A bipartisan group of Senators —spearheaded by Sens. David Perdue (R-GA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Doug Jones (D-AL) — have introduced a bill (S. 572) to provide relief for states adversely impacted by hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and other natural disasters last year. The package includes funding for Army Corps of Engineers construction projects aimed at shore, flood, and storm damage protection. It would also provide funding for: (1) emergency forest restoration; (2) wildfire management; (3) flood mitigation; and (4) infrastructure recovery.
In conversations on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are speculating that the Senate bill could emerge as a “must-pass” legislative vehicle for debt ceiling and budget caps agreements, as well as bipartisan priorities that were not addressed in the recent government funding deal. Such items include the backpay for federal contractors who were furloughed during the partial government shutdown, reauthorization of the 9/11 victim’s compensation fund and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), renewal of expired “tax extenders,” and authority for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collect fees that finance approval of pesticide registrations. The authors of the bill are confident that the measure will have President Trump’s support, leaving Senate Republicans bullish on the potential to reach a broader deal to address outstanding priorities.
On the floor, House lawmakers will resume their push to reform gun background checks and consider a bill (H.R. 1112) that would extend the initial background check review period to 10 days from three. Lawmakers voted to pass (240-190) a bill (H.R. 8) that would close a loophole for buyers online and at gun shows yesterday. In the upper chamber, Senators will hold confirmation votes on Andrew Wheeler to be EPA Administrator and John Ryder to be a Member of the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors.