Capitol to Capitol | April 8, 2019


Last week the House passed HR 1585, >the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, filed a lawsuit against members of the Trump administration for the emergency declaration for funding to build a border wall, and moved one step closer to issuing a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller's report and its underlying evidence.

In the Senate, the rules of debate were changed (the nuclear option was invoked) to speed up action on President Donald Trump’s nominees, the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019 (HR1839) passed and work on a disaster aid package stalled. This week the House is expected to vote on the Save the Internet Act, which would reinstate FCC net neutrality rules, and the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act, which was introduced in both chambers. The Senate will also continue work on the disaster aid package. Both chambers head out of town at the end of the week for a two-week recess. But that’s not all that happened:

House Eschews Budget to Advance Spending Caps Negotiations

Last week House Democrats elected to push legislation that would increase the fiscal year 2020 defense spending limit to $664 billion and the nondefense limit to $631 billion in lieu of a formal budget resolution. If passed, HR 2021 would allow for individual appropriations bills to move to the floor while also raising the caps in fiscal year 2021. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the legislation would add $360.8 billion to discretionary funding over the next two fiscal years. House leadership hopes to bring HR 2021 to the floor this week to kickstart the appropriations process, which is already delayed due to the late release of the president’s budget blueprint. Uncertainty remains, however, as many Democrats are opposed to any raising limits without “parity,” or equal increases in both defense and non-defense spending.

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty

NCSL’s Letter Supporting the STATES Act

On April 4, NCSL sent a letter supporting the “Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act of 2019” (STATES Act). This bipartisan bill respects states’ policy decisions on marijuana legalization and regulation pursuant to the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The STATES Act provides an exemption from federal law to “any person acting in compliance with state law” with respect to the “manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, or delivery” of marijuana. The legislation also seeks to remove existing federal barriers to robust financial and banking services currently afforded to other business enterprises and creates a safer environment in which to transact business, commerce and trade.

NCSL Contacts: Susan Frederick, Lucia Bragg and Abbie Gruwell

House Committee Approves Bills Revising Retirement Savings

The House Ways and Means Committee approved a trio of bills last week affecting retirement options, including one that would allow taxpayers to contribute to individual retirement accounts beyond age 70 1/2, allow small businesses to join together to offer 401(k) retirement plans, and allow taxpayer portability between retirement plans. HR 1994 also offers a tax credit to small companies that automatically enroll employees in retirement plans. The legislation will proceed to the full House for vote, and, with similar legislation introduced in the Senate Finance Committee, outlook on this bill becoming law is favorable. More information on the SECURE Act can be found here.

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty

Federal Data Privacy Action

Spurred by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the 2020 effective date of California’s Consumer Privacy Act, Congress is again undertaking the elusive task of passing a comprehensive national data privacy bill. As other states such as Washington, Massachusetts and New York move to fill the void left by Congress in the privacy arena, state preemption is the battleground issue behind any federal bill. For more information, read NCSL’s Blog.

NCSL Contacts: Abbie Gruwell (D.C.) and Pam Greenburg (Denver)

Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee Launches 2019 Spring Webinar Series: Register Today!

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted Friday to open up previously unregulated wave spectrum above 95 GHz that could be used in new and experimental communications technology. The FCC also moved forward with its second 5G wireless auction despite criticism from some members of Congress and federal agencies concerned about the impact on weather data gathering. The House Science, Space and Technology Committee had requested a delay in the auction.

NCSL Contact: Abbie Gruwell

The Reading Room 

Snapshot of U.S. Immigration

NCSL’s Immigrant Policy Project has updated its Snapshot of U.S. Immigration publication, which provides demographic information on the foreign-born U.S. population. This brief includes data on permanent and temporary legal admissions, refugees and people seeking or granted asylum and unauthorized immigrants. The report relies on the most recent data available and provides additional links and resources to learn more.

NCSL Contact: Chesterfield Polkey, NCSL Emerson Fellow

Registration Open for the NCSL 2019 Legislative Summit

Living legend Dolly Parton and presidential historian Jon Meacham headline the NCSL Legislative Summit in Nashville, Aug. 5-8, where America's state legislatures take center stage.

Register today!

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NCSL's Advocacy in Washington

NCSL's Washington staff advocate Congress, the White House and federal agencies on behalf of state legislatures in accord with the policy directives and resolutions that are recommended by the NCSL Standing Committees and adopted by the full conference at the annual NCSL Legislative Summit Business Meeting. As a result of the advocacy that is guided by these policies positions, NCSL is recognized as a formidable lobbying force in state-federal relations.

NCSL Staff in Washington, D.C.

  • Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584 | Director
  • Erlinda Doherty | 202-624-8698 | Budgets and Revenue
  • Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety
  • Abbie Gruwell 202-624-3569 | Commerce and Financial Services
  • Ben Husch | 202-624-7779 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure 
  • Jon Jukuri  | 202-624-8663 | Labor, Economic Development and International Trade
  • Haley Nicholson | 202-624-8662 | Health and Human Services
  • Joan Wodiska | 202-624-3558 | Education