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.

 

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.

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 And Transportation

The House and Senate are expected to send Trade Promotion Authority legislation to the president this week for signature. The trade legislation is a top priority for President Obama and his administration. Both chambers have a busy week scheduled before they adjourn for the Independence Day recess next week.

The Senate returns today with votes expected on the nominations of Peter Neffenger to be administrator of the Transportation Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Daniel Elliott III to be a member of the Surface Transportation Board. Following these votes, the Senate will resume consideration of trade-related legislation, as passed by the House of Representatives last week. The Senate had previously voted to approve jointly Trade Promotion Authority, which grants expedited congressional consideration of trade agreements, and Trade Adjustment Assistance, a program to assist domestic workers whose employment is affected by trade, in May. The rule governing consideration of the bill in the House of Representatives allowed for separate votes on each portion of the bill, and the TAA provision was defeated. As a result, the House last week passed the legislation as individual measures, sending the bills back to the Senate for further consideration. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., filed cloture on H. R. 2146, a bipartisan public-safety retirement bill with the House-passed TPA legislation attached. A cloture vote on the TPA bill is expected as early as Tuesday morning. If 60 votes are achieved on the cloture motion, up to 30 hours of post-cloture debate time would precede a simple majority vote on the “fast-track” trade legislation. Following that vote, the Senate will proceed to a cloture vote on H. R. 1295, the Trade Preferences Extension Act with an amendment adding TAA and the Leveling the Playing Field Act. A third bill, dealing with customs requirements, is also part of the trade package and will be considered by a Senate-House conference committee in order to resolve differences between the two versions of that bill.

Once the Senate has dispensed with the trade legislation, it is unclear what will be next on the agenda. Democrats and Republicans are still locked in a stalemate over the fiscal year 2016 budget framework. Last week, Senate Democrats successfully filibustered consideration of the FY 2016 defense appropriations bill and have pledged to block any other appropriations bills from floor consideration until the spending limits established by the 2011 sequester are raised. With the support of President Obama, Democrats are hoping that their obstruction of the entire appropriations process and threat of a government shutdown will bring Republican leaders to the negotiating table. So far, Republican leadership has not indicated a willingness to agree to a budget summit.

The House returns on Tuesday and tackles 14 suspensions. The bulk of the bills to be considered under suspension of the rules come from the Homeland Security Committee and touch on a variety of issues at the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, to the Homeland Security bills, the House will tackle a handful of other bills. Most prominent among these is the bipartisan revision to the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Following consideration of the suspension bill, the House will take up H.R. 1190, sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., to repeal the controversial provision of the Affordable Care Act establishing the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel that makes recommendations on Medicare cuts. The legislation had been scheduled for last week but was displaced by reconsideration of the trade bills. The vote to repeal the IPAB comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in the next two weeks in the King v. Burwell case, regarding subsidies for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. If the court strikes down the legality of subsidies for health insurance purchased through federal exchanges, Congress will have to deal with another highly contentious health care debate during July, when highway funding and the Export-Import Bank will also have to be addressed.

The House will then tackle H.R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky. This bill would allow for judicial review of any final ruling by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on carbon dioxide regulations for existing power plants, a highly contentious issue focused on the administration’s effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

The House will complete the week and head into the Independence Day recess by considering the FY 2016 interior and environment appropriations bill, a $30 billion funding measure that would cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 9 percent and include a number of policy riders aimed at preventing many of the agency’s policies from going into effect. Passed in the House Appropriations Committee on June 16 on a party-line vote, the interior and environment bill has become one of the most controversial of the 12 annual appropriations bills because of the policy riders. Among other things, this bill includes provisions that would bar EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants, amend the designation for automatic Clean Water Act protection, prevent the listing of certain animals under the Endangered Species Act, and block funding for rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal lands. These riders are all opposed by congressional Democrats and the administration.

The House schedule also allows for consideration of trade-related legislation that it might need to consider accompanying TPA to the president’s desk for signature.

House and Senate Appropriations Committees continue their work on reporting out FY 2016 spending bills. This week the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development and Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education will mark up their respective bills. The House Appropriations Committee will markup its FY 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill on Wednesday.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on evaluating the key components of an international nuclear agreement with Iran on Thursday. President Obama signed into law the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which provides Congress the authority to review of any international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. The deadline for the international negotiations is the end of the month and Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., last week wrote a letter to President Obama expressing concerns over reports of concessions that the United States and its allies are making in those negotiations.

The recent data breach at the Office of Personnel and Management that exposed the personal information of millions of active and retired federal employees remains the subject of congressional scrutiny this week. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government will hold a hearing on OPM data security on Tuesday. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold its second hearing on the data breach on Wednesday.

Also on the hearing agenda this week will be proposals for federal transportation spending. The current short-term surface transportation authorization expires in July, and lawmakers continue to struggle with finding bipartisan agreement on a long-term solution for funding shortfalls for the Highway Trust Fund. Democrats are insisting on a long-term fix (though inclusion of the Export-Import Bank reauthorization may, as noted above, secure Democratic support for another short-term fix). Last week, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., publicly ruled out any increase in the gas tax as a solution for HTF insolvency. The Senate Finance Committee meets on Thursday to discuss state innovations in funding transportation infrastructure, while the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures will hold a Wednesday hearing on the potential use of revenue from the repatriation of earnings as a source of highway funding.

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

By: Martin J. Milita, Jr. Esq., Sr. Director.

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

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CALENDAR

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

House Committees

GSA Leasing in the Northeast

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

Subcommittee Panel Discussion

June 23, 11 a.m., Conference Rooms A/B, Sixth Floor, Jacob K. Javits Federal Office Building, 26 Federal Plaza, New York, N.Y.

VA Small Business Goals Reporting

House Veterans’ Affairs – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations; House Small Business – Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations

Committee Joint Hearing

4 p.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.

Senate Committees

OPM Data Security Review

Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government

Subcommittee Hearing

10:30 a.m., 124 Dirksen Bldg.

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Transportation-HUD

Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Subcommittee Markup

10 a.m., 138 Dirksen Bldg.

National Flood Insurance Program

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Full Committee News Conference/Briefing

10 a.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.

Regulatory Overhaul Costs

Senate Budget; Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Committee Joint Hearing

10 a.m., G50 Dirksen Bldg.

Takata Air Bag Recall and Vehicle Safety Update

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 253 Russell Bldg.

Carbon Regulation Impact on Energy Costs

Senate Environment and Public Works – Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 406 Dirksen Bldg.

Ambassador Nominations

Senate Foreign Relations

Full Committee Confirmation Hearing

11 a.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg.

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Labor-HHS-Education

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

Subcommittee Markup

3 p.m., 138 Dirksen Bldg.

American Energy Export Opportunities

Senate Foreign Relations – Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions and International Economic, Energy and Environmental Policy

Subcommittee Hearing

2:45 p.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

House Committees

U.S. International Food Aid

House Agriculture

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 1300 Longworth Bldg.

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Labor-HHS-Education

House Appropriations

Full Committee Markup

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

Child Nutrition Assistance Compliance

House Education and the Workforce – Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2175 Rayburn Bldg.

Medicaid Demonstration Project Approval

House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Health

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.

Syrian Refugee Admission

House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 311 Cannon Bldg.

BLM Wind and Solar Reclamation Bonds

House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations

Subcommittee Oversight Hearing

10:30 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

OPM Data Breach

House Oversight and Government Reform

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

EPA Clean-Power Plan Analysis

House Science, Space and Technology – Subcommittee on Energy; House Science, Space and Technology – Subcommittee on Environment

Committee Joint Hearing

10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg.

U.S. Train Control Implementation

House Transportation and Infrastructure – Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2167 Rayburn Bldg.

Veterans Affairs Legislation

House Veterans’ Affairs – Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.

Health Law and Insurance Premiums

House Ways and Means – Subcommittee on Oversight

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg.

Islamic State Assessment

House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2118 Rayburn Bldg.

U.S. Financial Sector Security

House Financial Services

Full Committee Hearing

2 p.m., 2128 Rayburn Bldg.

Colombia and the FARC

House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere

Subcommittee Hearing

3 p.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

DHS Federal Cybersecurity Efforts

House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 311 Cannon Bldg.

Puerto Rico Political and Economic Assessment

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

Subcommittee Oversight Hearing

2 p.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

Rural Transportation Issues

House Transportation and Infrastructure – Subcommittee on Highways and Transit

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2167 Rayburn Bldg.

Repatriation Tax and Highway Funding

House Ways and Means – Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg.

Senate Committees

Flood Insurance Management

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.

Governmental Affairs Measures and Nominations

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Full Committee Markup

10 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

Native American Youth Suicide Prevention

Senate Indian Affairs

Full Committee Oversight Hearing

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

Work in Retirement

Senate Special Aging

Full Committee Hearing

2:15 p.m., 562 Dirksen Bldg.

Veterans Health Care and Benefits Legislation

Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Full Committee Markup

2:30 p.m., 418 Russell Bldg.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

House Committees

Welfare and Work Issues

House Agriculture – Subcommittee on Nutrition; House Ways and Means – Subcommittee on Human Resources

Committee Joint Hearing

10 a.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg.

Nuclear Deterrence Policy

House Armed Services

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 2118 Rayburn Bldg.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications

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

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.

Public Health Bills

House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Health

Subcommittee Hearing

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

CFPB Misconduct Allegations

House Financial Services – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2128 Rayburn Bldg.

State Department and Religious Freedom Bills

House Foreign Affairs

Full Committee Markup

10 a.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

Mineral Production Legislation

House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources

Subcommittee Hearing

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

Water Use and Infrastructure Bills

House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

IRS Inspector General Update

House Oversight and Government Reform

Full Committee Hearing

9 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

National Science Foundation Employee Ethics Issues

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

Committee Joint Hearing

10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg.

GSA Proposed Transactional Data Rule

House Small Business – Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce

Subcommittee Hearing

10 a.m., 2360 Rayburn Bldg.

VA Fiscal 2015 Budget Assessment

House Veterans’ Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

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

Food Labeling Bills

House Agriculture – Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research

Subcommittee Hearing

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

Defense Department Nuclear Enterprise Review

House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2212 Rayburn Bldg.

China and U.S. Universities

House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

Criminal Justice Proposals

House Judiciary

Full Committee Panel Discussion

June 25 TBA, TBA

VA Major Lease Procurement

House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on National Security

Subcommittee Hearing

2 p.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

Veterans Affairs Measures

House Veterans’ Affairs – Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity

Subcommittee Markup

2 p.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.

Senate Committees

COOL and Trade Retaliation

Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., G50 Dirksen Bldg.

Transportation Infrastructure Financing

Senate Finance

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 215 Dirksen Bldg.

Iran Nuclear Agreement

Senate Foreign Relations

Full Committee Hearing

10 a.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg.

Cybersecurity and OPM Data Breach

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Full Committee Hearing

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

Veterans and Economic Opportunity Policy

Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Full Committee Hearing

9:30 a.m., 428A Russell Bldg.

Impact of a Greek Default

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs – Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance

Subcommittee Hearing

1:30 p.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.

Friday, June 26, 2015

House Committees

Public Shipyards and Navy Operations

House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Readiness

Subcommittee Hearing

8 a.m., 2212 Rayburn Bldg.

U.S. Space Security

House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Strategic Forces

Subcommittee Hearing

10:30 a.m., 2212 Rayburn Bldg.

Eminent Domain and Property Rights

House Judiciary – Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice

Subcommittee Hearing

9 a.m., 2141 Rayburn Bldg.

Astrobiology Outlook

House Science, Space and Technology

Full Committee Hearing

9 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg.

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.

DMGS’ diverse client list includes non-profits, educational institutions, social service organizations, health care organizations, technology companies, life sciences companies, manufacturers, municipalities, construction companies/engineering companies/developers, economic development agencies, and defense contractors.

For more information, please visit http://www.dmgs.com

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.

House Panel Advances $579B Defense Funding Bill For 2016

A House panel on Tuesday advanced its nearly $579 billion Pentagon spending bill for 2016, leaving the legislation effectively unchanged from a draft version, including a contentious clause allowing the use of billions of dollars in wartime funding to circumvent sequestration-level spending caps.

The House Appropriations Committee agreed by voice vote to send the fiscal year 2016 Defense Appropriations Act on to the full House, after a two-hour markup hearing that ultimately saw it adopt only two amendments.

The adopted amendments included one with minor technical changes put forward by Defense Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., and another put forward by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., to offer a “sense of Congress” that it has the constitutional duty to debate and then determine whether to authorize any use of U.S. military force against the Islamic State group. That amendment passed in a 29-22 vote.

Overall, the bill provides $578.6 billion in discretionary funding for the U.S. Department of Defense, $24.4 billion up on FY2015 and about $800 million up on the presidential budget request. About $88.4 billion of this would come from Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO, funding — referred to by the committee as Global War on Terrorism funding — which is supposed to be used to fund war spending.

Of that overall funding, $116.7 billion would go to procurement, $12.5 billion more than in 2015, with planned acquisitions including two DDG-51 guided missile destroyers and three Littoral Combat Ships for the U.S. Navy, 65 F-35 Lightning II jet fighters across the services — among other jet acquisitions — and a number of large aircraft, including 16 P-8A Poseidons and 12 KC-46 tankers.

Pentagon research and development efforts would receive $67.9 billion, a $4 billion increase, much of which is intended to support aircraft development, including the continued development of the F-35 and the RQ-4 Triton Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, a new U.S. Air Force bomber and the next-generation Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System command and control plane.

The bill would also provide a 2.3 percent pay raise for troops, higher than the 1.3 percent increase suggested in the administration’s proposal, and would maintain funding for the A-10 close air support aircraft, which has been put on the chopping block by the Air Force several times in recent years, drawing strong pushback from lawmakers in both chambers, who argue that there is no adequate replacement available for the “Warthog.”

Although the bill, unlike other House appropriations bills put forward for 2016 so far, meets and even exceeds the presidential budget request, it has drawn criticism from both Democratic lawmakers and the administration, particularly for its extensive use of OCO funding — about $38 billion more than requested in the presidential budget — to get around the strict sequester budget cap.

The White House had yet to issue an official policy statement on the legislation as of Tuesday, but has previously threatened to veto the similar 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which is used to authorize budget authority for the DOD, citing its heavy use of OCO funds, among other factors.

$579 billion draft Defense budget draft.

A House panel issued its $579 billion draft Defense budget earlier this week, that includes pay raises for troops, saving the A-10 Warthog and billions of dollars in wartime funding to circumvent sequestration caps.

Those measures, along with increased funding for research and acquisitions such as the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, go against President Barack Obama’s request, particularly the subcommittee’s use of $88.4 billion in wartime funding. In using those funds to get around the sequestration cap, the $579 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2016 is a $24.2 billion increase over this year and $800 million above the administration’s request.

House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., said in a statement that the panel’s bill would meet the needs of the American military in the next year. The bill heads for a closed-doors markup on Wednesday.

“This legislation recognizes that it is an increasingly dangerous world and we must guarantee that our military and intelligence community have the strength and capability to meet the rise of Islamic terror groups and other emerging threats and deter would-be aggressors like Iran, China and Russia and North Korea,” Frelinghuysen said. “I am proud that we have kept faith with the brave men and women, and their families, who selflessly serve our country.” (Credit AP).

The bill tees up fights over the specifics passed in the broader National Defense Authorization Act passed last week. Representatives voted 269-151 for the bill, H.R. 1735, which sets out broad funding limits and priorities for the DOD and certain programs at the U.S. Departments of Energy and State for fiscal year 2016.

The House’s passage of the broader NDAA came in the face of a veto threat from the Obama  and the subcommittee’s draft contains many of the same provisions for the DOD.

Among other clauses, the bill would revive funding for the A-10 Warthog close air support aircraft, the intended retirement of which has been a perennial source of fighting between the administration and Congress in recent years.

The bill would also give troops a 2.3 percent pay raise, higher than the 1.3 percent requested by the administration.

In addition to the increases, the draft language would cut outlays for foreign currency fluctuations, as well as health programs. The statement accompanying the bill’s release said that the funding for those programs, $31.7 billion, would be sufficient.

“While below the current year, this level is sufficient to meet the entire scope of all estimated needs and requirements in the next fiscal year,” the statement said, explaining the cut to health programs. (Credit AP).