We have the first wave of the Trump laws! In this episode, highlights of the most impactful laws from the first three months of the 115th Congress, which include favors to the fossil fuel industry, gun industry, telecommunications industry, and defense contractors. In addition, learn about a law (that’s flown completely under the radar) that fundamentally changes how NASA operates.
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S. 84: A bill to provide for an exception to a limitation against appointment of persons as Secretary of Defense within seven years of relief from active duty as a regular commissioned officer of the Armed Forces.
- Exempts General James Mattis from the law that prohibits anyone from serving as Defense Secretary within seven years of leaving military service (Mattis had retired less than four years before his appointment).
H.R. 72: GAO Access and Oversight Act of 2017
- Gives the Government Accountability Office (GAO) more power to get federal agency records for audits and investigations
- Requires agency heads to report their plans – not just their actions – that the agency will take when given recommendations by the GAO and requires the reports to be given to more Congressional committees
- Makes it easier for the GAO to sue federal agencies that don’t comply
- Gives the GAO access to the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH)
H.J.Res. 41: Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of a rule submitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to “Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers”.
- Repeals an Obama administration rule requiring companies listed in the stock market to publicly report payments by the fossil fuel and mineral industries to the US or foreign governments if the payments are over $100,000 in a year.
H.J.Res. 38: Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule.
- Repeals a Department of Interior regulation known as the “Stream Protection Rule” which aimed to reduce pollution from coal mining by blocking mining within 100 feet of streams and requiring coal mining companies to restore the land their use to it’s pre-mining condition.
H.J.Res. 40: Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Social Security Administration relating to Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007.
- Repeals a Social Security Administration rule that never went into effect that would have prohibited approximately 75,000 people who receive disability checks for mental illness from buying guns.
H.R. 321: Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act
- Orders the NASA administrator to create a plan to use current and former NASA employees to engage with K-12 female students to encourage them to pursue careers in aerospace. The plan must be submitted in 90 days.
H.R. 255: Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act
- “Encourages” the National Science Foundation to recruit women to work in commercial science and engineering
S. 442: National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017
- Authorizes $19.5 billion for NASA operations for 2017
- Declares that it will be US policy that we will support the International Space Station through at least 2024
- Sense of Congress: “Commercially provided crew transportation systems” should be the primary means of transporting US astronauts to and from the International Space Station and reliance upon Russian transportation should be ended as soon as possible.
- Commercial providers of NASA services will have to provide “evidence-based support for their costs and schedules” only “in a manner that does not add costs or schedule delays”
- NASA will have to create a plan to “transition in a step-wise approach from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit non-governmental human space flight enterprise.”
- The first report on progress will be due December 1, 2017
- Contracts between NASA and private providers are allowed to give immunity to the private providers from lawsuits for “death, bodily injury, or loss of or damage to property resulting from launch services and reentry services carried out under the contract” for any amount over what their insurance covers.
- The maximum amount of insurance a provider will have to obtain is for $500 million
- The immunity may exclude claims resulting from willful misconduct by the private provider
- Establishes long term goals for NASA, which include “to enable a capability to extend human presence, including potential human habitation on another celestial body and a thriving space economy in the 21st Century.”
- There will be a specific focus on enabling humans living on Mars
- Repeals provisions of law that required the government specifically to have the ability to restart the Space Shuttle program, if needed.
- Authorizes the NASA Administrator to conduct long-term medical monitoring and treatment of astronauts with no out-of-pocket costs for the astronauts for space flight related ailments only.
H.J.Res. 44: Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of the Interior relating to Bureau of Land Management regulations that establish the procedures used to prepare, revise, or amend land use plans pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976.
- Repeals a Bureau of Land Management Rule that would give the public a larger and earlier role in management plans for public land.
- The public would have been able to submit data & other information. The public also would have been given information as the plans were developed, allowing the public to comment during the planning process instead of after.
H.J.Res. 37: Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration relating to the Federal Acquisition Regulation.
- Repeals a rule written by the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and NASA that would have made federal contractors prove their compliance with fourteen Federal labor laws, which would then be taken into consideration by agencies when awarding contracts. The contractors would also have to report their wages paid to employees to the agencies and would have limited forced arbitration of employee claims.
H.J.Res. 57: Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Department of Education relating to accountability and State plans under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
- Repeals a Department of Education rule that would have pushed states to weigh student achievement via test scores of 95% of their students and graduation rates when determining which schools are “underperforming”. The rule also would have required schools to provide parents and the public with more information on their annual report card.
H.J.Res. 58: Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Department of Education relating to teacher preparation issues.
- Repeals a Department of Education rule that outlined indicators that states would have to use to judge teacher performance and tied results to some Federal aid funding.
H.J.Res. 42: Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to drug testing of unemployment compensation applicants.
- Repeals a Department of Labor rule that allowed but limited the drug testing of people receiving unemployment benefits. People could only be tested if they were dismissed for substance abuse related reasons and only if their jobs required carrying a firearm, aviation flight crews, air traffic controllers, commercial drivers, railroad crews, pipeline crews, and commercial maritime crews.
S.J.Res. 34: A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services”
- Repeals a Federal Communications Commission rule that would have required Internet service providers to obtain our approval if they were going to share our information, and not condition service on an acceptance of data sharing, and to notify us if our data was compromised.
- Article: Congress Votes To Expand Drug Testing For Unemployment Recipients by Kelly Mcevers, NPR, March 27, 2017.
- Article: Why you should take a closer look at this week’s NASA bill by Andrew Wagner and Nsikan Akpan, PBS, March 24, 2017.
- Article: Obama Education Rules Are Swept Aside by Congress by Dana Goldstein, The New York Times, March 9, 2017.
- Article: The Senate just voted to overturn another environmental rule – sending it to Trump’s desk by Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post, March 8, 2017.
- Article: Senate overturns Obama-era regulations on teacher preparation by Emma Brown, The Washington Post, March 8, 2017.
- Congressional Record: National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017, House of Representatives, March 7, 2017.
- Article: Trump Signs Bill Revoking Obama-Era Gun Checks for People with Mental Illnesses by Ali Vitali, NBC News, February 28, 2017.
- Article: FCC Chairman Goes After His Predecessor’s Internet Privacy Rules by Alina Selyukh, NPR, February 24, 2017.
- Article: Why Trump just killed a rule restricting coal companies from dumping waste in streams by Brad Plumer, Vox, February 16, 2017.
- Article: Trump signs Sasse’s bill to let GAO access massive financial database by Joseph Morton, Omaha World Herald, February 3, 2017.
- Article: Goodbye, Stream Protection Rule by Paul Rauber, Sierra, February 1, 2017.
- Article: On the same day Rex Tillerson is confirmed, the House votes to kill a transparency rule for oil companies by Brad Plumer, Vox, February 1, 2017.
- Article: Republicans will try a little-used tactic to kill five Obama regulations this week by Brad Plumer, Vox, February 1, 2017.
- Press Release: Bill Johnson Leads House Effort to Protect Coal Jobs by Overturning Ill-Advised “Stream Protection Rule” by Representative Bill Johnson, January 30, 2017.
- Press Release: Chairman Huizenga, Senator Inhofe Move To Eliminate Resource Extraction Rule via CRA, Chairman Bill Huizenga, January 30, 2017.
- Op-Ed: The Congressional Review Act, rarely used and (almost always) unsuccessful by Stuart Shapiro, The Hill, April 17, 2015.
- U.S. Dept of Labor: Unemployment Insurance
- Senator Al Franken: Arbitration Amendment
- OpenSecrets: Rep. Liz Cheney – Top Industries, 2015-2016
- OpenSecrets: National Rifle Association – 2016 Contributions
- OpenSecrets: Rep. Bill Johnson – Top Industries
- OpenSecrets: Rep. Bill Johnson – Top Industries, 2015-2016
- OpenSecrets: Rep. Bill Huizenga – 2014 Assets
- OpenSecrets: Rep. Bill Huizenga – Top Industries
- OpenSecrets: Senator Jeff Flake – Top Industries
- OpenSecrets: Rep. Marsha Blackburn – Career Profile
- OpenSecrets: Communications/Electronics – Money to Congress
Sound Clip Sources
Hearing: NASA: Past, Present, and Future, House of Representatives, Committee on Science, Space and Technology, February 16, 2017.
Video: NASA Authorization Bill Signing, Oval Office, March 21, 2017.
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