Weekly Washington Outlook – June 9, 2014

U.S. CapitolWhat to Watch This Week:


The House:

The House returns from its recess Monday afternoon to consider a number of bills under suspension of the rules:

1) H.R. 2072 – Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Dan Benishek / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

2) H.Res. 600 – Urging the Government of Afghanistan, following a successful first round of the presidential election on April 5, 2014, to pursue a transparent, credible, and inclusive run-off presidential election on June 14, 2014, while ensuring the safety of voters, candidates, poll workers, and election observers, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Alan Grayson / Foreign Affairs Committee)

3) H.R. 4412 – The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2014, as amended(Sponsored by Rep. Steven Palazzo / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)

4) S. 1254 – Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013 (Sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)

5) H.Con.Res. 100 – Authorizing the use of the rotunda of the Capitol for a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act (Sponsored by Rep. Marcia Fudge / House Administration Committee)

6) S.Con.Res. 36 – A concurrent resolution permitting the use of the rotunda of the Capitol for a ceremony to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the next of kin or personal representative of Raoul Wallenberg (Sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand / House Administration Committee)

7) H.R. 3211 – Mortgage Choice Act (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Huizenga / Financial Services Committee)

8) H.R. 1679 – To amend the Expedited Funds Availability Act to clarify the application of that Act to American Samoa, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Eni Faleomavaega / Financial Services Committee)

9) H.R. 4228 – DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Duncan / Homeland Security Committee)

H.R. 4745 – Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 (Open Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Latham / Appropriations Committee)

On Tuesday and the balance of the week, the House will consider the following under suspension of the rules:

1) H.R. __– The Veterans Access to Care Act (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

2) H.Res. 608 – Condemning the senseless rampage and mass shooting that took place in Isla Vista, California, on Friday May 23, 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Lois Capps / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

The House will also vote on a number of tax and appropriations bills in the period including:

H.R. 4745 – Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 (Open Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Latham / Appropriations Committee)

H.R. 4880 – Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Robert Aderholt / Appropriations Committee)

H.R. 4453 – Permanent S Corporation Built-in Gains Recognition Period Act of 2014, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. David Reichert / Ways and Means Committee)

H.R. 4457 – America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Pat Tiberi / Ways and Means Committee)

The Senate:

The Senate on Monday evening will take procedural votes to confirm a number of judicial nominations.  Consideration and confirmation of these nominees, which also include Stanley Fisher to become Vice-Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, will continue into Tuesday.  Later in the week, the Senate will likely move to Senator Warren’s (D-Mass.) student loan refinancing bill (S. 2432).  It is also possible that a compromise veteran’s bill from Senator Sanders (I-VT) and Senator McCain (R-Ariz.) could be brought to the floor.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host an event on education at the White House. Later in the afternoon, he will welcome the NCAA Champion UConn Huskies Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams to honor the teams and their 2014 NCAA Championships.  On Tuesday, President Obama will take to Tumblr in an event at the White House moderated by Tumblr Founder and CEO David Karp. The President will deliver remarks and answer questions from folks across the country on the importance of education, college affordability, and reducing student loan debt.  On Wednesday, Mr. Obama will travel to Worcester, Mass. to deliver the commencement address at the Worcester Technical High School graduation ceremony. The president will also attend a DSCC event in the Boston area. Following the event, the president will return to Washington.  On Thursday, he will hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia at the White House; the vice president will also attend. The two leaders will discuss a range of issues of mutual interest, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Australia’s leadership of the G-20 this year, the future of Afghanistan, and the growing bilateral defense relationship, including the rotation of U.S. Marines through Darwin. They will also address some of the most serious security issues that confront both Australia and the United States, including Syria, Russia’s actions in Ukraine, North Korea, and the security and stability of the Asia Pacific region. In the afternoon, the president will welcome the WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx to the White House to honor the team and their victory in the WNBA Finals. On Friday, the president and Mrs. Obama will travel to the Cannonball, North Dakota area to visit the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Following their visit to Indian Country, President Obama and the first lady will travel to Palm Springs, Calif. On Saturday, the president will deliver the commencement address at University of California, Irvine on the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the UC Irvine campus by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Also this week and beyond:

Immigration – Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is scheduled to testify on Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing; immigration reform could come up. Elsewhere, immigration reform was not included in Majority Leader Cantor’s memo to members on what to expect on the floor in the next three weeks.  It’s worth noting, however, that his primary is Tuesday.  While immigration reform will likely not be on the floor this month, the House Judiciary Committee plans to hold a hearing on June 19 on the rise of unaccompanied minors, claiming this is a result of the president’s failure to enforce existing immigration laws.

Veterans – The House and Senate are both expected to consider legislation this week to address the scandal at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The Chairman of the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) will have a bill on the floor later this week focusing on access to private care. Details of this are still being finalized. Similarly, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders announced an agreement in principle late last week on legislation that would make it easier to fire VA employees and allow veterans to access private care more easily. The agreement reached with Senator John McCain could be on the floor later this week. In addition to legislation, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Monday on data manipulation and access to Veterans’ Affairs Department healthcare facilities; the inspector general and GAO officials are expected to testify. The committee will also hold a hearing Thursday on barriers to veterans’ care.

Education – The White House and the Senate plan to focus this week on college affordability and student loan debt. The White House is expected to issue an executive order on Monday capping repayment of student loans at 10 percent of monthly income.  For its part, the Senate plans to proceed to a bill from Senator Warren that would allow students paying interest between 7-9 percent to refinance to current rates.

Appropriations – The House this week will vote on the Transportation – Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill for FY2015 as well as the Agriculture – FDA appropriations bill for FY2015. Both are open to amendments, and the Ag-FDA bill has come under particular scrutiny because of attempts to undermine school nutrition standards and define white potatoes as a vegetable under the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program. At the Committee level in the House, will mark-up its defense spending bill and the measure for the Department of Homeland Security. In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee will mark-up Labor-Education-Health and Human Services on Wednesday.

Juvenile Justice – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a field hearing on Monday, June 9 in Rhode Island on the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.  The hearing will focus on preserving youth potential and protecting communities.  Senator Sheldon Whitehouse will preside.

Campaign Finance – The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights Subcommittee will mark-up a proposed constitutional amendment on Wednesday that would reverse the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United Case.

Financial Services – Richard Cordray, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is scheduled to give his semi-annual report to Congress tomorrow before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. In the House, the Financial Services Committee will mark-up a series of bills designed to add additional requirements to CFPB rulemakings.

WIA – A compromise reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act is scheduled for consideration in both the House and Senate during the June work period.

Health – The House Ways and Means Committee’s Health and Oversight Subcommittees will hold a joint hearing on Tuesday to examine fraud and data issues with the verification system for insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

Tax Reform – The House will vote this week on two bills which make permanent two currently expired tax provisions. H.R. 4453 would extend the reduced recognition period for built-in gains of S corporations and also includes language on charitable contributions.  H.R. 4457 related to expensing limitations under section 179.  Neither measure is offset.  The House Ways and Means Committee plans to continue to look at extenders that should be made permanent, while a traditional extenders package has stalled on the Senate floor and is unlikely to be revived until after the mid-term elections.

Nominations – The Senate Budget Committee and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have scheduled confirmation hearings on Wednesday for Shaun Donovan’s nomination to head the Office of Management and Budget.

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