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Legislative / Policy Update

Senate Floor. The Senate is continuing consideration of a public lands package that includes permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. If Senators agree this afternoon to limit debate, a final vote on passage could be held Tuesday afternoon. Next up will be the nomination of William Barr to be Attorney General, with the Senate expected to confirm Barr on Wednesday or Thursday. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Barr’s nomination last week on a straight party-line vote of 12-10.

House Floor. The House will consider a number of non-controversial bills this week and is expected to pass a resolution on Wednesday directing the removal of U.S. forces from Yemen. Votes have been canceled on Tuesday to allow members to attend funeral services in Dearborn, Mich. for former Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who served in the House from 1955 to 2014. On Thursday, there will also be a service in Washington, D.C., where former President Clinton, former Speaker Boehner, and Majority Leader Hoyer will speak.

Committee Action of Note:

  • Feb. 12 – House Ways and Means Committee hearing on prescription drug prices.
  • Feb. 13 – House Ways and Means Committee hearing on how the 2017 tax law is affecting middle class families.
  • Feb. 13 – House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on the effect of the recent government shutdown on the aviation industry.
  • Feb. 13 – Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on infrastructure needs, with witnesses from the ports, railroad, cable, trucking and trade industries.
  • Feb. 13 – Senate Armed Services joint subcommittee hearing on "Current Condition of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative." Subcommittee on Personnel and Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support.
  • Feb. 28 – New date for House Intelligence Committee closed-door hearing that was scheduled for Feb. 8 to hear from Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer. (Cohen’s closed-door testimony scheduled for Feb. 12 before the Senate Intelligence Committee has also been postponed to a later date.)

Government Funding. Democratic and Republican negotiators trying to resolve the Homeland Security funding impasse are at odds over the number and purpose of immigration detention beds. The leaders of the Senate and House appropriations committees – Chairman Shelby, Ranking Member Leahy, Chairman Lowey, and Ranking Member Granger – are meeting this afternoon in an attempt to move the talks forward. The continuing resolution that is keeping the government open expires this Friday at 11:59 p.m.

China Trade. Negotiations are continuing between the U.S. and China, with the goal of reaching a deal before March 1, when the U.S. plans to raise tariffs from 10% to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. This week the talks are in Beijing, with U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin joining the negotiations on Thursday. According to a report in Axios, President Trump’s advisers have discussed holding a summit at Mar-a-Lago in mid-March with the Chinese President. Administration officials tell Axios that President Trump plans to speak to President Xi by phone before March 1, but a long-term deal won’t be finalized before the two leaders meet.

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