Weekly Washington Outlook — September 8, 2015

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What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

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House:

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

  • R. 1344 – Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Brett Guthrie / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 1462 – Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Katherine Clark / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 1725 – National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Authorization Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 2820 – Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Authorization Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • 1359 – E-Warranty Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Deb Fischer / Energy and Commerce Committee)

On Wednesday and the balance of the week the House will vote on H. J. Res. 64 – Disapproving of the agreement transmitted to Congress by the President on July 19, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Ed Royce / Foreign Affairs Committee)

It is possible additional legislative items could be added to the calendar.

Senate:

The Senate returns from its summer recess on Tuesday evening to consider a judicial nomination. Later in the week,  the Senate will take up H.J. Res. 61, the legislative vehicle for a resolution disapproving of the Iran nuclear agreement.

White House:

On Tuesday, the president will welcome the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion Duke University Blue Devils to the White House to honor the team on winning their Championship title.

On Wednesday, President Obama will travel with Dr. Jill Biden to Macomb Community College in Warren, Mich. to deliver remarks on the importance of investing in skills and growing the economy.

On Thursday, the president will award the 2014 National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal to distinguished recipients in the East Room; the first lady will also attend. The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities were established by the Congress in 1965 as independent agencies of the Federal Government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities.

On Friday, President Obama, the first lady and White House staff will gather on the South Lawn of the White House to observe a moment of silence to mark the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed again a mark-up of S. 1814, the “Stop Sanctuary Cities Act,” sponsored by Senators Vitter (R-La.) and Flake (R-Ariz.). The legislation would block certain federal funding streams to so-called “sanctuary cities.” It is rumored that there was concern from the majority that the legislation as drafted could not pass out of committee. Some members raised issues with funding law enforcement and others were displeased the substitute amendment would have imposed a five year mandatory minimum sentence for illegal re-entry. It is unclear whether the mark-up will be rescheduled. Elsewhere, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will examine the safety of personnel and government assets along the Southwestern border.

Appropriations – Congress has just twelve legislative days to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government beyond September 30. It is expected this funding vehicle will be short-term, likely through December – potentially tying the next appropriations fight to the debt ceiling. Despite calls in the lead-up to the recess to use the continuing resolution to defund Planned Parenthood after certain videos were made public, there is increasing speculation that Congress may be able to pass a spending bill with no problematic policy riders as soon as next week. However, extensions of child nutrition programs, E-Verify, and the EB-5 Investor Visa program may all be included, along with a host of other expiring authorizations.

Health – While Congress has missed its deadline to advance budget reconciliation legislation, there is speculation that Committees with jurisdiction over the Affordable Care Act may still attempt to move something this fall. Related, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on H.R. 1624, the “Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act.” The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law will convene a hearing on Thursday on the competitiveness of health exchanges under the ACA. Elsewhere, the President has signed an executive order allowing federal contractors to receive up to seven days of paid sick leave.

Financial Services – The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday on the Administration’s proposed fiduciary rule. The hearing will focus on H.R. 1090, the “Retail Investor Protection Act.” This legislation would undermine the rule and has previously garnered bipartisan support.

Budget – the House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on young workers, focusing on the future of health and economic security programs.

Education – While conferees have not yet been formally appointed to the ESEA conference committee, staff-level work continues to reconcile the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act with the House’s Student Success Act. There are significant differences between the two bills; notably, neither has strong accountability language ensuring intervention if students are not meeting academic goals. At the same time, both the HELP and Education and Workforce Committee are moving forward with a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. To this end, the Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on campus sexual assault.

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