Legislative Update
Week of July 15, 2019
The House and Senate are both in session this week. The House will consider 22 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019 (H.R. 748), which repeals the 40% excise tax on certain employer-sponsored health insurance plans known as the “Cadillac Tax.” The House will also vote on the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018, 2019, and 2020 (H.R. 3494), which authorizes funding and enables comprehensive congressional oversight of elements of the U.S. Intelligence Community; a resolution of criminal contempt for Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for defying subpoenas issued by the House Oversight and Reform Committee for documents explaining the Trump Administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census; three Senate-passed resolutions (S.J. Resolutions 36, 37, and 38) disapproving of various proposed exports of certain defense articles and services to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries by the Trump Administration; and the Raise the Wage Act (H.R. 582), which would increase the current $7.25/hour federal minimum wage to $15/hour by 2025, and then adjusted annually based on median wages.
The Senate will vote on four judicial and executive nominations: Peter Phipps to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit; Clifton Corker to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee; Lynda Blanchard to be U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Slovenia; and Donald Tapia to be U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica. Additionally, the Senate will vote on four international tax treaty protocols, which would amend existing bilateral treaties with Spain, Switzerland, Japan, and Luxembourg.
With just eight legislative days remaining in July when the House and Senate are both in session, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have both said that the debt limit needs to be lifted this month before Congress recesses for its August break. Both sides are still working on striking a budget deal that would lift defense and non-defense spending caps for FYs 2020 and 2021, with a debt limit hike potentially attached to the deal. However, if Congressional leaders and the White House cannot agree to a spending deal within the next two weeks, Congress will be forced to either vote on raising the debt limit as a stand-alone bill or attach the debt limit increase to a bill that would be tough for members to vote against: the 9/11 first-responders bill (H.R. 1327) that the House passed on July 12.
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