This week in Congress

Senators return to Washington on Monday after a two-week recess for a scheduled vote on bipartisan legislation to protect trade secrets- the House rather continues its spring recess until next week.

The Senate is scheduled to open on Monday afternoon with consideration of S. 1890, the Defend Trade Secrets Act. Currently, trade secrets lack federal civil protection for misappropriation. S. 1890 will provide trade secret owners with the same access to federal court that copyright, trademark and patent owners already enjoy. This bipartisan legislation is of widespread interest to U.S. businesses fending off efforts, often driven by foreign competitors, to steal their trade secrets. In its report to accompany the bill, the Senate Judiciary Committee noted the “economically damaging” effect of trade secret theft on the American innovative economy, costing an estimated $300 billion. With 65 cosponsors, the bill is expected to pass the Senate by a wide margin on Monday. (Note the authors and their firm represent a coalition of companies advocating for the Defend Trade Secrets Act.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not yet given a clear indication of what business the Senate will focus on for the remainder of the week. One potential item on the agenda could be consideration of a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill (S. 2658) reported out of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on March 16. The bipartisan legislation would reauthorize FAA programs and authority through Sept. 30, 2017, and contains provisions related to drone operations, improving consumer protections, and aircraft certification processes. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., introduced a five-year FAA reauthorization bill (H.R. 4441) in February, but the bill contains several proposals that are highly controversial, including a provision to privatize the country’s air traffic control system. The House bill in its current form is unlikely to see a vote on the House floor because of a dispute between the Transportation Committee and the Ways and Means Committee over the privatization provision. Should the full Senate approve S. 2658, the House may take it up for consideration or act on a new bill and request a conference with the Senate. In either scenario, Republican leadership and Transportation committee chairmen are working with a limited timeline, given the current extension of FAA authority and appropriations, passed by both chambers in March, expires on July 15.

One item that remains to beadressed on the Senate floor is S. 2012, the bipartisan comprehensive energy bill (S. 2012), which first fell victim to partisan debate over an amendment regarding the Flint, Michigan, water infrastructure cleanup and then to a proposed amendment on revenue sharing for offshore drilling. The energy bill managers and Senate leadership had been optimistic of final passage when debate began in January, but it appears the underlying bill will remain stalled.

Leader McConnell has also indicated he would like to begin work on fiscal year 2017 appropriations measures. The Senate Appropriations Committee has been moving forward with drafting appropriations bills using the $1.07 trillion top-line spending number set by last year’s Bipartisan Budget Act, although the chairman has not yet publicly released any notice for scheduled markups. While it could be possible for the Senate to move through several noncontroversial appropriations bills over the next several weeks, there still is no consensus strategy for congressional approval of FY 2017 spending. As we have discussed in previous columns, the House Republican conference remains divided over top-line spending numbers for FY 2017, which limits the prospects of any Senate-passed spending measure seeing action in the House.

Homeland security and the threat of ISIS will be on topic when Senators return to Capitol Hill, in light of the March 22 terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium, which occurred during the Senate break. Two Senate hearings this week will focus on this topic. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hear from former CIA Director James Woolsey and several foreign policy experts on Tuesday morning regarding the recent terror attacks in Europe and methods of protecting U.S. citizens at home and abroad. The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will meet Wednesday morning to discuss the attacks on the Brussels airport and metro system. TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger, who was in Brussels at the time of the March 22 attacks, will deliver testimony about TSA efforts to prevent attacks on passenger and freight targets that could lead to mass casualties.

Also on the Senate hearing schedule are two Banking Committee events related to consumer finance. The committee has scheduled a Tuesday hearing to assess the effects of consumer finance regulation. On Thursday, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray will appear before the committee to report on the bureau’s activities, which many Republicans would like to restrict. Director Cordray delivered similar testimony on March 16 before the House Financial Services Committee and faced tough questioning and abundant criticism of the agency’s actions.

The Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday regarding the enforcement of the Iran nuclear agreement after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards conducted ballistic missile tests in March. While Iran claims the tests were conducted for self-defense purposes, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., believes the missile tests are in direct violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted in July 2015 to enforce the multilateral nuclear agreement. Two bills that would impose tougher sanctions on sectors of the Iranian economy found supporting Tehran’s ballistic missile programs are currently pending in the Senate. Chairman Corker and Ranking Member Ben Cardin, D-Md., have publicly stated their support for advancing bipartisan sanctions legislation. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon is the sole witness scheduled to appear at the Tuesday hearing.

On Wednesday, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is scheduled to hold another in its series of markups dealing with aspects of medical innovation. This week’s markup will tackle several bills, including one to authorize the administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative.

The full Senate hearing schedule for the week ahead is included below.

 
CALENDAR

Monday, April 4, 2016

Senate Committees

Pending Nominations
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Full Committee Markup
5:30 p.m., S-216
Tuesday, April 5, 2016

House Committees

Bridging the Gap—Increasing Access to Venture Capital for Small Businesses
House Small Business – Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access
Subcommittee Field Hearing
1 p.m., Pasadena City Hall, 100 Garfield Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101

Small Defense Contractors
House Small Business – Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce
Subcommittee Field Hearing
5 p.m., Palmdale City Hall Chamber Room, 38300 Sierra Highway, Palmdale, CA 93550

Senate Committees

U.S. Cyber Command
Senate Armed Services
Full Committee Hearing
9:30 a.m., 216 Hart Bldg.

Assessing the Effects of Consumer Finance Regulations
Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.

Oversight of U.S.-Affiliated Islands Issues
Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 366 Dirksen Bldg.

Recent Iranian Actions and Implementation of the Nuclear Deal
Senate Foreign Relations
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg.

Terror in Europe: Safeguarding U.S. Citizens At Home and Abroad
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

Army Modernization
Senate Armed Services – Subcommittee on Airland
Subcommittee Hearing
2:30 p.m., 232-A Russell Bldg.

State of Public Shipyards
Senate Armed Services – Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support
Subcommittee Hearing
2:30 p.m., 222 Russell Bldg.

Section 5 and ‘Unfair Methods of Competition’: Protecting Competition or Increasing Uncertainty?
Senate Judiciary – Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights
Subcommittee Hearing
2:15 p.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Senate Committees

USDA Rural Development Programs
Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry – Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 328-A Russell Bldg.

Transportation Security: Protecting Passengers and Freight
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 253 Russell Bldg.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Budget
Senate Environment and Public Works
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 406 Dirksen Bldg.

Pending Legislation
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Full Committee Markup
10 a.m., 216 Hart Bldg.

Navy Shipbuilding
Senate Armed Services – Subcommittee on Seapower
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m., 222 Russell Bldg.

Pending Legislation
Senate Indian Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
2:15 p.m., 628 Dirksen Bldg.

Small Business Disaster Recovery and the RISE Act
Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Full Committee Hearing
2 p.m., 428-A Russell Bldg.
Thursday, April 7, 2016

House Committees

Cyber Preparedness and Response at the Local Level
House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies
Subcommittee Field Hearing
11 a.m., Austin College, J.E. and L.E. MaBee Foundation Banquet Hall, 1301 E. Brockett, Sherman, TX 75090

Senate Committees

Army Posture
Senate Armed Services
Full Committee Hearing
9:30 a.m., G-50 Dirksen Bldg.

Lerner/Gerety Nominations (Treasury)
Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
Full Committee Markup
10 a.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.

CFPB Report to Congress
Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.

U.S. Geological Survey Oversight
Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 366 Dirksen Bldg.

The Federal Role in Keeping Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Affordable
Senate Environment and Public Works
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 406 Dirksen Bldg.

A Progress Report on the West Africa Ebola Epidemic
Senate Foreign Relations – Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 419 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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