned interviews were then cancelled and the investigation at the House level seems to be stalled.
The Senate Intelligence committee has also begun its investigation into the matter lining up 20 persons to be interviewed and hiring a staff of six investigators with the highest security clearances and who will also review thousands of documents related to the investigation. The Senate began questioning witnesses today, Thursday, March 30th.
The House Ways and Means Committee (taxes) voted down a Democrat Resolution of Inquiry aiming to force a bill to the floor that would require Treasury to turn over Trump taxes to Congress. The Resolution failed on a party line vote.
Regarding legislation both bodies passed resolutions nullifying agency rules. The House agreed with the Senate on S.J.Res. 34 that nullifies the Federal Communication Commission rule that prohibits providers of broadband Internet access from selling information on individual’s browsing habits and other online activities that pass through the provider’s network. The Senate agreed with the House-passed H.J. Res. 67 that nullifies the rule that municipalities must take responsibility for investing employee savings or for selecting investment alternatives; for the security of payroll deductions and employee savings and other related matters.
Two bills scheduled based on the possible passage of the American Healthcare Act were not debated this week due to the AHCA not being voted on. The bills were relevant to the planned process of repealing the Affordable Care Act. HR 1304 excludes from the definition of “health insurance coverage” a stop-loss policy obtained by a self-insured health plan or a sponsor of a self-insured group health plan and HR 1215 sets time limits after an injury to file a malpractice complaint. The bill also limits compensation at $250,000. The claim must be based upon proof of fraud, intentional concealment; or the presence of a foreign body, which has no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or effect, in the person of the injured person.
Senators occupied themselves otherwise with various increases in rank for Armed Forces personnel.
The House wrapped up three bills scheduled but delayed due to the healthcare vote last week. HR 654 requires FEMA to carry out a plan to purchase and install an earthquake early warning system for the west coast Cascadia Subduction Zone (landward-dipping fault that is approximately 684 miles long) and directs the President to establish an Earthquake and Tsunami Task Force. HR 1117 requires FEMA to create a plan for implementing operating procedures to ensure the maintenance of appropriate records throughout the life cycle of the emergency or disaster. And HR 1214 requires FEMA to begin a program of using simplified procedures to issue public assistance for disaster projects.
What is the Administrative State?
Hamilton on Congress
How to Handle the Russian Mess
More Troops for Mosul / Russia: Why Libya? / US Expansion in the Middle East
Magic Mondays with Rep Marc Pocan – Just a card trick (Video)
Political Crash Course – What is Federalism? (Video)
The Senate and House are adjourning and will return to work on Monday, April 3rd. The next edition of TheWeekinCongress.com will be published Thursday evening, April 6th.
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