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Capitol Hill Update: July 30, 2018

07/30/2018

Schedule:

The Senate is in session this week. The House is in recess.

Senate:

The Senate reconvenes today at 3:00 pm to consider the nomination of Britt Grant to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Prior to her nomination to the Eleventh Circuit, Grant served as solicitor general of Georgia and on the Supreme Court of Georgia. Votes will take place around 5:30 pm.

The Senate should finish up the Interior, Financial Services, Agricultural, and T-HUD appropriations minibus, H.R. 6147, this week. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) offered an amendment last week to reduce the spending levels of the appropriations bill to those under the Budget Control Act of 2011. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 25 to 74.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) asked unanimous consent to renew the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for four months with a minor reform, which was that the program wouldn’t write new policies for properties worth more than $2.5 million. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) objected. “The National Flood Insurance Program is $20 billion in debt. It has been reauthorized seven times in the last six years without reforms, even as it has proven less and less sustainable,” Sen. Lee said from the floor on Thursday. “We came very close to adopting significant reforms in October 2017, but those reforms were scuttled at the last minute by Senate leadership, with promises that we’d adopt the reforms before the next reauthorization.”

“The request [to prevent new policies for properties worth more than $2.5 million] was so mild that I felt like a sellout for proposing it. But even that reform was not acceptable to the NFIP industrial complex. One of my colleagues objected to my request. There are still a few procedural maneuvers I can deploy between now and early next week, but my colleague’s objection—coupled with the fact that the majority leader filed cloture on the House-passed bill—will likely mean the end of this effort, at least for now,” he said. “This is terribly discouraging. It’s not just this program; it’s all that it represents. If we aren’t willing to adopt even modest reforms to a minor program like NFIP, how will we ever address any of the far more vexing problems facing our government?”

The House attached the four-month renewal of the NFIP to S. 1182 last week. The bill will head back to the Senate and likely be on the floor later this week.

The Senate is also likely to take up the conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 5515, which was approved by the House last week. Additionally, the Senate is expected to vote to go to conference on Farm Bill, H.R. 2.

There is a fight brewing over Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s papers. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has written a letter to President George W. Bush to request the release of Judge Kavanaugh’s records related to his time as staff secretary at the White House. Separately, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) made a similar request for Judge Kavanaugh’s records but didn’t request records related to his time as staff secretary.

Judge Kavanaugh will meet with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today at 2:30 pm. Sen. Manchin is the first Senate Democrat to meet with Judge Kavanaugh. The meeting could open up the door for more vulnerable Democrats to meet with the Supreme Court nominee.

The committee schedule for the week can be found here.

House:

The House will meet in pro forma session Tuesday, July 31, at 10:00 a.m. Other pro forma session dates haven't been posted. The House will reconvene on Tuesday, September 4.

As you might have heard, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has announced his bid for Speaker of the House. FreedomWorks is among the organizations to endorse his candidacy. Rep. Jordan announced his run in a “dear colleague” letter. "When we come back from the August recess, let's also talk about how to change the way this place operates. Not the same old talk: Let's really do it this time," Rep. Jordan wrote in the letter. "The House will work a lot better when power is decentralized -- when committee assignments are made on talent, merit, and experience."

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