THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - April 20, 2018

Apr 22, 2018

In this issue:


Even Trump must follow the law

Last weekend, President Trump instructed U.S. forces to bomb Syria. Shortly after, he declared on Twitter, “Mission Accomplished.” The problem is that for many Americans, the President’s mission remains unclear. Nor did he ask Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), as required by law and the U.S. Constitution. In a letter to the editor this week I explained why I believe, along with many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, the President must come before Congress with a clear and comprehensive strategy and ask for an AUMF. Before we engage any of our men and women in the armed forces in another military conflict overseas, we owe it to them and all the American people to vigorously examine the President’s case for going to war with Syria and, if justified, approve his plan.

Hearing on shark conservation

A bill banning the trade in shark fins received a hearing before the House Water, Power, and Oceans Subcommittee this week. Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-California) and I introduced H.R. 1456 in this Congress and have signed up 236 cosponsors. Our legislation is based on the landmark shark fin legislation enacted by the 17th Northern Marianas legislature in 2011. I expanded that local concept to be national policy and first introduced it in the last Congress. Also, on the hearing agenda were proposals dealing with sustainable shark fisheries and shark and billfish conservation. Witnesses from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and from the Mote Marine Laboratory and Rainbow Reef Dive Center in Florida testified on the bills. We must continue to halt the cruel, inhumane, and wasteful practice of shark finning and implement sensible conservation practices for our fisheries.

Making government work

This week, along with Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) and Patty Murray (Washington), House Education and Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-Virginia), and other House colleagues, I sent a lengthy comment to the National Labor Relations Board on its ill-advised attempt to change the 2014 Election Rule. The rule streamlined the process for union representation elections. The Board provided no justification for its attempted change and withheld pertinent data regarding the rule’s operation. As Ranking Member of the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee, I take seriously the responsibility to review Executive Branch labor policies. I have become increasingly concerned about dysfunction and chaos at the NLRB, which is the agency that is supposed to protect the rights of workers so they can improve their wages and working conditions.

$250,000 awarded to combat opioids

The Northern Mariana Islands is one of 57 states, territories, and freely associated states awarded funds this week to combat the opioid crisis. The Marianas received $250,000. This is the second year of funding and a third round is expected in September. The money is intended to support evidence-based efforts to prevent misuse of opioids in the first place, expand access to effective treatment options for people in need, and support recovery. Congress created the grant program in the 21st Century Cures Act.



Public Comment



On the Floor

  • H.R. 5444 – Taxpayer First Act (Passed, 414-0)
  • H.R. 5445 – 21st Century IRS Act (Passed, 414-3)
  • H.R. 5192 – Protecting Children from Identity Theft Act (Passed, 420-1)
  • H.R. 2905 – Justice for Victims of IRS Scams and Identity Theft Act of 2018 (Passed, 403-3)
  • H.R. 4403 – Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 5440 – To require notice from the Secretary of the Treasury in the case of any closure of Taxpayer Assistance Center (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 5446 – To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to restrict the immediate sale of seized property by the Secretary to perishable goods (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 5438 – To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow officers and employees of the Department of the Treasury to provide to taxpayers information regarding low-income taxpayer clinics (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 5437 – To require the Secretary of the Treasury to establish a program for the issuance of identity protection personal identification numbers (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 5439 – To provide for a single point of contact at the Internal Revenue Service for the taxpayers who are victims of tax-related identity theft (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 5443 – To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to require electronic filing of the annual returns of exempt organizations and provide for making such returns available for public inspection (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 2901 – To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make permanent Volunteer Income Tax Assistance matching grant program (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 1512 – Social Security Child Protection Act of 2018 (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 3607 – To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to establish fees for medical services provided in units of the National Park System, and for other purposes (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • S. 167 – National Memorial to Fallen Educators Act (Passed, 284-1)


On the Floor

  • H.R. 4 – FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018

Committee Activity

Wednesday, April 25

  • Committee on Natural Resources Oversight Hearing titled “The Weaponization of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Implications of Environmental Lawfare

Thursday, April 26

  • Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Hearing on “Worker-Management Relations: Examining the Need to Modernize Federal Labor Law"
  • Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Legislative Hearing on H.R. 211 and H.R. 5317