This Week on the Hill: White House to Issue Steel, Aluminum Tariffs; Senate Considers Bipartisan Banking Bill

Early policy headlines this week are focused on the fallout from the Administration’s decision to enact tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, which will reportedly be finalized this week. President Trump tweeted about the decision numerous times over the weekend and suggested in a message this morning that the tariffs are linked with the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Economists fear the beginning of a trade war — reflected by a sell-off in trading markets late last week — as Canada, the European Union and China have already said they will consider retaliatory actions.

In Congress, a banking regulatory relief bill (S. 2155) will face its test on the chamber floor this week after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) moved to proceed to the bill last Thursday. As constructed, the bill is likely to get 60 votes on the strength of the Republican majority and a handful of moderate Democrats. However, it remains to be seen what provisions — if any — will be submitted to make the package more palatable to House Republicans, who want a more thorough breakdown of the Dodd-Frank regulatory regime. The voting process is due to start with a cloture vote on the motion to proceed tomorrow, with three leftover judicial confirmation votes from last week first up on the Senate’s docket today.  

The House has only a pair of energy measures on their docket to be considered pursuant to rules this week. The first (H.R. 1917) — which was also passed by the House in the last Congress, but ignored in the Senate — would exempt kilns and other brick structures from regulatory rules regarding emissions. The other bill (H.R. 1119) would reauthorize a waiver program for coal refuse energy plants to be exempted from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Both measures are expected to pass on party-line votes. Today, the House is due to consider a set of seven bills under suspension of the rules, all of which are measures to officially name federal facilities.