Emerging Technologies Washington Update

September 13, 2018

Pardon Our Dust

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Week in Review

The House and Senate both returned to Washington yesterday after a brief recess in observance of Rosh Hashanah. With just a handful of legislative days remaining before government spending authority expires on September 30, congressional leadership is focused on averting a shutdown. After meeting with the President last week, Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell both insisted that there will not be a shutdown, but the President hasn’t completely ruled it out if Congress doesn’t deliver on his request for border wall funding. In the meantime, appropriators continue to engage in both formal and informal negotiations to move FY19 appropriations bills forward in packages, or minibuses. On Monday, conferees announced a deal on the first minibus, which includes the Energy-Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bills. Days after the Senate voted to confirm Karen Evans as its first leader, the bill funds for the first time the Department of Energy’s new office of cybersecurity. The Senate passed the $147 billion conference report last night by a vote of 92-5, with the House expected to follow suit today. Conferees also meet today on two other minibuses, one encompassing Defense and Labor-Health and Human Services and the other Interior-Environment, Financial Services, Agriculture, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development funding. Leaders are preparing for the Defense/Labor-HHS minibus to be the vehicle for a continuing resolution to extend funding for the remaining government programs through December 7.

Last night, the Senate voted 64-33 to confirm Charles Rettig to serve as Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service and adjourned for the week early due to the impending hurricane. The House Ways and Means Committee meets today to mark up the Tax Reform 2.0 package, which Republicans rolled out earlier this week to make permanent many of the tax cuts enacted last year. Meanwhile, leaders are bringing to the House floor a modified version of a water infrastructure bill that the House passed previously based on a bicameral agreement to avoid a lengthy and contentious conference. The House also votes today on bipartisan legislation to coordinate and accelerate the federal government’s quantum research and development efforts.

The Week Ahead

The House will be in recess next week. The Senate returns on Monday, but will recess on Wednesday is observance of Yom Kippur and resume its work on Thursday. On Monday evening, the Senate will take up legislation related to drug pricing before turning to a package of legislation to combat the nation’s opioid crisis. 

After a week of lengthy and at times heated confirmation hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an executive session this morning to discuss Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, but a vote was held over to September 20. Look for Leader McConnell to bring the nomination to the Senate floor soon after in an effort to have Kavanaugh seated before the Court begins its next term on October 1.