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Catherine Treadwell, J.D., Director of Government Relations
The ASA Advocacy Team was on The Hill for the first day of the 116th Congress! We met with new and senior representatives and their staff to talk about the ASA 2019 Legislative Agenda. The new congressional committee assignments have not been finalized yet, but you can rest assured these members will be big players for ASA in 2019!
Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS-2) sat on the Education and Workforce Committee and the Homeland Security Committee for the 115th Congress. However, rumor has it, he may be moving to the Ways and Means Committee for the 116th Congress. He understands the issues that ASA is facing today pertaining to workforce development and the lack of skilled workers in the trades. He is dedicated to the issues and we look forward to working with him on solutions in 2019!
Rep. Steve Watkins (R-KS-2) is brand new to Congress! He is a West Point graduate and served as a Captain in the Army. He went on to be private contractor with the Department of Defense, where his specialty was in engineering, security and economic development. Rep. Watkins was also attempting to climb Mount Everest when the Nepal Disaster of 2015 happened. Six people of his team died that day. He is a true leader.
Although, committees have not been assigned, the ASA Advocacy Team is looking forward to a strong relationship with Rep. Watkins. His experience in engineering and economic development brings a fresh, new perspective to The Hill.
Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL-18) has been on The Hill since 2015. In the 115th Congress he sat on the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over revenue-raising measures, such as tax, trade, and healthcare. He also sat on U.S. Joint Economic Committee, where he co-chair of the China Working Group.
The ASA Advocacy Team is very excited to build this relationship with Rep. LaHood, as he understands the importance of making all the hard work of the Tax Cuts and Job Acts permanent.
Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND-AL) is a lawyer and former state Senator from North Dakota. He is new member to the U.S. House of Representatives. He ran his campaign on priorities such as, growing the economy and improved infrastructure, legislation protecting private property owners, downsize government regulations, addressing the opioid crisis, and appeal of ObamaCare.
ASA is excited to see this relationship grow. Rep. Armstrong understands the regulatory issues that ASA members deal with on a day to day basis. He can truly be a champion when it comes to these overly burdensome issues.
The ASA Advocacy Team is excited to grow all of these relationships and make new ones during the 116th Congress! We are dedicated to being your voice in D.C. and on The Hill!
- The House passed four separate bills covering funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2019 (until September 30) for most of the government departments and agencies that are currently shut down but excluding the Department of Homeland Security (see below).
The Senate rejected an attempt by Republicans to debate and vote on a bipartisan bill imposing new sanctions on Syria and bolstering security ties with Israel and Jordan.
- More than 7,000 federal employees and contractors living in and around D.C. have now applied for unemployment insurance as they prepare for their first missed paychecks on Friday, the last day this shutdown is under the record for longest in history.
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a key White House ally, said he asked President Donald Trump to temporarily reopen the government to allow for a debate on broader immigration policies, a sign that Republicans are worried the government shutdown over Trump's proposed border wall is hurting the party politically. Twenty-four days into the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, Trump and the congressional Democrats remained far apart in negotiations. (The Washington Post)
- The Treasury Department restarted a program in order to resume paychecks to clerks at the Internal Revenue Service so they can process income verification forms key to the lending industry, following a lobbying campaign by the mortgage industry. The income verification service will be funded by drawing on revenue for fees. (The Washington Post)
- The Internal Revenue Service will issue refunds to taxpayers even if the government is still shut down during filing season, said Russell Vought, acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. The decision could ease political pressure on Congress and President Donald Trump to reach a deal to end the shutdown. But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the Trump administration cannot order the IRS to distribute tax funds during the government shutdown, calling the move "illegal."
- Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has until Jan. 31 to choose whether eight temporary agency directors should remain in their posts, according to a secretarial order signed by former Secretary Ryan Zinke. The officials, who are acting without Senate confirmation, include senior adviser Susan Combs and the Bureau of Land Management's deputy director of policy and programs, Brian Steed. (E&E News)
- President Donald Trump officially nominated acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to lead the agency, six months after Wheeler assumed control of the EPA after former Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned.
- The EPA said it would complete a rule to allow the sale of E15, a higher-ethanol blend of gasoline, by the start of the summer driving season. The agency has warned lawmakers that the partial government shutdown has impacted the timeline of the rollout, according to two sources, who said the EPA originally hoped to issue a proposal in February and a final rule by June.
- China's trade surplus with the United States spiked to $323.32 billion in 2018 from $275.81 billion a year earlier, hitting the highest level since 2006. Chinese exports to the United States increased 11.3 percent in 2018, while imports from the United States notched 0.7 percent. (Reuters)
- China's top trade official, Vice Premier Liu He, was unexpectedly present at trade talks between China and the United States, people familiar with the matter said, indicating that China could be assigning more importance to the discussions. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is slated to meet with Liu later this month, according to a person familiar with the matter.
- Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who recently became chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he would encourage Trump to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if he meets opposition from Democrats in approving his revised version. Grassley said he wants to talk with Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee to gauge opposition to the tweaked trade agreement.
- Florida Bill S244 relates to high school academic advisors. This bill amends the current bill and requires that schools who have students in 9th through 12th grade have to designate academic advisors for each student and provide parameters for advising, including dates to meet with students. The advisor shall advise students on alternate career paths, graduation pathways, available industry certifications, and technical training. The bill also goes on to provide that is a student’s gpa falls below 2.0, the designated advisor must meet with the student within the first semester that the gpa falls below 2.0. If the student’s grade point average remains lower than 2.0, then the advisor has to talk to the student about alternate pathways to graduation. This help helps keep students on track for high school graduation, but also helps them explore alternate career choices besides a four year college degree. This bill also helps address the workforce shortage in the trade industry by informing students of technical training and industry certificates available for students after graduation who might not otherwise be considering the these trade careers.
- Colorado Bill – HB 19-1037 relates to the retirement and continue retirement of existing electric generating facilities. This has and will effect communities in CO where employees of the facilities reside. This bill provide transition assistance for the workers directly affected by the closing of the facilities. The transition assistance is defined in the bill to include payment of retraining costs, including costs of apprenticeship programs and skilled worker retraining programs, for and financial assistance to directly displaced Colorado facility workers, compensation to Colorado local governments for lost property tax revenue directly resulting from the retirement of a facility, and similar payments, job retraining, assistance, and compensation for directly displaced Colorado workers and local governments in areas that produce fuel used in the retired facility directly resulting from the elimination of the need for fuel at the facility.
- The House and the Senate are in session.
- Lawmakers will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 1 (116), a foreign policy measure whose advancement Democrats have blocked to protest the government shutdown. They'll vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed at 5:30 p.m.
Democrats are rallying to turn the “Green New Deal” into a centerpiece of their Capitol Hill agenda and the party’s 2020 platform — as soon as they decide what exactly it is.
The term has become a potent brand name for a slate of ideas for transforming the economy and fighting climate change, championed by progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and embraced, at least cautiously, by potential presidential nominees including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Beto O’Rourke.
The government shutdown is now the longest in American history, officially hitting that mark over the weekend. Though only a partial shutdown, it is having an outsize impact on banks, credit unions and mortgage lenders across the country. Some of these have been mitigated due to actions by the Trump administration, while others continue largely unaddressed.
China’s exports slumped in December as a rush of orders to beat expected tariffs showed signs of fading and as domestic buyers succumbed to a worsening economic outlook.
The worse than expected figures, with exports falling 4.4 percent in December from a year earlier, set a grim domestic backdrop for China’s negotiators as they seek a deal to end the stand-off with the Trump administration.
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