capitol building

Since Democrats took control of the House in 2018’s election and the 116th Congress began its session on January 3rd, all eyes have been on the Legislative Branch to see how newly elected House leadership would stir the decision-making process. Not surprisingly, the divided Congress has found difficulty in passing legislation. The result of this struggle has been a near total blockade of legislation in the Senate with minimal bills passing through Congress successfully.

Although the Democrats have passed more than one hundred bills focusing on topics such as political transparency, efforts to combat climate change, the Equality Act, and a bill that protects the LGBTQ community from discrimination, Republicans in the Senate are frustrated with the legislation being brought before them. On the date marking the 100th day of Congress’s session, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) stated that, “It’s 100 days of nothing,” regarding the Democrats. “It’s the U.S. House of resolutions.” Senate Majority Leader McConnell stated that, “We’re not going to spend time in the Senate on issues that literally have no chance of becoming law”. Instead, McConnell has spoken frequently about confirming a large number of President Trump’s nominees.

In comparison to the last five administrations, Trump was only one day behind Obama in taking the most time to fill his Cabinet. Even under Senate control, the median wait time between nomination and a vote taking place in the Senate was twenty-five days; in the previous four administrations, it was only one day. At this time, only two cabinet seats are awaiting Senate confirmation: the Secretaries of Labor and Homeland Security.

Of seemingly highest importance to Senator McConnell is the confirmation of judges and nominees for high public office. After a major partisan fight, former EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler finally took the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency in February of 2019. Attorney General William Barr was also confirmed in February 2019, while Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was confirmed by the full Senate in April. Mark Esper was confirmed in late July to be the 27th Secretary of Defense.

Just hours before the start of the August recess, Senator McConnell has launched a last-minute effort to confirm a number of key, high-level executive branch nominees and 19 district court judges. This includes President Trump’s choice for United Nations Ambassador, Kelly Craft. Craft currently serves as U.S. Ambassador to Canada, the first woman to ever hold the post. Democrats have stated they do not believe McConnell will be able to confirm all 19 district court judged before the recess.

Among the bills that have passed this session were bills to end the government shutdown, approve usage of the National Mall for a 50th Anniversary Apollo Moon Landing celebration, make changes in Medicaid, and approve a bipartisan public lands measure. This Land and Water Conservation Fund provides permanent funding to local conservation projects. Along with fund allocation, it designates 1.3 million acres of protected lands and prohibits activities such as mining, while creating four additional national monuments. On foreign policy issues, the Senate just recently failed to override President Trump’s veto of a bipartisan bill stopping arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The legislative branch’s upper chamber is also due to consider the Trump-backed budget deal that was hammered out by the White House and Democratic congressional leadership in the final hours before the August recess. The bill will raise spending by $324 billion and suspend the debt ceiling until July 2021.

At a press event that took place on July 25th, Speaker Pelosi spoke about her hopes for the future of the 116th Congress and stated that, “Our Members are – will – in the month of August, our Members will accelerate a drumbeat across the nation. We will own August for the people. We will own August and make it too hot to handle for the Senate not to take up our bills.”

Looking past the August recess, Congress has a full plate ahead of them. Both the House and Senate have individually passed legislation tackling unwanted robocalls. These pieces of legislation are headed to conference committee and will be combined into one piece of legislation that will then be sent to President Trump’s desk for final approval in the near future. In addition, Congress must reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program. Very high on the President’s legislative agenda is congressional passage of the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA). Finally, on an interesting note, this is the most cannabis-friendly Congress in history – if there ever was a time for pro-cannabis legislation, including pro-cannabis banking legislation, this is the Congress that just may get that done.

You can read a list of all pieces of legislation that have passed the 116th Congress below.

Legislation that passed 116th Congress
Public law number Date Official title Link to
116-1 January 16, 2019 A bill to provide for the compensation of Federal and other government employees affected by lapses in appropriations. Pub.L. 116–1
116-2 January 18, 2019 To extend by 15 months the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program of the Department of Homeland Security, and for other purposes. Pub.L. 116–2
116-3 January 24, 2019 To extend the Medicaid Money Follows the Person Rebalancing demonstration, to extend protection for Medicaid recipients of home and community-based services against spousal impoverishment, and for other purposes. Pub.L. 116–3
116-4 January 24, 2019 To extend the program of block grants to States for temporary assistance for needy families and related programs through June 30, 2019. Pub.L. 116–4
116-5 January 25, 2019 Making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2019, and for other purposes. Pub.L. 116–5
116-6 February 15, 2019 Making consolidated appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019 and for other purposes. Pub.L. 116–6
116-7 February 21, 2019 To amend the charter of the Future Farmers of America, and for other purposes. Pub.L. 116–7
116-8 March 8, 2019 A bill to enact into law a bill by reference. Pub.L. 116–8
116-9 March 12, 2019 To provide for the management of the natural resources of the United States, and for other purposes. Pub.L. 116–9
116-10 March 21, 2019 A bill to designate the outstation of the Department of Veterans Affairs in North Ogden, Utah, as the Major Brent Taylor Vet Center Outstation. Pub.L. 116–10
116-11 April 6, 2019 A bill to authorize the honorary appointment of Robert J. Dole to the grade of colonel in the regular Army. Pub.L. 116–11
116-12 April 8, 2019 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the grade and pay of podiatrists of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Pub.L. 116–12
116-13 April 12, 2019 To direct the Secretary of Education to establish the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award Program recognizing excellence exhibited by classified school employees providing services to students in prekindergarten through high school. Pub.L. 116–13
116-14 April 16, 2019 To direct the Secretary of the Interior to execute and carry out agreements concerning Colorado River Drought Contingency Management and Operations, and for other purposes. Pub.L. 116–14
116-15 April 16, 2019 A bill to change the address of the postal facility designated in honor of Captain Humayun Khan. Pub.L. 116–15
116-16 April 18, 2019 To amend title XIX to extend protection for Medicaid recipients of home and community-based services against spousal impoverishment, establish a State Medicaid option to provide coordinated care to children with complex medical conditions through health homes, prevent the misclassification of drugs for purposes of the Medicaid drug rebate program, and for other purposes. Pub.L. 116–16
116-17 May 10, 2019 To amend the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to facilitate the establishment of additional or expanded public target ranges in certain States. Pub.L. 116–17
116-18 May 23, 2019 To reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program. Pub.L. 116–18


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Bio Link Patrick has been very active in politics since his time with the Talbot County Democratic Forum, where he volunteered for President Obama’s re-election as a high school student. While in college, he volunteered for Monty Mason for Delegate of District 93 in Williamsburg, VA; served as a campaign strategist for Virginia’s 1st District congressional candidate, Norm Mosher; and interned on the Hill for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2014. Expertise: Tax, Financial Services, Environment, Agriculture, Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and Energy