Capitol to Capitol | Feb. 11, 2019

The National Emergencies Act


Joseph Hayne Rainey of South Carolina was sworn in Dec. 12, 1870, as the first African-American to serve in the House of Representatives. Shirley A. Chisolm was elected the first African-American woman to serve in the House in 1968.

The federal government faces another possible shutdown on Feb. 15, if an agreement over funding for a border wall is not reached.

It’s also possible President Donald Trump may, by executive order, declare a national emergency to build the wall. We decided to take a closer look at that process. Read NCSL’s National Emergency Declaration Blog.

NCSL Contacts: Susan Frederick and Lucia Bragg

FY 2020 Budget Update

Though there has been no official announcement from the Office of Management and Budget, it has been reported that the president will release his fiscal year 2020 budget on March 12. 

SALT Deduction: Open or Closed for Discussion?

Last week the president said he was open to revising the $10,000 cap on the SALT Deduction, created as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Legislation (HR 188 and HR 257) has been introduced in the House by New York Representatives Nita Lowe (D) and Peter King (R) to repeal the language from the TCJA. It was reported that the Senate Finance Committee will not be revisiting the SALT Deduction this year. Previous efforts to repeal the cap have failed. Stay tuned.

NCSL Contact: Molly Ramsdell

Congress, the FCC and Courts are Talking Net Neutrality


Public domain day began Jan. 1, which means all works first published in the U.S. in 1923 will be free for all to use without permission or fee. No published works have entered our public domain since 1998. The works include books, musical compositions, paintings, films and more and can be found on Google Books and HathiTrust.

On Feb. 1, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and a coalition of consumer groups argued in front of a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which may impact the agency’s 2017 repeal of net neutrality rules.

Also, two former FCC chairs testified before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on net neutrality initiatives and the 2015 Open Internet Order. Finally, several net neutrality bills are being introduced in Congress, including the Open Internet Act of 2019 from Representative Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and a potential bill from Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) modeled after Washington’s net neutrality law.

Higher Education Priority for Senate Education Chair

Last week, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) laid out his vision for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, with the goal to complete legislation by spring, with full Senate consideration by summer. 

NCSL Contact: Joan Wodiska

Trump Announces His Initiative to Reduce Future HIV Transmissions

In the State of the Union address last week, Trump announced an initiative to reduce new HIV infections by 75 percent in the next five years and by 90 percent in the next 10 years. Materials and funding for the new programs will be forthcoming.

NCSL Contact: Haley Nicholson

The Green New Deal Unveiled

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released their much anticipated “Green New Deal” resolution. The non-binding resolution calls for a 10-year national mobilization to move the country toward achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, creating jobs, securing clean air and water and affordable housing that involves significant investments across a range of industries, including energy, transportation and manufacturing. Although the resolution calls for 100 percent “clean, renewable, or zero-emission energy sources,” it does not ban fossil fuel development and calls on the government to work with farmers and ranchers to remove pollution from the agricultural sector. The resolution is highly unlikely to be approved by Congress.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

National Transportation Safety Board Releases Top Safety Issues

Transportation Safety Improvements. Topping the list: eliminating distractions, ending alcohol and drug impairment and reducing fatigue-related accidents, among others. The NTSB investigates serious transportation accidents and issues recommendations to improve transportation safety.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

NEW: The Reading Room 

On this Day, Feb. 11, in…

  • 1990: Nelson Mandela was freed after 27 years in captivity.
  • 1968: New York’s Madison Square Garden officially opened its doors. It was originally built on what used to be Madison Square Park, which was filled with many gardens, hence its namesake comes from President James Madison and gardens in Madison Square Park.
  • 1937: General Motors signed a contract with the United Automobile Workers Union, which ended the first major labor strike. Ford, U.S. Steel and other large companies followed in recognizing the union.
  • 1794: The Federalist majority agreed to open Senate sessions to the public for the day. Later in February the Senate decided to open its proceedings permanently, as soon as a gallery was constructed.
  • 1752: The nation’s first hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, opened and admitted its first patient. It was founded by Dr. Thomas Bond and Benjamin Franklin to provide care for poor people who were sick and for people suffering from mental illness.

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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
  • Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584 | 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