Legislative Activity

Senate May Approve Chao Nomination This Week

While Nominee-designate Elaine Chao was not included in the two cabinet members approved by the Senate on Friday (Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were confirmed), but Ms. Chao may be confirmed this week. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) has said the Commerce Committee will hold a vote on Secretary-designate Chao on Tuesday if she is note confirmed by the full Senate earlier through a unanimous consent procedure.

If the Senate proceeds through regular order, which could be forced by Senate Democrats, the earliest the Senate could vote on her nomination is Wednesday. Secretary-designate Chao is expected to face little opposition in the Senate and should be confirmed easily when her nomination is voted on by the full Senate.

President Trump Addresses Infrastructure, But Plan Still Unclear

During his inauguration speech on Friday, President Donald Trump declared that “we will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.” President Trump also noted that the federal government has “spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.”

The Trump Administration recently announced that Richard LeFrak and Steven Roth, both New York real-estate developers, will be appointed to lead President Trump’s infrastructure task force. However, it is still unclear what President Trump’s final infrastructure proposal to Congress will look like. Additionally, while the President prioritized infrastructure investment in his campaign, there are a number of potential impediments to successfully advancing a large infrastructure package. Congressional Republicans have recently identified reform of the Affordable Care Act, tax reform, and regulatory reform as the first proposals they will advance in the 115th Congress – not President Trump’s transportation plan.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Tuesday, January 24, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has scheduled an organizational business meeting to consider the nomination of the Honorable Elaine Chai to be Secretary of Transportation, committee rules, an original resolution authorizing expenditures by the committee during the 115th Congress, and consider 17 legislative measures.

Regulatory Activity

President Trump Freezes Regulatory Action

One of President Trump’s first actions as President was to send a memorandum to all departments and agencies instituting a “Regulatory Freeze” of all pending regulations until the new Administration reviews them. President Trump campaigned on reversing many Obama Administration regulations, and this is a first step in that direction. The order could impact a recently published Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Vehicle-to-Vehicle communications technology, the “drones over people” rule that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is still considering, and a proposed rule regulating operational requirements for crude oil transported by rail. The Obama Administration issued a similar memorandum when President Obama took office on January 20, 2009.