Today on the Hill: Mulvaney Nom Hits Senate Floor; House Targets DOL Unemployment, IRA Rules

Congress will be going through more of the same today as the Senate moves on to consider the nomination of Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Mulvaney’s nomination is considered to be contentious and will likely come down to only a few votes if Democrats stay united in opposition. So far, only Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has said he will oppose the nominee over his past positions on defense spending and American involvement in Afghanistan. One more defection for Republicans would necessitate a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, who has already been called on to confirm Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. A cloture vote for Mulvaney’s confirmation is scheduled for today, with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator nominee Scott Pruitt reportedly next in the confirmation queue.

The Senate also will vote on a House-passed resolution (H.J. Res. 40) disapproving of a Social Security Administration rule that requires the agency to alert the national gun registry – known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) – to any individuals who receive Social Security disability benefits due to mental health conditions. Democrats are likely to vehemently oppose the resolution, but are powerless to stop it given the parliamentary procedures laid out by the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

House lawmakers will also be working to undo Obama-era rules today by taking up three disapproval resolutions targeting Labor Department regulations. The rules to be undone include one that would limits the drug testing of certain individuals applying for unemployment compensation (H.J. Res. 42), another that would auto-enroll employees in state-run individual retirement accounts (IRAs) (H.J. Res. 66), and finally a rule that allows large cities and counties to set up auto-enrollment retirement savings programs (H.J. Res. 67). Republicans have argued that both retirement-related rules discourage small businesses from offering their own plans and degrades worker protections.

At the White House, President Trump is set to meet with eight retail industry executives to discuss the ongoing debate on tax reform, specifically a Republican-backed border tax proposal that has split retailers and manufacturers. Retailers worry that such a plan would increase the prices of foreign imports. President Trump will also be receiving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for an informal meeting to discuss the prospects for Middle East peace, the Iran nuclear deal, and Israel’s recent construction of settlements in the West Bank.