Weekly Washington Outlook — February 2, 2015

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

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

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On Monday, the House will consider three bills under suspension of the rules:

1) H.R. 361 – Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act (Sponsored by Rep. Gus Bilirakis / Homeland Security Committee)

2) H.R. 615 – Department of Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Act (Sponsored by Rep. Donald Payne / Homeland Security Committee)

3) H.R. 623 – Social Media Working Group Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Susan Brooks / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee / Homeland Security Committee)

On Tuesday, the House will vote on H.R. 596 – To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, and for other purposes (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bradley Byrne / Energy and Commerce Committee / Education and the Workforce Committee / Ways and Means Committee / Judiciary Committee / Natural Resources Committee / Rules Committee / House Administration Committee / Appropriations Committee / Budget Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will vote on H.R. 50 – Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

On Thursday, the House will vote on H.R. 527 – Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot / Judiciary Committee).  No votes are scheduled Friday.

Senate:

On Monday, the Senate will proceed to consideration of H.R.203, Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act.  On Tuesday, Senators will take up to two procedural votes on H.R.240, a bill making appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security.  The balance of the week will likely also be spent on the measure.

White House:

On Monday, the president will deliver remarks on the FY2016 budget at the Department of Homeland Security. In the afternoon, President Obama will welcome the 2014 NHL Champion Los Angeles Kings and the 2014 MLS Cup Champion LA Galaxy to honor the teams on winning their Championship titles. This visit will continue the tradition begun by President Obama of honoring sports teams for their efforts to give back to their communities.

On Tuesday, the president will hold a Cabinet meeting.

On Wednesday, President Obama will attend unspecified meetings at the White House.

On Thursday, the president will deliver remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. The First Lady will also attend.

On Friday, President Obama will attend unspecified meetings at the White House.

Also this Week:

Appropriations – The Senate plans to vote on a House-backed bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security until September 30. The measure includes five amendments approved by the House that would block implementation, defund, and otherwise undermine the president’s immigration actions from late last year. The first procedural vote is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, and there is wide speculation that the chamber is short the 60 votes needed to advance the bill with these provisions.  Democrats are expected to stay together in demanding a “clean” appropriations bill.  If they successfully prevent the bill from moving forward in its current form, it is unclear how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will choose to proceed. The current DHS spending bill expires February 27.

Immigration – As the Senate considers funding DHS, a number of committees in both the House and Senate have planned immigration-related hearings. In the Senate, the Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on the president’s executive actions on immigration. At least one witness on the panel is expected to discuss tax implications of the program. In the House, the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday will hold a hearing on immigration enforcement. The Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee will convene Wednesday to examine E-Verify and interior enforcement measures.

Education – The Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee is expected to release a re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (last rewritten as No Child Left Behind). The bill is expected to be similar, if not identical, to one that passed the House in the last Congress.  Congressional staff members have reported that the bill will likely be marked-up in Committee the week of February 9, and considered on the House floor the last week of February. Elsewhere, Senator Alexander has set a Monday deadline to submit comments on his discussion draft to rewrite ESEA.  He has also scheduled a hearing in the style of a roundtable on Tuesday with school officials to continue to build support for his legislation.

Budget – On Monday, the president will release his $4 trillion budget request for fiscal year 2016. The blueprint, not expected to be voted on by members of Congress, will call for an end to sequestration and the permanent extension of expansions to EITC and CTC enacted in 2009. Somewhat more controversial, the budget also proposes a one-time tax on deferred foreign-earned corporate income to fund infrastructure projects. In support of the budget request, a number of Cabinet members are expected to testify before relevant Congressional committees. For example, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will appear before the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday and the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell will also appear before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, focusing on Affordable Care Act implementation and Office Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan will testify before the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday.

Health – The House is planning to vote on Tuesday to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  H.R. 596 would also ask the Education and Workforce, Energy and Commerce, Judiciary, and Ways and Means Committee to pursue replacement legislation.  This will be the 56th vote since passage to overturn the law.