Weekly Washington Outlook – May 5, 2014

White House at Night

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The House:

The House returns on Tuesday to consider seven bills under suspension of the rules:

1) H.R. 3584– The Capital Access for Small Community Financial Institutions Act of 2013, as amended(Sponsored by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio)/ Financial Services Committee)

2) H.R. 2672 – CFPB Rural Designation Petition and Correction, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.)/ Financial Services Committee)

3) H.R. 4386 – Money Remittance Improvement Act of 2013 (Sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Mich.)/ Financial Services Committee)

H.R. 3329 – To enhance the ability of community financial institutions to foster economic growth and serve their communities, boost small businesses, increase individual savings, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) / Financial Services Committee)

H.R. 3468– The Credit Union Share Fund Insurance Parity Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) / Financial Services Committee)

6) H.R. 2919 – The Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act (Sponsored by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.)/ Judiciary Committee)

7) H.R. 4292 – The Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio)/ Judiciary Committee)

On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will consider five more bills under suspension of the rules:

1) H.R. 863 – To establish the Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Women’s History Museum Act of 2013, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) / Natural Resources Committee / House Administration Committee)

2) H.Con.Res. 83 – Authorizing the use of Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center for an event to celebrate the birthday of King Kamehameha I (Sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)/ House Administration Committee)

3) H.Res. 418– Urging the Government of Burma to end the persecution of the Rohingya people and respect internationally recognized human rights for all ethnic and religious minority groups within Burma, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) / Foreign Affairs Committee)

4) H.R. 2548– The Electrify Africa Act of 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) / Foreign Affairs Committee / Financial Services Committee)

5) H.R. 4366– Strengthening Education through Research Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ill.)/ Education and the Workforce Committee)

Also on Wednesday and Thursday, the House will vote on the following:

1)       H.R. 4438 – American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2014 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) / Ways and Means Committee)

2)       H.Res. 565– Calling on Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., to appoint a special counsel to investigate the targeting of conservative non-profit groups by the Internal Revenue Service (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) / Judiciary Committee)

3)       H.Res. __– Resolution Recommending that the House of Representatives find Lois G. Lerner, Former Director, Exempt Organizations, Internal Revenue Service, in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Privileged Resolution) (Sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

4)       H.R. 10 – Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. John Kline (D-Minn.) / Education and the Workforce Committee)

The Senate:

The Senate returns Monday afternoon and will vote on two judicial nominations.  The remainder of the week will be spent on a bipartisan energy efficiency bill sponsored by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-R.I.) and Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio).  The measure would update building codes to encourage conservation in federal buildings.  As part of the agreement to bring this bill to the floor, the Senate is expected to hold a separate vote authorizing TransCanada Corp. to build the Keystone XL Pipeline.  Given that this will be at a 60-vote threshold for passage, Senate Leadership does not believe it will pass.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti at the White House. They will discuss a range of issues of mutual interest, including security and counterterrorism, development, trade, and energy cooperation. In the evening, the president will host a Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House. Also on Monday, Vice President Joe Biden will host a Cinco de Mayo breakfast. On Tuesday, President Obama will attend unspecified meetings at the White House. On Wednesday, the president will travel to Los Angeles to participate in a joint DSCC/DCCC event. In the evening, the he will be honored at a dinner hosted by the USC Shoah Foundation. On Thursday, the president will participate in a DNC roundtable in Los Angeles before traveling to San Diego to participate in a DCCC event. President Obama will then travel to San Jose, California where he will participate in two DNC events and remain overnight. On Friday, the president will participate in an event on energy in the San Jose, California area. Following the event he will return to Washington.

Also this week and beyond:

Immigration Reform – The House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to mark-up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Wednesday. Congressman Denham (R-Calif.) had previously attempted to include his ENLIST Act, a bill that would provide legal status for Dreamers who join the military, to the base text. Unfortunately, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) claimed that the Armed Services Committee did not have jurisdiction and the measure will no longer be part of the mark-up. While Congressman Denham has said he will try again to amend the bill when it comes to the House floor, likely in June, a previous effort to do so last year failed. However, the Senate is discussing including the ENLIST Act in its version of NDAA.  More here.

Healthcare – The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on Sylvia Matthews Burwell’s nomination to replace Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Burwell is currently the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. While she is widely respected, she is still expected to face tough questions on the Affordable Care Act.

Housing Finance Reform – The Senate Banking Committee last Tuesday postponed its mark-up of the Johnson-Crapo GSE reform bill. The measure would take Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of conservatorship and replace these with a government backstop. In his opening remarks, Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) acknowledged that the bill could be reported out of committee as it currently stands, but that efforts were still underway to attract Committee members who have not yet endorsed the measure. Notably, six Democrats on the Committee have withheld their support thus far and remain in talks with Committee staff to fix systemic issues with the way the post-GSE housing finance market is structured. They are also advocating for more robust access and affordability provisions for low- and moderate-income borrowers. While an exact date for reconvening has not yet been set, it seems likely the mark-up will resume at some point this week.

Financial Services – The House will vote this week on a series of bills out of the Financial Services Committee under suspension of the rules.  Among these, H.R. 3584 would allow privately insured credit unions to join the Federal Home Loan Bank system if certain conditions are met.  H.R. 2672 would direct the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to establish an application process within 90 days of enactment for individuals to apply for a rural designation status. This status would allow lenders in these areas to issue “balloon payment” mortgages without verifying the borrower’s ability to repay. H.R. 4386 would let regulators at the Treasury Department rely on state agency examinations of money services businesses and non-bank financial institutions that help with remittance transfers.  These three bills, in addition to several others relating to holding company assets and credit union insurance are all designed to slowly chip-away at Dodd-Frank’s regulatory authority.  None are expected to advance in the Senate.

Minimum Wage – The Senate last week failed to advance a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.  It is not yet clear when the Majority Leader will bring the measure back to the floor.

Education – Education Secretary Arne Duncan will testify on Tuesday before the Senate Budget Committee on the President’s FY2015 budget request. In the House, members will vote on two education bills. The first, H.R. 4366, would authorize $3.8 billion over five years for education research, technical assistance, and evaluation programs within the Education Department.  The second, H.R. 10, is a bipartisan bill sponsored by House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman Kline (R-Minn.) and Ranking Member Miller (D-Cailif.) that would reauthorize and modernize federal charter school programs.

Tax Reform – The House Ways and Means Committee last week marked-up six bills to make certain tax credits permanent. This week, the permanent extension of the Research and Development credit, the American Research and Competitiveness Act will move to the House floor. Chairman Camp is expected to mark-up several other bills in the coming weeks to extend other credits, likely including expansions to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, to change the baseline of his draft tax reform bill. In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that he will bring the Finance Committee-backed “extenders” bill to the floor before the Memorial Day Recess. In contrast to the House approach, this bill is a retroactive extension of the majority of expired credits, raising questions about prospects for conference.