Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) is set to resign today, effective at 6 pm, and after the announcement from Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.) last week to leave Congress next year to run for a seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, a total of 18 House Republicans have decided to resign, retire or run for another office this year. In the Democratic Presidential Primary, Senator Elizabeth Warren surpassed VP Joe Biden in a new Iowa poll which put the Senator at 22 percent with likely caucus-goers in the state and the former VP at 20 percent. This is the first time Warren has been shown leading Biden, who continues to struggle to maintain his lead as the frontrunner.
Scalia Nomination Hearing
Last Thursday, the Senate HELP Committee held the hearing for Trump labor secretary nominee Eugene Scalia.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) asked Scalia about the administration’s rule on industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs), noting concerns from labor unions on IRAPs safety requirements and portability of skills in construction. Scalia recognized the need to avoid undermining current successful apprenticeship programs and consider basic qualifications for programs but believes that more apprenticeships are better, expressing underlying support for the measures. During the hearing Scalia also faced criticism from Democrats over his record as a lobbyist and lawyer defending corporations against workers and regulators. The committee is scheduled to vote on Sept. 24 on whether to approve him for a final confirmation vote in the full Senate. The nomination is expected to pass along party lines.
PRO Act Update
The House Education and Labor Committee will meet Wednesday to mark up the union-backed Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act that ABC and a coalition of other industry organizations have fought to oppose. The bill has 208 Democrat cosponsors at this time and Democrats ultimately hope to get the bill to the floor before the end of the term. Every U.S. Senator running in the Democratic presidential primary is also a co-sponsor of the bill in the Senate. The markup is an important step closer to that goal, even if the bill will be blocked in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Please view the legislative update video on the PRO Act: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMxLRJrovxM
Last Thursday night, Democrats held their third presidential debate with the top 10 candidates and current front runners Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders facing each other on the same stage for the first time.
In what is seen as the biggest fight for the soul of the Democratic Party at this time, Biden, Warren and Sanders sparred over health care with Biden opposing the Sanders’ sponsored and Warren supported “Medicare for All” that would abolish the private health insurance system in the U.S. Biden continues to maintain a slight lead in the polls over the more progressive Warren and Sanders, while Warren has been steadily improving in the polls and has recently edged past Sanders for the second spot.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.