Capitol to Capitol | March 25, 2019




Congress returns from a week-long recess one day after Attorney General William Barr released his summary findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and amid a call for the report to be made publicly available (to the extent possible under the law).


The Congressional Budget Office began operating in 1975. It was established as part of The Congressional Budget Office began operating in 1975. It was established as part of Congress’ effort to reassert its constitutional control over the budget, in response to objections to President Richard Nixon’s threat to withhold federal appropriations for programs that were inconsistent with his policies.  

The schedule includes a House vote to override a presidential veto of a resolution to block the emergency declaration to build a wall on the Southern border. The Senate will vote on a “Green New Deal,”  a non-binding resolution on climate change, which will not pass but is being reported as having implications for the 2020 election. There is a full slate of appropriations hearings.  

Last week, the Pentagon identified the projects potentially affected by the emergency declaration. View the list here. In other news:

FY 2020 Budget Update

With all portions of President Donald Trump’s budget now available, the congressional appropriations hearings calendar is in full swing as agencies make their rounds defending their requests. A list of upcoming House appropriations hearings is available here. The Senate appropriations hearings calendar is available here.

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty

Recipe for President’s Economic Outlook Defined

Trump has been criticized for the optimistic economic outlook upon which his FY 2020 budget plan is based. The 3 percent growth he expects over the next decade is reliant upon a large infrastructure bill, additional tax cuts and deregulation, and a reduction in aid recipients. Read the 2019 Economic Report of the President for more details.

NCSL Contact:Erlinda Doherty

DOT Announces Delays in New Drone Rules

The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced it was delaying a major rulemaking on drones. The proposed rule to mandate remote identification and tracking for drones, previously slated to publish May 1, has been delayed until July 21.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Trump Signs Executive Order on Transparency, Accountability and Free Speech at Colleges and Universities

On March 21, the president signed an executive order “On Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, And Accountability At Colleges And Universities,” which is intended to improve transparency, accountability and freedom of speech on college and university campuses. Among the possible changes are data requirements related to student earnings and debt on the federal College Scorecard. Read the text of the order.

NCSL Contact: Joan Wodiska

Senate HELP Committee Requests Report on Surprise Billing

There is bipartisan agreement that Congress needs to do something to protect consumers from surprise medical bills. It continues to be reported that patients are encountering incredibly high bills for services like simple stitches, administration of aspirin or out-of-network care. Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have requested the Congressional Budget Office analyze a list of options, including a list they and other senators have developed, for protecting and informing patients that get unexpected medical bills.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margret Wile

DOT Begins Investigation in 737 MAX Certification Process

DOT Secretary Elaine Chao requested that DOT's inspector general formally examine the process the FAA undertook to certify the Boeing 737 MAX as safe to fly.


The first air traffic control centers were in Newark, N.J.; Cleveland, and Chicago.  Learn more about the history of the FAA here.

Chao's referral memo said the audit will help to "compile an objective and detailed factual history of the activities that resulted in the certification of the Boeing 737-MAX 8 aircraft." The memo also notes that Boeing requested an amended type certification for this aircraft in January 2012, which FAA issued in March 2017. Further, The Seattle Times reported that the FBI has joined a criminal investigation of the FAA's certification of the Boeing 737 MAX, following reports that a federal grand jury is investigating the approval process for the aircraft.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

POTUS Selects New Head of FAA

Trump nominated Steve Dickson to be administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. Dickson would replace acting Administrator Dan Elwell, who has held the top spot for more than a year since the departure of Michael Huerta, who was nominated by President Barack Obama. Dickson recently retired from Delta Air Lines, where he was senior vice president of flight operations. Before that, he was an Air Force officer. He has experience as both a military and Delta pilot.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Trump’s Recommendations to Reform HEA

On March 18, the Trump administration released recommendations to reform the Higher Education Act (HEA). As part of the proposal, the White House recommended that Congress expand Pell Grant eligibility to include “high-quality, short-term” credential, certification or licensure programs in high-demand fields. A full copy of the proposal may be found here.

NCSL Contacts: Joan Wodiska

National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month.  Did you know that among the federal agencies working on nutrition issues is the Administration of Community Living (ACL)? The agency is using different initiatives to address chronic diseases that seniors face by coordinating more than 5,000 partners across the country to serve nutritious meals daily to older Americans. The ACL also funds and promotes the development of workshops, research projects, and alternative measures to combat food insecurity for all Americans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service provides ongoing support for programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and school and summer meals programs.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson, Margret Wile and Chesterfield Polkey

The Reading Room 

Read the March 18 Capitol to Capitol.

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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