Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of February 4, 2019  
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are in session this week. The House will vote on 9 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Tiffany Joslyn Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 494), which would reauthorize the Justice Department's Juvenile Accountability Block Grant program at $30 million per year through FY 2023. The House will also vote on the Veterans' Access to Child Care Act (H.R. 840), which would require the VA Department to provide child care assistance to eligible veterans while they receive mental health care at a VA facility.  
 
The Senate will vote on several amendments, and on invoking cloture, to the Strengthening America's Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 (S. 1), a package of measures on the Middle East, including authorizing at least $3.3 billion annually through FY 2028 for assistance to Israel and provisions that would allow U.S. state and local governments to adopt and enforce measures against entities or contractors that engage in a boycott, divestment, or sanctions (BDS) activity targeting Israel. The Senate will then vote on a motion to proceed to a broad package of 100 public lands, natural resources, and water bills, the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47). The bill, which Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced on January 8, has strong backing from members of both parties. The bill could face a lengthy debate due to concerns from some conservative Senators regarding the inclusion of the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which expired on September 30, 2018. The Democratic-controlled House is likely to take up the Senate-passed measure and pass it quickly, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raรบl Grijalva (D-AZ) said last week.
 
President Trump will deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday at 9pm ET/6pm PT. He is expected to offer an "aspirational" and "visionary" path for the nation even as his relations with lawmakers have soured over his threats to use executive power to bypass them. Trump will call on Congress to work with him on initiatives around infrastructure and health care, while also reaffirming his strategy to toughen immigration enforcement, confront China on trade and actively intervene in the political upheaval in Venezuela. He is also expected to make appeals for bipartisan support and to "heal old wounds." Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the race for Georgia governor in November 2018 but is considered one of the Democratic Party's brightest stars, will deliver the Democrats' official response to the address.  
 
Lawmakers face a self-imposed Friday deadline this week to reach an agreement on the latest round of government funding negotiations ahead of another looming partial government shutdown after Friday, February 15. President Trump could expedite or hinder those talks when he delivers the State of the Union address. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said the 17 Republicans and Democrats on a House-Senate conference committee on Homeland Security appropriations need to wrap up their work by Friday, Feb. 8 to allow time to vote on any plan to resolve the stalemate. While staff members talked over the weekend, real progress is not expected until after party meetings on Tuesday. Trump has declared the current negotiations a waste of time and said last week that his State of the Union address would reveal more of his own plans, including potentially declaring a politically and legally fraught national emergency to circumvent Congress to begin building a border wall.
Week in Review