This Week In Congress: National Security & Health Care

By: Martin J. Milita, Jr. Esq.

This week the Senate is focused on national security issues. It will attempt to complete work on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and begin consideration of the fiscal year 2016 defense appropriations bill. On the other side of the Capitol, the House is expected to take action on a number of health care-related bills, even while Congress and the president await the Supreme Court’s impending ruling in King v. Burwell, regarding subsidies for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate is scheduled to return today, with votes expected on two noncontroversial nominations. Following these votes, the Senate will resume consideration of the NDAA. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., filed a motion on Thursday to invoke cloture and cut off debate on the bill. The cloture vote is expected on Tuesday morning. Needing the support of 60 senators in order to be successful, the cloture vote is not guaranteed to pass easily on Tuesday, because Senate Democrats have pledged to block the bill over the inclusion of funds for U.S. Department of Defense activities that exceed the spending limits established by the 2011 sequester. The NDAA provides an additional $38 billion in funding for the Pentagon through the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, an account for war-related expenses which is exempt from discretionary caps. Democrats call the move a budgeting gimmick and have tried unsuccessfully to alter the spending framework. Last Tuesday the Senate rejected (46-51) an amendment offered by Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed, D-R.I., to block the additional $38 billion in OCO funding until Congress lifts the sequester. If cloture is invoked on Tuesday, the Senate will have 30 hours to complete work on the NDAA. The amendment process moving forward is unclear, because more than 100 amendments have been filed to the bill, but bill managers do not seem to have an agreement in place on the amendments that will be considered. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., indicated to reporters last week that the Senate will consider at least two amendments following the cloture vote on Tuesday.

The debate over defense funding and sequestration levels will continue after work on the NDAA is wrapped up. Consideration of the FY 2016 Defense Appropriations bill is expected to be the next bill on the Senate agenda. On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the $576 billion defense spending bill. While only three Democratic committee members opposed the bill at the markup, Democratic leaders have pledged to block any vote to begin considering the 2016 defense appropriations bill on the floor as long as it contains the OCO funds for the Department of Defense, while the other appropriations bills are capped at sequester levels. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., last week told reporters that a government shutdown is already looming if congressional Republicans do not negotiate a new budget framework for FY 2016 that lifts the spending caps. President Obama has also threatened to veto the appropriations bills at their current levels. So far, Republican leadership has not indicated a willingness to agree to a budget summit, but neither chamber would have the necessary votes to overcome a presidential veto on any of the appropriations bills.

Consideration of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act in the Senate is also possible later this week. Majority Leader McConnell tried unsuccessfully to attach the measure as an amendment to the NDAA last week, but his effort was met with resistance from Senate Democrats who want to take up the bill independently and offer amendments. The legislation would encourage greater sharing of cyber-threat information between the private sector and government by offering companies expanded liability protections. The measure has bipartisan support, especially in light of the recent high-profile data breaches, and similar legislation passed the House of Representatives in April.

The House will return on Monday and consider several bills naming post offices and other federal facilities, along with a resolution calling on Iran to release the Americans it is holding. The main legislative work starts on Tuesday, when the House tackles the Intelligence Authorization Act, which authorizes a variety of intelligence, cybersecurity and anti-terrorism programs. The legislation had been scheduled for last week but was displaced by Friday’s vote on the so-called “fast-track” trade legislation. That legislation too is likely to return to the House floor early this week. On Friday, two of the three elements of the bill were approved by the House in separate votes. A third component of the bill, however, to reauthorize the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, was defeated. Under the rule, however, all three elements of the bill had to be approved for the entire package to get adopted. After the defeat of the TAA portion of the package, the Majority Leader moved to reconsider that vote, and the House is likely to take up that motion early in the week.

The House will spend the remainder of the week on health care-related legislation, including measures that would repeal two contentious provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The first four of these health care-related bills will be considered under suspension of the rules. The bigger debates will follow on the other two bills. Reported out of the House Ways and Means Committee, the first bill would repeal the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device manufacturers that was included in the Affordable Care Act as a revenue source to help pay for the law’s implementation. A second bill would repeal the controversial Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel which makes recommendations on Medicare cuts. Other legislation up for consideration from the House Ways and Means Committee include proposals requiring more transparency at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and promoting improvements to the Medicare Advantage program for seniors.

The House may also consider H. Con. Res. 55, a resolution directing the president to remove any U.S. troops deployed to Syria or Iraq after Aug. 7, 2014, other than those troops required to protect U.S. facilities and personnel, from those two nations. If it does come to the floor, the resolution is likely to prompt heated and partisan debate.

Appropriations markups for FY 2016 continue in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, even though there is uncertainty about spending levels and the process moving forward. The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark up its Interior and Environment spending bill on Tuesday. Two Senate Appropriations subcommittees will consider their Interior and Environment and Homeland Security bills. The House of Representatives has passed six of the 12 annual appropriations bills, while the Senate has yet to consider a single appropriations bill on the floor. The full Senate Appropriations Committee has approved five of the 12 annual bills.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee meets on Tuesday for a hearing on the recent data breach at the Office of Personnel and Management that exposed the personal information of millions of active and retired federal employees. The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations also meets on Tuesday for a hearing on global cybersecurity and cyberthreats.

The surface transportation authorization and Highway Trust Fund financing remain at the forefront of congressional priorities because the current short-term surface transportation authorization adopted just prior to Memorial Day expires in July. The House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss long-term financing for the Highway Trust Fund, while the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday on the challenges of highway funding, with former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood appearing before the committee as a witness.

Please feel free to contact the author or your other Duane Morris Government Strategies LLC contact to learn more about this week’s legislative session  and what it may mean to you.

A full schedule of congressional hearings for this week is included below.

About Duane Morris Government Strategies, LLC

DMGS is as an ancillary business of international law firm Duane Morris LLP, one of the 100 largest law firms with more than 700 attorneys in the U.S. as well as in the UK and Asia.

DMGS is comprised of 19 experienced professionals representing U.S. and foreign clients at the federal, state and local levels. The firm operates in eight offices including Newark, NJ; Trenton, NJ; Albany, NY; Harrisburg, PA; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Columbus, OH; and Washington, DC.

DMGS draws on decades of experience in building public support and positioning clients’ issues to achieve maximum success through the often-complex governmental decision-making process. DMGS offers a full range of government relations and public affairs services, including lobbying, grant identification/writing/administration, development finance consulting, procurement, grassroots campaigning, public relations, and crisis planning/crisis management needs.

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CALENDAR

Monday, June 15, 2015

Senate Committees

Iran Sanctions

Senate Foreign Relations

Full Committee Closed Briefing

5 p.m., S-116 Capitol Bldg.

TSA and Postal Service Nominations

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Full Committee Markup

5:30 p.m., S-216 Capitol Bldg.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

House Committees

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Interior-Environment

House Appropriations

Full Committee Markup

10:15 a.m., 2359 Rayburn Bldg.

Child Nutrition Assistance Rules and Regulations

House Education and the Workforce

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 2175 Rayburn Bldg.

EPA’s Proposed Ozone Rule and Manufacturing Impact

House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade; House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Energy and Power

Committee Joint Hearing

10:15 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.

Mental Health Legislation

House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Health

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.

Global Cybersecurity Issues

House Financial Services – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2128 Rayburn Bldg.

U.S. Interests at the United Nations

House Foreign Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

TSA Aviation Workforce Vetting

House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Transportation Security

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 311 Cannon Bldg.

Federal Lands Bills

House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Federal Lands

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

Arctic Resources

House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources

Subcommittee Oversight Hearing

10:30 a.m., 1334 Longworth Bldg.

OPM Data Breach

House Oversight and Government Reform

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act

House Education and the Workforce – Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2175 Rayburn Bldg.

Public Safety Broadband Network Update

House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Communications and Technology

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.

Business Development and Investment

House Financial Services – Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2128 Rayburn Bldg.

Fiscal 2016 Europe and Eurasia Budget Request

House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

Merger and Acquisition Regulatory Legislation

House Judiciary – Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2141 Rayburn Bldg.

International Shipping Competition

House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on Government Operations

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

Genetically Engineered Human DNA

House Science, Space and Technology – Subcommittee on Research and Technology

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg.

Federal Government Real Estate Investment

House Transportation and Infrastructure – Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management

Subcommittee Hearing

1 p.m., 2167 Rayburn Bldg.

Drug Interdiction in the Western Hemisphere

House Transportation and Infrastructure – Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2253 Rayburn Bldg.

SSA Disability Benefits Management

House Ways and Means – Subcommittee on Social Security

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., B-318 Rayburn Bldg.

Senate Committees

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Homeland Security

Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on Homeland Security

Subcommittee Markup

10:30 a.m., 138 Dirksen Bldg.

Energy Department Nominations

Senate Energy and Natural Resources

Full Committee Confirmation Hearing

10 a.m., 366 Dirksen Bldg.

Electronic Health Record User Experience

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.

Federal Real Property Overhaul

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Interior-Environment

Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies

Subcommittee Markup

2:30 p.m., 124 Dirksen Bldg.

Asia-Pacific Region Trade Issues

Senate Foreign Relations – Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy

Subcommittee Hearing

2:30 p.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg.

Native American Economic Issues

Senate Indian Affairs

Full Committee Panel Discussion

2:45 p.m., 216 Hart Bldg.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

House Committees

Smithsonian Institution Assessment

House Administration

Full Committee Hearing

10:30 a.m., 1310 Longworth Bldg.

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Labor-HHS-Education

House Appropriations – Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

Subcommittee Markup

9 a.m., 2358-C Rayburn Bldg.

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Financial Services

House Appropriations

Full Committee Markup

10 a.m., 2359 Rayburn Bldg.

Middle East Policy

House Armed Services

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 2118 Rayburn Bldg.

Balanced Budget Issues

House Budget

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 210 Cannon Bldg.

Financial Advice Access

House Education and the Workforce – Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2175 Rayburn Bldg.

Financial Stability Oversight Council Report

House Financial Services

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 2128 Rayburn Bldg.

Syria and Chemical Weapons

House Foreign Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

Tribal Land Legislation

House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs

Subcommittee Hearing

11 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

Drones and Commerce

House Oversight and Government Reform

Full Committee Hearing

9 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

Energy Innovation Hubs

House Science, Space and Technology – Subcommittee on Energy

Subcommittee Oversight Hearing

10:30 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg.

Small Business and Crude Oil Issues

House Small Business

Full Committee Hearing

11 a.m., 2360 Rayburn Bldg.

Highway Trust Fund Financing

House Ways and Means

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg.

U.S. Navy Surface Combatant Capacity

House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2212 Rayburn Bldg.

International Monetary Fund Assessment

House Financial Services – Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2128 Rayburn Bldg.

China’s Economic and Military Growth

House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2200 Rayburn Bldg.

Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act

House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

Immigration Policy Executive Actions

House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on National Security; House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules

Subcommittees Joint Hearing

2 p.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

Senate Committees

Federal Government Fiscal Challenges

Senate Budget

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 608 Dirksen Bldg.

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation – Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security

Subcommittee Oversight Hearing

10 a.m., 253 Russell Bldg.

Coal Ash Disposal Rule

Senate Environment and Public Works

Full Committee Oversight Hearing

9:30 a.m., 406 Dirksen Bldg.

Higher Education Reauthorization

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.

Economic and National Security Policy

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

USAID Administrator Nomination

Senate Foreign Relations

Full Committee Confirmation Hearing

2 p.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg.

GSA Inspector General

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Full Committee Confirmation Hearing

2 p.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

Capital Access Issues

Senate Indian Affairs

Full Committee Oversight Hearing

2:15 p.m., 628 Dirksen Bldg.

Joint Committees

Federal Credit Programs

Joint Economic

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 216 Hart Bldg.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

House Committees

Optimized Fleet Response Plan

House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Readiness

Subcommittee Hearing

8 a.m., 2118 Rayburn Bldg.

Biotechnology Food Labeling Standards

House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Health

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.

Cuba Property Rights Outlook

House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

Rapid DNA Act

House Judiciary – Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations

Subcommittee Hearing

9 a.m., 2141 Rayburn Bldg.

Senate Committees

Renewable Fuel Standard Program Management

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management

Subcommittee Hearing

9:30 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

Future of Highway Funding

Senate Finance

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 215 Dirksen Bldg.

Water Related Measures

Senate Energy and Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Water and Power

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 366 Dirksen Bldg.

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Martin Milita

Martin Milita is a Senior Director at Duane Morris Government Strategies, LLC. Duane Morris Government Strategies (DMGS) supports the growth of organizations, companies, communities and economies through a suite of government and business consulting services. The firm offers a range of government relations and public affairs services, including lobbying, grant writing; development finance consulting, media relations management, grassroots campaigning and community outreach. Milita works at the firm’s Trenton and Newark New Jersey offices. Visit his blog at: https://martinmilita1.wordpress.com Follow him on twitter: @MartinMilita1 https://www.facebook.com/martin.milita http://www.dmgs.com/ BLOGROLL Martin Milita – About.me Martin Milita :: Pinterest Martin Milita @ Twitter Martin Milita at Slideshare Martin Milita on Google+ Martin Milita Yola Site Martin Milita | Xing

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