Weekly Washington Outlook — March 2, 2015

White House at Night

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Monday, the House will vote on two bills related to veterans’ issues under suspension of the rules:

  • H.R. 294 – Long-Term Care Veteran Choice Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • H.R. 280 – To authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to recoup bonuses and awards paid to employees of the Department of Veterans Affair, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

On Tuesday, the House will convene for a joint meeting of Congress to receive Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Wednesday and the balance of the week the House will consider the following:

  • H.R. 749 – Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • H.R. 1029 – EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • H.R. 1030 – Secret Science Reform Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Science, Space, and Technology

It is possible that members may also vote on legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Senate:

On Monday, the Senate will resume consideration of a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. On Monday evening, a vote is scheduled on a House motion to go to conference to reconcile differences between each chamber’s appropriations bill. Later in the week, the Senate will join the House for a joint meeting to receive Israel’s Prime Minister. It is also possible that the Senate may schedule the first procedural vote to override the President’s veto of legislation to authorize the Keystone XL Pipeline or begin consideration of S. J. Res. 8 to block a proposed rule from the National Labor Relations Board.

White House:

On Monday, the president will meet with members of his Task Force on 21st Century Policing to discuss their recommendations on how to strengthen community policing and strengthen trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.

On Tuesday, President Obama and the first lady will deliver remarks at the White House about expanding efforts to help adolescent girls worldwide attend and stay in school. These efforts will build on the investments successes achieved in global primary school education by elevating existing programs and public and private sector partnerships.

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

On Saturday, the president and the first lady will travel to Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches. This visit will also highlight the President and his Administration’s overall efforts to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Also this Week:

Appropriations – Last week, after the House failed to pass a three-week continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security in advance of a Friday deadline, both chambers extended their deadline seven days. This week, the Senate will vote on a House-passed motion to conference differing versions of an appropriations bill. The House version has language blocking the president’s immigration actions whereas the Senate passed a “clean” bill; as a result, this motion to negotiate between the two is almost certain to fail in the Senate. In the mean time, House leadership has not signaled how they plan to proceed to avert this Friday’s deadline to prevent a shutdown of the agency.

Immigration – As the fight over DHS funding continues, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday to mark-up four bills, including an updated version of the SAFE Act and related legislation on interior enforcement (i.e. E-Verify).  The Committee will also consider two bills to expedite the return of unaccompanied children and make other changes to the processing of asylum claims. In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and National Interest Subcommittee will hold a hearing Tuesday afternoon on “Oversight of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Ensuring Agency Priorities Comply with the Law.” Representatives from USCIS are scheduled to appear.

Education – In the midst of last week’s wrangling over DHS appropriations, planned consideration of the Student Success Act, a partisan bill to rewrite No Child Left Behind, was pulled off the floor. There is wide speculation that with minimal Democratic support and concerns from conservative members that the bill did not go far enough, House Leadership did not have enough votes for passage. The legislation is not scheduled to return to the floor this week and its fate is somewhat unclear at the moment.  In the Senate, HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) continue to negotiate to reach a bipartisan compromise to reauthorize the law.

Health – The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Wednesday in the King v. Burwell case challenging the legality of premium assistance for enrollees on federal exchanges. Lawmakers in the House and the Senate have signaled they may be interested in finding a “fix” if the court rules against the Administration. Last week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) made limited details of one possible proposal public with several Senate colleagues, available in a Washington Post op-ed.  The Administration, however, remains confident the court will rule in their favor.  Additional details here: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/king-v-burwell/.

Dodd-Frank – Richard Cordray, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will appear before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday. The hearing is expected to be somewhat contentious and may address conservative proposals to change the agency’s structure.

Budget – Cabinet officials are continuing to appear before Congress to make this week defending their budget requests. Notably on Wednesday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will testify before the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee.

Labor – The Senate could vote as soon as this week on S. J. Res. 8, a resolution of disapproval of the National Labor Relations Board’s actions to expedite workplace union elections when unions are engaged in collective bargaining.

Sen. Durbin of Illinois Today on the Senate Floor

Watch Sen. Dick Durbin speak on the Senate floor today to demand a “clean” version of a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, one that doesn’t include provisions to undo the president’s administrative relief.

Stay the Course and Gather What You Need for Administrative Relief

With the news on immigration focused on administrative relief and a new Congress seemingly bent on undoing that relief, we know there may be some confusion about what is happening. We want to allay your fears and bring you up to speed on applying for the new DAPA program and expanded DACA.

First and foremost, it must be noted that the votes in the House of Representatives on administrative relief are not a new law. Efforts to take away administrative relief will not stand. There have already been attempts to undo the president’s action (more on that below) and we are actively working to defend it, but nothing that Congress has passed so far will have any bearing on administrative relief. Therefore, you should continue to prepare everything you need for applying for DAPA and expanded DACA.

We have prepared a handy checklist on what you need to gather before starting the application process. Take a look below for information on eligibility and applying.

(Click the images to enlarge)

One thing you’ll definitely need is a birth certificate. If you’re a Mexican citizen living in the United States, starting today you’re eligible to get your birth certificate from the Mexican Consulate. Make sure to take advantage of this opportunity soon.

Infografia acta-01 (2)

So What’s Happening in Congress?

If you haven’t been following the issue closely, let us fill you in with a quick overview:

The 114th Congress has just begun its session, and this week the House passed a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As part of the Republican leadership’s plan to stop the president’s administrative relief, a number of amendments designed to achieve this goal were added to the DHS budget bill, and they all passed.

As you might remember from your civics class, in order for a bill to become law it must pass in both the House and the Senate and then be signed by the president. So, the next stop for the DHS funding measure (including the approved anti-immigrant amendments) is the U.S. Senate, where it has a slim chance of passing in its current form.

While the DHS budget must be approved, there is widespread belief that enough senators will object to the House amendments being included in any final bill. In addition, the president has made several indications that he would veto any measure that would undo his administrative action.

Our message to Congress is this: We cannot think of a more substantively offensive and politically disastrous step for Republicans to take at this moment in time. And our message to our community is “No se asusten.” Stay informed and keep preparing for administrative relief.

If you haven’t done so already, sign up for our Action Network to stay on top of the latest news and take action.

Weekly Washington Outlook — January 5, 2015

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

The House has not yet released its weekly schedule. On Tuesday, members will be sworn-in and formerly elect a Speaker; despite several Republican members challenging Speaker Boehner, he is widely expected to be chosen. The House will also vote on its rules for this Congress, which reportedly includes dynamic scoring of major legislation. Later in the week, the House may vote on legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and amend the Affordable Care Act.

Senate:

On Tuesday, newly-elected Senators will be sworn-in to office and a vote is scheduled to elect Senator Orrin Hatch to be the president pro tempore. At this time, there is no legislative business scheduled for the floor for this week. The Senate is expected to vote as soon as next week on legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

White House:

The White House has not released a public schedule for this week. However, on Tuesday, the president will host President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the White House. The two leaders are expected to discuss economic, security, and social issues. On Wednesday, President Obama will travel to Detroit to talk about auto manufacturing. On Thursday, the president will speak about homeownership in Phoenix. On Friday, President Obama and the vice president will discuss college access and affordability at an event in Tennessee.

Also this Week:

Appropriations – As part of the agreement to fund the government at the end of last year, the Department of Homeland Security only received appropriations until February 28 of this year. It is possible a Homeland Security spending bill could be on the floor next week after Republicans meet this week to discuss their strategy for continued opposition to the president’s executive actions on immigration. There has been some speculation that a border security measure could be attached, but this is not yet clear.

Health – The House could vote as soon as this week on legislation that would change the definition of full-time employment under the ACA from thirty to forty hours a week. Members may also vote on a bill that would allow employers to exclude employees with healthcare coverage through the Defense Department or Veterans Affairs Department from the employer mandate.

Budget – The House will vote this week on a package of rules for this Congress that includes a provision requiring dynamic scoring for major pieces of legislation.  Dynamic scoring takes into account the macroeconomic impact of a given bill. This policy change is motivated in part by a long-standing Republican wish to show that tax cuts are beneficial to the economy as a whole and this picture is not fully captured under current scoring assumptions. Elsewhere, new House and Senate Budget Chairs Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) are considering replacing Congressional Budget Office Direct Doug Elmendorf. His term has expired, but no decision has yet been made.

Education – While not yet officially scheduled, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee, has said he plans to hold a hearing in early January on testing as a lead-up to re-authorization the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Weekly Washington Outlook – December 2, 2013

Congress Instagram

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

The House: The House will reconvene Monday afternoon to consider three bills under suspension of the rules. The most notable among these is a measure by Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.) that would extent an existing law for ten years requiring guns to be manufactured with metal components to ensure they can be detected by X-ray machines and security devices. On Tuesday the House will take up nine more minor bills under suspension of the rules that relate to the Transportation Security Administration and natural resources issues. The remainder of the week, the House will consider the Small Business Capital Access and Job Preservation Act (H.R. 1105) sponsored by Rep. Robert Hurt (R-Va.) and may also take-up a patent troll bill sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

The Senate: The Senate is in recess, returning December 9th.

White House: On Monday, the president will deliver remarks from the White House in observance of World AIDS Day. On Tuesday, Mr. Obama will welcome President Santos of Colombia to the White House. On Wednesday, the president will deliver remarks on the economy at the Center for American Progress. On Thursday, he will host a Hanukkah reception at the White House. The president and the First Family on Friday will attend the National Christmas Tree Lighting also at the White House.  Continue reading