Weekly Washington Outlook — March 21, 2016

US Supreme Court

What to Watch This Week:


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

  • R. 1670– National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015(Sponsored by Rep. Stephen Lynch / House Administration Committee)
  • House Amendment to 192 – Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2016, as amended (Sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander / Education and Workforce Committee)
  • R. 4314– Counterterrorism Screening and Assistance Act of 2016, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Lee Zeldin / Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • 2393– Foreclosure Relief and Extension for Servicemembers Act of 2015(Sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • Concur in the Senate Amendment to R. 4721 – Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • 1180– Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

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

  • R. 4742– Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act(Sponsored by Rep. Elizabeth Esty / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • R. 4755– Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act (Sponsored by Rep. Barbara Comstock / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • R. 482– Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Boundary Revision Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Sanford Bishop / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 2857– To facilitate the addition of park administration at the Coltsville National Historical Park, and for other purposes(Sponsored by Rep. John Larson / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 4119– Gulf Islands National Seashore Land Exchange Act of 2016(Sponsored by Rep. Steven Palazzo / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 4472– Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act (Sponsored by Rep. Todd Young / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 4336– Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Martha McSally / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

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

  • R. 2745– SMARTER Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Blake Farenthold / Judiciary Committee)


The Senate is in recess this week and next, returning Monday, April 4.

White House:

The president will spend this week in Cuba. On Monday, he will participate in an official state visit, including a bilateral meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro and a state dinner. President Obama plans to address the Cuban people directly in a speech on Tuesday, and is also expected to meet with dissidents and watch an exhibition baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National team. More details on the president’s trip can be found here.

Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in two cases related to the Puerto Rican debt crisis: Puerto Rico v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust and Acosta-Febo v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust. The cases concern a measure passed by the Puerto Rican legislature in 2014, known as the Recovery Act, which allows the island’s utilities to restructure debt under local law. Tuesday’s arguments will affect more than $20 billion owed by the Commonwealth’s utilities, including $9 billion owed by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). A decision upholding Puerto Rico’s restructuring measure could give the island negotiating power to address a larger portion of its $70 billion debt. The case could be heard by as few as seven justices; in addition to the vacancy of the late Antonin Scalia, Justice Samuel Alito may have to recuse himself due to a financial conflict of interest. For more information, see a Bloomberg analysis of the cases.

Also this Week:

Budget/Appropriations – Members of the Cabinet will continue to appear on Capitol Hill this week to make their budget requests to start the annual appropriations process. Among these, Education Secretary John King is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee.  This week’s appropriations hearings come as the House continues to find a path forward on passage of a budget resolution.  Budget Committee Tom Price (R-Ga.) advanced a budget last week out of Committee, but its prospects on the floor remain uncertain due to opposition over spending levels from conservative lawmakers.  House Leadership is expected to meet this week with members of the Freedom Caucus to determine how or if to move forward.  Several Committees have been tasked with identifying spending cuts to entitlement and other mandatory programs to help garner additional support for the budget, but the prospect for this legislation is similarly linked to the budget resolution.  House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) announced, however, that he would move forward with drafting appropriations bills regardless of the outcome of the budget resolution.

Immigration: The House Homeland Security Committee plans a mark-up Wednesday of H.R. 4482, the Southwest Border Security Threat Assessment Act of 2016. The bill calls for the Homeland Security Department to conduct a Southwest border threat assessment, and for legislation with a focus on deterring terrorist recruitment.

Education: This week, the Department of Education will convene negotiators as part of its “negotiated rulemaking” process to begin implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Negotiators were nominated by a wide cross-section of stakeholders and represent the interests of teachers, administrators, and the civil rights community, among others.  They will address issues relating to assessment and a “supplement not supplant” requirement for federal funds.  The Education Department released materials earlier this month to kick off discussions.

Tax – The House Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee will hear proposals from Committee members on Tuesday about tax reform.  The hearing will likely focus on sales and excise taxes.

Housing – The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance will convene a hearing Tuesday on “The Future of Housing in America: Government Regulations and the High Cost of Housing.”

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