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.

Weekly Washington Outlook – June 9, 2014

U.S. CapitolWhat to Watch This Week:

Congress:

The House:

The House returns from its recess Monday afternoon to consider a number of bills under suspension of the rules:

1) H.R. 2072 – Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Dan Benishek / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

2) H.Res. 600 – Urging the Government of Afghanistan, following a successful first round of the presidential election on April 5, 2014, to pursue a transparent, credible, and inclusive run-off presidential election on June 14, 2014, while ensuring the safety of voters, candidates, poll workers, and election observers, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Alan Grayson / Foreign Affairs Committee)

3) H.R. 4412 – The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2014, as amended(Sponsored by Rep. Steven Palazzo / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)

4) S. 1254 – Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013 (Sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)

5) H.Con.Res. 100 – Authorizing the use of the rotunda of the Capitol for a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act (Sponsored by Rep. Marcia Fudge / House Administration Committee)

6) S.Con.Res. 36 – A concurrent resolution permitting the use of the rotunda of the Capitol for a ceremony to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the next of kin or personal representative of Raoul Wallenberg (Sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand / House Administration Committee)

7) H.R. 3211 – Mortgage Choice Act (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Huizenga / Financial Services Committee)

8) H.R. 1679 – To amend the Expedited Funds Availability Act to clarify the application of that Act to American Samoa, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Eni Faleomavaega / Financial Services Committee)

9) H.R. 4228 – DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Duncan / Homeland Security Committee)

H.R. 4745 – Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 (Open Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Latham / Appropriations Committee)

On Tuesday and the balance of the week, the House will consider the following under suspension of the rules:

1) H.R. __– The Veterans Access to Care Act (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

2) H.Res. 608 – Condemning the senseless rampage and mass shooting that took place in Isla Vista, California, on Friday May 23, 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Lois Capps / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

The House will also vote on a number of tax and appropriations bills in the period including:

H.R. 4745 – Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 (Open Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Latham / Appropriations Committee)

H.R. 4880 – Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Robert Aderholt / Appropriations Committee)

H.R. 4453 – Permanent S Corporation Built-in Gains Recognition Period Act of 2014, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. David Reichert / Ways and Means Committee)

H.R. 4457 – America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Pat Tiberi / Ways and Means Committee)

The Senate:

The Senate on Monday evening will take procedural votes to confirm a number of judicial nominations.  Consideration and confirmation of these nominees, which also include Stanley Fisher to become Vice-Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, will continue into Tuesday.  Later in the week, the Senate will likely move to Senator Warren’s (D-Mass.) student loan refinancing bill (S. 2432).  It is also possible that a compromise veteran’s bill from Senator Sanders (I-VT) and Senator McCain (R-Ariz.) could be brought to the floor.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host an event on education at the White House. Later in the afternoon, he will welcome the NCAA Champion UConn Huskies Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams to honor the teams and their 2014 NCAA Championships.  On Tuesday, President Obama will take to Tumblr in an event at the White House moderated by Tumblr Founder and CEO David Karp. The President will deliver remarks and answer questions from folks across the country on the importance of education, college affordability, and reducing student loan debt.  On Wednesday, Mr. Obama will travel to Worcester, Mass. to deliver the commencement address at the Worcester Technical High School graduation ceremony. The president will also attend a DSCC event in the Boston area. Following the event, the president will return to Washington.  On Thursday, he will hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia at the White House; the vice president will also attend. The two leaders will discuss a range of issues of mutual interest, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Australia’s leadership of the G-20 this year, the future of Afghanistan, and the growing bilateral defense relationship, including the rotation of U.S. Marines through Darwin. They will also address some of the most serious security issues that confront both Australia and the United States, including Syria, Russia’s actions in Ukraine, North Korea, and the security and stability of the Asia Pacific region. In the afternoon, the president will welcome the WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx to the White House to honor the team and their victory in the WNBA Finals. On Friday, the president and Mrs. Obama will travel to the Cannonball, North Dakota area to visit the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Following their visit to Indian Country, President Obama and the first lady will travel to Palm Springs, Calif. On Saturday, the president will deliver the commencement address at University of California, Irvine on the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the UC Irvine campus by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Also this week and beyond:

Immigration – Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is scheduled to testify on Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing; immigration reform could come up. Elsewhere, immigration reform was not included in Majority Leader Cantor’s memo to members on what to expect on the floor in the next three weeks.  It’s worth noting, however, that his primary is Tuesday.  While immigration reform will likely not be on the floor this month, the House Judiciary Committee plans to hold a hearing on June 19 on the rise of unaccompanied minors, claiming this is a result of the president’s failure to enforce existing immigration laws.

Veterans – The House and Senate are both expected to consider legislation this week to address the scandal at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The Chairman of the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) will have a bill on the floor later this week focusing on access to private care. Details of this are still being finalized. Similarly, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders announced an agreement in principle late last week on legislation that would make it easier to fire VA employees and allow veterans to access private care more easily. The agreement reached with Senator John McCain could be on the floor later this week. In addition to legislation, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Monday on data manipulation and access to Veterans’ Affairs Department healthcare facilities; the inspector general and GAO officials are expected to testify. The committee will also hold a hearing Thursday on barriers to veterans’ care.

Education – The White House and the Senate plan to focus this week on college affordability and student loan debt. The White House is expected to issue an executive order on Monday capping repayment of student loans at 10 percent of monthly income.  For its part, the Senate plans to proceed to a bill from Senator Warren that would allow students paying interest between 7-9 percent to refinance to current rates.

Appropriations – The House this week will vote on the Transportation – Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill for FY2015 as well as the Agriculture – FDA appropriations bill for FY2015. Both are open to amendments, and the Ag-FDA bill has come under particular scrutiny because of attempts to undermine school nutrition standards and define white potatoes as a vegetable under the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program. At the Committee level in the House, will mark-up its defense spending bill and the measure for the Department of Homeland Security. In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee will mark-up Labor-Education-Health and Human Services on Wednesday.

Juvenile Justice – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a field hearing on Monday, June 9 in Rhode Island on the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.  The hearing will focus on preserving youth potential and protecting communities.  Senator Sheldon Whitehouse will preside.

Campaign Finance – The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights Subcommittee will mark-up a proposed constitutional amendment on Wednesday that would reverse the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United Case.

Financial Services – Richard Cordray, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is scheduled to give his semi-annual report to Congress tomorrow before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. In the House, the Financial Services Committee will mark-up a series of bills designed to add additional requirements to CFPB rulemakings.

WIA – A compromise reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act is scheduled for consideration in both the House and Senate during the June work period.

Health – The House Ways and Means Committee’s Health and Oversight Subcommittees will hold a joint hearing on Tuesday to examine fraud and data issues with the verification system for insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

Tax Reform – The House will vote this week on two bills which make permanent two currently expired tax provisions. H.R. 4453 would extend the reduced recognition period for built-in gains of S corporations and also includes language on charitable contributions.  H.R. 4457 related to expensing limitations under section 179.  Neither measure is offset.  The House Ways and Means Committee plans to continue to look at extenders that should be made permanent, while a traditional extenders package has stalled on the Senate floor and is unlikely to be revived until after the mid-term elections.

Nominations – The Senate Budget Committee and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have scheduled confirmation hearings on Wednesday for Shaun Donovan’s nomination to head the Office of Management and Budget.

Weekly Washington Outlook – June 2, 2014

White House at Night

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

The House:

The House is in recess this week, returning Monday, June 9.

The Senate:

The Senate returns from its recess Monday afternoon to consider a number of pending judicial and executive nominations, including Sylvia Matthews Burwell’s confirmation to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  While much of the week will be devoted to nominations, it is possible that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will take-up a bill making it easier to dismiss Veterans Affairs officials for misconduct.  It is also possible later in the week Senate Leadership will bring to the floor legislation that would permit recreational hunting and fishing in federal wilderness areas (S. 2363).

White House:

On Monday, the president will speak on a conference call in the afternoon on the Environmental Protection Agency’s rulemaking to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Later in the evening, he will depart for Warsaw, Poland. On Tuesday morning, President Obama will arrive in Warsaw, where he and President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland will have an opportunity at the airport to meet with U.S. and Polish airmen who are supporting an aviation mission based at Lask Air Base. Following this event, the president will travel to Belweder Palace to take part in a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with President Komorowski. In the afternoon, the president will travel to the Chancellery of the Prime Minister to participate in a bilateral meeting and deliver statements to the press with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Later, he will go to the Presidential Palace to co-host with President Komorowski a meeting with Central and Eastern European leaders. In the evening, the president will attend a Solidarity Dinner at the Royal Castle. On Wednesday, President Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with President-elect Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine and then travel to the Royal Castle to take an official family photo with leaders attending the Freedom Day event, marking the 25th anniversary of Poland’s first partially free election. At the Royal Castle, Mr. Obama will deliver remarks commemorating Freedom Day. In the afternoon, he will fly to Brussels, Belgium. In the evening, the president will travel to the Royal Palace of Brussels to meet with King Philippe of Belgium. Afterward, he will attend the 2014 G-7 Summit, which will begin with a leaders working dinner on foreign policy issues. On Thursday, the president will participate in G-7 meetings on the global economy and energy and climate issues and a G-7 working lunch on development. G-7 leaders will also take a traditional “family photo.”  In the afternoon, President Obama will participate in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom. In the evening, the president will travel to Paris, where he will have dinner with President Hollande and remain overnight. On Friday, the president will travel to Normandy, France, to deliver remarks at Omaha Beach for the 70th French-American Commemoration D-Day Ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. In the afternoon, he will travel to Sword Beach to attend a leaders lunch hosted by President Hollande and then attend the Ouistreham International Ceremony.  In the evening, President Obama will depart France en route to Washington. Continue reading