Emerging Technologies Washington Update

September 6, 2018

Pardon Our Dust

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Week in Review

Congress returned to Washington on Tuesday following a month-long recess for the House and an abbreviated recess for the Senate. All eyes were on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which convened several days of confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the President’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) intends to mark up the nomination on September 13. The Senate Intelligence and House Energy and Commerce Committees also held high-profile hearings this week to hear from social media executives on transparency, accountability, and foreign influence.

Back on the floor, the Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm Elad Roisman to serve as a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Meanwhile, the House passed legislation to expand financial aid counseling and a slew of bills related to Department of Homeland Security missions, including one by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) to establish a coordinator for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) countermeasures policy (for more on that topic, click here).

With both chambers back in Washington, congressional leaders are focused on funding government operations for FY19 before the September 30 deadline to avert a shutdown. Bicameral Republican leadership met with the President on Wednesday and while congressional leaders insist that there will be no shutdown, the President continues to push for border wall funding that he is unlikely to get. The meeting coincided with ongoing conference committee negotiations to advance a package of FY19 Military Construction-VA, Energy-Water, and Legislative Branch appropriations bills that are stalled amid controversial policy riders. The House will also vote later today to go to conference on another package that includes Agriculture, Financial Services, Interior-Environment, and Transportation-HUD bills.

Elsewhere, farm bill conferees met formally for the first time on Wednesday morning. Former Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) was sworn in Wednesday afternoon to fill the late Senator John McCain’s seat. Arizona will hold a special election in 2020 for the remaining two years of the term. The Senate Armed Services Committee also formally selected Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) to succeed McCain as chairman. Rep. Troy Balderson (R-OH) was also sworn in on Wednesday after winning a special election to fill the seat formerly held by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH).

The Week Ahead

The House and Senate will return on Wednesday following Rosh Hashanah for an abbreviated work week. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote to advance Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Congressional leaders will otherwise continue to focus on appropriations to avoid a shutdown after September 30. The House may also take up a modified version of a water infrastructure bill that it already passed to account for major differences between it and the Senate version to avoid a lengthy conference.