House Passes Resolution of Disapproval to Block President’s Emergency Declaration

The House and Senate were both in session this week. On Tuesday, the House passed a resolution of disapproval to block the President’s emergency declaration to redirect funds to build a southern border wall. The measure passed 245-182 with support from 13 Republicans and appears on track to pass the Republican-controlled Senate as well, where Senators Collins (R-ME) and Udall (D-NM) will introduce a bipartisan resolution to terminate the declaration. The House is spending the balance of the week on legislation aimed at improving background checks for gun purchases that are unlikely to move in the Senate. The chamber also passed a number of bills on suspension this week, including a bill to improve access to STEM careers for veterans and another bill to increase penalties for unlawful or “pirate” broadcasts. Several House committees also heard this week from former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, including an all-day public session on Wednesday before the Judiciary Committee. Elsewhere, US Trade Representative Lighthizer testified before the Ways and Means Committee on the US-China trade relationship amid ongoing negotiations between the two countries.

Senate Confirms Nominations

On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate blocked the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which fell seven votes short of securing enough support to move forward. On Wednesday, the Senate voted 85-14 to confirm Michael Desmond as IRS Chief Counsel and Andrew Wheeler was confirmed today to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 52-47. The Senate Judiciary Committee also advanced Aditya Bamzai’s and Travis LeBlanc’s nominations to be members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB).

Legislation Introduced to Support Blockchain Industry

A group of bipartisan, bicameral lawmakers introduced legislation this week to support the continued development of the blockchain industry by creating a working group within the Department of Commerce comprised of federal and private sector stakeholders to establish a common definition of blockchain. The working group would also be charged to recommend opportunities to leverage blockchain to promote new innovations. The bill is in part intended to avoid different definitions of blockchain that may inhibit industry growth as various states have embarked on their own regulations.

The President spent most of the week in Vietnam for a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The summit ended early and abruptly today as the two sides failed to reach an agreement on sanctions.

Read more in our Emerging Technologies Washington Update.