Weekly Washington Outlook — December 7, 2015

White House at Night

What to Watch This Week:



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

  • 614– Federal Improper Payments Coordination Act of 2015(Sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 1321– Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone / Energy and Commerce Committee)

On Tuesday, the House will consider the following: 

  • R. 2795– FRIENDS Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee / Homeland Security Committee)
  • R. 3842– Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers Reform and Improvement Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Buddy Carter / Homeland Security Committee)
  • R. 3859– HSA Technical Corrections Act, as amended(Sponsored by Rep. Scott Perry / Homeland Security Committee)
  • R. 3869– State and Local Cyber Protection Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Will Hurd / Homeland Security Committee)
  • R. 3875– Department of Homeland Security CBRNE Defense Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Michael McCaul / Homeland Security Committee)
  • R. 3578– DHS Science and Technology Reform and Improvement Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. John Ratcliffe / Homeland Security Committee)
  • R. 158– Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Candice Miller / Judiciary Committee)
  • 808– Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. John Thune / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • R. 3750– First Responders Passport Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa / Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • R. 3766– Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe / Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • R. 2241– Global Health Innovation Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Albio Sires / Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • Concur in the Senate Amendment to R. 2297– Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Ed Royce / Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • R. 3831– Securing Fairness in Regulatory Timing Act of 2015(Sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brady / Ways and Means Committee)

On Wednesday and the balance of the week, the House will consider:

  • R. 2130– Red River Private Property Protection Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry / Natural Resources Committee)

The House may also vote on legislation to extend certain provision of the tax code, appropriations legislation, a conference report related to customs and trade, and budget reconciliations legislation.


On Monday, a roll-call vote is planned on the nomination of Travis Randall McDonough to be a U.S. district judge for the eastern district of Tennessee.

On Tuesday, the Senate will take a procedural vote and vote on passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act.  This legislation is a conference report reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education 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 and globally. 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.

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

On Wednesday, President Obama will travel to Charleston, W.V., 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 U.S.-Pakistan relationship and provide an opportunity to strengthen our cooperation on economic growth, trade, energy, health, climate change, nuclear security, counterterrorism, and regional stability. The president looks forward to discussions with Prime Minister Sharif on ways we can advance our shared interest in a stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan.

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

Supreme Court:

Evenwel v. AbbottTomorrow, the Court will hear a case out of Texas challenging the long-standing application of “one person, one vote.” Currently, districts are drawn to include relatively equal populations, based on the total population of the state. Evenwel v. Abbott challenges that practice and asserts a different metric should be used – total eligible voters, for example. The case involves two voters who argue that, because they live in voting districts with a high number of eligible voters, their votes are less valuable than those in other districts with fewer eligible voters. Evenwel raises the question of who qualifies for representation in our democracy. Texas has a large and growing Hispanic population, and nearly half of students in Texas public schools are Latino. If eligible voters are used as the apportioning metric, Hispanic communities with large families could see their voting power diluted, as children would be considered non-voters. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is holding a press conference about the case scheduled for 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

Fisher v. University of TexasWednesday, the Court will hear another Texas case, this one about the legality of affirmative action in schools. Abigail Fisher, a white student who applied for admission to the University of Texas in 2008, says she was denied admission solely because of her race. This will be the second time this case comes before the Supreme Court; in 2013, the Court sent the case back for closer scrutiny of the University’s use of racial preferences.

Also this Week:

Education – The Senate is expected to vote on a bipartisan conference report reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) on Tuesday. The report already passed the House last week in a landslide and is expected to pass easily in the Senate. The President will soon sign this legislation into law.

Tax – The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are still in negotiations to make certain business tax credits and expansions to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) permanent. It is possible lawmakers may have a deal as soon as this week. The EITC and CTC were enhanced in 2009 as part of the stimulus, but these enhancements expire in 2017. However, it has been reported that conservative members of Congress are pushing to include “program integrity” provisions targeted at immigrants in a final package.

Appropriations – Stopgap funding for the government runs out this Friday, December 11, yet the precise plan to pass a spending bill before then remains unclear.  House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Friday deadline might be tough to meet with a full spending bill, meaning a short-term continuing resolution may be needed to allow Congress to finalize an expected $1.1 trillion omnibus. Some of the policy riders that are holding-up negotiations include funding for Planned Parenthood, restricting refugee entry, modifying or restricting the Affordable Care Act, and blocking the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, among others.

Immigration & National Security – The House Judiciary Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee is holding a hearing Wednesday on oversight of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Director Leon Rodriguez is expected to testify. Elsewhere, the House Oversight and Government Reform National Security Subcommittee is holding a hearing Thursday on the visa waiver program, a much-discussed topic following the terror attacks in Paris.  The Senate Judiciary Committee is convening a similar hearing on Wednesday.

Health: The House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee is holding a hearing tomorrow on state insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The hearing will examine the sustainability challenges of the statewide exchanges, as well as how Federal establishment grant dollars were spent in exchanges’ creation.

Economy: The House Finance Committee will hold an oversight hearing of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), a panel born out of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010. The Council is charged with identifying risks to the financial stability of the United States and ensuring market stability. Expected witnesses include the heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).