Things Are Happening Fast in Washington, Says NCPA Legislative Director

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NCPA Legislative Director Brian Williams reports from D.C.

Breaking news– Today, the Trump Administration announced that the economy created 227,000 jobs last month. Obama-era economists were only expecting 175,000 jobs.  The workforce participation rate is up 0.2% as well, which is another sign that folks are starting to go back to work.

Breaking news– Today, the President said he will begin rolling back the crippling Dodd-Frank rules that create disincentives for banks to lend money to small businesses. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) foreshadowed today’s actions in a speech at an NCPA event last year. More information about NCPA’s Financial Crisis Initiative can be found here.

Breaking news– Today, the President announced that he will prevent Obama-era regulations from paralyzing the retirement advisory industry. The so-called “fiduciary rule” was supposed to take effect in April.  NCPA’s Pam Villarreal teamed up with CEI’s John Berlau to explain it here.

Breaking news– Today, the Trump Administration announced new sanctions against Iran in response to their continued ballistic missile tests. So…no more plane-loads of cash then?

Supreme Court– The President nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created after the death of Antonin Scalia. This is the #1 priority at the White House.  “Whatever else you think is important, it is secondary to SCOTUS,” I was told by a White House aide.

Obamacare repeal– Congress got a quick start on Obamcacare repeal last month, but the effort has slowed. Congressional Republican leaders say they are working on a “three-budget strategy.”  First, incoming HHS Secretary Tom Price will begin using administrative tools to unravel Obamacare.  Second, use the budget reconciliation bill to repeal Obamacare.  And third, draft a health reform package to replace Obamacare.

Tax reform– Congress won’t start tax reform until health reform is done. But GOP leaders say they are on track for tax reform in the May-July timeframe.

Regulatory reform– The President signed an executive order that requires agencies to repeal two regulations for every new regulations they adopt. They call it the “one-in, two-out” rule.

Immigration travel ban– The White House spent much of the week defending the President’s temporary ban on travel from 7 terrorist-related countries.

Nominations– The Senate is lagging a bit on several of these:

  • Andy Puzder, Secretary of Labor. Stuck in the Senate HELP Committee.
  • Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State. Confirmed.
  • Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation. Confirmed.
  • Nikki Haley, Ambassador to the United Nations. Confirmed.
  • Mike Pompeo, Director of Central Intelligence. Confirmed.
  • James Mattis, Secretary of Defense. Confirmed.
  • John Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security. Confirmed.
  • Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce. Waiting for a Senate vote.
  • Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Waiting for a Senate vote.
  • Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Interior. Waiting for a Senate vote.
  • Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy. Waiting for a Senate vote.
  • Linda McMahon, Administrator of the Small Business Administration. Waiting for a Senate vote.
  • Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education. Waiting for a Senate vote.
  • Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury. Senate Democrats boycotted the committee vote. Waiting for a Senate vote.
  • Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services. Senate Democrats boycotted the committee vote. Waiting for a Senate vote.
  • Jeff Sessions, Attorney General. Senate Democrats boycotted the committee vote. Waiting for a Senate vote. Meanwhile, President Trump fired the acting attorney general for insubordination.
  • Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Senate Democrats boycotted the committee vote. Waiting for a Senate vote.
  • Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Waiting for a Senate vote.

Executive OrdersSo far:

  • Provide relief from Obamacare
  • Freeze all new regulations
  • Reinstate ban on taxpayer dollars for international abortions
  • Scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Freeze the federal workforce
  • Advance the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines
  • Expedite infrastructure projects
  • Promote “Made-in-America” pipelines
  • Review domestic manufacturing regulations
  • Increase border security
  • Remove undocumented immigrants
  • Reevaluate visa and refugee programs
  • Strengthen the military
  • Reorganize the National Security Council
  • Implement a lobbying ban
  • Implement a plan to defeat ISIS
  • Reduce regulations (“One In-Two Out”)

Israel– The Trump Administration says they have no official position on Israeli settlements…but told Israel not to build too many of them. They need to sort this out between now and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s February 15 visit. And the location of the American embassy in Israel is sure to come up too.

First military casualty– One of the most sobering duties of a commander-in-chief is to console the families of soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors who are killed while carrying out the President’s orders. President Trump attended to that solemn duty this week, in honor of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens,” a Navy SEAL killed in Yemen.

Religious freedom– The President promised to “get rid of and totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, a regulation that prohibits political activity in churches.

Law and order– While U.C. Berkeley students tried to burn the place down to prevent the expression of opposing points of view, the President questioned whether taxpayers should be sending their money there. Last night, the same thing happened at NYU.

Congressional Review Act– Congress is working on a slew of CRAs. Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can disapprove recently-enacted regulations.  Several Obama-era regulations are subject to the CRA and the House of Representatives has already passed several CRAs that would overturn Obama-era regulations on gun-control, coal mining, and several others. The CRA process will start to bog down in the Senate, however, where each CRA is given at least 10 hours of debate.

Football. Oh… and the Super Bowl is on Sunday.

 

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