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Capitol Hill Update: January 27, 2020

01/27/2020

Schedule:

The House and Senate are in session this week.

Senate:

The President's counsel, who began their presentation on Saturday, will continue today at 1:00 pm. It’s possible that they could finish early, but they could go into Tuesday, the third and final session day they are permitted to present. We haven't gotten a word on timing, but unless the President’s counsel finishes their presentation early, it's likely the 16-hour clock for senators' questions will begin on Wednesday and conclude on Thursday.

Per S.Res. 483, the step after the senators' questions is four hours of debate, divided equally between the managers and Trump's counsel, on whether it's in order to consider and debate motions to subpoena witnesses and documents. If a majority rules that it's not in order to consider motions on witnesses and subpoenas, the Senate will move to votes on the articles of impeachment and conclude the trial, possibly as early as Friday. If a majority rules that it's in order, various motions on witnesses and subpoenas will begin and the trial will very likely go into the week of February 3.

For a brief period tomorrow, between 10:00 am and 11:00 am, the Senate will be able to receive communications from the House and the President, committees can report legislation or nominations, and senators will be able to submit statements for the record, introduce legislation, and add co-sponsors to legislation.

The committee schedule for the week can be found here.

House:

The House returns on today and will be in session through Thursday. Legislative business in the House today begins at 2:00 pm. Votes are postponed until 6:30 pm. There are eight bills coming to the floor under suspension of the rules. It’s possible that more legislation could be added. Suspensions will likely be considered today and tomorrow.

  • H.R. 943, Never Again Education Act
  • H.R. 4704, Advancing Research to Prevent Suicide Act
  • S. 153, Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act
  • H.Res. 752, Supporting the rights of the people of Iran to free expression, condemning the Iranian regime for its crackdown on legitimate protests, and for other purposes
  • H.R. 5338, Global Hope Act
  • H.R. 4331, Tibet Policy and Support Act
  • H.R. 2153, Keeping Girls in School Act
  • H.R. 5671, Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act

The House Rules Committee will meet at 5:00 pm today to consider the rule and amendments to the Student Borrower Credit Improvement Act, H.R. 3621, and the Senate amendment to H.R. 550, which will be subject to a substitute House amendment. (More on that amendment in a moment.) It’s possible that other legislation could be considered this week.

The Student Borrower Credit Improvement Act, H.R. 3621, would prohibit credit reporting agencies from reporting any delinquent payments of a private student loan or defaulted private student loan if the consumer has made at least nine on-time payments in a ten-month period. The bill would also prohibit any civil action against the consumer. Private student loans have a repayment rate of 98 percent. This is effectively not a problem. This bill will have the effect of encouraging more delinquent payments and defaults if there isn’t a financial penalty for doing so. It’ll also lead to higher borrowing costs for student loans, penalizing those who take their debts seriously. If House Democrats want to address the cost rising cost of education, they need to substantially reduce the subsidies for it. Those subsidies only encourage colleges and universities to continue increasing costs.

The other item on the floor this week is the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 550. The House amendment will reflect the text of the No War Against Iran Act, H.R. 5543, as the new Title I of H.R. 550 and legislation to repeal the 2002 authorization for the use of military force against Iraq, H.R. 2456, will be Title II. The text of the No War Against Iran Act appears to be identical to the text of H.Amdt. 551, which passed the House in July 2019 as part of the chamber’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 2500. (The text of the amendment can be found in Title XII, Subtitle C, Section 1229 of H.R. 2500.) The amendment would simply prohibit an unauthorized war with Iran. Twenty-seven Republicans, including several members of the House Freedom Caucus, voted for that amendment. The text of H.R. 2456 simply repeals the 2002 AUMF for Iraq. Here again, a similar amendment, H.Amdt. 555, passed as part of H.R. 2500. Fourteen Republicans, including several members of the House Freedom Caucus, voted for this amendment. (The text of the amendment can be found in Title XII, Subtitle G, Section 1270W of H.R. 2500.)

The committee schedule for the week can be found here.