This week in Congress.

The Senate will consider resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) and confirmation of the president’s appointees to federal agencies. The House will be taking up litigation reform legislation and appropriations legislation to fund the Defense Department through the remainder of fiscal year 2017. The highest profile activity in Congress this week, though, is expected to take place in the House which plans to mark up the legislation to begin to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate will return on Monday afternoon, when votes are expected on two resolutions of disapproval of federal regulations issued in the final months of the Obama administration under the CRA. The first vote will be on H.J. Res. 37 to disapprove a rule from the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration revising provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation to require federal contractors to disclose findings of noncompliance with labor laws. The Senate is then scheduled to vote on the motion to proceed to H.J.Res 44, a resolution of disapproval of the Bureau of Land Management’s Resource Management Planning rule, finalized in December 2016. The regulation establishes the procedures used to prepare, revise or amend land use plans pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, but congressional Republicans, state and local governments, and affected property owners have argued that the new process creates more confusion and greater uncertainty. The White House has announced support for both resolutions of disapproval, indicating the president would sign them into law upon Senate passage (both resolutions have already been approved by the House).

Senate floor activity for the remainder of the week is uncertain. It is possible the majority leader will initiate action on the nomination of Seema Verma to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The nomination was advanced by the Senate Finance Committee last Thursday on a straight party-line vote.

On the other side of the Capitol, the House will return to legislative business on Tuesday, when members will consider seven bills, including five measures under the jurisdiction of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, under suspension of the rules.

On Wednesday, House members will consider three additional bills under suspension of the rules, all reported by the Natural Resources Committee.

The House will then take up H.R. 1301, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for FY 2017, subject to a rule. The funding bill would replace the Department of Defense provisions of the current continuing resolution for FY 2017, which is set to expire on April 28, and provide funding through the end of this fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30. The legislation meets the overall defense spending limits set by law for FY 2017, providing $516.1 billion for base budget needs. The bill also provides $61.8 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding, which is the level allowed under current law. These amounts are also in line with the National Defense Authorization Act signed into law by President Obama in December. Unlike the Defense Appropriations bill that passed the House on a party-line vote last summer, this version of the defense spending bill maintains statutory budget limits. As a result, it is likely to garner more bipartisan support for House passage in this session of Congress. Press reports indicate the Trump administration is preparing to request an additional $30 billion in supplemental funding for the Department of Defense in FY 2017, largely for readiness spending, but it remains unclear how Congress will respond to any supplemental appropriations request. It also remains unclear how or when Congress will deal with funding for the 10 remaining FY 2017 spending bills before the continuing resolution expires on April 28.

During the remainder of the week, House members will consider three pieces of litigation reform legislation reported out of the House Judiciary Committee. Each will come to the floor under a rule.

On Thursday, the House will take up two of these measures. H.R. 725, the Innocent Party Protection Act, limits the ability of federal courts to remand cases to state court under certain circumstances. Members will also consider H.R. 985, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017. The bill includes language from a previous class action reform proposal, which passed the House in 2016, to prohibit federal courts from certifying any proposed class under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure unless the party seeking to maintain a class action demonstrates that each member of the proposed class suffered an injury of the same type and scope. This version of the legislation also includes some additional provisions related to class action litigation, including disclosure requirements on third-party litigation financing.

The third litigation reform bill will be considered on Friday. H.R. 720, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2017, would amend Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to make the imposition of sanctions for violations of the rule mandatory, not discretionary as under current law.

Also this week, House Republican leaders are expected to release their proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  Once the bill is released, committee action is on tap, with markups this week, and prompt floor action can be expected as early as next week.

With all committees now organized, both chambers are facing busy hearing schedules.

 

The election of Donald Trump creates a drastic shift in government relations strategies in DC.

With a new year, companies and not for profits should be reevaluating their government affairs programs just as they will review their tax, marketing and financial planning. More significantly, this year, a new U.S. government will form, and a new presidential administration commence.

U.S. and foreign businesses and industries should accordingly carefully review their government relations, lobbying, and public affairs strategies in Washington, DC. Companies that have engaged in government relations during the Obama years now need to fully re-write their government relations plan in a city soon to be led by President Donald J. Trump. Those engaging in government affairs for the first time need to move fast.

Trump’s executive team promises to be very different in governing philosophy, public policy, and management than President Obama’s team; but based on Trump’s cabinet picks; it will be substantially different than President Bush’s as well.

Based on that absolute shift, business and industry must reevaluate its government relations strategy for 2017. With a new pro-business focus, no company or industry will want to be on the sidelines for the next four years. Those businesses that have existing government affairs efforts in Washington need to reassess and revise old plans and write a new ones. And those that want to engage in a first-time government relations program need to get in the game now. Based on President-elect Trump’s cabinet choices thus far, the policy and management differences with the outgoing Obama Administration will be substantial; aimed at systemic change in nearly every area of government policy that affects business:

 

  • Appropriations, budget, tax, trade
  • Energy, oil/gas, renewable energy, energy management
  • Transportation, infrastructure, air and shipping transport
  • FCC and telecom
  • Financial services, Dodd Frank, digital assets
  • Healthcare, life sciences, pharma, medical technology
  • Gaming, hospitality
  • Education
  • Municipality
  • Labor, immigration
  • Ocean technology, environment, climate
  • Internet, cyber, privacy, social media
  • National security & defense
  • International Relations

 

Thus, if your company has had a government relations effort during the Obama Administration, then a re-evaluation is critical because what was advocated by the U.S. government between 2009-2016 will now be substantially dismantled and replaced with a new governing philosophy and public policy agenda.

For instance, President-elect Trump has chosen conservative U.S. Rep. Tom Price to serve as his Secretary of Health and Human Services and to overhaul the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Obamacare). Price is the former chair of the Republican Study Committee, the group of movement conservative members of the House of Representatives. Moreover, in 2013, he introduced in Congress a substantive bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Trump’s choice of Price to head HHS will stand in exact contrast to the political ideology and pro- ACA position of the current HHS Secretary, Sylvia Burwell.

Other members of his cabinet also come from a more conservative, pro-growth, limited government, less government regulation philosophy including Governor Rick Perry, as the new Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, Andrew Puzder, CEO, Hardee’s, to be Secretary of Labor, Scott Pruitt, Attorney General of Oklahoma, to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Linda McMahon, a principal with the Worldwide Wrestling Federation, as the new Administrator of the Small Business Administration, Dr. Ben Carson, the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Wilbur Ross as Secretary of Commerce, Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. Rep. Rep. Ryan Zinke, the next Secretary of the Interior, United States Marine Corps General James Mattis (ret.) as Secretary of Defense and Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.

To be fully prepared, companies need to take the time necessary to strategize a new plan, hire the right professionals in Washington, identify the right issues for the company, and be a ready to educate the “new” U.S.  Federal  government.

Duane Morris Government Strategies has a Washington, DC-based government relations and lobbying office for U.S. and foreign companies, organizations, and governments that want to develop a more professional and interactive relationship with the U.S. federal government; Congress, the Executive Branch and regulatory agencies.

We can assist with congressional relations, regulatory affairs, developing positive brand equity for your company throughout the U.S. government, business to government (b2g) contracts, lobbying on specific legislative or regulatory issues, advising on current policy and political developments, and assisting with industry associations where your company is a member. We can provide a comprehensive, substantive and personalized suite of U.S. government affairs services for a cost-effective and competitive budget.

 

 

Final Week for the 114th Congress.

This is the final week of legislative activity for the 114th Congress, with the House and Senate expected to work through the outstanding items that remain for 2016.

Lawmakers are scheduled to be in session until Dec. 16, but resolution and passage of a spending measure to keep the government funded into 2017, the annual national defense authorization act, and the biomedical innovation bill, among a handful of other final legislative items should be finished this week, enabling members to depart Washington, D.C., at the end of this week.

Negotiations over a continuing resolution have been ongoing and press reports indicate congressional leaders are close to a deal that should be ready for a vote this week. Current government funding expires on Dec. 9. Although initial discussions on the CR were focused on a three-month extension of current spending authority into March 2017, leadership now seems to be agreed on extending that authority into April after acknowledging the reality of the congressional calendar. Both chambers are anticipating an active legislative agenda in the first few months of the 115th Congress, and the Senate will be particularly busy with the confirmation process for appointees to the new administration. Republican leadership recognizes that it would be challenging to add an appropriations deadline to the agenda in the first 100 days of the new session. Legislative text has not yet been released, but House leadership indicated on Friday that the text of the spending bill would be ready to permit a vote this week. Although the funding portion is easily crafted, many funding anomalies and various legislative provisions that can be agreed upon must be crafted, making the final drafting of the CR a laborious and time-consuming task.

In addition to the expected consideration of a CR this week, the Senate is set to take up two additional lame duck priorities. Following the successful passage of both the biomedical innovation bill (H.R. 34, the 21st Century Cures Act) and a $619 billion conference report to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 2943) through the House of Representatives last week, the Senate is now poised to take action on these measures. Senators are scheduled to return on Monday for a procedural vote on the 21st Century Cures Act, legislation that will invest greater resources in medical innovation and speed up the process by which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves new drugs and devices. The legislation also includes additional provisions to address the opioid epidemic and to bolster the country’s mental health systems. There is widespread, bipartisan support for the measure, and even though several Senate Democrats have criticized the final version of the bill and announced their opposition, the legislation is expected to see Senate approval this week and be signed into law by the president.

Once the 21st Century Cures Act has been dispensed with, the Senate will begin consideration of the conference report to the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House last Friday by a vote of 375-34. This legislation provides an additional $8 billion in funding for overseas contingency operations and readiness shortfalls and covers the $5.8 billion supplemental request sent by the president to Congress in November. It also includes a 2.1 percent pay raise for U.S. troops. The funding in the bill is simply an authorization, and defense hawks have been critical of the CR strategy that congressional leaders have been pursuing because a CR will not provide the military with all of the funds authorized by this bill

The House is scheduled to convene again on Monday when it will take up six bills under suspension of the rules, including S. 1635, legislation authorizing the activities of the Department of State for FY 2017.

On Tuesday, members will consider a suspension package consisting of 21 bills, reported out of the Energy and Commerce, the Natural Resources, or the Veterans Affairs Committees.

On Wednesday and during the remainder of the week it is possible for the House to take up additional measures under suspension of the rules. Also expected for floor consideration is H.R. 5143, the Transparent Insurance Standards Act of 2016. The legislation would require the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve to provide additional reports to Congress on international negotiations regarding regulatory standards in the insurance industry. Chief sponsor of the bill, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., chairman of the House Financial Service Committee’s Housing and Insurance Subcommittee, stated the bill is intended to “increase transparency and strengthen Congress’ role in supervising foreign standards setting organizations.” Consideration of H.R. 5143 will be subject to a rule. Finally, the House will tackle the CR when it becomes available.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Public Private Partnerships

Advantages and Disadvantages of Public Private Partnerships

There are many advantages and disadvantages of public private partnerships that should be considered before entering such a co- venture. A public private partnership refers to a venture in which funding and operations are run by a government agency or authority and a private sector entity. Over the years, public private partnerships have become increasingly popular internationally.

Public private partnerships are common in different areas including, infrastructure, transportation and gas and oil exploration.

Today, governments at all levels are faced with budgetary constraints yet the public needs them to deliver certain services.  Simply put, partnerships between the public and private sectors are critical in ensuring that a country develops economically.

One of the major advantages of public partnership is efficient management. Efficiency is very important in the management of developmental projects. This is achieved when the public sector and private company work together on a project. Plans as well as strategies are formulated and implemented more efficiently.

Another advantage of public private partnership is the improvement of the quality of the end results of a project. Partnership between a public agency and a private company brings technological advancement. This provides the necessary solutions for the completion of a project. Many private companies have highly advanced technology. When the government partners with such companies technology that is needed to deliver quality results is achieved.

The speed with which projects are executed is also enhanced due to the combined efforts of the government agency and the private company. In addition, the cost of accomplishing developmental projects is reduced through public private partnership. Both the government and the private company provide the necessary capital for development projects.

Nevertheless, there are drawbacks or disadvantages of public private partnerships as well. The difference in the work culture is one of the disadvantages of this venture. Differences in the functioning of a government agency and the private sector company can cause problems in the execution of the project.

Changes in government policies, often caused by changes in the electoral make up,  can also affect the model of the public private partnership. Such changes can affect capital flow or direction to favor the government leading to losses for a private company. This is one of the reasons why some companies fear to get into public private partnerships.

Mismanagement of the project is another disadvantage of a public private partnership. Mismanagement of the involved project is always a threat to the programs that are undertaken by the private and public sector. This is caused by unanticipated or unplanned challenges that lead to loss of resources that can benefit the government.

N.J. Supreme Court upholds freeze on pension cost-of-living adjustments

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled 6-to-1 Thursday that the state can continue to freeze cost-of-living adjustment payments to those collecting public pensions.

The decision upholds a 201l reform law to suspend the payments that was supported by Democrats and signed by Christie. According to the Associated Press, the ruling will save the state approximately $17.5 billion in added pension liabilities.

Thursday’s ruling received cautious optimism from Moody’s Investors Service, which said it “eliminates a major threat to the state’s fiscal stability, which is already challenged by narrow reserves and large, rapidly growing pension costs.”

“New Jersey’s finances have been more stable in recent years, and the state projects that 2016 reserves will remain on target and above prior years at $550 million,” Moody’s said. “However, reserves at this level will provide limited cushion against further budget volatility.”

Earlier this week, the Assembly Judiciary Committee advanced a measure that seeks to task voters with deciding on a constitutional amendment to require regular pension payments.

Congress has busy schedule before Memorial Day recess

Congress has a busy schedule before each chamber takes a one-week break for Memorial Day recess.

The Senate returns to work on Monday and will vote on legislation to reauthorize the Adam Walsh Act, legislation initially enacted in 2006 to address child sex offenses. The major work of the week on the Senate floor will commence on Tuesday when consideration begins on the annual defense authorization bill. The Senate will aim to complete the bill before departing for the week. Debate on the bill is likely to be less contentious than the House’s consideration of its companion bill. As in the House, the most significant issue will be an effort by Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., to increase the funding level for the military provided in the bill. The House increased the level of authorized funding by raiding the pool of funds designated for support of overseas operations. If adopted, the House approach would lead to a shortfall in operational funds next year, requiring supplemental appropriations from Congress. The Senate does not plan to raid that account. Instead, Chairman McCain is reported to be planning simply to seek to add new funds to the bill. Democrats have contested Republican efforts to add defense funds without adding like amounts to the domestic programs they tend to support. Some Republican deficit hawks likewise oppose additional defense spending. The fact that Chairman McCain did not seek to add his amendment during the committee’s markup of the bill suggests he did not have the votes in his own committee, and he is similarly unlikely to garner sufficient support on the floor for his effort. The Senate bill would also extend the requirement that 18-year-olds register for the draft to women.

Although the defense bill is likely to consume the balance of the week, it is possible the Senate will interrupt its consideration of the bill and move to the compromise chemical-regulation bill, the reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act, prior to the end of the week. Reform of the TSCA has been a lengthy process, and after years of deliberation, a bipartisan and bicameral consensus evolved around a compromise effort. The House will take up the bill this week, and once it does, the Senate could enter into a time agreement allowing for the bill’s consideration there as well. Enactment of the TSCA bill will be another in a series of significant accomplishments for the current Congress, a further indication that the Senate is again fulfilling its legislative role after several years in which it was failing as an institution (although Democrats point to the lack of progress on confirmations to argue that the Senate is still not performing its full set of constitutional responsibilities).

The House too returns to work on Monday with an unusually full schedule of 30 bills to be considered under suspension of the rules. Although on the surface this schedule appears very heavy, a large number of the bills simply name federal facilities, primarily post offices and Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. Among the substantive bills, the House will tackle the annual intelligence authorization bill, as well as bills from the Energy and Commerce Committee and two bills to improve the process by which the federal government disposes of excess property.

After the heavy suspension schedule, the House will turn on Tuesday to a bill to address the Zika virus under a rule. Last week, both chambers passed proposals to provide funding to address the Zika virus, but the Senate did so in the form of an amendment to an appropriations bill; the House did so as a freestanding bill. The Senate will need to take up the House-passed bill, amend it to include the Senate proposal, and request a conference before further progress can be made. In the meantime, the House will take up H.R. 897, the Zika Vector Control Act, introduced by Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio).

After the Zika bill, the House turns to the TSCA reform bill noted above. Following the TSCA legislation, the House plans to take up a bill to clarify the authority of Congress over the District of Columbia. Congress has authority under the Constitution to control the seat of the national government, but it ceded much of that authority when it approved home rule legislation for D.C. in the early 1970s. Recently, D.C. voters approved a charter amendment that purports to allow D.C. to expend its own locally raised funds without congressional approval. A judge of the D.C. Superior Court upheld the proposal, but House Republicans believe the charter amendment is invalid and beyond the ability of D.C. voters to adopt. Last week, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which oversees D.C. for Congress, reported H.R. 5233 on a party-line vote. The bill would clarify that D.C. must still obtain congressional approval before it may expend funds, even if the funds derive entirely from locally raised revenue. The bill is unlikely to get considered in the Senate, even after it passes the House, as it will.

The House then finishes the week with two energy-related bills. It will take up its version of the Energy and Water Appropriations bill. The Senate passed its version two weeks ago, and the House will aim to complete action on the bill before breaking for Memorial Day. The Energy and Water bill is one of the more popular of appropriations bills, due to the funding contained in it for local projects across the country. In addition to the appropriations bill, the House will also take up its version of the energy bill. The Senate passed a bipartisan energy bill last year. The House will take up the Senate-passed bill but will substitute its own energy-bill text in place of the Senate-approved language. Once it completes consideration of the energy bill, the House plans to move to go to conference with the Senate on the energy legislation, and will likely consider in that context a Democratic motion to instruct conferees. If a conference committee can reach agreement on an energy bill that could pass both chambers, it would be yet another major accomplishment for this Congress, and the Senate, which, despite much maligning in the media has been very productive on a variety of legislative initiatives that have been stalled for many years.

In addition to the floor, the committee schedule is also very busy this week. Among the highest profile items is likely to be the House Natural Resources Committee’s markup on Wednesday of the revised bill to assist Puerto Rico tackle its debt situation. After several weeks of intensive negotiations following the introduction of the first version of the bill, last Thursday evening the House introduced a new version of the bill. The negotiations were led by the speaker’s office and the committee’s chairman, Rob Bishop, R-Utah. The revised bill has garnered cautious support from members on both sides of the aisle. Although there are provisions members of each party dislike, the urgency of the need to help Puerto Rico address its insolvency appears to have brought enough members together to allow the bill to move forward. The first step in the process will be a markup in committee on Wednesday. The full House is likely to turn to the bill when it returns following Memorial Day, and Senate action thereafter prior to the impending July 1 date when Puerto Rico faces a massive debt payment it cannot make, is likely. If Congress succeeds in enacting the bill, it will be a major victory for Speaker Ryan, who staked much on getting a bill done.

Other markups next week will see the Senate Judiciary Committee take up the E-mail Privacy Act on Thursday. The House passed its version of the bill unanimously, but what will happen in the Senate committee is uncertain. The Appropriations Committees in each chamber will be busy this week marking up additional bills for floor consideration. In the Senate, both the relevant subcommittees and the full committee plan to mark up the Defense and Homeland Security bills this week (Tuesday in the subcommittees and Thursday in full committee). On the House side, the full committee plans to mark up the Commerce, Justice, Science and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development bills on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the relevant subcommittees will mark up the Financial Services and Interior bills. Finally, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will mark up pending legislation.

On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on welfare reform. Also on Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold the first hearing it is promising to consider the impeachment of the IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen. Although Speaker Ryan has signaled his opposition to impeachment and senators have dismissed it, House conservatives, led by Freedom Caucus chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, have been pushing for Commissioner Koskinen’s impeachment in the wake of the scandal over allegations of political targeting of conservative nonprofit groups by the IRS. At the initial hearing, the Judiciary Committee expects to hear from members of the Oversight Committee who, along with the Ways and Means Committee, have led the inquiry into political manipulation by the IRS. Other hearings of note this week include a Tuesday Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the U.S.-India relationship; hearings by the Senate Baking and House Foreign Affairs Committees on aspects of the Iran nuclear deal; and a two-day hearing on Wednesday and Thursday by the House Homeland Security Committee into the dramatic airport-screening delays being experienced across the country.

 

This Week in Congress: Trade, Privacy, Fiscal Year 2017

The Senate will continue working its way through fiscal year 2017 appropriations bills this week, with final consideration of the Energy and Water bill expected on Tuesday. The House will work through a number of legislative items, including several related to trade and business practices. Both chambers are scheduled to adjourn at the end of this week for a one-week district work period.

The Senate is scheduled to return to legislative business on Monday afternoon and resume consideration of the legislative vehicle (H.R. 2028) for the FY 2017 Energy and Water appropriations bill, a $37.5 billion funding measure. A vote is expected Monday evening on an amendment offered by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and votes on at least three other amendments are expected on Tuesday before a vote on final passage. Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has indicated he expects to wrap up consideration of the bill on Tuesday. Last week, the White House issued a veto threat for the bill, citing “the inclusion of problematic ideological provisions that are beyond the scope of funding legislation,” a reference to policy riders. One of the major concerns behind the veto threat was an amendment offered last week by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., to prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from using any funds to implement its “Waters of the United States” rule, which extends federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act over a wider range of domestic wetlands and waterways. Sen. Hoeven’s amendment failed, however, to receive the 60 votes that were needed for inclusion in the underlying bill. It is unclear if the White House will maintain its opposition to the Energy and Water bill, but in the wake of the failure of the Hoeven amendment, conservative groups are encouraging senators to oppose the bill. Notwithstanding this source of opposition, the legislation is expected to receive bipartisan support and pass the Senate.

Following the adoption of the Energy and Water bill, which is the first FY 2017 appropriations measure on the Senate floor, the chamber is expected to continue with consideration of one of the three other funding bills that have been reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee over the past two weeks: the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill; the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill; or the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill is likely next on the Senate agenda, because it was reported out of the Appropriations Committee earlier this month with the Energy and Water Development bill and is considered one of the less controversial of the 12 annual bills.

Press reports indicate that negotiations in the Senate to provide $1 billion in supplemental appropriations to combat the Zika virus in the United States are progressing. Earlier this year, the White House requested $1.8 billion in emergency funding to accelerate the federal response timeline, bolster mosquito control, and support training programs and laboratory capacity to test for the virus. Several congressional Republicans rebuffed this request, suggesting Congress should instead shift unused funds allocated to fight the Ebola virus after that 2014 outbreak in West Africa subsided. Conservatives are also requesting that any allocated funds be offset with cuts elsewhere in the budget. The warmer weather of spring and summer months, and reports of the virus spreading within the U.S., appear to have softened the positions of some Senate Republicans and Appropriations Committee members who are now involved in the funding negotiations, and a bill on that may hit the floor as early as this week. House Republicans are still resisting the request for emergency Zika funds, demanding that the administration provide more specific details on how it plans to spend such funding, although House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., has indicated he expects the House will eventually also pass a Zika-funding measure.

The House of Representatives will return to legislative business on Tuesday, with votes expected on 15 bills under suspension of the rules. Fourteen of these bills cover a variety of topics and come to the floor from the Homeland Security, Oversight and Government Reform; Transportation and Infrastructure; and Financial Services committees. On the 15th, H.R. 1493, the Protect and Preserve Cultural Property Act, the House will vote to approve amendments made to the bill by the Senate; once approved, the bill will head to the president for signature.

On Wednesday, the House will consider an additional four bills under suspension of the rules. Included among these are H.R. 4923, the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016, sponsored by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas. The bill would update and reform the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) process by which reductions or temporarily suspensions of tariffs or duties on certain imports are considered. The last MTB expired in 2012, leaving many American manufacturing companies at a disadvantage in the global economy because of the costs related to the importation of covered foreign goods. The bill enjoys broad support among businesses and is expected to pass.

The House will also consider S. 1890, the Defend Trade Secrets Act, under suspension of the rules. This legislation will create a federal civil claim and remedy for trade secret misappropriation. A wide-ranging coalition of companies and businesses supports the passage of this bill, which passed the Senate earlier this month by a vote of 87-0. Once passed by the House, this bill will head to the president, who is expected to sign it.

The Wednesday suspension package also includes H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act, legislation to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The bill enjoys more than 300 cosponsors, and a compromise version was favorably reported on a unanimous vote by the Judiciary Committee two weeks ago. The bill is not expected to get Senate consideration this year, but its approval by the House will likely set the stage for a legislative enactment in 2017. Finally on Wednesday, the House will consider H.R. 4240, the No Fly for Foreign Fighters Act. This bill would require an independent review by the Government Accountability Office of the federal government’s terrorist watchlists to determine whether past weaknesses with them have been addressed or whether additional changes are needed.

Following its heavy schedule of suspension bills, the House will consider three more bills, all coming to the floor under rules.

The House will first tackle H.R. 4498, the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act, introduced by Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot, R-Ohio. This bill would require the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to revise its general solicitation regulations to provide carveouts for certain activities related to startup investment and financing pitches.

The House is expected to consider H.J. Res. 88, a disapproval resolution intended to block the U.S. Department of Labor’s controversial “fiduciary” rule. The rule sets new standards for investment advisers with respect to retirement accounts, but Republicans believe the rule is too burdensome and that the costs will ultimately be borne by low- and middle-income Americans, who most need the advice but will be unable to get it.

The House will also vote on H.R. 4901, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Reauthorization Act. This legislation provides scholarships to students from low-income families in the District of Columbia to attend the school of their choice, including private or charter schools, and provides money to D.C. charter and public schools to improve educational outcomes.

On the hearing front, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are expected to continue their consideration of FY 2017 funding bills this week. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is scheduled to appear before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee on Wednesday to discuss the FY 2017 budget request and Department of Defense funding.

Related to defense spending priorities, the full House Armed Services Committee will be holding a markup of its 2017 National Defense Authorization Act for 2017 on Wednesday morning, a $610 billion blueprint for the defense budget for FY 2017, following markups in the committee’s subcommittees last week.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., announced that the committee will be marking up 12 bills, all reported favorably by the Health Subcommittee last week, related to the domestic opioid. The legislation includes measures that range from expanding access to Naloxone (medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose) and providing an exemption from civil liability for trained and certified individuals who administer opioid overdose-reversing drugs, to increasing access to medication-assisted treatment. Chairman Upton has said the full House will consider the legislation during the first or second week of May. Likewise, the House Judiciary Committee is expected to mark up its portion of the opioid-response bill on Wednesday as well, though the committee will not formally notice its markup till Monday. The Senate already passed its version of opioid abuse legislation, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), in March. There is wide support in Congress for advancing legislation to counter the opioid abuse epidemic, and if the bills can be conferenced following successful House passage, to resolve differences between them, it may be one of the few bipartisan measures that can pass both chambers during the remainder of this Congress.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will be marking up its Federal Communications Commission reauthorization bill on Wednesday morning, along with seven other communications bills. The legislation would provide a two-year reauthorization of FCC authority and appropriations and, among other things, reform the agency’s spectrum auction procedure, enhance agency transparency by requiring the FCC to submit various reports and budget estimates to Congress, and require the GAO to provide an analysis of whether the FCC’s current regulatory fee structure correlates to the actual workload of the FCC. Also scheduled for markup is S. 421, Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act, to reform aspects of the FCC’s rulemaking process.

Tax reform continues to be a matter of congressional focus. The Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on Tuesday afternoon on navigating business tax reform, with Thomas Barthold, chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation, scheduled to appear as a witness.

The Finance Committee is also holding a Thursday hearing on mental health issues. Like the opioid abuse crisis, many members are eager to advance legislation to assist with mental health reform, but there remain partisan differences over how to pay for reforms and updates. The Thursday hearing is expected to cover the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) Exclusion, which restricts Medicaid reimbursements for care at inpatient mental health treatment centers.

On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be reviewing U.S.-China relations, likely driven by China’s recent activities in the South China Sea. Deputy Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken is scheduled to provide testimony before the committee.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee meets Thursday to review the release of criminal aliens by the Department of Homeland Security and the impact on public safety. This hearing follows one held two weeks ago by the House Judiciary Committee on the same topic at which families and survivors of violent attacks by criminal aliens testified.