Weekly Washington Outlook — January 20, 2015

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons
Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

What to Watch This Week:



On Tuesday, the House will meet at meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. The House will recess no later than 5:30 p.m. to allow a security sweep of the House Chamber prior to the President’s State of the Union address. The House will meet again at approximately 8:35 p.m. for the purpose of receiving, in a joint session with the Senate, the President of the United States. Members are requested to be on the Floor and seated no later than 8:25 p.m.  No votes are expected.

On Wednesday the House will vote on legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • Res. ___ – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives condemning the recent terrorist attacks in Paris that resulted in the deaths of seventeen innocent persons and offering condolences to those personally affected by this cowardly act (Sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe / Foreign Affairs Committee)

The House will also vote on H.R. 161 – Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo / Energy and Commerce Committee)

On Thursday, the House will consider H.R. 36 – Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks / Judiciary Committee)


The Senate this week will resume consideration of a bill to require the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline (S.1).  Senators on Tuesday will also gather and proceed to the Hall of the House of Representatives for the President’s State of the Union address.

White House:

On Tuesday, the president will deliver his State of the Union Address at 9:00PM EST.  The vice president, the first lady, and Dr. Biden will attend.

On Wednesday, President Obama will travel to Boise State University in Boise, Idaho to deliver remarks and discuss the themes he will lay out in his State of the Union address. In the evening, the President will travel to Lawrence, Kan.

On Thursday, the president will deliver remarks at the University of Kansas and discuss the themes from his State of the Union address.

On Friday, President Obama will deliver remarks and host a reception of the nation’s mayors at the White House. The mayors will spend the day at the White House interacting with cabinet members and senior White House officials to expand the partnerships between cities and the federal government.

Also this Week:

Appropriations – The House last week passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through September 30. Members also included several amendments that would block implementation and de-fund President Obama’s actions on immigration. Next, the bill will move to the Senate for consideration early in February. The Department is only funded until February 27, but the president has already threatened to veto any appropriations bill including language undoing DAPA and/or DACA.

Immigration – The House Homeland Security Committee will mark-up a border security bill Wednesday afternoon. The legislation sponsored by Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) would require the Department of Homeland Security to establish “operational control” of the entire Southern border by blocking all unlawful entries in five years. High-traffic areas must be completely secured within two years. If DHS fails to meet these benchmarks, political appointees would be prohibited from travelling on a government aircraft, non-essential training, and receiving any bonuses.

Education – The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the testing and accountability systems enacted by No Child Left Behind. The hearing is the first of several expected leading up to a re-authorization of the 2001 law. Elsewhere, President Obama will discuss further his proposal for universal community college in Tuesday’s State of the Union.

Tax – Over the weekend, the White House released a tax plan expected to be a central component to President Obama’s State of the Union. The proposal would close the trust fund loophole, raise capital gains and dividend rates and charge a fee to certain financial transactions. The revenue from these actions would pay for a new $500 credit for two-earner households, an increase in the child care tax credit, reforms to the American Opportunity Tax Credit, and a savers credit to make saving for retirement more accessible. In addition to these, the president has called for expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for childless workers and making the 2009 expansions of the EITC and the Child Tax Credit permanent.

Internet Access – The House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee have both scheduled hearings on Wednesday on net neutrality. The hearings will address legislation designed to prevent service providers from creating two tiers of Internet traffic.

Labor – President Obama is expected to highlight several labor-related issues in tonight’s State of the Union. As has already been announced, he will call for an expansion of paid sick leave. He recently signed an executive order for federal workers and will call on the private sector to follow his lead. The speech may also highlight the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rules which are expected to raise the minimum salary threshold under which workers must receive time and a half for extra hours worked. News accounts have also reported he will highlight legislation requiring workers to receive their schedules two-weeks in advance and a minimum of four hours of compensation if their hours are reduced. Finally, it is expected that the president may mention apprentice programs as a form of job training.

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