Weekly Washington Outlook – February 9, 2015

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

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On Monday, the House will meet in pro forma session. No votes are expected.

On Tuesday, the House will consider four bills under suspension of the rules:

1) H.R. __ – National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Steven Palazzo / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)

2) H.R. 719 – TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. John Katko / Homeland Security Committee)

3) H.R. 720 – Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. John Katko / Homeland Security Committee)

4) H.R. 710 – Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act (Sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee / Homeland Security Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will vote on another measure under suspension of the rules: H.R. 431 – To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Foot Soldiers who participated in Bloody Sunday, Turnaround Tuesday, or the final Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in March of 1965, which served as a catalyst for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Sponsored by Rep. Terri Sewell / Financial Services Committee). The House will also vote on S. 1 – Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Sen. John Hoeven / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee / Energy and Commerce Committee)

On Thursday, the House will vote on H.R. 644 – Fighting Hunger Incentive Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Reed / Ways and Means Committee)

The House will end the week on Friday by considering H.R. 636 – America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick Tiberi / Ways and Means Committee / Budget Committee)


On Monday, the Senate will consider the nomination of Michael Botticelli to head the National Drug Control Policy. Later in the week, the Senate is expected to vote again to try to advance a House-backed DHS appropriations bill (H.R. 240) that includes language to block and defund the President’s executive actions on immigration. It is also possible that the Senate could bring up H.R. 596, a bill that passed the House last week and would repeal the Affordable Care Act.

White House:

On Monday, the President will host German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House. The President and Chancellor Merkel will have a meeting in the Oval Office followed by a joint press conference and a working lunch. The two leaders will discuss a range of issues including Ukraine, Russia, counterterrorism, ISIL, Afghanistan, and Iran. They will also cover economic growth, international trade, climate change and Germany’s plans for hosting the G-7 Summit in June.

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

On Wednesday, the President will make remarks on the progress made to date, and the next steps in our response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

On Thursday, the President will travel to San Francisco, CA.

On Friday, the President will travel to Palo Alto to deliver remarks at the Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University, to help shape public and private sector efforts to protect American consumers and companies from growing threats to consumers and commercial networks. The Summit will bring together major stakeholders on cybersecurity and consumer financial protection issues – including senior leaders from the White House and across the federal government; CEOs from a wide range of industries including the financial services industry, technology and communications companies; computer security companies and the retail industry; as well as law enforcement officials, consumer advocates, technical experts, and students. Following the President’s remarks, the President will host a roundtable discussion with business leaders. In the evening, the President will deliver remarks at a DNC event.

Also this Week:

Appropriations – The Senate plans to try to advance a House-backed bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security until September 30th. 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. Last week, Senate Democrats and Senator Heller (R-NV) remained united that Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) should bring up a “clean” funding bill without the language related to Administrative Relief. The measure did not get the needed 60 votes to move forward as a result. It does not seem likely that these members are about to change their votes this week, making next steps somewhat unclear. The current DHS spending bill expires February 27th.

Immigration – As the Senate considers funding DHS, there are rumors that Speaker John Boehner may choose to move forward with a law suit challenging the legality of the President’s executive actions on immigration. The House Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee also plans to meet to consider three bills similar to legislation from the last Congress. Two of the measures, H.R. 5143 and H.R. 5137, would allow for expedited removal of unaccompanied children and modify their treatment in custody. H.R. 2278, the SAFE Act, would amend the interior enforcement provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act. This bill was highly controversial in the last Congress as some thought it would essentially nationalize laws like Arizona’s S.B. 1070.

Education – On Wednesday, the House Education and Workforce Committee is expected to mark-up a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (last rewritten as No Child Left Behind). The legislation is nearly identical to the overhaul that passed the House in the last Congress (H.R. 5). As a result, the Chairman Kline (R-MN) opted not to hold any hearings, prompting Democratic Committee members to convene their own forum last week to inform a substitute amendment they plan to offer. In the Senate, HELP Committee Chairman Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) announced on Friday they plan to begin bipartisan negotiations on rewriting the law, using Senator Alexander’s discussion draft as a starting process. These talks are likely to postpone a mark-up until sometime in March.

Budget – Members of the Cabinet will continue to appear on Capitol Hill this week to defend the President’s budget request. House Appropriations subcommittees will hear from several on energy-water, interior, and other related issues.

Health – The Senate may bring up a bill passed by the House last week 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. While this was the 56th House vote to repeal the 2010 law, this would be the first time the Senate considered a measure like this one. Elsewhere, the Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday on the anti-vaccination movement’s impact on public health and the recent rise in vaccine-preventable diseases.

Tax – While the House will vote on two bills from the last Congress related to charitable giving and expensing for small businesses, the Senate Finance Committee will hear from Bob Packwood, the former Chairman of the Committee, and former Senator Bill Bradley on how they advanced the last tax overhaul bill in 1986. The hearing comes amidst rumblings that a small tax reform package could be advanced on business reform, but not a broad deal that looks at individual rates as well. That said, House Ways and Means Committee Paul Ryan (R-WI) struck a conciliatory tone with Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew at a hearing last week on the tax provisions in the President’s budget, highlighting areas of common ground, including a mutual interest in expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults.

Banking – The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee will hold two hearings this week on Tuesday and Thursday on amending the Dodd-Frank Act to provide “regulatory relief” to community banks and credit unions. Toney Bland, a senior official at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is among those scheduled to testify Tuesday and Michael Calhoun from the Center for Responsible Lending will appear Thursday.

Housing – Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro is scheduled to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. The hearing will focus on the financial status of the Federal Housing Administration. Committee Chairman Hensarling (R-TX) is likely to ask pointed questions about the Administration’s decision to lower FHA mortgage insurance premiums.