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.

Weekly Washington Outlook – September 8, 2014

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What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House of Representatives:

House members return Monday afternoon from their “summer vacation” to consider twenty-one uncontroversial bills under suspension of the rules. The majority of these are naming postal facilities. Others on the calendar include:

1) H.R. 2495 – American Super Computing Leadership Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Randy Hultgren / Science Committee)

2) H.R. 5309 – Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici / Science Committee)

3) H.R. 744 – Stopping Tax Offenders and Prosecuting Identity Theft Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz / Judiciary Committee)

4) H.R. 3109 – To amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to exempt certain Alaskan Native articles from prohibitions against sale of items containing nonedible migratory bird parts (Sponsored by Rep. Don Young / Natural Resources Committee)

5) H.R. 4283 – To amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to maintain or replace certain facilities and structures for commercial recreation services at Smith Gulch in Idaho (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson / Natural Resources Committee)

6) H.J.Res. 120 – Approving the location of a memorial to commemorate the more than 5,000 slaves and free Black persons who fought for independence in the American Revolution(Sponsored by Rep. G.K. Butterfield / Natural Resources Committee)

7) H.R. 4527 – To remove a use restriction on land formerly a part of Acadia National Park that was transferred to the town of Tremont, Maine (Sponsored by Rep. Michael Michaud / Natural Resources Committee)

8) H.R. 4751 – To make technical corrections to Public Law 110‐229 to reflect the renaming of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial (Sponsored by Rep. Derek Kilmer / Natural Resources Committee)

On Tuesday and the balance of the week, the House will continue to vote on bills under suspension of the rules, including:

1) H.R. 5057 – EPS Service Parts Act of 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner / Energy and Commerce Committee)

2) S. 276 – A bill to reinstate and extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the American Falls Reservoir (Sponsored by Sen. James Risch / Energy and Commerce Committee)

3) H.R. 5161 – E-LABEL Act (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Latta / Energy and Commerce Committee)

4) H.R. 4067 – To provide for the extension of the enforcement instruction on supervision requirements for outpatient therapeutic services in critical access and small rural hospitals through 2014(Sponsored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins / Energy and Commerce Committee)

5) H.R. 4701 – Vector-Borne Disease Research Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Gibson / Energy and Commerce Committee)

6) H.R. 4290 – Wakefield Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Jim Matheson / Energy and Commerce Committee)

7) H.R. 3670 – Anti-Spoofing Act of 2013 (Sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng / Energy and Commerce Committee)

8) H.R. 669 – Sudden Unexpected Death Data Enhancement and Awareness Act (Sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone / Energy and Commerce Committee)

In addition to possible consideration of a continuing resolution, the House has scheduled votes on the following legislation:

H.R. 5078 – Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Southerland / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

H.Res. 644 – Condemning and disapproving of the Obama administration’s failure to comply with the lawful statutory requirement to notify Congress before releasing the Taliban 5 (Subject to a Rule)(Sponsored by Rep. Scott Rigell / Armed Services Committee)

H.R. 3522 – Employee Health Care Protection Act of 2013 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy / Energy and Commerce Committee / Ways and Means Committee)

Senate:

The Senate returns Monday evening and has scheduled confirmation votes on several executive and judicial nominees. After those votes, the Senate will take a procedural vote to advance S.J.Res. 19, a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections. If the Senate does not move this amendment forward, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will either move to bring up any of the following:

  • A bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 (S. 2223)
  • A bill sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to allow students to refinance their loans at lower rates by enacting the “Buffet Rule” to levy higher taxes on investment-based income (S. 2432)
  • A bill sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to overturn the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision exempting closely-held religious corporations from providing contraception to employees (S. 2578).

All three measures have previously been blocked and bringing them back is part of a legislative strategy to advance a Democratic agenda before the mid-terms.

White House:

On Monday, the president will attend meetings at the White House with Treasury Secretary Lew and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. On Tuesday, he will meet at the White House with the “Big Four:” Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio), and House Minority Leader Pelosi (D-Calif.). On Wednesday evening, the president will address the nation on the situation on his foreign policy and the situation with the Islamic State. On Thursday, President Obama, the Vice President, the First Lady, and White House staff will gather on the South Lawn of the White House to observe a moment of silence to mark the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The president and first lady will then travel to the Pentagon Memorial to attend the September 11th Observance Ceremony. On Friday, the president will deliver remarks at an AmeriCorps Pledge ceremony on the South Lawn to mark the 20th anniversary of the national service program. Joining him will be President Clinton, who established the program and swore in the first class in 1994.  In the evening, President Obama will travel to Baltimore to attend a DSCC event.

Next Week and Beyond:

Appropriations – Now that Congress has returned from its five-week recess, the first order of business is passing a spending resolution to keep the government open beyond September 30. Despite speculation earlier this summer that members would try to force a shutdown over immigration-related policy riders, House and Senate Leadership have made clear that this stopgap measure will not have anything controversial that would prevent its passage. There is a clear desire to take care of this must-pass legislation as quickly and quietly as possible to allow members to return to their districts to campaign. While exact details of the continuing resolution remain are not yet known, signs indicate it will extend current spending levels through mid-December.

Immigration – In response to concerns from vulnerable Senate Democrats up for re-election this cycle, the White House announced over the weekend its intention to delay announcing its plan for administrative relief until after the mid-term elections.

Campaign Finance – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to schedule a vote on S.J. Res. 19, a constitutional amendment that would set limits on campaign contributions. The amendment is a legislative response to the Citizens United and McCutcheon Supreme Court cases that removed such limits. This vote is largely symbolic as the House is unlikely to bring the measure up. If it were to pass both Houses of Congress, three-fourths of state legislatures would then need to ratify the resolution.

Healthcare – The House will vote this week on a healthcare messaging bill. H.R. 3522 would allow health insurers to sell the plans offered in 2013, before new standards in coverage took effect under Affordable Care Act (ACA). The measure is sponsored by Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-La.), running for Senate in a tight contest against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). Elsewhere, the House Ways and Means Committee’s Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing Wednesday on ACA implementation.

Education – Little is expected on education in Congress in September. The Senate may vote on a bill from Senator Warren allowing students to refinance their loans, but this is not likely to advance. Elsewhere, the House Education and Workforce Committee’s K-12 Subcommittee will hold a hearing Wednesday on Department of Education oversight. The Senate Special Committee on Aging will also meet Wednesday, but will focus on senior citizen’s student loan debt.

Tax – Treasury Secretary Lew will speak on Monday at the Urban Institute on the need to restructure the corporate tax system. He is not expected to announce a new plan to stem corporate inversions. On the Hill, Senator Schumer (D-N.Y.) released a draft bill aimed at making inversions less attractive by limiting future interest deductions to companies that reincorporate abroad. As drafted, the bill would be retroactive to any inversion after 1994.

Banking – The Senate Banking Committee will hear from Mary Jo White, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Timothy Massad, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, on Tuesday. The three will testify on the Dodd-Frank Act’s effectiveness at regulating the financial sector.

Law Enforcement – As a response to the situation in Ferguson, Mo., the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday on the militarization of local police. The hearing will address federal programs providing military-grade equipment to law enforcement.

How the Finance Industry Can Help Minority Communities Achieve Financial Security

Jar of MoneyNext week, we’ll be releasing a new report on how communities of color are navigating the financial services industry. The report, “Banking in Color: New Findings on Financial Access for Low- and Moderate-Income Communities,” examines how low-and moderate-income households across various communities and states are meeting their financial needs, and the levels to which they are financially engaged

The report was was written by the Alliance for Stabilizing our Communities (ASOC)—which inludes the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, National Urban League, and NCLR—noted a number potential opportunities for financial institutions to improve banking for low-income consumers. For example, although the majority of participants surveyed had a checking or savings account with a traditional bank, they tended to eschew the rapidly expanding online and mobile banking platforms in favor of face to face transactions, due to security concerns.

There’s much more about the future of banking in the report, so don’t miss it. Register here to join the free event next week, May 28, .

To Support Latino Wealth, Check Out National Consumer Protection Week Resources!

NatlConsumerProtectionWeek_logoHappy National Consumer Protection Week!

Every day we interact with the economy as consumers in multiple ways—whether using our debit and credit cards, making payments on mortgages or rent, or using mobile banking services.  Because there are now more opportunities than ever for fraud and financial scams, both online and offline, 78 government and nonprofit organizations have teamed up to offer a wealth of in-depth consumer resources on a wide variety of consumer protection topics.

We’re committed to building and preserving wealth in the Latino community and are proud to support National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) as a nonprofit partner.  From preventing identity theft and financial fraud to explaining the safe way to buy and sell a home, the NCPW website contains vital information on your personal financial rights as a consumer.

Though we know immigrants greatly contribute to our economy, they are also often the targets of scams.  For this reason, the NCPW website also contains numerous resources intended for immigrants and their families.

On the NCPW website, you’ll find an easy-to-use interface introducing the campaign and featuring new blog posts, highlighted partner organizations, and consumer protection resources.  Click the “Consumer Topics” tab to find a list of categories.

While the site offers more than the topics listed below, here’s a quick look at some of the categories most relevant to Latino consumers:

  • Banking:  Latinos, one of the most underbanked ethnic groups, stand to gain from smart and safe banking practices.  Resources include guides to choosing a bank versus a credit union, debit and credit card fraud prevention tips, interest rate explainers, and tips for secure and safe mobile banking.  As Latinos enter the financial mainstream with bank accounts and credit cards, these resources offer a great introduction to help all Hispanics bank safety.
  • Scam Alert:  Without knowing what scams look like, we all become potential targets to scammers.  Unfortunately, scammers often target vulnerable groups, including seniors, immigrants, and those who don’t speak English.  This resource set covers many of the extensive types of financial fraud, including fake financial aid, phony charities, misleading mortgage advertisements, chain letters, and health fraud scams.  Although scammers adapt quickly, the site offers a great starting point for protecting yourself from dangerous illegal financial schemes. 
  • International:  This category offers a small set of resources about international scams related to immigration and visa issues.  In these scams, fraudulent lawyers and business people target potential visa applicants and immigrants seeking to get authorization to travel to the U.S.  Many charge high fees while offering no help.  Others claim that U.S. residents won money in foreign lotteries.
  • Your Home:  Over a million Latino families lost their homes during the Great Recession, and millions of Americans are still under water on their mortgages.  This category deals with safe ways to handle mortgage problems and types of home maintenance.  Fraudsters often target desperate homeowners with bogus offers to refinance their homes to prevent foreclosure.  These schemes can involve hefty fees that go straight into the scammers’ pocketbooks and do nothing to help homeowners.  This section is a great resource for homeowners and prospective home-buyers alike.