Congress at Work for May 2017

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Promoting Space Travel, Weather Forecasting, and a Plethora of Executive Branch Memos

Congress - May 2017National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017 (S. 422) – Sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), this bill was signed into law by President Trump on March 21. As the first NASA funding authorization bill passed in seven years, this Act allocates money to send humans to Mars by 2033, reaffirms the United States’ commitment to continue involvement with the International Space Station through 2024, resurrects the National Space Council (a governmental body that hasn’t existed since 1993), and guarantees free lifetime healthcare for astronauts.

Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 (H.R. 353) – This Act authorizes funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to prioritize research to improve weather data, modeling, computing, forecasting and warnings to better protect lives and property. It also requires the National Weather Service (NWS) to collect and utilize information for forecasts of sub seasonal and seasonal temperature and precipitation, and allows the NWS to work with the private sector for new technologies and weather solutions. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) and signed into law by the President on April 18.

An Act to name the Department of Veterans Affairs community-based outpatient clinic in Pago Pago, American Samoa, the Faleomavaega Eni Fa’aua’a Hunkin VA Clinic. (H.R. 1362) – Sponsored by Aumua Amata, Delegate for American Samoa Republican, the bill was signed into law by the President on March 31.

Stopping EPA Overreach Act (H.R. 637) – Sponsored by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL), this bill would prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases by overturning existing legislation including the Clean Power Plan for power plants; car and vehicle environmental requirements; and climate change provisions related to electric utility generating units and natural gas sources. This bill was introduced on January 23 and assigned to a congressional committee for consideration before possibly forwarding it on to the House or Senate.

Recent Presidential Executive Orders and Memorandums (totaling 37 as of April 20):

  • An order empowering the Treasury Secretary to move forward with tax reform and end portions of the Dodd-Frank financial legislation.
  • A memo ordering an investigation into whether foreign steel is hurting national security.
  • An order directing federal agencies to review the use of the H-1B visa program.
  • An order requesting the Commerce Department to report on the factors behind the trade deficit.
  • An order requesting the Commerce Department to increase collection of duties on imports.
  • An order establishing the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.
  • An order revoking Obama-era executive orders on federal contracting.
  • An order directing a top-to-bottom audit of the Executive Branch.
  • A revised order suspending the refugee program and entry to the United States for travelers from several countries – and suspending refugee entries for 120 days. The original order was revoked.
  • An order moving the HBCU (Historically Black College and Universities) offices back from the Department of Education to the White House.
  • Three orders establishing three Department of Justice taskforces to fight drug cartels, reduce violent crime and reduce attacks against police.
  • A memorandum instructing the Labor Department to delay implementing an Obama rule requiring financial professionals who are giving advice on retirement, and who charge commissions, to put their client’s interests first.