TODAY: Tell the Department of Labor to delay the Fiduciary Rule before it’s implemented on April 10th. They need to hear from you during this public comment period before it closes on Friday.
On The Hill
The business of the House continues to be the American Health Care Act legislation, which passed out of the Ways and Means and the Energy and Commerce Committees last week after long markups that went through the night.
The U.S. Chamber is optimistic about the proposal, as it would eliminate or delay some harmful taxes from the Affordable Care Act and preserves the employer-sponsored system that millions of Americans rely on.
The Congressional Budget Office released their estimated effects of the legislation Monday afternoon, predicting lower premiums by 2025 than the current growth rate, and that fewer individuals would be insured partly due to the repeal of the individual mandate.
Following regular order, the AHCA is next considered by the House Budget Committee, which delayed their markup until Thursday due to weather.
DC’s reaction to a couple inches of snow evokes the old JFK quip, that Washington DC is the city of “Southern efficiency and Northern charm.”
The flight delays have spurred a bi-partisan road trip: Texas Representatives Will Hurd (R-TX-23) and Beto O’Rourke (D-TX-16) are making the 24 hour drive together from their west Texas districts to get back into town for votes– and they’re live-streaming it.
The Senate begins Supreme Court hearings next week, with nominee Neil Gorsuch scheduled to begin testifying on Monday, March 20th, and last throughout the week.
Since his announcement last month, Gorsuch has been making the rounds in the Senate for meetings, speaking personally with over 70 Senators. But, the New York Times is reporting that Senate Democrats may be tacking to an anti-business attack on his nomination since nothing else has worked. Reminder: The U.S. Chamber called on the Senate to act within an hour of Gorsuch’s nomination.
In other nomination news, the Senate filed cloture for Dan Coats (Director of National Intelligence) and H.R. McMaster (waiver for National Security Advisor). Hearings for the U.S. Trade Representative began today with nominee Robert Lighthizer, and Seema Verma was previously confirmed to head up the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
The Takeaway: Spring recess starts in a month – how far will Congress get on health care reform, and will the Senate get through the major executive branch nominations?
The Skinny from the White House:
Here’s the skinny: The Trump administration is expected to release their “skinny” budget on Thursday, which outlines topline numbers for various departments and agencies. This isn’t the full budget proposal, but provides a starting point for the Hill and various agencies to begin planning.
Not the only thing getting skinny: The Washington Post is reporting that the federal workforce could be facing a reduction in the years ahead. As they summarize, “Simply put, government would be smaller and less involved in regulating life in America, with private companies and states playing a much bigger role.”
Already getting to work: After his first official cabinet meeting on Monday, President Trump signed an “executive order tasking federal agencies with cutting waste through agency reevaluation and reorganization.”
Pizza & Bowling: The Trump Administration continues their charm offensive with Members of Congress, inviting some over for bowling at the White House and other events to build congressional support for the President’s legislative agenda.
Day-tripping: President Trump is traveling to Tennessee and Michigan today and is expected to announce a rollback of CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards on vehicles.
Friday he’ll meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, then spend the weekend at Mar-A-Lago with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the informal first meeting between the two leaders.
The Takeaway: Trump’s charm offensive continues, and it’s effectiveness will be measured when the House starts voting on the AHCA and the budget.
What We’re Working On:
Spirit of Enterprise: Next week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will announce it’s 2016 How They Voted legislative scorecard for both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Any legislator with over a 70 percent qualifies for the annual Spirit of Enterprise award, though their cumulative lifetime scores are the best measure of how well they vote with business and foster free enterprise.
Accreditation Across the Nation: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce just awarded 13 state and local chambers from across the country with accreditation, recognizing their work and commitment to high standards. Chambers include:
Accredited with 4 Stars:
Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, Flint, MI
Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce, Galveston, TX
Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, Port Arthur, TX
Rockwall Area Chamber of Commerce, Rockwall, TX
Accredited with 5 Stars:
Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, North Charleston, SC
Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Springfield, IL
Kalispell Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau, Kalispell, MT
Longview Chamber of Commerce, Longview, TX
Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, Lynchburg, VA
The Bristol Chamber of Commerce, Bristol, TN
The Central Louisiana Regional Chamber of Commerce, Alexandria, LA
Tucson Metro Chamber, Tucson, AZAccredited State Chamber with Distinction:
South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, Columbia, SC
Getting Moving: There’s broad recognition that America needs to reinvest in transportation and infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineer just graded our nation’s infrastructure as a D+ overall, also known as barely passing to any parent.
The U.S. Chamber is helping lead those efforts in finding a solution that works for all Americans, and our own policy guru Ed Mortimer was on Capitol Hill last week testifying on the challenged and opportunities in funding and financing new infrastructure.