Weekly Washington Outlook — March 23, 2015

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

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

1) H.R. 360 – Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Pearce / Financial Services Committee)

2) H.R. 233 – Tenant Income Verification Relief Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Ed Perlmutter / Financial Services Committee

3) H.R. 216 – Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Planning Reform Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Corrine Brown / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

4) H. Res. 53 – Condemning the cowardly attack on innocent men, women, and children in the northeastern Nigerian town of Baga, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Robin Kelly / Foreign Affairs Committee)

5) H. Res. ___ – Calling on the President to provide Ukraine with military assistance to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity (Sponsored by Rep. Eliot Engel / Foreign Affairs Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will meet for a Joint Meeting of Congress to receive His Excellency Mohammad Shraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The balance of the week, the House will consider under suspension of the rules, H.R. 1092 – To designate the Federal building located at 2030 Southwest 145th Avenue in Miramar, Fla., as the “Benjamin P. Grogan and Jerry L. Dove Federal Bureau of Investigation Miami Field Office”, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Frederica Wilson / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee).

The House will also vote on its budget resolution and legislation related to the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate.

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will begin considering amendments to its budget resolution. The Senate will stay on the budget through Thursday when the chamber will have a “vote-a-rama,” a procedural quirk that allows Senators to bring up amendments in quick succession.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host the 2015 White House Science Fair and celebrate the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. This year’s Science Fair has a specific focus on diversity and includes many students from under-represented backgrounds who are excelling in STEM and inspiring the next generation with their work. In the afternoon, the President will host and deliver remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. SelectUSA, created in 2011, is the first-ever federal effort to bring job-creating investment to the United States, promoting the United States as the world’s premier business location, and providing easy access to federal-level programs and services related to business investment. The 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit aims to connect investors from around the world with representatives from nearly every U.S. state and territory.

On Tuesday, President Obama will host Afghan President Ghani, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah, and key members of their unity government for meetings and a working lunch at the White House. The two presidents will discuss a range of issues including security, economic development, and U.S. support for the Afghan-led reconciliation process. This marks the first meeting between the two presidents at the White House following the 2014 presidential election, which produced the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history.

On Wednesday, the president will deliver remarks at a kick-off meeting of the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network, which aims to bring public and private sector actors together to build on the Affordable Care Act’s efforts to move health care toward a system that provides the best care for patients and pays providers based on the quality, rather than the quantity of care they give patients.

On Thursday, President Obama will travel to Birmingham, Ala. to deliver remarks on the economy.

On Friday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.

Also this Week:

Immigration – The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will hold three hearings this week related to immigration. These are likely leading up to consideration of companion legislation to Congressman McCaul’s border security legislation marked-up earlier this year.

  1. On Tuesday, “Security the Border: Assessing the Impact of Transnational Crime.”
  2. On Wednesday, “Security the Border: Understanding and Addressing the Root Causes of Central American Migration to the United States.”
  3. On Thursday, “Securing the Border: Defining the Current Population Living in the Shadows and Addressing Future Flows.”

Elsewhere, there is an expectation that the Senate may consider several immigration-related amendments to its budget resolution throughout the week and during Thursday’s vote-a-rama. Senator Sessions included language in the base resolution already that would bar DAPA recipients from claiming Earned Income Tax Credit, but others related to the Child Tax Credit and the executive actions as a whole could come up as well. In response to these, Senate Democrats plan to offer the Gang of 8 immigration bill, S. 744, as a side-by-side to send a strong message that comprehensive immigration reform is the solution.

Budget – Both the House and Senate this week will consider their respective budget resolutions. Both include draconian cuts to domestic programs and programs for low-income individuals. The House, unlike the Senate, also partially privatizes Medicare as previous House budgets have done. There is an expectation that defense spending will be contentious in both bodies throughout the debate, given that both maintain overall spending limits set by the Budget Control Act. As the Senate debates amendments all week in the lead-up to its marathon vote-a-rama, Democrats are likely to offer broad messaging amendments on their priorities including pay equity, lifting sequestration, enacting comprehensive immigration reform, and more.

Appropriations – A number of Administration officials will appear before House Appropriations Committee subcommittees this week, including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro. He will appear Tuesday before the House Transportation-HUD Subcommittee. Labor Secretary Tom Perez will testify before the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee on Thursday.

Nominations – Consideration of Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General has been delayed until mid-April. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had signaled the chamber would vote on her nomination after they completed work on the trafficking bill, which has been stalled because of language related to abortion.

Labor – The President could veto, as soon as this week, a joint resolution disapproving of the National Labor Relations Board’s election rule allowing for expedited elections before collective bargaining. The resolution passed the House last week and the Senate earlier this month.

Health – The House is likely to vote this week on H.R. 1470, legislation to permanently replace Medicare’s physician payment formula, the Sustainable Growth Rate (also known as the “doc fix). This legislation also includes a two- year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. While the current Sustainable Growth Rate patch expires at the end of the month, it is unlikely the Senate will vote this week on the legislation.  A number of Senate Democrats have expressed concern that this legislation is mostly not offset, includes a permanent solution to doctors, but only extends CHIP two rather than four years. Elsewhere, the Affordable Care Act turns five years old this week.

Housing – This week, the House will vote on H.R. 233, legislation that will require a review of family-income every three-years (rather than annually), to qualify for low-income housing programs.  Families would also have to certify annually that 90 percent of their income was fixed, and the source of income remained unchanged.

Banking – The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday on regulations affecting regional banks.  On Wednesday, the Committee will hear from Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin on the financial stability of non-bank institutions.

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