Weekly Washington Outlook – April 21, 2014

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What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

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The House:

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

The Senate:

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

White House:

On Monday, the president and the First Family will participate in the White House Easter Egg Roll.  The event will feature live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling, and Easter egg rolling.  On Tuesday, President Obama will travel to Oso, Wash., to view the devastation from the recent mudslide and to meet with families affected by this disaster, as well as first responders and recovery workers.  Following his visit to Washington state, the president will travel to Tokyo.  On Wednesday night, the president will arrive in Tokyo and remain overnight.  On Thursday, President Obama will hold a state call with the Emperor and Empress of Japan at the Imperial Palace.  Later in the morning, the president will participate in a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan at the Akasaka Palace.  In the afternoon, the president will visit the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation to tour and deliver remarks at a youth and science event with students.  Later in the afternoon, Mr. Obama will visit the Meiji Shrine and host a roundtable meeting with Select USA business leaders. In the evening the president will attend the Japanese State dinner at the Imperial Palace with the Imperial family. On Friday morning, President Obama will meet with employees and family members of the U.S. Embassy to Japan. He will then travel to the Republic of Korea. In the afternoon, the president will participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the National War Memorial to honor fallen soldiers. Following the ceremony, he will tour the Gyeongbok Palace. Later in the afternoon, the president will visit the Blue House to participate in a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with President Park of the Republic of Korea . In the evening President Obama will join President Park for a working dinner. On Saturday morning, the president will participate in a roundtable meeting with business leaders to discuss trade policy. Following the roundtable, President Obama will travel to Yongsan Garrison. Here, he will be briefed by U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command officers and deliver remarks and visit with troops and their families to thank them for their extraordinary service to our nation. In the afternoon, Mr. Obama will travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In the evening, he will join King Abdul Halim and Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia for the State dinner at the Istana Negara Palace. On Sunday, the president will visit the National Mosque of Malaysia. Following his visit, he will participate in a bilateral meeting and working lunch followed by a joint press conference with Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia at the Prime Minister’s Office. In the afternoon, the president and Prime Minister will take part in an event at the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center. In the evening, the president will travel to Malaya University to participate in a town hall with participants in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative.

Also this week and beyond:

Immigration Reform – Last week, both Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor made statements about immigration reform as the President marked the anniversary of the introduction of the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill. The Majority Leader’s came after the president called him to wish him a happy Passover and was widely considered an over-reaction to what was otherwise categorized as a “pleasant” conversation. Later in the week, after much speculation about the status of immigration reform in the House, Speaker Boehner’s press secretary emailed a number of reporters asking their editors to “chill” and emphasizing that the focus remained on job creation.  He provided the following quote:  “Nothing has changed.  As he’s said many times, the Speaker believes step-by-step reform is important, but it won’t happen until the president builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law.”

Smarter Sentencing Act – While the Senate could begin consideration of Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Senator Mike Lee’s (R-Utah) Smarter Sentencing Act as soon as the next work period, the Administration is planning to grant clemency to “hundreds, perhaps thousands” of imprisoned non-violent drug offenders.  It is possible that new procedures to handle the large number of applications could be announced as soon as this week.

Housing Finance Reform – The Senate Banking Committee has scheduled a mark-up of the Johnson-Crapo housing finance overhaul bill for April 29.

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 Reform – Following 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 exercise. Camp is instead examining making certain tax credits permanent rather than going through the annual extenders

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