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Capitol Hill Update: March 4, 2019

03/04/2019

Schedule:

The House and Senate are in session this week.

House:

The House will return on Tuesday. Legislative business begins at 2:00 pm. Votes are postponed until 6:30 pm. Unless others are added, there are only seven bills coming to the floor on suspension, and they’re expected to be considered on Tuesday.

  • H.R. 762, Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act o
  • H.R. 347, Responsible Disposal Reauthorization Act
  • H.R. 1138, To reauthorize the West Valley demonstration project, and for other purposes
  • H.R. 1381, Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act
  • H.R. 1271, Vet HP Act
  • S. 49, To designate the outstation of the Department of Veterans Affairs in North Ogden, Utah, as the Major Brent Taylor Vet Center Outstation
  • H.Con.Res. 14, Designating the George C. Marshall Museum and George C. Marshall Research Library in Lexington, Virginia, as the National George C. Marshall Museum and Library

At some point between Wednesday and Friday, the House will consider the so-called “For the People Act,” H.R 1, also known as the “For the Politicians Act,” the “Democrat Politician Protection Act,” or the “Incumbent Protection Act.” The bill essentially nationalizes elections and places restrictions on free speech, among many other provisions. FreedomWorks recently sent a formal letter of opposition for H.R. 1 to the Hill and will key vote against the bill. We also sent a coalition letter signed by representatives of more than 30 organizations opposing the bill. The folks at the Institute for Free Speech have broken down the bill in three separate analyses, which you can find here, here, and here. The House Rules Committee will meet on Tuesday at 5:00 pm to consider the nearly 150 amendments that have been filed for H.R. 1 and the rule to govern consideration of the bill on the floor.

Passed in February 2018, the Bipartisan Budget Act included a provision that suspended the statutory public debt limit through March 1, 2019. A suspension of the debt limit allows the Department of the Treasury to borrow without limit through the specified end date. Between February 9, 2018 and February 28, 2019, the share of the national debt held by the public grew from $14.981 trillion to $16.250 trillion. Last month, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in which he explained that the Treasury would begin to take extraordinary measures to avoid default. Extraordinary measures can be taken through the summer. House Democrats want to leverage the debt limit for a budget agreement that would, once again, bust the spending caps. Should House Democrats moved a budget resolution through the chamber, it would deem the passage of a debt limit suspension.

Senate:

The Senate processed all scheduled nominees last week, including Andrew Wheeler, who was confirmed by a vote of 52 to 47. On Thursday, Leader McConnell filed cloture on three other nominees, who are listed below.

  • Chad Readler to serve as a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • Eric Murphy to serve as a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • John Fleming to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) approved the nomination of Neomi Rao to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Her nomination was approved by a 12 to 10 vote. Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who were undecided, voted for Rao, allowing her to receive a favorable recommendation from the SJC as she advances to the floor. There’s no word yet on the specific timing of a floor vote for Rao. SJC has another business meeting scheduled for Tuesday on nominees, who are, we suspect, the two appellate court and three district court nominees who were held during the same business meeting at which Rao was approved.

Last week, the House passed H.J.Res. 46, the resolution to block President Trump’s emergency declaration concerning the southern border by a vote of 245 to 182. Thirteen House Republicans voted for the resolution. Over in the Senate, it appears that H.J.Res. 46 has enough Republican support for passage. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) have already said they plan to vote for the resolution. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) became the latest to express support. “I can’t vote to give extra-Constitutional powers to the president,” Sen. Paul said on Saturday. Should the resolution pass, President Trump will veto it. The votes aren’t there in either chamber to override the veto. Leader McConnell has said that the resolution will be considered before the end of next week.