House Democrats are using their majority to push gun-control, campaign-finance and voting-rights legislation. In February, the House passed two bills aimed at closing gun show loopholes via background checks and it also established the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The House Oversight Committee conducted a hearing with Michael Cohen aimed at providing a check on the executive branch via use of their constitutional oversight responsibilities. The Natural Resources Committee is moving forward with hearings focused on Examining Policies and Priorities of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
The Senate passed the Natural Resources Management Act, which among other items, permanently establishes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The legislation was sent to the U.S. House where it was passed and is expected to be signed into law by the President soon. The Senate continues to process nominations and confirmed the newest EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler. Finally, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is holding its first climate hearing in seven years – focused on changes in the climate and impacts to the electric grid.
Absent Congressional legislation, President Trump declared an emergency declaration at the Southern border – giving him executive power to repurpose appropriated monies, largely at the Department of Defense, to fund the wall. This is setting up a show down with Congressional leaders in the House and Senate on executive power. In addition, the President went to Thailand for continued talks with North Korean’s Kim Jong Un. The talks were unsuccessful in yielding a path forward. The President continues aggressive trade talks with China and Japan – among others.