Congress returned from recess knowing that a full legislative agenda awaited. Nature had other plans. Back-to-back storms have taken precedence as Congress delivered disaster relief for Harvey and braces for fall-out from Irma; week two of this post-recess session sees a different landscape than when members first returned. A deal between the White House and congressional Democrats has delayed, for three months, the need to finalize decisions on discretionary spending and the debt ceiling, while providing additional short-term disaster aid in Harvey’s wake.

With debt ceiling fears temporarily eased, as well as the fears of a government shutdown, the one remaining concern will be the prospect of another disaster aid supplemental. Congress provided $15 billion in aid to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) last week to help rebuild Texas and Louisiana.

By Andy Lewin and Oscar Ramirez

In this era of heightened political partisanship, it can be a challenge to find areas that unite both parties. With divisions running deep on such varied issues as health care, tax reform and spending, one area that has bridged the party divide is a shared skepticism of the financial technology, or fintech, space. Fintech companies, far from a monolithic industry, offer a broad array of financial products and services that have embedded themselves into the daily lives of a growing number of consumers through products that enable peer-to-peer lending, digital banking and insurance transactions, among others. Fintech has already outpaced the ability of Congress and the regulators to monitor or even fully understand the industry, and, recognizing their need to intercede, policymakers from both parties are now looking to pump the brakes.

On the campaign trail and since taking office, President Trump has made deregulation central to his governing agenda. Citing unnecessary burdens and excessive costs, among his first actions as president was repealing 14 Obama-era rules and regulations using the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Due to limitations on which rules are eligible for disapproval by Congress and a new administration, however, the time for swiftly and easily overturning regulations has passed. In the months since the last CRA resolution, the administration’s attempts to suspend or abolish rules through direct agency action have revealed just how complicated and drawn out that process can be. Last week, the Trump administration provided its first clear indication of how, specifically, it plans to navigate that process in pursuing the president’s broad deregulatory objectives.

Imagine a place that will soon have the world’s largest working-age population, at 1.1 billion; that has created 21 million new and stable jobs over the past five years; which dedicates 3.5 percent of GDP to infrastructure spending; and where utilities and the construction industry are generating 23 percent of growth.

If you didn’t think “Africa,” you’d be mistaken. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts the continent to be the second-fastest growing region in the world, with an annual growth of 4.3 percent. A handful of countries have recognized this potential, and in 2016, foreign direct investment in the continent topped $67 billion.

While promises of forthcoming large-scale infrastructure spending fuel headlines to the north, Latin America faces the unpostponable need to narrow its infrastructure gap. Experts agree that economic growth and infrastructure investment feed into each other. In Latin America and the Caribbean countries (LAC), the level and quality of infrastructure is inadequate and identified as one of the principal barriers to sustainable economic growth. By most accounts, the left-leaning governments of the so-called “pink tide” implemented some fairly successful social programs, expanded education and lifted millions out of poverty. Unfortunately, they did not use the years of commodity-driven bonanza to create sustainable and viable economies and failed to improve their infrastructure networks. Now that the fiesta is over, and despite the phenomenal economic challenges ahead, this is the time for consequential action and smart infrastructure investment in the Americas.  

Health care, the budget, the debt ceiling, nominations, tax reform, infrastructure investment, immigration – Congress and President Donald Trump are confronted by a daunting agenda of competing priorities combined with a limited congressional legislative schedule. 

While the world’s attention is drawn to every tweet and counter-tweet in America’s capital, 3,000 miles across the country, California is forging its own very different path, one with the potential to reshape the national and international policy landscape.   

Led by Governor Jerry Brown and a state legislature with large Democratic majorities and powered by an economy that has outpaced all but a handful of nations, the Golden State is staking out a pole position in the race to fill the vacuum left by Washington’s upheaval and gridlock. For companies interested in or already doing business in California, it’s a state in which major legislation is moving ahead on schedule; in areas ranging from climate change to health care, immigration and infrastructure, Sacramento is charting a course that is often at odds with and frequently ahead of Washington.

Climate

The fiscal 2018 Trump budget has now been made public and immediately legislators and pundits lined up to dismiss it as dead on arrival. The phrase “dead on arrival” is always used to describe the administration’s (any administration) budget, once submitted to Congress, and this year was no exception. So where do we go from here? Within the next two weeks, the scene shifts to Congress where both House and Senate Budget Committees will attempt to produce a viable congressional budget – a task that has become increasingly difficult over the past decade. There is a lot at stake; tax reform, national security, health care and infrastructure, to name a few.

Looking at some of the hurdles they face, the average observer is wise to be skeptical. First is the issue of a balanced budget. The GOP leadership will demand that the budget committees produce a balanced budget by its tenth year. There are countless unknowns here. What is the impact of potential tax cuts we have not yet seen? How much would restructuring the nation’s health care system cost? What is the final price tag on an infrastructure bill?

When President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), many feared that the Obama-era “pivot to Asia” might be over and with it, US attention would turn elsewhere or inward. Such a step could have serious consequences for access to trade, investment, human capital and for US leadership in the region generally, but other actions taken by the new administration point to a different conclusion. As with many of the former administration’s positions, the current administration is taking the opportunity to replace, revise or rebrand what it sees as outdated policy. It may not be called a “pivot” – or even a “rebalance” – but President Trump – and his administration – is paying attention to Asia.

At the end of June, the current director of the US Census Bureau, John Thompson, will resign. Though his five-year term officially ended this past December, he was widely expected to remain through the end of this year to see through scheduled 2020 Census systems tests as well as the 2017 Economic Census. His absence creates a leadership vacuum in an agency approaching a critical time in its constitutionally mandated work. The Census apportions for each state the number of seats it will hold in the House of Representatives and assesses the social and economic needs of the country’s population. In just three years – as has happened every 10 years since 1790 – the enumerated count will tally and obtain demographic data for each and every person whose usual residence is in the United States.

Executive Summary

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) is a budget reconciliation bill that is part of the 2017 federal budget process. As a reconciliation bill, it cannot be filibustered in the United States Senate and thus requires only a simple majority of votes to pass. On May 4, 2017, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass it by a narrow margin of 217 to 213.

Should the bill pass the Senate, the AHCA would repeal the parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) within the scope of the federal budget. It also aims to replace and amend certain provisions in the ACA, as detailed below. All other aspects of the ACA would remain in place, although many important features of the law were not specified in statute and were therefore subject to regulatory interpretation and implementation. There is a high likelihood that many such provisions will be altered, perhaps substantially, by the Trump administration.

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