Even with multiple news outlets, twitter, and around-the-clock news coverage, it can still be hard to know everything that’s happening within each branch of government. While the information below is neither a complete or exhaustive list of all the bills and actions currently going through the legislative, judicial and executive branches, it’s a glimpse on issues to keep an eye out for. 

Legislative Branch

For the House of Representatives, they started out the year with plenty of house resolutions and bills regarding the United States’ involvement in developing “5th and future generations of mobile telecommunications (5G) technology,” as stated in H.R.3763. The second week of January saw the introduction of four resolutions and bills regarding 5G technology, H.R.3763, H.R.2881, H.R.4500, and H.Res.575

H.R.3763 outlines what involvement on behalf of the Department of State with international bodies of leadership in 5G technology, such as the International Telecommunication Union, should look like. H.R.2881 tasks the President with developing a strategy to ensure the security of 5G and future wireless communication infrastructure within the United States. H.R.4500 has a more outreach component by calling upon the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information to ensure the United States has a place at the table in communication standards-setting bodies in terms of representation and leadership. H.Res.575 entails a commitment on behalf of the United States to the Prague Proposals set forth back in May of 2019 as a result of the Prague 5G Security Conference. 

To keep up to date with the activity within the House of Representatives, head to Clerk at live.house.gov. The website includes minutes from the floor, caption texts, schedules, and legislative actions.

The Senate started off this legislative season with a focus on wildlife protection; the Senate passed two bills, one reauthorizing the North American Wetlands Conservation Act up to fiscal year 2024 (H.R.925), and the second being an act to promote marine welfare (find the summary of actions for S.1982 here and the text here). H.R.925 passed both the House and the Senate; S.1982 has only passed the Senate and will be heading to the House.

To find a recap of the floor activity in the Senate, head to the Senate’s website at senate.gov

Judicial Branch

The first case of the year to come before the Supreme Court involves two brands within the apparel industry. Marcel and Lucky Brand have had court cases against each other as early as 2001 over Lucky Brand’s infringement on Marcel’s trademark “Get Lucky”. Their case arrived before the Supreme Court on January 13. 

The root of the current dispute lies in both parties’ different interpretations of a settlement agreement from their 2003 court case where Lucky Brand agreed not to use “Get Lucky” and Marcel agreed to “release claims it might have in the future arising out of its trademarks,” according to an article on Oyez. Marcel believes the release of claims only applies to any infringement claims, but Lucky Brand asserts the release of claims is for any claims in relation to any trademark. 

Now that they’re embroiled in another case with new claims, the issue in question is whether the defendant can use defenses “that were not actually litigated and resolved in any prior case between the parties,” according to Oyez. A quick background in law, this court case brings to light questions surrounding res judicata which translates to a matter judged. Res judicata essentially asserts that once a matter has been decided, the decision is final and cannot be re-litigated. 

In Marcel vs. Lucky Brand, though, while the release of claims has been litigated, there never was an understanding and agreement between the parties of what the release of claims entailed. This court case asks if the defense can bring up the release of claims, even though it was a decision made by the courts, if this release of claims was not litigated and resolved. 

The courts have not released a decision yet, but for those dying to know about the court case, you can read the full transcript available on supremecourt.gov. Also feel free to check out the homepage of supremecourt.gov to find the docket of cases as well as transcripts for all cases.  

Executive Branch

A majority of presidential actions toward the beginning of the year dealt with nominations; January 6 alone saw 21 nominations passed to the Senate. These nominations were for district judges, representatives of the United States for the General Assembly of the United States, as well as the members to serve on the National Council on the Arts and members to serve on the Board of Directors of the African Development Foundation. 

With U.S. relations with Iran dominating global politics, President Trump released an executive order imposing sanctions on Iran. This executive order was released on January 10, and includes sanctions on property, financial transactions, as well as transfers of goods and services. 

To keep up to date with all the political decisions coming out of Washington D.C., check in with Politico and also make it a habit to visit the home page of our governmental bodies, the House of Representatives, Senate, White House, and Supreme Court.

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