Weekly Washington Outlook – October 28, 2013

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The House:

On Monday afternoon, the House will hold a series of votes under suspension of the rules on legislation relating to veterans services and benefits.  Later in the week, in addition to several non-controversial bills, the House will take up the Retail Investor Protection Act (H.R. 2374), sponsored by Congresswoman Ann Wagner.  The bill would delay a Department of Labor rulemaking process mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act that relates to fiduciary responsibilities for financial planners.  The House will also consider a measure on whether to suspend the debt limit and the Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act (H.R. 992), sponsored by Congressman Randy Hultgren.

The Senate:

On Monday, the Senate is expected to vote on cloture for Richard Griffin’s nomination to general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board.  Later in the week, Majority Leader Harry Reid may file cloture on the nominations of several judicial candidates to fill vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  Action on the Mel Watt nomination to head the Federal Housing Finance Administration is also possible.

White House:

On Monday, the President will attend the installation of FBI Director James Comey at FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC.  On Tuesday, the President will attend a memorial service for former Speaker Tom Foley at the Capitol.  On Wednesday, the President will travel to Boston where he will host and deliver remarks the following day at the SelectUSA Investment Summit. In the evening, the President and the First Lady will welcome local children and children of military families to trick-or-treat at the South Portico of the White House.  On Friday, the President will host Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the White House.  The visit will highlight the importance of the U.S.-Iraq relationship under the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA). 

Also this week and beyond:

Housing FinanceThe Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing Tuesday as part of a series on overhauling our housing finance system as part of the Committee’s consideration of the draft Corker-Warner reform proposal.  The focus of this hearing is on the consumer experience from pre to post-purchase.  NCLR Vice President Lot Diaz will testify on the importance of housing counseling as a loss mitigation tool and will provide recommendations relating to preserving access to affordable credit in the housing market. 

Budget ConferenceHouse and Senate negotiators are scheduled to meet this week to work towards forming a blueprint for FY2014 spending and a possible tax overhaul.  The conference, part of the deal to re-open the government and raise the debt limit, will not submit binding recommendations and both parties remain far apart on how to address another round of sequestration cuts scheduled for next year.  In addition, changes to entitlement programs remain a potential stumbling block for both parties.  As a result, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were both dismissive last week of the likelihood the committee’s work would lead to a grand bargain given stark ideological differences on spending and revenue options.

Farm BillThe House and Senate are moving forward reconciling their distinct versions of a Farm Bill reauthorization.  The conferees will meet formally for the first time this week.  It is expected that opening statements and possibly several symbolic votes will dominate the session, with trickier items like nutrition assistance to be postponed for later in the negotiations.

ImmigrationIt is possible this week that Congressman Issa will introduce a legalization bill as part of the House’s piecemeal immigration reform efforts.  Details of this remain unknown, however.  To date, the House has not yet addressed this component of immigration reform.  It is worth noting that Congressman Diaz-Balart may have an alternative at some future date and there are rumors that Congressman Labrador’s yet-to-be introduced guest worker bill may include some form of legalization as well.

HealthcareHealth and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday in response to criticisms of healthcare.gov, the federal website for registration in the Affordable Care Act’s healthcare exchanges.  The head of CMS, Marilyn Tavener will testify tomorrow to the Ways and Means Committee on her agency’s oversight of the healthcare exchanges and role in the website.

Education – Education Secretary Arne Duncan this week will visit an elementary school in northwest D.C. to talk about the benefits of starting STEM education early and combining STEM with the arts. Duncan will hold a roundtable with two other department representatives – Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Learning Libby Doggett and Acting Assistant Deputy Secretary Nadya Dabby – D.C. public schools Chancellor Chancellor Kaya Henderson, and D.C. state Superintendent Jesus Aguirre.

NominationsThis week, the Senate is expected to vote on cloture to proceed to confirmation votes on several executive nominees, including a number of judicial nominations for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and Richard Griffin to become the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel.  It is possible that action on Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Administration could occur as well, although the exact timing remains somewhat murky.  As this next round of fights over nominations looms, there has been renewed discussion of the “nuclear option” with filibuster reform given the politically contentious nature of approving nominees to this court in particular.

Fiduciary DutyThe House this week will vote on the Retail Investor Protection Act (H.R. 2374).  The bill would postpone a Department of Labor rulemaking process to establish a fiduciary duty for broker-dealers until the Securities and Exchange Commission could identify potential investor impact.  NCLR has recommended members vote against this measure.

Senator Cory Booker – Senator-elect Cory Booker will be sworn-into office at a ceremony on Thursday.  The former Newark mayor recently won a special election to fill the seat of Frank Lautenberg following his passing.

For a complete list of everything happening in the House, please see: http://majorityleader.gov/floor/daily.html

For a complete list of everything happening in the Senate, please see: http://democrats.senate.gov/floor/

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.


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