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Capitol Hill Update: December 11, 2017

Schedule:

The House and Senate are in session this week.

House:

The House comes into session this week following a busy week last week, when they named House conferees for the conference committee with the Senate on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, H.R. 1, as well as passed a short-term continuing resolution, H.J.Res.123. This continuing resolution avoided a government shutdown by extending funding of the federal government previously set to expire on December 8 through December 22.

The Republican House conferees on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Texas Devin Nunes (R-Calif. Peter Roskam (R-Ill. Diane Black (R-Tenn. Kristi Noem (R-S.D. Rob Bishop (R-Utah Don Young (R-Alaska Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and John Shimkus (R-Ill.).

The Democratic conferees are Reps. Richard Neal (D-Mass. Sander Levin (D-Mich. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and Kathy Castor (D-Fla.).

The House will reconvene on Monday, with votes on five bills on the suspension calendar. The votes are not expected to occur until approximately 6:30 pm. Two of these bills relate to homeland security and two to financial services. On Tuesday, the House will continue consideration of fourteen other bills on the suspension calendar, the majority of which are noncontroversial and should easily pass.

During the remainder of the week, the House will consider two bills relating to international affairs in Iran, and one relating to privacy in financial policy, the Privacy Notification Technical Clarification Act, H.R.2396. This bill would provide more leniency to financial institutions in the requirements to notify their members annual of policy changes, so long as the changes are sufficiently communicated in other manners, such as via websites, billing statements, or phone.

As mentioned, Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 22. Another spending bill will be necessary to fund the government into next year. The concern right now is that the next spending bill will be packed with other must-pass items, including reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In order to pass the bill, this Republican-controlled Congress will, once again, bust the spending caps for FY 2018 and FY 2019, likely by an amount higher than the three previous times they’ve busted the caps for the past five fiscal years combined.

The full committee schedule for the week can be found here.

Senate:

The Senate will begin this week with a roll call vote at 5:30 pm on Monday on the motion to invoke cloture on Leonard Grasz to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit. Late last week, Leader McConnell filed cloture on three nominations, Executive Calendar #533 for Leonard Grasz, as well as two others -- #534 for Don Willett to be a Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and #535 for James Ho to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit.

These are routine steps for the Senate in its role in the nomination process to continue to confirm President Trump’s nominees to federal courts. Democrats have continued to use obstructionist, dilatory tactics to slow this process down, however, by forcing thirty full hours of debate on each nominee. These tactics prevent the Senate from addressing pressing legislative business, as their time is almost entirely taken up by meaningless “debate” hours on nominees.

Of note as well is, with last week’s naming of Senate conferees for the conference committee with the House on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, this conference is set to meet Wednesday of this week. The intention is to have a conference report produced by the end of the week, that will reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions. This will be sent again to both chambers for a vote on final passage of tax reform, which will then go to the President to be signed into law.

The Republican Senate conferees on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mike Enzi (R-), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

The Democratic Senate conferees are Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and Tom Carper (D-Del.).

The full committee schedule can be found here.