Today on the Hill: House Takes up FAA Reauthorization; Jackson Withdraws Consideration from VA Post

Both chambers of Congress are set to tackle high-profile agenda items before lawmakers leave town for a week-long recess. The House will seek to check off one of the last significant to-do items for the remainder of the year — reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The measure (H.R. 4) would reauthorize the aviation regulator through the 2023 fiscal year and include disaster-related provisions that would alter Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) policy to give the agency more flexibility in providing grants for infrastructure construction used to mitigate future natural disasters. The lower chamber is expected to consider 116 amendments to the FAA bill before voting on final package. Separately, the House will also  vote on a suspension bill (H.R.4744) that would impose additional sanctions on Iran over serious human rights abuses.

On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate is set to wrap up work on the nominations of CIA Director Mike Pompeo to lead the State Department and Richard Grenell to be an Ambassador to Germany. Pompeo’s nomination for Secretary of State is expected to be approved, as a slew of moderate Democrats announced yesterday that they would support the former Congressman from Kansas. Senators are locked in an initial vote on Pompeo’s nomination at noon today, followed immediately by a final vote on his nomination. Shortly thereafter, they are expected to move forward with Grenell’s nomination — a cloture vote is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. followed immediately by a final vote — before the Senate adjourns for the week.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration is headed back to the drawing board in search for a nominee to lead the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, as Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson has withdrawn consideration to lead the nation’s second-largest Cabinet agency. Jackson — who served as White House physician under both President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama — withdrew his nomination amid damaging allegations of misconduct in the workplace. Jackson was tapped last month to replace former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who left the Trump administration after disagreements over President Trump’s plans to privatize the VA.