Weekly Washington Outlook — November 9, 2015

 White House at Night

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

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House:

The House is in recess, returning Monday, November 16.

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will vote to confirm Scott Allen to be the US Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Senate will also resume consideration of the Military Construction – Veteran’s Affairs spending bill, and has scheduled a vote Tuesday morning on House-backed legislation to authorize defense programs. In observance of Veteran’s Day on Wednesday, the Senate will likely recess for the balance of the week.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. The two leaders will discuss regional security issues, including implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and countering Tehran’s destabilizing activities. They will also address Israel’s relations with the Palestinians, the situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and the need for the genuine advancement of a two-state solution. In the evening, the President will deliver remarks at an Organizing for Action event and then deliver remarks and answer questions at an Organizing for Action dinner.

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

On Wednesday, the president will host a breakfast to honor veterans and their families. Afterward, President Obama will visit Arlington National Cemetery to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony and deliver remarks.

On Thursday, the president will award Captain Florent A. Groberg, U.S. Army (Ret), the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry.

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

On Saturday, the President will depart for Turkey, the Philippines, and Malaysia. In Turkey, President Obama will participate in the G-20 Leaders Summit, where he will spur international efforts to ensure strong, sustainable, and balanced global economic growth. In the Philippines, he will participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, and in Malaysia he will participate in the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit. The president’s visits to the Philippines and Malaysia underscore America’s support for Asia’s regional institutions, which enhance security and prosperity, while also advancing the U.S. strategy to rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region in all of its dimensions, including political, economic, security, and people-to-people engagement. These visits also will support President Obama’s efforts to expand opportunities for American businesses and workers to sell their products in some of the world’s fastest-growing markets. Throughout the trip, he will emphasize the importance of reaching an ambitious and durable global climate change agreement in Paris.

Also this Week:

Appropriations – This week, the Senate will continue its consideration of the Military Construction – Veteran’s Affairs spending bill. The measure reflects the recently-passed bipartisan budget agreement, and some believe could be the legislative vehicle for an omnibus spending bill later in December. This bill is also the first appropriations bill Democrats have not blocked. Looking ahead, an omnibus remains the most likely outcome to keep the government open after December 11, but the House next week plans to move to several stand-alone spending bills tentatively including Agriculture and Financial Services. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last week also commented that he would not rule out including controversial policy riders in the December spending vehicle; the White House and Democrats remain committed to clean funding bills.

Education – There is much speculation that staff for the Senate HELP Committee and the House Education and Workforce Committee are close to finalizing a conference report reconciling their respective ESEA reauthorizations. It is rumored that conferees could be appointed as soon as next week. However, it is also rumored that large issues remain unresolved related to funding, assessment, and others.

Tax – With a new Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in place, discussion of an end-of-year tax deal is starting to heat up. Last week, Jason Furman, Chairman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, gave an interview calling on Congress to renew expired tax credits. He told Bloomberg TV, “I think it would be hypocritical if Congress went ahead and passed a two-year tax extender bill without paying for it, without doing anything for the middle class and for working families and it’s something this administration would oppose if we see that coming forward.” This interview comes as lawmakers continue to try to make certain credits permanent, including Research and Development, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit in order to change their baseline for a future tax reform package. It is possible that a transportation bill could provide the leverage needed, but many involved still view this as a long-shot.