Weekly Washington Outlook — March 16, 2015

White House at Night

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Monday evening, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

1)   H.R. 639 – Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts / Energy and Commerce Committee)

2)   H.R. 647 – Access to Life-Saving Trauma Care for All Americans Act (Sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess / Energy and Commerce Committee)

3)   H.R. 648 – Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act (Sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess / Energy and Commerce Committee

4)   H.R. 284 – Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Improvement Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick Tiberi / Ways and Means Committee)

5)   H.R. 876 – Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Lloyd Doggett / Ways and Means Committee)

6)   H.R. 1191 – Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Lou Barletta / Ways and Means Committee)

The balance of the week, the House will consider the following:

  • R. 1029 – EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • R. 1030 – Secret Science Reform Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • J. Res. 8 – Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the National Labor Relations Board relating to representation case procedures (Sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander / Education and the Workforce Committee)
  • Res. 132 – Providing for the expenses of certain committees of the House of Representatives in the One Hundred Fourteenth Congress (Sponsored by Rep. Candice Miller / House Administration Committee)

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will vote on two executive nominees. On Tuesday, Majority Leader McConnell has scheduled a procedural vote to end debate on S. 178, a bill to prevent human trafficking. He has also indicated that the Senate will stay on this bill until it is passed, which could possibly postpone planned floor consideration of Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host a meeting with the Council of the Great City Schools Leadership to discuss efforts to strengthen educational opportunities for students in city schools.

On Tuesday, President Obama will welcome Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny of Ireland to the White House. In the morning, the president and the vice president will meet with the Taoiseach in the Oval Office to discuss issues of mutual concern. In the evening, the President will host a reception to celebrate his seventh St. Patrick’s Day at the White House.

On Wednesday, the president will travel to Cleveland, Ohio to deliver remarks on the importance of middle class economics to the City Club of Cleveland.

On Thursday, President Obama will host Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall for a meeting in the Oval Office; Vice President Biden will also attend. The Prince and The Duchess will visit the United States March 17-20 to engage in activities to promote the United Kingdom’s partnership with the United States in such key areas as combatting climate change, creating opportunities for youth, encouraging corporate social responsibility, and preserving historical and cultural links.

On Friday, the president will host the second-annual White House Student Film Festival. Highlighting President Obama’s call to mentorship, in particular mentorship in the arts and film industries, this year’s competition was an opportunity for K-12 students to produce short films on the idea of service and helping your community. As part of the event the president will deliver remarks on the goal of his My Brother’s Keeper initiative to ensure all young Americans can reach their full potential.

Also this Week:

Immigration – House and Senate Committees have scheduled at least six hearings this week on immigration issues, including:

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet Tuesday for a hearing on labor issues in immigration reform, “Immigration Reforms Needed to Protect Skilled American Workers.”
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will also meet Tuesday for a hearing “Security the Southwest Border: Perspectives from Beyond the Beltway.” This hearing may address companion legislation to Congressman McCaul’s border legislation marked-up earlier this year.
  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittees on National Security, and Healthcare Benefits and Administrative Rules will address immigrant benefit issues on Tuesday at “The Fiscal Costs of the President’s Executive Actions on Immigration.”
  • The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will continue its mark-up from before the recess of legislation related to interior enforcement, including a reintroduced version of the SAFE Act.
  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a second part of its hearing “A Review of the Department of Homeland Security’s Policies and Procedures for the Apprehension, Detention, and Release of Non-Citizens Unlawfully Present in the United States” on Thursday.
  • Finally, also on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Courts Subcommittee will hold a hearing “Reining in Amnesty: Texas v. United States and Its Implications.” This hearing will be chaired by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Kansas’ Secretary of State Kris Kobach has been invited to testify.

Budget – It is budget week! The House Budget Committee will release its budget on Tuesday and has scheduled a mark-up on Wednesday. In the Senate, the Budget Committee will release their budget on Wednesday during the first day of a two-day mark-up that will continue into Thursday. The House version is expected to balance the budget within ten years by cutting spending by $5 trillion with no increases in revenue. Similar to previous House budgets, cuts to SNAP, Medicaid, and a Medicare voucher system are all likely to be included. In contrast, the Senate budget reportedly does not explicitly change Medicare in the long-term. Both documents will adhere to spending caps set by sequestration.

Appropriations – A number of Administration officials will appear before House Appropriations Committee subcommittees this week. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will testify to the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee on Wednesday; OMB Director Shaun Donovan will testify to the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Monday; Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen will also testify to the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Monday; and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez will testify to the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee on Tuesday (note: he will also testify on Wednesday to the House Education and Workforce Committee).

Nominations – It is possible that Loretta Lynch may be confirmed this week as Attorney General. However, her consideration is contingent on completing work on a stalled human trafficking bill. This bipartisan legislation has been held up over an abortion-related provision and its path forward remains highly uncertain.

Education – As the Senate HELP Committee continues bipartisan negotiations to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (last reauthorized as No Child Left Behind), the President will meet with leaders from the Council of Great City Schools to discuss further. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the group’s conference on Sunday that Senator Alexander’s discussion draft does not adequately address early childhood education or equity. House action on its ESEA reauthorization, H.R. 5, is not expected again until mid-April as Republican Leadership still does not have enough votes for passage. While much of the education focus in D.C. is on K-12, the House Education and Workforce Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday to examine reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Labor – The House this week will vote on S.J.Res. 8, which would block the National Labor Relations Board from expediting workplace elections in certain circumstances. The Senate passed the measure earlier in March.

Health – It is possible Congressional leadership will introduce legislation at the end of this week for a vote as soon as next week to extend CHIP for two-years. Details are still being negotiated as the extension comes as part of a larger legislative vehicle to also address Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians.

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