Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of August 5, 2019  
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are in recess for the next five weeks, returning to Washington, DC on September 9; there will be pro forma sessions on Tuesday and Friday, where members of Congress are allowed to formally introduce new legislation, however, no votes are held and no formal business is conducted.
 
When the Senate returns, it will vote on 13 executive and judicial nominations: Kelly Craft to be Representative of the United States to the UN General Assembly; Elizabeth Darling to be the Department of Health and Human Services' Commissioner on Children, Youth, and Families; Stephen Akard to be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions; Dale Cabaniss to be Director of the Office of Personnel Management; James Byrne to be Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs; Michelle Bowman to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for a 14-year term; Thomas Feddo to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Investment Security; Jennifer Nordquist to be U.S. Executive Director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Stephanie Haines to be U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania; Ada Brown to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Texas; Steven Seeger to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois; Mary McElroy to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Rhode Island; and Stephanie Gallagher to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Maryland. The Senate will also vote on the Ebola Eradication Act of 2019 (S. 1340), which requires the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide foreign assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to address the recent Ebola outbreak.
 
Although President Trump signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 into law on August 2, Congress will still need to pass FY 2020 spending bills in September that adhere to the new $1.3 trillion spending cap to avoid a government shutdown when the next fiscal year begins October 1. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) said his committee plans to start marking up and voting on spending bills when the Senate returns on September 9. Chairman Shelby is likely to issue subcommittee allocations within the next several weeks so that subcommittee chairmen and ranking members can hash out bill text during the August recess. While there is no agreement on how the bill will be handled, it is likely that the first package of spending bills that Congress will pass in September includes the FY 2020 Defense, Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, and Energy-Water Development Appropriations bills. Additionally, a short-term continuing resolution (CR) extending current FY 2019 funding levels is likely for at least some government agencies.
 
The House has already passed ten FY 2020 spending bills, with the Homeland Security Appropriations bill delayed over border funding and the bill funding Congress stalled due to an effort to increase lawmakers' pay. However, the House Appropriations Committee will need to rework several of these spending bills to reduce non-defense accounts by approximately $15 billion to reflect the enacted Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, while defense-related accounts will receive an extra $5 billion. Additionally, Republicans and Democrats, as part of the new budget deal, both agreed not to include any "poison pill" policy riders in the FY 2020 and 2021 spending bills; however, they left that term undefined, and the agreement is non-binding.
 
President Trump is expected to sign an executive order this week aiming to bolster the Medicare program and authorize drug importation from Canada. More executive orders, including one on drug prices, are possible.
Week in Review