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).