Weekly Washington Outlook — September 21, 2015

640px-United_States_Capitol_building_under_renovation_November_2014_photo_D_Ramey_LoganWhat to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

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The House will not meet for legislative business until Thursday.  On Thursday, the House will convene for a Joint Meeting of Congress to receive Pope Francis of the Holy See.

Following the Joint Meeting, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  1. S. 1707 – To designate the Federal building located at 617 Walnut Street in Helena, Arkansas, as the “Jacob Trieber Federal Building, United States Post Office, and United States Court House” (Sponsored by Sen. John Boozman / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  2. S. 261 – To designate the United States courthouse located at 200 NW 4th Street in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as the “William J. Holloway, Jr. United States Courthouse” (Sponsored by Sen. James Inhofe / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  3. H.R. 3116 – Quarterly Financial Report Reauthorization Act (Sponsored by Rep. Ted Lieu / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  4. S. 994 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1 Walter Hammond Place in Waldwick, New Jersey, as the “Staff Sergeant Joseph D’Augustine Post Office Building” (Sponsored by Rep. Sen. Cory Booker / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  5. H.R. 1442 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 90 Cornell Street in Kingston, New York, as the “Staff Sergeant Robert H. Dietz Post Office Building” (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Gibson / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  6. H.R. 322 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 16105 Swingley Ridge Road in Chesterfield, Missouri, as the “Sgt. Zachary M. Fisher Post Office” (Sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  7. H.R. 323 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 55 Grasso Plaza in St. Louis, Missouri, as the “Sgt. Amanda N. Pinson Post Office” (Sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  8. H.R. 324 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 11662 Gravois Road in St. Louis, Missouri, as the “Lt. Daniel P. Riordan Post Office” (Sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  9. H.R. 558 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 55 South Pioneer Boulevard in Springboro, Ohio, as the “Richard ‘Dick’ Chenault Post Office Building” (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  10. H.R. 1884 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 206 West Commercial Street in East Rochester, New York, as the “Officer Daryl R. Pierson Memorial Post Office Building” (Sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  11. H.R. 3059 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 4500 SE 28th Street, Del City, Oklahoma, as the “James Robert Kalsu Post Office Building” (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Russell / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

The House will also vote on H.R. 348 – RAPID Act, Rules Committee Print (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Judiciary Committee)

It is possible the House will vote on a continuing spending resolution on Thursday or Friday.

Senate:

The Senate has scheduled a procedural vote on Tuesday on House-passed legislation that would ban abortion at 20 weeks.  On Thursday, the Senate will join the House for a Joint Meeting of Congress to receive His Holiness Pope Francis.  It is possible the Senate may act this week on legislation to fund the government.

White House:

On Monday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.

On Tuesday, the President, the First Lady, the Vice President, and Dr. Biden will greet His Holiness Pope Francis on his arrival at Joint Base Andrews in the United States.

On Wednesday, the President and the First Lady will welcome Pope Francis to the White House. During the visit, the President and the Pope will continue the dialogue, which they began during the President’s visit to the Vatican in March 2014, on their shared values and commitments on a wide range of issues. These issues include caring for the marginalized and the poor; advancing economic opportunity for all; serving as good stewards of the environment; protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom around the world; and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities.

On Thursday, the President will host a private dinner for Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China.

On Friday, the President and the First Lady will welcome President Xi and Madame Peng Liyuan to the White House for an official State Visit. This reciprocates President Obama’s State Visit to China in November 2014. President Xi’s visit will present an opportunity to expand U.S.-China cooperation on a range of global, regional, and bilateral issues of mutual interest, while also enabling President Obama and President Xi to address areas of disagreement constructively.

On Sunday, the President will travel to New York, NY for the United Nations General Assembly.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The Pope is expected to draw attention to immigration issues when he meets with President Obama and addresses a joint session of Congress this week.  In his remarks, and at other planned events, he is expected to highlight the contributions of immigrants and the importance of welcoming communities.

Appropriations – Congress has until September 30th to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government, and just a few legislative days.  It is expected this funding vehicle will be short-term, likely through December, setting up an end of year fight over a variety of tax and spending issues.  Following last week’s votes to defund Planned Parenthood, the House may vote as soon as Thursday or Friday on an appropriations bill that is not likely to have controversial policy riders.  The Rules Committee has granted the House permission to take up the measure under “martial law,” a procedure that grants Leadership the authority to seek a rule and vote on a bill in the same day.  The Rules Committee has also waived a requirement that the rules may only be suspended on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and the last six days of session.  Both of these moves are designed to allow for greater flexibility to pass time-sensitive and somewhat delicate legislation.  Elsewhere, it is rumored that if the House is unable to vote this week on a spending bill, the Senate may act first to expedite the process.  For its part, the White House has signaled that it will sign a clean short-term bill that maintains sequestration level spending.  This is seen as a necessary condition to begin budget negotiations.

Nutrition – The Senate Agriculture Committee postponed a previously scheduled a mark-up Thursday on legislation to reauthorize child nutrition programs.  The previous authorization, which led to robust school nutrition guidelines, expires September 30th.  It is possible that these programs could be extended in a spending bill, but it is more likely that lawmakers will seek to reach common ground on a full reauthorization throughout the fall.

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.  Conferees are likely to be named at some point in October.