Weekly Legislative Update
Week of February 8, 2016
Week of February 8th
The House and Senate are both in session this week. The House will vote on
under suspension of the rules on Tuesday evening, mainly related to veterans' affairs. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the following three bills: (1) the "Scientific Research in the National Interest Act" (
), which would tighten regulations for the National Science Foundation to award federal grants for science research; (2) the "Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2015" (
), which would require the Treasury Secretary to report to Congress on a detailed long-term debt-reduction plan whenever the country's borrowing authority limit is set to be breached; and (3) the "Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015" (
), which would require the Food and Drug Administration to revise nutrition disclosure requirements for restaurants. On Wednesday, the Senate will vote on the "North Korea Sanctions Enhancement Act of 2016" (
), which would authorize President Obama to apply sanctions to individuals, foreign governments and financial institutions involved in prohibited transactions with North Korea. The Senate will also resume consideration of the "Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015" (
) this week after the Senate failed to advance the bill last Thursday.
President Obama will deliver his $4 trillion fiscal year 2017 budget request to Congress on Tuesday, a massive document that will lay out the Administration's spending priorities for the upcoming fiscal cycle. In a break from tradition, the House and Senate Budget Committee chairmen, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), said they would not hold hearings with Shaun Donovan, the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, to go through the budget request. The Obama Administration has said it will stick to the $1.070 trillion budget authority top-line for base discretionary appropriations for 2017 and put forth a $59 billion request for war funds. House Republicans are already trying to determine what top-line figure to use in their budget resolution, which will set the outline for their twelve FY 2017 spending bills. The House Budget Committee is set to mark up the House budget in the last week of February, with the full House set to vote on it during the first week of March. A parade of Obama Administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen are set to appear at Congressional hearings this week to talk about the Administration's budget request.
News reports have already leaked some details of President Obama's FY 2017 budget request, including: (1) a $1.1 billion investment in fighting opioid addiction; (2) a $1 billion infusion to speed the development of cancer treatments by providing new mandatory funds not subject to the appropriations process; (3) at least $32 billion per year in new spending aimed at reducing carbon emissions through transportation - the proposal includes $2 billion per year for vehicle research, $20 billion per year to change traffic patterns, bolster mass transit and fund high speed rail, and $10 billion to states and localities to improve regional transportation systems; the transportation infrastructure and new vehicle technology investments are to be paid for by a $10/barrel fee on oil; (4) $900 million and a permanent reauthorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF); (5) a proposal to reduce the bite of the unpopular "Cadillac tax" on high-cost health insurance plans, set to start in 2020; and (6) a proposal to give states that have not yet expanded their Medicaid programs three full years of federal funding under the Affordable Care Act.
House Passes Bill Treating Municipal Securities as High-Quality Liquid Assets - NATaT Priority
On February 1, the House passed by voice vote
, a bill "t
o require the appropriate Federal banking agencies to treat certain municipal obligations as level 2A liquid assets, and for other purposes." The bill would
further expand the ability of banks to count municipal securities as high-quality liquid assets under the Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR).
H.R. 2209 will encourage financial institutions to continue investing in local communities. The bill allows banks to use highly rated municipal bonds to help satisfy new regulations that threaten to stop the flow of funding for infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and schools. Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) sponsored the bill, which the House Financial Services Committee passed by a vote of
on November 4, 2015. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has stated through a spokesman that either he or a fellow Democrat will be offering a companion bill and will "get it done in the Senate."
House Republican Leadership Announces Six New Policy Task Forces
On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
the formation of six committee-led task forces charged with developing a "bold, pro-growth agenda that will be presented to the country in the months ahead." The task forces, comprised of committee chairs of jurisdiction, will "seek input from all members to ensure their ideas and perspectives are reflected in this agenda." The six task forces will focus on national security, a tax code rewrite, a health care overhaul, poverty and welfare, regulations, and constitutional authority. The task forces will begin their work by scheduling listening sessions with members. The goal is for them to produce their ideas sometime this spring, in advance of the selection of a Republican presidential nominee. House leaders have said that they expect that whomever is the nominee, that candidate will want to embrace the House's agenda. Speaker Ryan announced that five-point 2016 agenda after a GOP retreat last month, saying that House Republicans would build ideas that would show voters in the upcoming elections what the GOP could accomplish if a Republican were elected to the White House. The six task forces pick up the themes of Ryan's five-point agenda, but add a separate panel to look for ways to change the regulatory system, something the speaker had previous grouped with restoring the constitution and checking the power of the executive branch.
Senate Fails To Advance Energy Bill
The Senate last week hoped to finish the first major energy bill to hit the chamber's floor since 2007, the "Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015" (
), but disagreements on an amendment to help Flint, Michigan address its water crisis ultimately kept Democrats from voting to invoke closure on the measure. On February 2, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said that Republicans and Democrats were "very close" to an agreement on a Flint amendment to the bill that would provide $600 million in aid for the city and be fully offset, but Republicans are suspicious of allocating federal funds to resolve a state problem that isn't properly understood. After the Senate failed to invoke cloture on the bill on February 4 by a vote of
, with 38 Democrats and 12 Republicans opposing the move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) would work on the bill over this past weekend. As of Monday afternoon, Sens. Murkowski and Cantwell
still haven't come to an agreement on an aid package for Flint's drinking water crisis.
As of February 4,
in total have been filed in the Senate for consideration to S. 2012. The Senate considered 27 amendments to S. 2012 last week, passing 21 by voice vote (see
), including the "Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development (
) Act of 2016", and failed to pass the following six amendments by recorded vote, which needed 60 votes to pass:
- Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) Amendment #3023 (would modify the authority of the President of the United States to declare national monuments): not agreed to by a vote of 47-48;
- Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) Amendment #3115 (would establish a Federal energy efficiency resource standard for electricity and natural gas suppliers): not agreed to by a vote of 43-52;
- Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) Amendment #3030 (would establish deadlines and expedite permits for certain natural gas gathering lines on Federal land and Indian land): not agreed to by a vote of 52-43;
- Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) Amendment #2996 (would require each federal agency to repeal or amend 1 or more rules before issuing or amending a rule): not agreed to by a vote of 49-46;
- Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) Amendment #3176 (would phase out tax preferences for fossil fuels on the same schedule as the phase out of wind facilities tax credits): not agreed to by a vote of 45-50; and
- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) Amendment #3125 (would require campaign finance disclosures for certain persons benefitting from fossil fuel activities): not agreed to by a vote of 43-52.
House Fails to Override ObamaCare Veto
On February 2, the House failed to pass, by a vote of
, an override of President Obama's January 8
of a reconciliation package, the "Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015" (
), which would have repealed the Affordable Care Act and defunded Planned Parenthood for one year. The House needed 290 votes (two-thirds of the House) to successfully override President Obama's veto, and fell 49 votes short of that threshold. Republicans got the bill to President Obama's desk under the process known as reconciliation, which allowed the measure to bypass a filibuster and clear the Senate with 51 votes. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) says that House Republicans will finally put forward a replacement this year, though he has stopped short of committing to putting it in legislative language or holding a vote on it.
House Passes Public Housing Reform Bill
On February 2, the House passed, by a vote of
, the "Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2015" (
). The bill makes several incremental changes to various public housing laws including: Housing and Urban Development (HUD) major rental assistance programs, Section 8 Tenant and Project Based Rental Assistance programs, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Rural Housing Service, the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance grants, and many additional programs in order to try to extend affordable housing options to more low-income families. The White House issued a
Statement of Administration Policy
for H.R. 3700, stating that the "
Administration appreciates the bipartisan effort to modernize and improve Federal housing programs in H.R. 3700 [...] The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress on continuing to improve the bill as it moves forward."
House Passes Iran Sanctions Bill
On February 2, the House passed, by a vote of
, the "Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act" (
). The bill would restrict President Obama's ability to lift sanctions on Iranian entities, thereby preventing the U.S. from carrying out its commitment under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement signed in Vienna, Austria on July 14, 2015. Specifically, the bill would require the President to certify that the de-listed entity has not knowingly facilitated a significant financial transaction or provided significant financial services to IRGC or terrorist affiliates; has not been designated by Treasury for material support to terrorism or proliferation activities; or been engaged in money laundering. By requiring a certification that an entity has never engaged in the specified activities, the bill effectively imposes a permanent obstacle on JCPOA implementation. It would specifically prevent delisting of 400 banks, companies, and individuals engaged in Iran's nuclear program - particularly the Central Bank. The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy
to veto H.R. 3662, stating that "
The President has made it clear that he will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of the JCPOA."
Tuesday, February 9
- House Rules Committee meets to formulate a rule for H.R. 3293, the "Scientific Research in the National Interest Act."
- Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife hearing entitled "Federal Interactions with State Management of Fish and Wildlife."
- Full Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee markup of: S. 2030, the "Advancing Targeted Therapies for Rare Diseases Act of 2015"; S. 1622, the "FDA Device Accountability Act of 2015"; S. 2014, the "Next Generation Researchers Act"; S. 800, the "Enhancing the Stature and Visibility of Medical Rehabilitation Research at NIH Act"; S. 849, the "Advancing Research for Neurological Diseases Act of 2015"; S. ____, the "Preventing Superbugs and Protecting Patients Act"; and S. ____, the "Improving Health Information Technology."
Wednesday, February 10
- House Rules Committee meets to formulate a rule for H.R. 2017, the "Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015."
- Full House Agriculture Committee hearing entitled "Review the 2016 Agenda for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission."
- House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies budget hearing for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
- House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies budget hearing for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
- House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education hearing entitled "Next Steps for K-12 Education: Implementing the Promise to Restore State and Local Control."
- House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing entitled "Examining Medicaid and CHIP's Federal Medical Assistance Percentage."
- House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade hearing entitled "Industry Perspectives on the Consumer Product Safety Commission."
- Full House Financial Services Committee hearing entitled "Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy."
- Full House Homeland Security Committee hearing entitled "National Security and Law Enforcement: Breaking the New Visa Waiver Law to Appease Iran."
- House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans hearing entitled "The Costly Impacts of Predation and Conflicting Federal Statutes on Native and Endangered Fish Species."
- House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittees on National Security and Government Operations hearing entitled "The President's Waiver of Restrictions on the Visa Waiver Program."
- Full House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing entitled "Midnight Regulations: Examining Executive Bran Overreach."
- House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade hearing entitled "Export Control Reform: Challenges for Small Business? (Part I)"
- House Small Business Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations hearing entitled "Oversight of the Office of Advocacy and the Office of the National Ombudsman at the SBA."
- Full House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing entitled "Review of ATC Reform Proposals."
- Full House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing entitled "U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2017."
- House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity hearing entitled "A Review of VA's Loan Guaranty and Specially Adaptive Housing Grant Programs (SAH).
- Full House Ways and Means Committee hearing entitled "Overview of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request."
- Full Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing to "unveil and examine a new, troubling scam by global drug traffickers perpetrated against our nation's seniors."
- Full Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing entitled "The Importance of Enacting a New Water Resources Development Act."
- Full Senate Finance Committee hearing entitled "Revenue Proposals in the Administration's Fiscal Year 2017 Budget."
- Full Senate Finance Committee hearing entitled "The President's Fiscal Year 2017 Budget."
- Full Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs markup of: H.R.3572, the "DHS Headquarters Reform and Improvement Act of 2015"; S.1526, the "Construction Consensus Procurement Improvement Act of 2015"; S.236, the "Duplication Elimination Act of 2015"; S.1411, the "Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2015"; S.795, a bill to "enhance whistleblower protection for contractor and grantee employees"; S.2450, the "Administrative Leave Act of 2016"; S.2418, the "Countering Online Recruitment of Violent Extremists Act of 2015"; S.2340, the "Making Electronic Government Accountable By Yielding Tangible Efficiencies(MEGABYTE) Act of 2015"; H.R.3361, the "Department of Homeland Security Insider Threat and Mitigation Act of 2015"; S.Res.104, a resolution "to express the sense of the Senate regarding the success of Operation Streamline and the importance of prosecuting first time illegal border crossers"; H.R.1656, the "Secret Service Improvements Act of 2015"; an original bill entitled, "DHS Acquisition and Accountability Reform Act"; an original bill entitled, "Combat Terrorist Use of Social Media Act of 2016"; an original bill entitled, "Federal Property Management Reform Act of 2016"; an original bill "to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to build partnerships to prevent violence by extremists"; an original resolution "directing the Senate Legal Counsel to bring civil action to enforce a subpoena of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations"; and the nomination of Beth F. Cobert, of California, to be Director of the Office of Personnel Management for a term of four years.
- Full Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Breaking the Cycle: Mental Health and the Justice System."
Thursday, February 11
- Full House Agriculture Committee hearing entitled "Consideration of the impacts of Environmental Protection Agency's actions on the rural economy."
- House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture hearing entitled "Foot and Mouth Disease: Are We Prepared?"
- House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government budget hearing for the Internal Revenue Service.
- House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs oversight hearing of United States Engagement in Central America.
- House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies budget hearing for the Office of the Secretary, Department of Agriculture.
- House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies budget hearing for the Bureau of Reclamation.
- House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance hearing entitled "The Future of Housing in America: Examining the Health of the Federal Housing Administration."
- House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit hearing entitled "Short-term, Small Dollar Lending: The CFPB's Assault on Access to Credit and Trampling of State and Tribal Sovereignty."
- House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence hearing entitled "The Future of Iranian Terror and Its Threat to the US Homeland."
- House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications hearing entitled "Improving the Department of Homeland Security's Biological Detection and Surveillance Programs."
- Full House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Is the Investor Visa Program an Underperforming Asset?"
- House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet hearing entitled "Resolving Issues with Confiscated Property in Cuba, Havana Club Rum and Other Property."
- House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands legislative hearing on: H.R. 87, the "Shiloh National Military Park Boundary Adjustment and Parker's Crossroads Battlefield Designation Act"; H.R. 295, a bill "To reauthorize the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Preservation program"; H.R. 1621, a bill "To modify the boundary of Petersburg National Battlefield in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and for other purposes"; and H.R. 2817, the "National Historic Preservation Amendments Act of 2015."
- Full House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing entitled "IRS: Reviewing Its Legal Obligations, Document Preservation, and Data Security."
- Full House Science, Space and Technology Committee markup of H.R. ____, the "FAA Leadership In Groundbreaking High-Tech Research and Development Act" (FLIGHT R&D Act).
- Full House Small Business Committee hearing entitled "Export Control Reform: Challenges for Small Business? (Part II)"
- House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health hearing entitled "Choice Consolidation: Improving VA Community Care Billing and Reimbursement."
- Full House Ways and Means Committee hearing entitled "Overview of the President's Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request with U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew."
- Full Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing entitled "The Semiannual Monetary Report to Congress."
- Full Senate Finance Committee hearing entitled "The President's Fiscal Year 2017 Budget."
- Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management hearing entitled "Examining Agency Discretion in Setting and Enforcing Regulatory Fines and Penalties."
- Full Senate Judiciary Committee markup of: S. 247, the "Expatriate Terrorist Act"; S. 483, the "Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015"; and S. 524, the "Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015."
Friday, February 12
- House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies budget hearing for the Office of the Inspector General.
- House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing entitled "Outbreaks, Attacks, and Accidents: Combatting Biological Threats."