Appropriations negotiators are working to complete deal making by the end of next week on a $1.2 trillion bill to fund government for the balance of fiscal 2018, clearing the legislation for completion before the March 23 shutdown deadline. Congress is also looking to President Donald Trump to clarify his contradictory positions on firearms and to detail his plan to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
Deregulation is the focus of floor action in Congress this week, with Representatives debating legislation to ease air pollution protections and Senators taking up a bill to weaken Dodd-Frank restrictions on bank risk and judicial nominees.
While most spending issues are resolved, ignoring demands for major program cuts from President Trump, major disagreements remain over funding the border wall, environmental riders, healthcare and 2020 Census questions involving citizenship – not to mention extension of a host of expiring authorizations.
Lawmakers are also negotiating firearms legislation amid incongruous suggestions from the White House. Bipartisan legislation prohibiting the sale of bump stocks and expanding background checks prior to firearms purchases are the most likely measures to advance.
On Thursday, President Trump announced a new 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum, with out specifying whether allies like Canada – the largest steel exporter to the U.S. – would be exempt. Global trading partners are preparing retaliatory measures against U.S. agricultural and manufactured exports.
On Tuesday, the House Transportation Committee will quiz Administration officials on the President's infrastructure proposal. A Senate hearing last week evidenced skepticism over the program's lack of funding.
The congressional primary season opens Tuesday in Texas, where more than 200 candidates are on the ballot in 35 districts – including 8 open seats. Republicans incumbent Senator Ted Cruz and Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke will prevail in their primaries to contest Cruz's Senate seat in November.