Legislative Updates

Mandatory Arbitration Ban Bill

 

This week, the House is set to pass legislation that would prohibit mandatory arbitration agreements in employment, consumer, and other contracts. The Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (H.R. 1423) would invalidate a predispute arbitration agreement if it requires arbitration of an employment, consumer, antitrust, or civil rights dispute and is broader than and Obama-era rule under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was narrowly voided by the Senate last Congress.

 

Appropriations Update

 

The House is preparing to take up a stopgap funding measure this week to avoid a government shutdown. Reports indicate the bill would provide a continuing resolution until November 21st, setting a new funding deadline right before members leave town for the Thanksgiving recess. Reports have also said the bill would reject the White House’s request to include legislative language to allow border fence construction, which could set up a fight with the President and Republicans in the Senate. The Senate, meanwhile, stumbled in its attempt to move forward with two appropriations bills last week but will try to advance a trio of bills before the end of this week.

 

EEOC Hearing

 

The heads of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) will testify in front of the House Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services.  The members of the Subcommittee may focus on EEOC’s decision not to continue collecting certain data from employers, according to a Sept. 11 notice in the Federal Register. The EEOC says the burden to collect the data—known as “Component 2" of the EEO-1 report—is higher than previously estimated, and deserves additional examination before the agency seeks White House approval for more pay reporting.

Scalia Nomination

 

On Wednesday, the president’s Labor Secretary nominee Eugene Scalia will have his nomination hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The hearing will set up a vote from the committee to send the nomination to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote.

 

Trade Update

 

While the U.S. and China are set to continue trade negotiations in October, the implementation of tariffs effecting electronics, shoes, diapers, dairy, meat and more earlier this month have escalated the trade fight. President Trump also plans another tariff increase on October 15th if negotiations fail. Some GOP Senators have expressed their concerns, including Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis), that the President’s actions could slow economic growth and inject uncertainty and instability in the market.

On the USMCA, Democrats are looking to push a vote until 2020 and are demanding stronger labor and environmental protection in the deal.

 

Election Update

  Special elections in North Carolina’s 3rd and 9th Congressional Districts will be held tomorrow with state Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville) favored to defeat former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas in the 3rd, while state Sen. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte) is expected to have a closer race against Democrat Dan McCready in the 9th. President Trump will hold a rally for Bishop tonight in Fayetteville, in an effort to boost GOP turnout for a seat that Republicans have held in Congress since the 1960s. Threatening House Republicans ability to take back the House in 2020 and maintain their Senate majority, members continue to announce their decisions not to seek reelection. Four GOP Senators and 13 GOP House members, including five Texas Representatives, are not seeking reelection, announcing their retirements or candidacy for higher office, while only one Senator and three House members have announced their retirements on the Democratic side. More retirements are expected from senior Republican law makers whil ...

House Action

 

The House will take up several bills this week aimed at decreasing offshore drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. While these bills should pass the House with mostly Democratic support, they will likely stall in the Senate.  

House Republicans are also set to hold their annual retreat in Baltimore at the end of the week to discuss their agenda for the remainder of the year. President Trump is expected to attend the retreat on Thursday.

Congressional Retirements

  A number of Texas Republicans in the U.S. House announced their decision to not seek re-election in 2020 including Reps. Will Hurd
(TX-23), Mike Conaway (TX-11), Pete Olson (TX-22), and Kenny Marchant (TX-24). Conaway’s seat is the only of the four that is not considered competitive for
the next election. A total of 11 House Republicans currently plan to retire or seek another office in 2020, while only three House Democrats have announced their decisions not to run.

 Democrats flipped two TexasGOP House seats in 2018 with Freshman Members Colin Allred ousting Rep. Pete Sessions, and Lizzie Fletcher defeating Rep. John Culberson, and hope that they can make even more gains next year with Republicans forced to defend more open seats and President Trump, who remains unpopular in suburban areas, at the top of the ticket.

Trade Update

  After Chinese and U.S. officials tried to restart trade talks earlier last week, President Trump announced Friday the U.S. would impose a 10 percent
tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports. The tariff will take effect on Sept. 1 and will target retail, along with other consumer goods from companies
like Apple. The news pushed the S&P 500 to its worst weekly performance of the year, and stocks fell sharply today with the Dow Jones
Industrial Average plunging 524 points and the S&P 500 dropping 2%.

China also responded to the President’s announcement by letting its currency, the Chinese yuan, sink to the weakest level in over a decade, prompting President Trump to call the move currency manipulation and making Chinese goods cheaper for overseas buyers, and ordering state-owned companies to reportedly halt their purchases of U.S.
agricultural products.

DOL Update

  Reports indicate that the
U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division is reviewing public comments to finalize the “Big Three” rules that many businesses have labeled their top
labor policy priorities, aiming to complete the trio: overtime, regular rate, and “joint employer” before the end of the year.

Senate Republicans are also working to confirm the President’s new DOL Secretary nominee Gene Scalia as soon as October.
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