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Capitol Hill Update: June 5, 2017

06/05/2017

Schedule:

The House and Senate are in session this week.

House:

It will be a relatively slow week on the floor of the House. The lower chamber will take up a resolution, H.Res. 354, condemning the violence against protesters in mid-May outside of the residence of the Turkish ambassador and a resolution, H.Res. 355, condemning the terrorist attack on May 22 at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, United Kingdom. The House will also consider the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act, H.R. 390, which would support those who are assisting people in Iraq and Syria who have been the victim of genocide and war crimes. These three measures are on the suspension calendar, meaning three-fifths of the House will have to vote affirmatively to suspend the rules for passage.

Later in the week, the House will consider the Anti-Border Corruption Reauthorization Act, H.R. 2213. The bill, which is subject to a rule to limit or prevent amendments, would expand the waivers for polygraph testing of applicants to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The only remaining bill on the floor of the House this week is the Financial CHOICE Act, H.R. 10, sponsored by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). The bill, which is subject to a rule, will reform the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, known as "Dodd-Frank," by reining in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), ending the policy of "too big to fail" that Dodd-Frank codified into law, and reduce regulation that is hampering the financial sector.

Unfortunately, language in the Financial CHOICE Act that would have repealed the Durbin amendment to Dodd-Frank that created debit card swipe fees was removed by the House Rules Committee. Nevertheless, the Financial CHOICE Act is still a solid bill, and FreedomWorks will key vote in favor of passage.

There are a couple committee hearings of note this week. The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday entitled, "The Economic and Fiscal Benefits of Pro-Growth Policies." The committee has already heard testimony from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney on President Donald Trump's FY 2018 budget proposal. When the committee will begin marking up the budget isn't clear, but this hearing is another part of the beginning of the process.

The White House will make a big push on infrastructure this week, and air traffic control reform will be a focus. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday that will focus on the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The committee is also working on air traffic control reform, though it's not clear when Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) plans to introduce and mark up legislation.

Separately, there have been reports in recent days that the House could vote on another omnibus, containing the 12 appropriations bills for FY 2018, before the August recess. Considering how bad the FY 2017 passed in May was, this is unwelcome news. House conservatives were promised a return to regular order, which means the consideration of appropriations separately. If another massive omnibus is considered by the House, it's a failure of Republican leadership.

Senate:

There are still several subcabinet nominees whose confirmations are pending in the Senate. As for legislation, it's still unclear when the upper chamber will vote on the American Health Care Act, H.R. 1628. The work on the bill in the Senate is only now beginning, according to Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).

To say that there are mixed messages coming from the Senate right now would be an understatement. Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) recently said that there would be a vote on the American Health Care Act before the August recess, which is consistent with what FreedomWorks has heard. But Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said "tax reform is an easier lift," suggesting that the bill may have to be broken "into two pieces" to address the short-term problems in the nongroup market before diving into more comprehensive insurance reform. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has made similar comments.

Separately, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is playing down any expectations for a vote on the American Health Care Act in 2017, telling a local television station, "It's unlikely that we'll get a health-care deal."

This week, however, all eyes will be on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The committee will hear testimony from former FBI Director James Comey about whether President Trump pressured him to end the probe into the ties Gen. Michael Flynn, who briefly served as President Trump's national security advisor, had with Russia.

The Senate committee schedule for the week can be viewed here.