Today on the Hill: McConnell Files Cloture for Six Nominees and Tees Up CRA Resolutions; House Considers Red River Land Dispute

Both Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Veterans’ Affairs Secretary David Shulkin were confirmed by the Senate last night as the upper chamber begins to pick up the pace in installing President Trump’s Cabinet. Today, senators will vote on the nomination of wrestling and entertainment mogul Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) files cloture on six other nominations, specifically: (1) Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) to become Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director; (2) Ryan Zinke (R-MT) to lead the Department of the Interior; (3) Former Texas Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) to head the Energy Department; (4) Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency; (5) former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and (6) Wilbur Ross to be Commerce Secretary. None of those selections are expected to be in any danger of being blocked, but expect significant Democratic opposition to Mulvaney, Pruitt, and Ross. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) told he reporters that he expects Mulvaney and Pruitt will be confirmed before next week’s President’s Day recess, but that timeline was rebuked by prominent Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

Leader McConnell has also reserved floor time today to take up some of the House-passed Congressional Review Act (CRA) disapproval resolutions, including measures to block a methane waste rule (H.J. Res. 37), two Education Department rules (H.J. Res. 57 and H.J. Res. 58), and a regulation preventing the Social Security Administration from providing mental health information to the federal gun buyers’ background check system (H.J. Res. 40). Per the provisions of the CRA, a motion to proceed to the rule-canceling resolutions only requires a simple majority in the upper chamber.  

Before they turn to focus on Obama-era regulations later this week, the House will consider a measure today that would help settle an ongoing land dispute between Texas and the federal government. The bill (H.R. 428) would allow for state officials from Texas and Oklahoma to survey the area in dispute along the Red River in the Texas Panhandle and effectively set the border on the southern bank of the river. Despite the seemingly mundane nature of the dispute, the competing claims between federal and state officials have divided Capitol Hill as well, with Democrats lining up in opposition against the elimination of federal land holdings. A similar bill was passed last year on a 253-177 vote, but never moved to the Senate due to a veto threat from the Obama White House.