Weekly Washington Outlook — April 20, 2015

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What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

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

  • R. 471 – Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Marino / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • 535 – Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • Con. Res. 21 – Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby (Sponsored by Rep. Steny Hoyer / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • Con. Res. 25 – Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the National Peace Officers Memorial Service and the National Honor Guard and Pipe Band Exhibition (Sponsored by Rep. Lou Barletta / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

The House will also vote Tuesday on H.R. 1195 – Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Advisory Boards Act (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Robert Pittenger / Financial Services Committee).  The Rule calls for two amendments from Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH).

The balance of the week, the House will consider two bills related to cybersecurity:

  • R. 1560 – Protecting Cyber Networks Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes / Permanent Select Intelligence Committee)
  • R. 1731 – National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Michael McCaul / Homeland Security Committee)

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will consider a judicial nomination. Later in the week, consideration of the stalled human trafficking bill will resume. If work on this bill is concluded, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will schedule a vote on Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General. If negotiators are unable to break the impasse, it is likely the Senate will instead move to legislation related to congressional review of the Iran nuclear agreement before sanctions are lifted.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates for a working lunch at the White House to consult on a wide range of regional and bilateral issues.They will discuss joint efforts to counter ISIL and address violent extremism; the recent framework between the P5+1 and Iran to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon; cooperation with respect to Yemen; and how best to resolve the conflicts in Libya and Syria. In the afternoon, President Obama will welcome the Ohio State University Buckeyes football team to honor the team on winning the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship.

On Tuesday, President Obama will welcome Kevin Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing team members to the White House to honor his 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

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

On Thursday, President Obama will welcome the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots to the White House to honor the team and their Super Bowl XLIX victory.

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

On Saturday, the president and the first lady will attend the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

Also This Week:

Nominations – It is possible Loretta Lynch may be confirmed by the Senate this week.  Senate negotiators are allegedly close to a resolution over controversial abortion language in a stalled human trafficking bill. If the Senate is able to complete work on this legislation, Loretta Lynch will be next on the schedule.

Education – The Senate HELP Committee passed its bipartisan ESEA reauthorization legislation, the Every Child Achieves Act, unanimously out of Committee last week. While the bill would require states to set rigorous college and career goals, maintain annual assessments, and include English Learners in their accountability systems, civil rights and business groups remain concerned that the accountability system is not strong enough. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) offered an amendment during the mark-up that would require states to intervene when schools were chronically under-performing or not serving particular subgroups.  This amendment was withdrawn but is likely to serve as the framework for trying to improve the bill as it moves to the floor at some point in May.

Immigration – The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and the National Interest will hold a hearing this week chaired by Senator Sessions (R-Ala.) “Eroding the Law and Diverting Taxpayer Resources: An Examination of the Administration’s Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program.” Elsewhere, as Chairman Johnson (R-Wis.) of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee plans possible border security legislation in the coming weeks, he has scheduled a hearing on Wednesday “Securing the Border: Understanding Threats and Strategies for the Northern Border.”  Witnesses include representatives from CBP, ICE, the NY U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Budget – House and Senate budget conferees are scheduled to meet Monday to begin work reconciling the two budget resolutions.  Members must reach an agreement on the scope of reconciliations instructions, changes to entitlement programs, and the level of defense spending among other differences.  House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) has asked conferees to complete work in the next two weeks.

Appropriations – The House Appropriations Committee will vote on Wednesday on the 302(b) allocations for FY2016 appropriations bills. These allocations take the overall $1.1017 trillion top-line discretionary spending level and divide these funds amongst each of the 12 appropriations bills the committee must draft and move to the floor. The Labor-HHS-Education bill, one of the more contentious, will reportedly be cut by $3.7 billion in the House allocation. The Committee will also mark-up the Energy-Water Development and Military Construction-VA spending bills. Elsewhere, the Senate Appropriations Committee has a busy week of hearings scheduled.  Notably, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will appear before the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Subcommittee on Wednesday and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell will appear before the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee on Thursday.

Financial Services – The House will vote on legislation, H.R. 1195, which would establish three advisory boards within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). This bill passed 53-5 out of the Financial Services Committee. The Rule for floor consideration automatically amended the measure, however, to include language limiting the amount of money the CFPB could request from the Federal Reserve (the CFPB receives the majority of its funding from the Federal Reserve). A number of Democratic House members, including Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) oppose the change.

Weekly Washington Outlook — April 13, 2015

By Vinoth Chandar (Flickr: Capitol Hill - Washington, DC) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Vinoth Chandar (Flickr: Capitol Hill – Washington, DC) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

The House returns Monday from a two-week recess to consider six bills under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 299 – Capital Access for Small Community Financial Institutions Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Stivers / Financial Services Committee)
  • R. 1259 – Helping Expand Lending Practices in Rural Communities Act (Sponsored by Rep. Andy Barr / Financial Services Committee)
  • R. 1265 – Bureau Advisory Commission Transparency Act (Sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy / Financial Services Committee)
  • R. 601 – Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act (Sponsored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer / Financial Services Committee)
  • R. 1367 – To amend the Expedited Funds Availability Act to clarify the application of that Act to American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands (Sponsored by Del. Amata Radewagen / Financial Services Committee)
  • R. 1480 – SAFE Act Confidentiality and Privilege Enhancement Act (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Dold / Financial Services Committee)

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

  • R. 1058 – Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Peter Roskam / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 1152 – IRS Email Transparency Act (Sponsored by Rep. Kenny Marchant / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 1026 – Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Kelly / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 1314 – Ensuring Tax Exempt Organizations the Right to Appeal Act (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick Meehan / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 1295 – IRS Bureaucracy Reduction and Judicial Review Act (Sponsored by Rep. George Holding / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 709 – Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act (Sponsored by Rep. Jim Renacci / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 1104 – Fair Treatment for All Gifts Act (Sponsored by Rep. Peter Roskam / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 1562 – Contracting and Tax Accountability Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 1563 – Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

The House has also scheduled votes on additional financial services and tax legislation, subject to a rule:

  • R. 650 – Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Stephen Fincher / Financial Services Committee)
  • R. 685 – Mortgage Choice Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Huizenga / Financial Services Committee)
  • R. 622 – State and Local Sales Tax Deduction Fairness Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brady / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 1105 – Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brady / Ways and Means Committee)

Senate:

The Senate also returns Monday and will vote on a judicial nomination Monday evening. Later in the week, the Senate is expected to vote on House-passed legislation to reform the Medicare sustainable growth rate and extend CHIP authorization for two years.

White House:

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

On Tuesday, President Obama will host Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the White House. The Prime Minister’s visit underscores the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq and the strong U.S. commitment to political and military cooperation with Iraq in the joint fight against ISIL. The president and prime minister will discuss a range of issues, including continued U.S. support to Iraq to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, the Government of Iraq’s actions to address the needs of the Iraqi people and to strengthen cooperation between all communities in Iraq, and advancing a broad U.S.-Iraqi partnership through expanded political, commercial, and cultural relations under the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement. In the evening, the president and first lady will invite music legends and top contemporary artists to the White House as part of its “In Performance at the White House” series. The event will pay tribute to the fundamental role gospel music has played in the American musical tradition and the important artists and repertoire that have marked its vibrant history.

On Wednesday, President Obama will attend meetings at the White House.

On Thursday, the president will welcome the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride to the White House in celebration of the eighth annual Soldier Ride. A cycling event to help Wounded Warriors restore their physical and emotional well-being, the Soldier Ride also raises awareness of our nation’s Wounded Warriors who battle the physical and psychological damages of war. Afterward, the President will deliver remarks at a Champions of Change event highlighting issues important to working families.

On Friday, President Obama will host Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the White House. During their meeting, the president and Prime Minister Renzi will discuss support for Ukraine and continued U.S.-EU unity on pressuring Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine to adhere to the Minsk agreements; the situation in Libya; and the need for the international community to continue efforts to counter ISIL and other extremists throughout the Middle East. They will also exchange views on economic developments in Europe, support for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, climate change and energy security, and other issues of mutual interest.

Coming Up Next Week:

Nominations – After a two week break, it is still not clear how the Senate will move forward with consideration of a stalled anti-trafficking bill that has become mired in abortion politics. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said repeatedly that the Senate must complete work on this legislation before he will move to confirm Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General.

Health – The Senate is expected to vote this week on legislation that would permanently alter Medicare’s sustainable growth rate. This legislation also extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years. It passed overwhelmingly in the House on March 26. Senate Democrats, however, are hoping to have an opportunity to amend the bill to extend CHIP for four years rather than two years. Some have commented that their support of final passage is contingent on an amendment process. Elsewhere, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing on Wednesday on IRS challenges implementing the ACA.

Education – The Senate HELP Committee will begin marking-up a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization bill on Tuesday.  Last week, Senator Murray (D-Wash.) and Senator Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced they had reached an agreement to rewrite the law.  The compromise maintains annual statewide assessments, requires states to set rigorous goals, and includes English Learner language and academic proficiency in state accountability systems. However, the draft allows states greater flexibility in designing their accountability systems without clear guidelines of when states must intervene to address schools failing to meet the needs of specific groups of students. Additional details. In the House, there was speculation that H.R. 5 may be on the floor again this work period. This legislation was not listed in Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s memo outlining the schedule for the next few weeks, suggesting it is still short of votes for passage. Elsewhere, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will testify Thursday before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Labor-HHS-Education Sucbommittee.

Immigration – Immigration Customs and Enforcemenet Director Sarah Saldana will appear on Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee and Wednesday at the House Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee.

Budget – As the April 15, statutory deadline looms for the House and Senate to agree on a concurrent budget resolution, negotiations between each chamber’s Budget Committees continue. The House and Senate are expected to formally name conferees this week. There is no penalty for failing to meet the deadline, whether by adopting a budget late or not adopting one at all. If no agreement is reached, each chamber can deem its resolution as binding on the spending and revenue bills that come later.

Financial Services – The House this week is voting on a series of consumer-related bills. Notably, H.R. 299 would allow privately insured credit unions to join the Home Loan Bank System and H.R. 1265 would require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to comply with federal transparency laws (the CFPB is currently exempt along with the Federal Reserve system). Finally, H.R. 601 would exempt financial institutions from providing annual privacy notices to customers if no changes have been made. Elsewhere, the House Financial Services Committee is holding a hearing on Wednesday “Examining Regulatory Burdens of Non-Depository Financial Institutions.” The hearing is likely to focus on a range of industry complaints concerning the CFPB, including efforts to regulate indirect auto lending and payday lending.

Housing – The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing Thursday, “Regulatory Burdens to Obtaining Mortgage Credit.”  In the House, members will vote on a number of housing-related bills. H.R. 1480 will be considered under suspension of the rules and would allow federal and state financial services regulators to receive information through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry. Later in the week, the House will vote on H.R. 650. This bill would modify the Truth in Lending Act to change the definitions of high-cost mortgage and mortgage originator for the purposes of manufactured housing. The stated purpose is to ensure affordable credit for these loans, but consumer groups have voiced considerable opposition. Similarly, the House will also vote on H.R. 685 which would allow more mortgages to be classified as qualified mortgages under the CFPB’s QM rule. As with H.R. 650, consumer advocates are skeptical of this legislation.

Tax – April 15 is Tax Day!  To celebrate, the House will vote on a number of IRS oversight bills. The House will also vote on legislation to repeal the estate tax (H.R. 1105) and reinstate and permanently extend the state and local sales tax deduction (H.R. 622).

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 — March 16, 2015

White House at Night

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

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

1)   H.R. 639 – Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts / Energy and Commerce Committee)

2)   H.R. 647 – Access to Life-Saving Trauma Care for All Americans Act (Sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess / Energy and Commerce Committee)

3)   H.R. 648 – Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act (Sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess / Energy and Commerce Committee

4)   H.R. 284 – Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Improvement Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick Tiberi / Ways and Means Committee)

5)   H.R. 876 – Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Lloyd Doggett / Ways and Means Committee)

6)   H.R. 1191 – Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Lou Barletta / Ways and Means Committee)

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

  • R. 1029 – EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • R. 1030 – Secret Science Reform Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • J. Res. 8 – Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the National Labor Relations Board relating to representation case procedures (Sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander / Education and the Workforce Committee)
  • Res. 132 – Providing for the expenses of certain committees of the House of Representatives in the One Hundred Fourteenth Congress (Sponsored by Rep. Candice Miller / House Administration Committee)

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will vote on two executive nominees. On Tuesday, Majority Leader McConnell has scheduled a procedural vote to end debate on S. 178, a bill to prevent human trafficking. He has also indicated that the Senate will stay on this bill until it is passed, which could possibly postpone planned floor consideration of Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host a meeting with the Council of the Great City Schools Leadership to discuss efforts to strengthen educational opportunities for students in city schools.

On Tuesday, President Obama will welcome Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny of Ireland to the White House. In the morning, the president and the vice president will meet with the Taoiseach in the Oval Office to discuss issues of mutual concern. In the evening, the President will host a reception to celebrate his seventh St. Patrick’s Day at the White House.

On Wednesday, the president will travel to Cleveland, Ohio to deliver remarks on the importance of middle class economics to the City Club of Cleveland.

On Thursday, President Obama will host Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall for a meeting in the Oval Office; Vice President Biden will also attend. The Prince and The Duchess will visit the United States March 17-20 to engage in activities to promote the United Kingdom’s partnership with the United States in such key areas as combatting climate change, creating opportunities for youth, encouraging corporate social responsibility, and preserving historical and cultural links.

On Friday, the president will host the second-annual White House Student Film Festival. Highlighting President Obama’s call to mentorship, in particular mentorship in the arts and film industries, this year’s competition was an opportunity for K-12 students to produce short films on the idea of service and helping your community. As part of the event the president will deliver remarks on the goal of his My Brother’s Keeper initiative to ensure all young Americans can reach their full potential.

Also this Week:

Immigration – House and Senate Committees have scheduled at least six hearings this week on immigration issues, including:

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet Tuesday for a hearing on labor issues in immigration reform, “Immigration Reforms Needed to Protect Skilled American Workers.”
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will also meet Tuesday for a hearing “Security the Southwest Border: Perspectives from Beyond the Beltway.” This hearing may address companion legislation to Congressman McCaul’s border legislation marked-up earlier this year.
  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittees on National Security, and Healthcare Benefits and Administrative Rules will address immigrant benefit issues on Tuesday at “The Fiscal Costs of the President’s Executive Actions on Immigration.”
  • The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will continue its mark-up from before the recess of legislation related to interior enforcement, including a reintroduced version of the SAFE Act.
  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a second part of its hearing “A Review of the Department of Homeland Security’s Policies and Procedures for the Apprehension, Detention, and Release of Non-Citizens Unlawfully Present in the United States” on Thursday.
  • Finally, also on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Courts Subcommittee will hold a hearing “Reining in Amnesty: Texas v. United States and Its Implications.” This hearing will be chaired by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Kansas’ Secretary of State Kris Kobach has been invited to testify.

Budget – It is budget week! The House Budget Committee will release its budget on Tuesday and has scheduled a mark-up on Wednesday. In the Senate, the Budget Committee will release their budget on Wednesday during the first day of a two-day mark-up that will continue into Thursday. The House version is expected to balance the budget within ten years by cutting spending by $5 trillion with no increases in revenue. Similar to previous House budgets, cuts to SNAP, Medicaid, and a Medicare voucher system are all likely to be included. In contrast, the Senate budget reportedly does not explicitly change Medicare in the long-term. Both documents will adhere to spending caps set by sequestration.

Appropriations – A number of Administration officials will appear before House Appropriations Committee subcommittees this week. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will testify to the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee on Wednesday; OMB Director Shaun Donovan will testify to the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Monday; Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen will also testify to the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Monday; and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez will testify to the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee on Tuesday (note: he will also testify on Wednesday to the House Education and Workforce Committee).

Nominations – It is possible that Loretta Lynch may be confirmed this week as Attorney General. However, her consideration is contingent on completing work on a stalled human trafficking bill. This bipartisan legislation has been held up over an abortion-related provision and its path forward remains highly uncertain.

Education – As the Senate HELP Committee continues bipartisan negotiations to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (last reauthorized as No Child Left Behind), the President will meet with leaders from the Council of Great City Schools to discuss further. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the group’s conference on Sunday that Senator Alexander’s discussion draft does not adequately address early childhood education or equity. House action on its ESEA reauthorization, H.R. 5, is not expected again until mid-April as Republican Leadership still does not have enough votes for passage. While much of the education focus in D.C. is on K-12, the House Education and Workforce Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday to examine reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Labor – The House this week will vote on S.J.Res. 8, which would block the National Labor Relations Board from expediting workplace elections in certain circumstances. The Senate passed the measure earlier in March.

Health – It is possible Congressional leadership will introduce legislation at the end of this week for a vote as soon as next week to extend CHIP for two-years. Details are still being negotiated as the extension comes as part of a larger legislative vehicle to also address Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians.

Weekly Washington Outlook — March 9, 2015

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

The House is in recess, returning the week of March 16.

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will vote on a series of executive nominations.  Later in the week, the Majority Leader will bring up a bill related to human trafficking from Senator Cornyn (R-Texas).  It is possible the Senate could also confirm Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be attorney general this week.

White House:

On Monday, the president will deliver remarks at the National League of Cities annual Congressional City Conference in Washington, DC. In the afternoon, President Obama will host European Council President Donald Tusk at the White House. The President and President Tusk will discuss a range of issues, including the situation in Ukraine, Russia, economic growth, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), energy security, climate, and countering violent extremism and terrorism.

On Tuesday, the president will travel to Atlanta to deliver remarks at Georgia Tech. He will also attend a DNC event.

On Wednesday, President Obama will attend meetings at the White House.

On Thursday, the president will travel to the Los Angeles area to attend a DNC event.

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

Also this Week:

Immigration – After last week’s procedural vote on Senator Collins’ bill to block and defund the President’s immigration actions, it is unlikely the Senate will take another vote on this in the next few weeks.

Human Trafficking – This week, the Senate will vote on a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators Cornyn (R-Texas), Wyden (D-Ore.), Kirk (R-Ill.), and Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the “Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.”  The measure was approved unanimously in the Senate Judiciary Committee and is designed to empower law enforcement to crack down on traffickers and provide additional restitution for victims.  Senate staff members believe it is unlikely that this bill will be amended on the Senate floor to include language related to unaccompanied children or the President’s immigration executive actions.

Budget – Next week is budget week!  When the House returns, Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) is scheduled to release his budget resolution on Tuesday, March 17.  Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) has scheduled a two-day mark-up on his version of a budget beginning Wednesday, March 18. The bipartisan budget agreement for the last two fiscal years negotiated by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senator Patti Murray (D-Wash.) will lapse at the end of this year.  The reconciliation process between the House and Senate budget, expected in the Spring, could include spending cuts long sought by Republicans. It is also likely anti-immigrant amendments related to tax, health, benefit, and other issues could come up in this process.

Debt Limit – The debt limit will once again technically be reached on Sunday, March 15.  Beginning on March 13, the Treasury is expected to use extraordinary measures to prevent default while Congressional Leadership determines how to raise or suspend the statutory limit.  Over the weekend, Majority Leader McConnell said he did not intend to risk a potential default over political brinksmanship.

Nominations – Majority Leader McConnell allegedly plans to bring Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be attorney general to the Senate floor as soon as this week.  He is seeking a time agreement to schedule debate and votes.  Last week, Senate Democrats sent a letter asking for swift confirmation and accusing Republicans of holding this up over the President’s executive actions on immigration.

Education – The Senate HELP Committee is continuing bipartisan negotiations to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (last reauthorized as No Child Left Behind).  After rumors an agreement had been reached last week on a core piece of the bill, the accountability system, it seems any announcement has been postponed until later this month or early April.  In the House, there is some speculation that the Student Success Act could be brought back to the floor next week.  This partisan reauthorization of the law had to be pulled from consideration at the end of February due to lack of support.