September 15, 2017
Capitol Update

In this issue:


Late last week, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law a hurricane emergency aid package that also addresses the debt ceiling and funds the government through December 8, 2017.

The measure cleared the House by a vote of 316-90, with all nays coming from conservative House Republicans who had criticized the bill for combining the emergency funding in the same bill that provided government funding and suspended the debt ceiling. Seventeen Senate Republicans also voted against the measure, which gives lawmakers additional time to assess storm damage and come to an agreement on FY 2018 spending issues, but sets up another government funding crisis in December.

The bill provides $15.25 billion in emergency funding for the victims of several recent disasters, $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), $7.4 billion in emergency funding for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to help those areas begin to rebuild, and $450 million for the Small Business Administration Disaster Loan program.

For more information, visit the House Appropriations Committee press release at:


In a recent filing with the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made clear its intent to complete a re-write of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), providing updates to the Court on the agency’s efforts to review and issue revisions to the plan. The agency requested that cases related to the CPP remain in abeyance until completion of the forthcoming rulemaking.

In its filing, EPA argued that the agency is completing its review and revision in a timely manner, and that it has transmitted a draft proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). After OIRA completes an interagency review, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will finalize publication of the new proposed rule for the CPP. The agency estimates publication of a replacement rule to take place in the fall of 2017.

In another recent filing, the CPP was inadvertently classified by regulators as a “long term action,” which is the classification for items under development that the agency does not expect to take regulatory action on within a 12 month timeframe. The classification led some to believe that the Court may issue its own determination on the fate of the CPP if EPA was not going to take action within a reasonable timeframe.


U.S. Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) recently told reporters he hopes to release the text of the Senate's self-driving car bill, but Senators are still debating language exempting commercial trucks from the bill's requirements. This action by the Senate comes after the U.S. House had already passed first-of-its-kind legislation, H.R. 3388, the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research In Vehicle Evolution Act, on September 6 on the topic of how autonomous or self-driving cars are manufactured, tested and deployed and putting the federal government in the driver’s seat on safety standards.

This week on September 13, the Senate Commerce Committee also held a hearing around self-driving trucks entitled, “Transportation Innovation: Automated Trucks and Our Nation's Highways.” The hearing looked at the impact on jobs and the economy as well as the benefits of automated truck safety technology.

In addition, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced the new federal voluntary guidance, Automated Driving Systems (ADS):  A Vision for Safety 2.0, which is the latest guidance for automated driving systems to encourage best practices and prioritize safety. It replaces the Federal Automated Vehicle Policy released in 2016.  The guidance calls for industry, state and local governments, safety and mobility advocates, and the public to lay the path for the deployment of automated vehicles and technologies and builds on the feedback received through public comments and hearings. Some of the things the guidance does is to eliminate unnecessary design elements and clarify the guidance process and Federal and State roles.

The guidance is designed to be flexible in order to evolve with automated vehicles and can be found at:

For further information on this hearing and to review the testimony, please visit:


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an independent agency, has a long history of advancing mankind’s knowledge of our solar system and for developing groundbreaking technologies, which also benefit our daily lives.  Recently, President Trump put forth U.S. Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) as his nominee as NASA's 13th Administrator to lead the agency, a position which needs Senate confirmation.

The Congressman triple majored in business administration, economics, and psychology at Rice University, and has an MBA from Cornell University.  He began his Naval aviation career flying the E-2C Hawkeye, transitioned to the F-18 Hornet, and flew at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center. After his military service, he returned to Tulsa to be the Executive Director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium and also spent time in the private sector in other various enterprises including aerospace, defense contracting, ranching, and real estate.

In 2012, he was elected to Congress. He currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. As a Congressman, he has introduced a comprehensive bill, H.R. 4945, American Space Renaissance Act, which aims to advance U.S. interests in space in 2016. The bill includes sections covering military, civil and commercial policy topics to ensure that America is the preeminent spacefaring nation.

To read H.R. 4945, please visit


Historically, the construction, operation, and maintenance of energy facilities that cross the U.S.-Mexico or U.S.-Canada border must be issued a Presidential Permit by the executive branch of the U.S. federal government. A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report released in August discusses proposed changes to the Presidential Permitting framework in H.R. 2883, Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act, which passed in the U. S. House of Representatives on July 19, 2017, but is not yet enacted.

The proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would transport crude from Canada into the United States, has increased the attention on federal permitting of energy infrastructure border crossings. Currently, the federal agency responsible for reviewing applications and issuing Presidential Permits varies. If they are oil or other hazardous liquids pipelines, the U.S. Department of State has the responsibility. Meanwhile, natural gas pipeline border crossings are authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and electricity transmission facilities are authorized by the Department of Energy (DOE).

H.R. 2883 would eliminate the Presidential Permit requirement for cross-border crude oil, petroleum products, natural gas, and electric transmission infrastructure. Instead, developers would require “certificates of crossing” from FERC for cross-border oil, petroleum products, and gas pipelines, or from DOE for cross-border electric transmission. As for other hazardous liquids infrastructure such as natural gas liquids pipelines, the State Department would still retain its traditional Presidential Permit authority for these facilities.

The full report Presidential Permit Review for Cross-Pipelines and Electric Transmission is available for download at: 


As technology innovation rapidly changes the world, what a person needs to know to keep up and thrive in the new work economy is also evolving. Deloitte Review examines the key trends shaping the future of work looking at topics such as the cognitive tool of artificial intelligence to the educational advancement.

Business process management that encompasses disruptive tools in cognitive technologies -- deep and machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) and generation, robotic process automation (RPA)--is the focus of substantial attention as a driver of work transformation. 

Companies—and the jobs that they create—are becoming less connected. If a person wants to work, he or she does not have to be an employee of a company. Platforms for work such as Uber divorce the driver and the means of transportation from the platform, so that the person is not an employee and Uber does not provide the transportation means.

In the evolution of work, the thinking is that workers must be given access to lifelong learning opportunities and must also become more driven to pursue that learning on their own time.

In the area of diversity and demographics, the American workforce is also becoming older than the current workforce, more female and more racially and ethnically diverse. By 2024, less than 60 percent of the labor force is likely to define itself as “white non-Hispanic.” However, there does not seem yet to be the will to prepare the workforce pipeline for this situation.

According to the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey across a sample of 10,400 surveyed executives, many reported weak program capabilities in their pipeline and training based on demographic as follows:

  • Millennial leaders (45 percent)
  • Women leaders (43 percent)
  • Diverse leaders (31 percent)

To read more about Deloitte’s predictions, please visit:

Visit the ASME Public Policy Education Center at for daily news and policy developments, including the following:
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