Weekly Washington Outlook — November 30, 2015

640px-United_States_Capitol_building_under_renovation_November_2014_photo_D_Ramey_Logan

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

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

  • 611– Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act (Sponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 3490– Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act (Sponsored by Rep. John Ratcliffe / Judiciary Committee)
  • R. 3279– Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins / Judiciary Committee)
  • R. 1755– To amend title 36, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the congressional charter of the Disabled American Veterans, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller / Judiciary Committee)
  • R. 2288– To remove the use restrictions on certain land transferred to Rockingham County, Virginia, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 1541– PRISM Act (Sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 2212– To take certain Federal lands located in Lassen County, California, into trust for the benefit of the Susanville Indian Rancheria, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Doug LaMalfa / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 2270– Billy Frank Jr. Tell Your Story Act (Sponsored by Rep. Denny Heck / Natural Resources Committee)
  • 1170– Breast Cancer Research Stamp Reauthorization Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Dianne Feinstein / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

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

  • R. 8– North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • J. Res. 23– Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of a rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to “Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified, and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units” (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnell / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • J. Res 24– Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of a rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units” (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito / Energy and Commerce Committee)

In addition, the House is expected to vote on the conference report to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and another conference report to reauthorize surface transportation programs.

Senate:

The Senate will vote on Monday evening on an executive nomination. Later in the week, the Senate may debate a revised version of House-passed budget reconciliation legislation.

White House:

While the White House did not release an official schedule this week, the president will be in Paris attending a climate summit.

Also this Week:

Education – The House will vote on a bipartisan conference report to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (last rewritten as No Child Left Behind) this week. The Senate is expected to follow next week. While the language, released Monday, clearly reflects a compromise, the provisions for English Learners are substantial. For the first time, ELs will be included in a state’s accountability system. The report also establishes standard entry and exit procedures for ELs, includes strong parent notification language, and creates new reporting requirements on ELs with disabilities and long-term ELs. That said, the accountability language delegates much to states and districts to ensure groups of students are meeting challenging goals.

Tax – The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee this week will continue their negotiations over making certain business tax credits and expansions to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit permanent. These credits were enhanced in 2009 as part of the stimulus, but these enhancements expire in 2017. An agreement could be reached in the coming days. However, it has been reported that any possible deal would include a number of “program integrity” provisions targeted at immigrants. Of the options mentioned in news accounts, one would require those applying for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to appear in-person; another would prohibit future DAPA recipients from retroactively amending their tax returns for up to three years to claim the EITC.

Appropriations – There are just two weeks left to pass a spending bill to fund the government beyond December 11. This week, Appropriators are expected to receive their 302(b) allocations, the topline amount for each agency. While the Administration has remained firmly opposed to all controversial policy riders, some lawmakers may still seek language to undermine Dodd-Frank, curtail refugee resettlement, and others.

Puerto Rico – On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Puerto Rico’s financial situation. Puerto Rico’s Governor and the Resident Commissioner are both scheduled to testify. While the Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over bankruptcy reform, Chairman Grassley has been reluctant to move forward without other fiscal and regulatory reforms on the Commonwealth. Also this week, Puerto Rican members of Congress including Reps. Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Serrano (D-N.Y.) are assisting in coordination of a Puerto Rico Day of Action on December 2. Members and advocates will ask Congress to act to help address Puerto Rico’s financial and humanitarian situation.

Health – The Senate may take-up a revised version of House-passed budget reconciliation legislation to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, originally including the employer and individual mandates. However, the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that these provisions could not be altered in the reconciliation process, as they do not relate to revenue or spending. Under budget reconciliation, the Senate only needs a majority rather than sixty votes to move forward. In addition to the ACA provisions, the legislation would also block Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding.

Immigration – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, “Oversight of the Administration’s Criminal Alien Removal Policies.” Elsewhere, it is possible the Senate may move in the coming days to take up legislation related to refugees. Additional House hearings on this subject are also likely.

Weekly Washington Outlook — October 12, 2015

USCapitol

What to Watch This Week:

 Congress:

House:

The House is in recess, returning Tuesday, October 20.

 Senate:

The Senate is in recess, returning Monday October 19.

White House:

On Tuesday, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

On Wednesday, President Obama and the first lady will host the PBS In Performance at the White House Concert for the 50th Anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities.

On Thursday, the president will deliver remarks and attend a reception for Hispanic Heritage Month and the 25th Anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

On Friday, President Obama will welcome President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea to the White House. The president and President Park will exchange views on a broad range of security, economic, and global issues, including the U.S.-ROK alliance and the critical role it plays in assuring regional stability and security. President Obama will hold a bilateral meeting and a joint press conference with President Park.

Also this Week:

Sanctuary Cities – When the Senate returns, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has teed up a cloture vote to proceed to S. 2146 (originally S. 1814, the “Stop Sanctuary Cities Act”) next Tuesday. This piece of legislation would withhold federal funds from so-called “sanctuary cities,” municipalities with community trust policies. The bill would also boost criminal penalties for undocumented immigrants who re-enter the U.S. after they are deported. S. 1814 was the cause of intraparty discord, as some Republican Senators supported an amendment including a mandatory minimum prison sentence for illegal re-entry, while others opposed such language. The new bill appears to have mandatory minimum sentencing language included.

House Leadership – Following Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calkf.) surprising decision to withdraw from the race to succeed John Boehner (R-Ohio) as House Speaker, no fewer than ten Representatives have floated the idea of running to fill the post. The frontrunner is Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), though he has shown no intention of actually seeking the nomination thus far. The only two Representatives formally running at this point are Government Oversight & Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Congressman Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), who has the backing of the House Freedom Caucus. Boehner has postponed all House leadership elections indefinitely.

Weekly Washington Outlook — September 28, 2015

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

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

  • R. 1624 – Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Brett Guthrie / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • 136 – Gold Star Fathers Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 313 – Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Stephen Lynch / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • 565 – Federal Vehicle Repair Cost Savings Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Gary Peters / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 3089 – Grants Oversight and New Efficiency (GONE) Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 3614 – Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • 139 – Ensuring Access to Clinical Trials Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 2061 – Equitable Access to Care and Health (EACH) Act (Sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 3594 – Higher Education Extension Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Bishop / Education and the Workforce Committee)
  • R. 2617 – To amend the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 to postpone a scheduled increase in the minimum wage applicable to American Samoa, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Amata Radewagen / Education and the Workforce Committee)
  • R. 2786 – Cross-Border Rail Security Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Filemon Vela / Homeland Security Committee)
  • R. 2835 – Border Jobs for Veterans Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Martha McSally / Homeland Security Committee)
  • Concur in the Senate Amendment to R. 2051 – Agriculture Reauthorizations Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Conaway / Agriculture Committee)

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

  • R. 3596 – Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • R. 3595 – To extend the authorization to carry out the replacement of the existing medical center of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Denver, Colorado, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

The House will also vote on H.R. 3495 – Women’s Public Health and Safety Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy / Energy and Commerce Committee)

On Wednesday and the balance of the week, the House will vote on the following:

  • R. ___ – Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick Meehan / Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • Legislation related to Continuing Government Funding for FY2016

Consideration of the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1735 – National Defense Authorization Act for FY2016 is possible, as well as a reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Senate:

The Senate has scheduled a procedural vote Monday evening on the legislative vehicle for a clean continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11th.

White House:

On Monday and Tuesday, President Obama will be in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. He will attend meetings at the White House the balance of the week.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The Senate Judiciary Committee has rescheduled a mark-up of S. 1814, the “Stop Sanctuary Cities Act,” sponsored by Senators Vitter (R-La.) and Flake (R-Ariz.). This mark-up has been postponed several times due to conservative concern with the underlying legislation and a substitute amendment. The bill would block certain funding streams for law enforcement in municipalities with community trust policies; some lawmakers have suggested that this approach is inappropriate. The substitute amendment would impose a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for illegal re-entry, which has faced opposition from those interested in criminal justice reform. Democrats are united in opposition, although some remain interested in creating an alternative policy that would lead to some form of cooperation between the Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement.  Elsewhere, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and the National interest Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Thursday on the fiscal and security impact of the Administration’s recently announced refugee resettlement plans.

Appropriations – Congress has until September 30 to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government. After a procedural vote failed last week in the Senate to pass a spending bill until December 11 that would also defund Planned Parenthood, another vote has been scheduled for Monday evening without the controversial rider. In the House, Leadership has been clear that they will also move to a clean bill sometime this week. Precise details of this remain unknown, however. Both bills do contain a number of “anomalies,” extensions of expiring programs, including E-Verify, EB-5 Investor Visas, and others.

Health – The House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a mark-up on Tuesday of budget reconciliation legislation repealing pieces of the Affordable Care Act. Repeals of both the medical device tax and so-called cadillac tax are included. It is likely the House Energy and Commerce Committee will follow shortly with related legislation that will be combined into one bill to send to the Senate. The Committee has held a number of hearings on the ACA, and will continue on Tuesday with an Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee hearing on state-based marketplaces. It is not clear if Senate Committees with jurisdiction over the Affordable Care Act plan to move their own versions of repeal legislation. Under the reconciliation process, the Senate can pass a bill with a simple majority, allowing Republican Leadership to circumvent procedural hurdles that have prevented their priorities from getting to the President’s desk.

Nutrition – While authorization for child nutrition programs expire September 30, these were not included in the continuing resolution that is expected to clear the House and Senate this week. Instead, lawmakers are continuing work to find a path forward on a bipartisan reauthorization effort this fall. However, the Senate Agriculture Committee postponed a planned mark-up of legislation indefinitely, and it is not clear how the House Education and Workforce Committee plans to proceed. Community eligibility and nutrition guidelines are both controversial in the effort.

Taxes – The Senate Finance Committee will convene a hearing on Thursday with the U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro on improper payments. The Earned Income Tax Credit is likely to be a part of this hearing, given many believe that the credit’s complexity lead to error.

Labor – The House Financial Services Committee will mark up a series of bills on Wednesday, including H.R. 1090, which would block the Department of Labor’s “conflict of interest” rule. Elsewhere, the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee will convene a hearing Wednesday on the proposed rule.

Consumer Financial Protections – On Tuesday, Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), will give his semi-annual report to Congress to the House Financial Services Committee. The Committee has also scheduled a mark-up of a number of bills related to the CFPB on Wednesday. Among these, H.R. 957, legislation that would subject the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Inspector General to Senate confirmation, and H.R. 1266 that would change the CFPB’s governing structure from a single Director to a bipartisan commission.

Puerto Rico – The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi will testify.

Education – While conferees have not yet been formally appointed to the ESEA conference committee, staff-level work continues to reconcile the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act with the House’s Student Success Act. There are significant differences between the two bills; notably, neither has strong accountability language ensuring intervention if students are not meeting academic goals. Conferees are likely to be named at some point in October.

Republican Leadership Election – On Friday, Speaker John Boehner announced he would be resigning at the end of October. He outlined an ambitious agenda for the next four weeks including reaching a budget deal, reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, and passing a long-term transportation bill. Yet, all eyes remain on Leadership elections to replace him; these have not yet been scheduled, but could come as soon as this week. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is likely to replace the Speaker, although he is being challenged by Rep. Dan Webster (R-Fla.). The race for Majority Leader is also competitive with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) all vying for the position. A number of members are also running for Whip, including Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), and potentially Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas). The precise details are still taking shape, and it is possible that Rep. Peter Roskan (R-Ill.) could emerge as a candidate for any of these. He has gathered signatures for a conference meeting this week to discuss a plan for the Republican party moving forward.

Weekly Washington Outlook — July 6, 2015

WhiteHouseFBsize

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Monday, the House is not in session.

On Tuesday, the House returns at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m. and the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

1) H.R. 907 – United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen / Foreign Affairs Committee)

2) Concur in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 91 – Veteran’s I.D. Card Act (Sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

3) H.R. 1531 – Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act (Sponsored by Rep. Gerry Connolly / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

Also Tuesday, the House will continue consideration of H.R. 2822 – Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Modified Open Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Ken Calvert / Appropriations Committee)

On Wednesday and the balance of the week, the House will consider legislation subject to a rule:

  • Complete Consideration of R. 5 – Student Success Act, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. John Kline / Education and the Workforce Committee)
  • R. 2647 – Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bruce Westerman / Agriculture Committee / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 6 – 21st Century Cures Act, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • Possible Consideration of a Motion to Go to Conference on H.R. 644 – Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act

Senate:

The Senate returns Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. and will consider S. 1177 to reauthorize elementary and secondary school programs.

White House:

On Monday, the president will make a rare visit to the Pentagon to meet with his national security team on the U.S. fight against the Islamic State in the Middle East.

On Tuesday, President Obama will host the head of Vietnam’s Communist Party, the first party chief to visit the U.S. as the two countries seek closer ties 40 years after they fought a war.

Remainder of the week, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

Also This Week:

Appropriations – Both chambers continue work on FY16 spending bills, but the final passage of all twelve remains unlikely.  In the Senate, Democrats have vowed to block all measures upholding sequestration funding levels. While the House is resuming consideration of Interior-EPA appropriations this week, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s memo outlining the July work period only included the Financial Services Appropriations bill leaving a number of the more controversial bills still working through the Committee process up in the air.  This includes funding for the Department of Agriculture, scheduled for a mark-up at the subcommittee level on Tuesday and full committee on Thursday.

Education – This week both House and Senate are scheduled to take up legislation reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In the Senate, the “Every Child Achieves Act,” a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization, is slated for the floor beginning on Tuesday. The business and civil rights community is continuing to work to get support for strengthening the bill’s accountability system for minority students and English Learners.  Elsewhere, the House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to create a new rule allowing up to two additional amendments to the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) when it is brought back to the floor later this week.  The additional amendments are designed to garner conservative support to enable final passage.

Health – On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will examine “Medicaid at 50: Strengthening and Sustaining the Program.” This hearing comes in the wake of a July 24 deadline for Republicans to decide whether or not to use reconciliation to repeal the tax and spending components of the Affordable Care Act.

Immigration – The Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee is holding a hearing Tuesday titled “The 2014 Humanitarian Crisis at Our Border: A Review of the Government’s Response to Unaccompanied Minors One Year Later.”

Banking – As we approach the five-year anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Act, lawmakers are evaluating the effects to this legislation, starting with a Thursday House Financial Services Committee hearing “The Dodd-Frank Act Five Years Later: Are We More Stable?”  Also this week, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee is holding a Wednesday hearing on “The Role of the Financial Stability Board in the U.S. Regulatory Framework.” Also Wednesday, the House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee will focus on “Examining the Designation and Regulation of Bank Holding Company SIFIs.”

Labor – Last week the Obama Administration released new regulations regarding overtime pay. The proposed rule would more than double the salary threshold for guaranteed overtime pay to $50,440, from the current threshold of $23,660. Today marks the start of the comment period, currently ending September 4. Labor advocates say the rule is long overdue, whereas business interests insist the rule will decrease worker hours, reduce worker benefits, and shift salaries workers to hourly ones.

Housing – This Thursday the House Judiciary Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “The State of Property Rights in America Ten Years After Kelo v. City of New London.” Friday, the House Financial Services Housing and Insurance Subcommittee will examine “The Future of Housing in America: Oversight of HUD’s Public and Indian Housing Programs.”

Weekly Washington Outlook — June 29, 2015

WhiteHouseFBsize

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

The House is in recess, returning the week of July 6.

Senate:

The Senate is in recess, returning the week of July 6.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host a working dinner with President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil at the White House.

On Tuesday, President Obama will host a bilateral meeting with President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil at the White House. This meeting will be followed by a joint press conference.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

On Saturday, the president and the first lady will celebrate the Fourth of July by hosting military heroes and their families for an Independence Day celebration with a barbeque, concert and a view of fireworks on the South Lawn. Staff and their families from throughout the Administration will also attend this event for the concert and fireworks viewing.

After Recess:

Appropriations – Both chambers continue work on FY16 spending bills, but the final passage of all twelve remains unlikely, with Senate Democrats vowing to block all measures upholding sequestration funding levels. With the formal appropriations process untenable, few options to fund the government remain. Congress must pass something by October 1 and a continuing resolution is one possibility. House Republicans view a CR as less than ideal, with last minute measures to avoid government shutdown reflecting poorly on the majority. Another option is to revive work on a budget deal to appease Congressional Democrats into supporting the appropriations measures. A combination CR/Omnibus spending deal seems most likely.

Education – Attention remains on the Senate as members prepare to take up the “Every Child Achieves Act,” a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization, next week upon return from the Fourth of July recess. The business and civil rights community is continuing to work to get support for strengthening the bill’s accountability system for minority students and English Learners. The future of the H.R. 5, the House ESEA reauthorization, is still unclear.

Health – Last week the Supreme Court upheld the availability of federal subsidies to those purchasing healthcare through both state-run and federally-run Affordable Care Act exchanges. In anticipation of a ruling against the government, Congressional Republicans had developed several legislative proposals subsequently rendered unnecessary by the Court’s decision. However, attempts to repeal the ACA could continue, with a July 24 deadline for Republicans to decide whether or not to use reconciliation to repeal the tax and spending components of the healthcare law. Reconciliation requires a simple majority, but the president seems certain to veto any bill repealing major portions of the ACA.