Weekly Washington Outlook — October 19, 2015

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What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

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House:

On Tuesday, the House will vote on the following legislation under suspension of the rules:

1)      H.R. 1428 – Judicial Redress Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner / Judiciary Committee)

2)      H.R. 3572 – DHS Headquarters Reform and Improvement Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Michael McCaul / Homeland Security Committee)

3)       H.R. 3350 – Know the CBRN Terrorism Threats to Transportation Act (Sponsored by Rep. Brian Higgins / Homeland Security Committee)

4)       H.R. 3493 – Securing the Cities Act of 2015, as amended(Sponsored by Rep. Dan Donovan / Homeland Security Committee)

5)       H.R. 1315 – To amend section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code, to require that annual budget submissions of the President to Congress provide an estimate of the cost per taxpayer of the deficit, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Luke Messer / Budget Committee)

6)      H. Res. 348 – Supporting the right of the people of Ukraine to freely elect their government and determine their future, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline / Foreign Affairs Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will also consider legislation under suspension of the rules

1)       S. 1362 – To amend title XI of the Social Security Act to clarify waiver authority regarding programs of all-inclusive care for the elderly (PACE programs) (Sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper / Ways and Means Committee)

2)      H.R. 692 – Default Prevention Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock / Ways and Means Committee)

3)      H.R. 10 – SOAR Reauthorization Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. John Boehner / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

The balance of the week, the House is scheduled to vote on the following:

1)      H.R. 1937 – National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mark Amodei / Natural Resources Committee)

2)       H.R. ___ – Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Price / Budget Committee / Ways and Means Committee / Energy and Commerce Committee / Education and the Workforce Committee)

Senate:

The Senate has scheduled a procedural vote on Tuesday on S.2146, Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host a roundtable with CEOs to discuss efforts to tackle climate change both in the United States as well as on a global scale. The discussion will focus on how to further efforts around carbon mitigation, sustainability and resiliency and how technologies are emerging to support and scale these efforts. In the evening, President Obama will host the second White House Astronomy Night, bringing together students, teachers, scientists, astronauts and others to spend an evening stargazing. Participants will also learn about astronomical discoveries and participate in space-related educational activities to help promote the importance of STEM education and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers who will explore the stars.

On Tuesday, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

On Wednesday, President Obama will travel to Charleston, West Virginia, to host a community discussion on the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic. Communities in West Virginia and in states across the country have been developing and implementing responses that involve all sectors of their communities. The president will discuss local, state and federal efforts as well as private sector initiatives with those who are addressing the epidemic on a daily basis.

On Thursday, President Obama will host Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan at the White House. The visit will highlight the enduring nature of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship and provide an opportunity to strengthen cooperation on issues of mutual interest, including economic growth, trade and investment, clean energy, global health, climate change, nuclear security, counterterrorism, and regional stability.

On Friday, the president will participate in an event with the DNC’s Women’s Leadership Forum and attend a DNC roundtable in Washington.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The Senate has scheduled a procedural vote this week on S. 2146, the “Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act.” This legislation is a revised version of a bill that was pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee for several months, but was never acted on given uncertainty that it could be reported out favorably. The bill would block certain federal funding streams to local law enforcement agencies that do not coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security. It would also impose a five-year mandatory minimum sentence on illegal re-entry. Local sheriffs, domestic violence advocates, and others have expressed strong opposition.

Sentencing Rules – The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday will hear from Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates and Michael Mukasey, President George W. Bush’s third Attorney General, on the need to enact criminal justice reform. On Thursday, the Committee has scheduled a mark-up of S. 2123, bipartisan legislation that would eliminate certain mandatory life sentences for nonviolent offenders, provide judges more leniency in sentencing for low-level drug crimes and revise standards for juvenile corrections and parole.

Federal Budget – The Senate Budget Committee scheduled a hearing Wednesday on overhauling the federal budget process. Michael Peterson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Director of the Congressional Budget Office are both scheduled to testify. Elsewhere, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced last week that budget negotiations with the Congressional Leadership and the White House must include entitlement reforms. Democrats oppose including this element, potentially leading to a stalemate in the talks before they have even truly begun. The Administration’s goal was to reach a one or two year framework that included sequester relief and maintain parity with defense and non-defense spending cuts.

Debt Limit – This week, the House plans to vote on legislation (H.R. 692) that would allow Treasury to continue to borrow above the debt limit to make certain payments if lawmakers fail to act to raise it. The debt limit will likely be reached in early November; Congress could act as soon as next week to address this.

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 the coming weeks. Elsewhere, the House will vote this week to extend the D.C. school voucher program (H.R. 10) through 2021. Also this week, the Administration is launching a new higher education website, www.bettermakeroom.org, to encourage young people age 14-19 to seek education beyond high school.

Healthcare – The House will soon act on reconciliation legislation approved by the House Budget Committee that would repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act including the individual and employer mandates. It would also defund Planned Parenthood and prohibit Medicaid from reimbursing physicians for abortion, except those resulting from rape or incest. Senate action is expected after the House vote.

Puerto Rico – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will convene a hearing Thursday on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. Lawmakers will examine long-term solutions to address the island’s solvency.

Republican Leadership Election – Following the surprise resignation of House Speaker John Boehner, the Republican conference has still not coalesced around a leader. While many are advocating Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan take on the position, he has expressed extreme reluctance. The conference will meet Wednesday to discuss a path forward. At the moment, an election has not yet been scheduled and Speaker Boehner will remain in the position until a successor is chosen.

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