DC Digest – March 28, 2017

In Today’s Issue:
  • Defending EPA
  • Government Shutdown
  • Tax Reform 
  • FY17 Cuts
  • Sanctuary Cities

DUKE SIGNS MULTI-SOCIETY LETTER ON EPA

Duke University joined fellow research institutions and universities in signing a letter to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy urging reconsideration of the HONEST Act that would dramatically reshape the EPA and its mission.

“As leading U.S. science, engineering, and academic institutions, we are writing to express our concerns regarding H.R. 1430, the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment (HONEST) Act of 2017” the document states.

The Price of HONESTy 

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN POSSIBLE

House and Senate negotiators of both parties are attempting to reach an agreement on a spending package to prevent a government shutdown on April 28, when the previous continuing resolution ends.

Members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees intend to have a bill ready the week of April 24, just days before the current stopgap funding for federal agencies is set to expire, House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said Monday.

The timeline is tight because lawmakers are scheduled to be in session only about a dozen days between now and the midnight April 28 deadline.

Deadlines and Headlines

TAX REFORM NEXT UP

With healthcare reform on the backburner for now, the Trump administration is planning a more definitive role in shaping a broad overhaul of the tax code than it did during the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, with some advisers working to craft a concrete blueprint for specific changes instead of letting Congress dictate details.

CUTS THIS YEAR POSSIBLE

The White House is asking Congress to cut $18 billion from discretionary spending bills for the current fiscal year that have been long settled — a move that could threaten a major showdown just a month ahead of the deadline to keep the government funded.

Short-cuts to Big Cuts

Trump Wants $3 Billion Education Cut

After proposing a $9.2 billion cut to the Education Department’s budget for next year, President Trump is now calling on Congress to slash nearly $3 billion in education funding for the remaining five monthsof this fiscal year, according to a leaked document obtained by POLITICO.

The White House on Friday sent House and Senate appropriators detailed instructions on how they should craft spending legislation to fund the federal government beyond April 28, when the current stopgap spending bill expires.

SANCTUARY CITIES “ON NOTICE”

The White House is starting to take action on so-called “sanctuary” cities. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stepped into the White House briefing room today March 28 with an announcement that he’ll start stripping away the Justice Department’s $4.1 billion in grants, taking funding from cities that don’t comply with immigration laws.

He said the department would also try to “claw back” any federal dollars that sanctuary cities had already received. “Such policies cannot continue,” Sessions said. “They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the streets.”

Please Note This:

Legal experts say the White House could block the federal grants without permission from Congress if the Trump administration can prove a city has broken federal laws, but the administration will have to rely on the Office of the Inspector General for a final analysis. Hundreds of cities, counties, and states consider themselves “safe havens” for immigrants, a term which bears no legal weight and is vaguely defined. (The Obama administration took on a similar stance last July in regards to withholding funding from non-compliant cities.)

Obama-Rama