Weekly Washington Outlook – April 14, 2014

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The House:

The House is in recess, returning Monday, April 28th.

The Senate:

The Senate is in recess, returning Monday, April 28th.

White House:

On Monday, the President will host an Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House.  On Tuesday, the President and the First Lady will mark the beginning of Passover with a Seder at the White House with friends and staff.  On Wednesday, President Obama and Vice President Biden will travel to Leetsdale, Pennsylvania for an event on the economy.  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.  On Friday, the President will meet with the National Commander and Executive Director of the American Legion.  Later, he will welcome the United States Naval Academy Football Team to the White House to present them with the 2013 Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.

Also this week and beyond:

Emergency Unemployment Compensation – Last week, the Senate approved a five-month retroactive extension of lapsed unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.  Moving to the House, Speaker Boehner has made clear that he would only bring a paid-for extension to the floor and that it must also include job-creation measures.  There has been some speculation that an extension could include a compromise on job training programs or business tax cuts, but the Speaker has made no comment on specifics.

Budget/Appropriations – This morning, the Congressional Budget Office will release a new budget baseline.  This will be an update of CBO’s revenue forecasts from February and should also include revised estimates of the coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  On Thursday, CBO says it will have its analysis of the president’s latest budget request.

HealthThe President announced on Friday morning that Secretary Sebelius is stepping down as the head of the Department of Health and Human Services.  She will be replaced by current Director of the Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Matthews Burwell.  Burwell is widely expected to be confirmed.  It is not yet clear who will replace her OMB.

Housing Finance ReformThe Senate Banking Committee has scheduled a mark-up of the Johnson-Crapo housing finance overhaul bill for April 29th.  In recent weeks, a number of high-profile editorials have taken aim at the bill’s deficiencies.  The Wall Street Journal on Monday morning chimed in and suggested that Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member Crapo should “go back to the drawing board.”  Full text here.

EducationThe House Education and Workforce Committee last week marked-up a bipartisan bill to reauthorize and modernize charter school programs (H.R. 10).  Ahead of a pending floor vote, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) instructed his colleagues to visit charter schools in their districts to build further support for the measure.  The focus on school choice for House Republicans is also part of a broader campaign to make the GOP more appealing to minority voters.

Minimum Wage – A procedural vote to advance a minimum wage hike has been postponed again and is now expected in the Senate sometime in early May.  However, the next work period in the Senate is now likely to be dominated by judicial nominations and several bipartisan measures, including the long-stalled Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill.  As a result, it is possible that a vote on minimum wage could be put off once again.

Tax ReformFollowing the recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he plans to bring to the floor the so-called “extenders package” approved by the Senate Finance Committee last week.  The measure extends retroactively the majority of tax credits that expired at the end of the year.  In the House, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp is instead examining making certain tax credits permanent rather than going through the annual extenders exercise.