January 28, 2019
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Short-Term Deal Reached to Reopen
• On Friday, the House and Senate passed a three-week continuing resolution (CR) to end the partial government shutdown, which the President then signed into law;
• About one-quarter of federal agencies were closed during the 35-day shutdown;
• The CR runs through February 15, and gives Congress and the Trump Administration time to reach a deal on border security funding;
• A conference committee will be formed to negotiate such a deal;
• The main contention is the President’s request for $5.7 billion for a barrier/wall on the Southern Border;
• Democrats in both chambers of Congress have refused to vote for legislation which includes wall funding;
• The funding levels under the new CR are commensurate with levels under the FY 2018 omnibus spending package;
• President Trump has stated that he has not ruled out another shutdown if no agreement is reached on border security;
• The President has also hinted he may declare a national emergency to reallocate existing funds for the barrier/wall if no agreement is reached;
• Additionally, the State of the Union which was originally scheduled for tomorrow night and then postponed during the shutdown, has not yet been rescheduled.
House to Vote on Homeland Security Legislation
• Under suspension of the rules, the House is expected to vote on H.R. 504, the DHS Field Engagement Accountability Act, introduced by Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE);
• The measure would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop, and update at least once every five years, a strategy for DHS engagement with fusion centers;
• DHS defines fusion centers as a collaborative effort of two or more government agencies that combines resources, expertise, or information, to maximize the ability of those agencies to detect, prevent, investigate, apprehend, and respond to criminal or terrorist activity;
• To view text of the bill, please click here.
Supreme Court Unlikely to Hear Groundwater Cases Before Fall
• The Supreme Court did not issue an order to hear two cases on groundwater, centering on whether pollution traveling through groundwater is covered under the Clean Water Act (CWA);
• The lack of such an order means the Court is unlikely to hear the cases prior to adjournment this summer;
• In both lower court cases, it was found that violations occurred when untreated groundwater reached a protected body of water;
• The Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General to review both petitions, signaling the interest of the Court;
• The Trump Administration has urged the Court to take up one of the cases in the hopes of reversing the lower court decisions;
• Plaintiffs in the lower court cases have argued against the Court taking up either case;
• The Court is next scheduled to issue case orders on February 19;
• If the Justices decide to take the cases then, it would be a very short timeline to hear them prior to adjournment;
• The groundwater cases are part of several reviews of CWA, along with the proposed rule on the Waters of the United States issued last month.
On the Horizon
• January 29 at 10:00 am ET, the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works is scheduled to hold a hearing on the nomination of Nicole R. Nason to be the next Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration – for more information, please click here;
• January 31 at 10:00 am ET, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce is scheduled to hold a hearing on the impact of the recent partial government shutdown on employees that work for federal agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency – for more information, please click here.