This Week In Congress: Highways & Education

Last week the Armed Services Committee held a confirmation hearing for Marine Corps General Joe Dunford to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The hearing went well, and the committee could seek to consider and report the nomination this week, although no markup is currently scheduled. If General Dunford is reported by the committee, prompt action by the full Senate is possible, though a confirmation vote is more likely next week.

This week, the House returns on Monday and will tackle six bills under suspension of the rules, primarily from the Small Business Committee.

On Tuesday, the House deals with 14 suspension bills, all of them having been reported by the Financial Services Committee. On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will tackle H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif. The bill provides a response to the drought afflicting the West, especially California, source of much of the country’s food. Of interest to note is the absence on the agenda of the patent-litigation reform bill, H.R. 9. That bill had been included for action this week in Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s planned floor schedule for the month. While a similar bill passed last Congress with 325 votes, the failure to consider the bill as scheduled this week may portend underlying issues with the bill, or it may be due to something as simple as a delay in getting a score from the Congressional Budget Office. Nonetheless, its absence from this week’s schedule is worthy of note.

The Senate resumes consideration on Monday of S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, the bipartisan bill developed by the Education Committee chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind. Last week, the chamber worked its way through amendments to the bill. The chamber’s work on this legislation reflects another instance of Leader Mitch McConnell’s effort to restore regular order to the workings of the body, after several years of dysfunction. This week, the Senate is expected to complete its consideration of the bill. Last week, the House passed its version of the bill to reauthorize the ESEA. Senate passage will allow both chambers to begin the process of reconciling the two bills, which are quite different.

Upon completion of the Every Child Achieves Act, the majority leader has signaled his intention to turn to consideration of the highway bill. The current program, operating under a short-term extension passed earlier in the spring, expires at the end of July and must be renewed. Congress will not go into its August recess, the height of road-building and repair season, without extending the program. As has been the case for many years now, the challenge is figuring out how to pay for the infrastructure programs included in the highway bill. Proposals to raise the gas tax have not won support from Republican leaders in either chamber. The leading proposal has been to use receipts from the repatriation of earnings being held overseas by American companies due to the noncompetitively high U.S. corporate tax rate. This repatriation option has numerous proponents, but many senators want to reserve the funds from a repatriation for broader tax reform. In the face of this stalemate, Leader McConnell has again expressed his expectation that the Senate will have to adopt another short-term renewal, to be paid for from general receipts. Although Democrats have resisted another short-term extension, they are likely to have few viable alternatives.

As has been widely discussed for weeks, the highway bill, which is must-pass legislation, is the likely vehicle for consideration of the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which technically expired at the end of June. In a test vote last month, more than 60 senators voted in favor of extending the bank’s charter. Inclusion of the bank’s reauthorization will make a short-term highway bill more palatable to Democrats in both chambers.

This week committees on both sides of the capitol will hold a number of high-profile hearings. On Tuesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing on the Iran Nuclear Agreement, which was supposed to have been achieved by last week but, as of this writing, remains under negotiation. Also on Tuesday, a Foreign Affairs Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the EU Outlook, a topic garnering unusual attention in light of the Greek debt crisis and the potential for Greece to default and be forced out of the Euro. Staying with the Foreign Affairs Committee, two of its subcommittees will hold a hearing on Thursday on U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation.

Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen provides her semi-annual testimony to the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday and to the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday. Senate Banking also holds an oversight hearing on Wednesday with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson appears before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. On Wednesday, that committee will hear from Howard Shelanski, the director of the little-known but singularly powerful White House Office of Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which oversees the federal government’s regulatory apparatus. The OIRA director also appears before the Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday.

Other hearings of note this week include a two-part hearing on criminal justice reform in the House Oversight Committee, a hearing on radicalization in the House Homeland Security Committee, a hearing on welfare reform in the House Ways and Means Committee, a hearing on the Export-Import Bank in the House Oversight Committee, and a hearing of a Senate Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday looking into international soccer issues, in the wake of the recent indictment of FIFA officials.

On committee’s markup agendas, the House Appropriations Committee will mark up the Homeland Security appropriations bill on Tuesday. The bill contains language that would block any funds from implementing President Obama’s November 2014 executive actions, currently enjoined by the courts, to postpone indefinitely the deportation of immigrants in the country illegally. On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee will mark up the highway-safety portion of the highway bill just as the bill is likely to come to the floor.

A list of scheduled committee hearings is included below.

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CALENDAR

Monday, July 13, 2015

Senate Committees

Traffic Congestion and Commerce Issues

Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Full Committee Field Hearing

July 13, 3:30 p.m., Livingston Parish Council Chamber, 20355 Government Blvd., Livingston, La.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

House Committees

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Homeland Security

House Appropriations

Full Committee Markup

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

Broadband Infrastructure Investment

House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Communications and Technology

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.

Pipeline Safety

House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Energy and Power

Subcommittee Hearing

10:15 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.

Federal Reserve Oversight

House Financial Services – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2128 Rayburn Bldg.

Iran Nuclear Agreement

House Foreign Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

Maritime Border Security

House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 311 Cannon Bldg.

DHS Oversight

House Judiciary

Full Committee Oversight Hearing

10 a.m., 2141 Rayburn Bldg.

Seismic Surveying in Outer Continental Shelf

House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources

Subcommittee Oversight Hearing

10 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

Federal Land Management Bills

House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Federal Lands

Subcommittee Hearing

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

Criminal Justice Reforms

House Oversight and Government Reform

Full Committee Hearing

9:45 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

Commercial Weather Data

House Science, Space and Technology – Subcommittee on Environment

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg.

Health Care Measures

House Veterans’ Affairs – Subcommittee on Health

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.

Medicare Prescription Drug Program

House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.

Tunisia Political Assessment

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

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

European Union Outlook

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

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2200 Rayburn Bldg.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies; House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications

Subcommittees Joint Hearing

2 p.m., 311 Cannon Bldg.

Senate Committees

Armed Services Nominations

Senate Armed Services

Full Committee Confirmation Hearing

9:30 a.m., G50 Dirksen Bldg.

Disease Research

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation – Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 253 Russell Bldg.

Islanded Energy Systems

Senate Energy and Natural Resources

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 366 Dirksen Bldg.

Intelligence Briefing

Senate Select Intelligence

Full Committee Closed Briefing

2:30 p.m., 219 Hart Bldg.

Small Business Energy Development and Manufacturing

Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Full Committee Hearing

2:30 p.m., 428A Russell Bldg.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

House Committees

Land Grant Universities

House Agriculture

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 1300 Longworth Bldg.

Monetary Policy and Economic Assessment

House Financial Services

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., HVC-210 Capitol Visitor Center

U.S. Counterterrorism Assessment

House Homeland Security

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 311 Cannon Bldg.

Fracking on Federal Lands

House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources

Subcommittee Oversight Hearing

10 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

Criminal Justice Reforms

House Oversight and Government Reform

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

National Weather Service Misconduct Allegations

House Science, Space and Technology

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg.

Small Businesses’ Drone Use

House Small Business

Full Committee Hearing

11 a.m., 2360 Rayburn Bldg.

VA Employee Disciplinary Issues

House Veterans’ Affairs

Full Committee Markup

10 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.

VA Unemployability Benefits

House Veterans’ Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

10:30 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.

TANF Renewal and Welfare Proposals

House Ways and Means – Subcommittee on Human Resources

Subcommittee Hearing

10:30 a.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg.

SNAP Strategies

House Agriculture – Subcommittee on Nutrition

Subcommittee Hearing

1:30 p.m., 1300 Longworth Bldg.

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

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

Subcommittee Oversight Hearing

3 p.m., 2141 Rayburn Bldg.

Tribal Land and Economic Development

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

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

Interior Department Cybersecurity

House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on Information Technology; House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on the Interior

Committee Joint Hearing

2 p.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

Senate Committees

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Report

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.

Transportation and Consumer Protection Measure

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation

Full Committee Markup

10 a.m., 253 Russell Bldg.

Maritime Border Security

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

International Soccer Overview

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

Subcommittee Hearing

2:30 p.m., 253 Russell Bldg.

Indian Country Juvenile Justice

Senate Indian Affairs

Full Committee Oversight Hearing

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

Diabetes Research

Senate Special Aging

Full Committee Hearing

2:15 p.m., G-50 Dirksen Bldg.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

House Committees

U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation

House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific; House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade

Subcommittees Joint Hearing

9 a.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

Federal Air Marshal Assessment

House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Transportation Security

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 311 Cannon Bldg.

Senate Committees

Monetary Policy Report

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

2:30 p.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.

Wildlife Poaching

Senate Foreign Relations – Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg.

Forest and Timber Issues

Senate Energy and Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining

Subcommittee Hearing

2:45 p.m., 366 Dirksen Bldg.

Regulatory Process

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

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

Intelligence Briefing

Senate Select Intelligence

Full Committee Closed Briefing

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