After a late-night vote early this morning to confirm Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Senate has wrapped up voting for the week and will spend the day debating the nomination of Treasury Secretary-designee Steven Mnuchin. Instead of the threatened Saturday session, the vote to confirm Mnuchin has been set for Monday, setting up a fourth straight week of partisan debate over President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominations.
Later in the week, the upper chamber will turn to David Shulkin’s nomination to be Veterans’ Affairs secretary and then to Linda McMahon, Trump’s pick to lead the Small Business Administration. Also waiting in the wings for confirmation are two Republican congressmen, Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), nominated to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Ryan Zinke (R-MT), Trump’s pick to lead the Department of the Interior. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) awaits confirmation to head the Energy Department, as does Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, tapped to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Democrats have stretched out debate on many of Trump’s Cabinet choices, requiring procedural votes and overnight debate before Republicans could confirm them along party lines.
In the House, Members return next week to continue their effort to scrap a slate of Obama-administration regulations. Under the powers of the Congressional Review Act, the House plans to vote next week to walk back five separate rules related to: (1) drug testing of certain unemployment compensation applicants (H.J. Res. 42); (2) a predator hunting rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (H.J. Res. 69); (3) federal funding of family planning services (H.J. Res. 43); (4) auto-enrolling employees in state-run retirement plans (H.J. Res. 66); and (5) allowing large cities and counties to set up auto-enrollment retirement savings programs (H.J. Res. 67).
The House may also consider a bill (H.R. 428) next week which would direct the Bureau of Land Management to resurvey roughly 30,000 acres of federal land along the Red River and the Texas-Oklahoma border. Ownership of much of the land is disputed between the federal government and adjacent Texas landowners. The bill would effectively resolve the conflict in favor of the private landowners.