President Donald Trump hosted the Canadian and Israeli Prime Ministers at the White House last week. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly traveled to Mexico City this week to discuss trade and security matters.
Cabinet Shuffle. Gen. Michael Flynn resigned as the National Security Advisor (NSA) last week, after it was revealed he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and others on the extent of his conversation with the Russian Ambassador to Washington. President Trump announced his new pick to serve as Secretary of Labor – R. Alexander Acosta, a former Justice Department official and current dean of Florida International University College of Law – after Andrew Puzder withdrew his name from consideration on 15 February.
The U.S. Congress is in recess this week, in observance of the Presidents Day holiday. Prior to recessing, the Senate confirmed Steven Mnuchin to serve as Secretary of the Treasury, along with other Cabinet officials. The Senate also cleared a procedural hurdle on 17 February, setting up a final vote on Wilbur Ross’ nomination to serve as Secretary of Commerce when Congress returns on Monday, 27 February.
Canada Visit Recapped. President Trump welcomed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the White House for a bilateral meeting on 13 February. In a joint statement issued by the White House, the two leaders affirmed shared economic interests. Regarding free and fair trade, the statement notes: “We will continue our dialogue on regulatory issues and pursue shared regulatory outcomes that are business-friendly, reduce costs, and increase economic efficiency without compromising health, safety, and environmental standards. We will work together regarding labor mobility in various economic sectors.”
At a joint press conference, President Trump reaffirmed his intention to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying: “We have a very outstanding trade relationship with Canada. We’ll be tweaking it [NAFTA]; we’ll be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries. It’s a much less severe situation than what’s taken place on the southern border.” He added: “On the southern, for many, many years, the transaction was not fair to the United States. It was an extremely unfair transaction. We’re going to work with Mexico; we’re going to make it a fair deal for both parties. I think that we’re going to get along very well with Mexico.”
Extractive Industry – Prioritized. President Trump signed H.J. Res. 41 on Tuesday, a measure disapproving of a rule submitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to “Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers.” The White House released a statement on “cutting red tape for American businesses,” available here.
On Thursday, President Trump signed H.J. Res. 38, a measure disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule. In signing the bill, President Trump said it would “eliminate another terrible job-killing rule, saving many thousands of American jobs, especially in the mines.” The White House also released a summary of the Administration’s efforts to put “coal country back to work,” available here.
These rules were overturned using the procedures provided for under the Congressional Review Act.