HOUSE and SENATE
On January 3, 2019, the 116th Congress officially convened with Democrats controlling the House and Republicans controlling the Senate.
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was elected as Speaker of the House, receiving 220 votes.
The Federal government remains in a partial shutdown, with Federal agencies including the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Agriculture (USDA) and Justice (DOJ), the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities and the National Science Foundation (NSF) affected. The House passed two appropriations packages, one which would fund the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through February 8 and maintain $1.3 billion in existing border security funding, with the other funding the rest of the government agencies currently shut down for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2019, which ends on September 30, at levels previously agreed to by House and Senate negotiators. The President has said he will not sign those packages because they do not have $5.6 billion in funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, and they are unlikely to be taken up in the Senate.
The House renamed the Education and the Workforce Committee as the Education and Labor Committee.
Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Mike Braun (IN) have been assigned to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, replacing Senator Todd Young (R-IN) and now retired Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
The President signed the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act (S.2248) and the Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act (S.3777), both containing provisions aimed at protecting and helping student veterans who received incorrect housing allowances as part of the “Forever GI Bill.”
The President signed the Museum and Library Services Act (S.3530), reauthorizing the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
Politico reported that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is scheduled to officially introduce its internal reorganization plan on Sunday.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published interim guidance regarding a provision in last year’s Tax Cut and Jobs Act that levies a 21 percent excise tax for compensation above $1 million for the five highest-paid officials, as well as for separation or “parachute” payments that exceed three times a person’s base compensation, at nonprofit organizations.
The Administration will appeal a Federal judge’s order to extend a block on the Administration’s rules restricting asylum claims along the U.S.-Mexico border to only official ports of entry.
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