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The House and Senate are in session this week.
The House gavels back in session on Tuesday. Legislative business begins at 2:00 pm. The first and only vote series is at 6:30 pm. There are nine bills on the suspension calendar, which are listed below. Given that it’s National Police Week, there is a heavy law enforcement theme.
A reminder for those who aren't familiar with how the suspension calendar works. These bills usually aren't considered controversial, although leadership will occasionally put a potentially controversial bill on the calendar as a trial balloon. Legislation on the suspension calendar require two-thirds of members present for passage. These bills can also be voice voted out of the chamber.
The Protect and Serve Act, H.R. 5698, and the VA MISSION Act, S. 2372, are also on the floor. The Protect and Serve Act provides a penalty of up to ten years for the targeting of a law enforcement officer and life if the officer is killed. Writing at the Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin was critical of the bill, explaining that it's unnecessary and unconstitutional. The VA MISSION Act reforms veterans healthcare programs and funds the Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans to receive care from a community-based provider rather than through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Both bills are subject to a rule to limit or prevent amendments.
The Agriculture and Nutrition Act, H.R. 2, is on the floor this week. More than 100 amendments had been filed as of the end of Friday. We have our favorites, of course. This bill is pretty terrible on the commodities side. The welfare reforms are good enough, but the work training programs really undermine it. The House Rules Committee will meet on Tuesday at 5:00 pm to determine which amendments leadership will allow to come to the floor.
The president’s rescissions request is not scheduled for a floor vote this week. The Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act, H.R. 3, represents the full $13.5 billion rescission request from the White House. The whip team, led by Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), did a vote check on Thursday during the only vote series for the day. We haven’t gotten a sense of how it came back.
The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) cost estimate of the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act was released on Friday. “Assuming enactment by the end of June 2018, CBO estimates that the provisions of H.R. 3 would reduce budget authority by approximately $15 billion and outlays by $1 billion over the 2018-2028 period,” the report stated. The proposed rescissions are unobligated balances from previous years, basically money that’s sitting there and can’t be used under current law, and do not contain anything from the recently passed FY 2018 omnibus. We’re told, however, that there will be more rescissions requests.
The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10:00 am. The subject of the hearing, which part of a series on tax reform, is “Growing Our Economy and Creating Jobs.” There have been several mentions of the second phase of tax reform, but the only thing we really know is that part of it will be making the individual part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent. Hopefully, this is a sign that the committee will be getting to work on legislation.
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee will markup the FY 2019 appropriations bills for Energy and Water, and Related Agencies and Agriculture (WRDA), Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. The subcommittees of jurisdiction will markup appropriations bills for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies and Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The full committee schedule can be found here.
The Senate was able to confirm only two of the six judges on the calendar last week, so judges will continue to be the focus. Business will begin on Monday with the confirmation of Michael Scudder to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. After the vote on Scudder, the chamber will vote on Amy J. St. Eve to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Votes are expected to begin around 5:30 pm.
On Tuesday, the Senate will consider the confirmation of Joel M. Carson to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and John B. Nalbandian to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass) has filed the petition with the necessary number of signatures to force a vote on the disapproval resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), S.J.Res. 52, to nullify the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Restoring Internet Freedom Order. We’re still unsure of the timing, but we’re hearing a vote on the motion to proceed to the CRA will likely happen this week.
The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board blasted the approach Sen. Markey and his fellow Democrats are taking. “Rather than jousting over a resolution of disapproval,” the editorial reads, “Congress needs to put this issue to bed once and for all by crafting a bipartisan deal giving the commission limited but clear authority to regulate broadband providers and preserve net neutrality.” As long as Democrats insist on reclassifying the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, there won’t be any bipartisan resolution.
On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the proposed authorization for use of military force (AUMF), S.J.Res. 59. Although the proposed AUMF, which would repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, names five groups that the military is authorized to continue to fight, it doesn’t include geographic restrictions or a sunset clause. It also includes language that allows the executive branch to unilaterally designate other groups beyond those named, only requiring notice to Congress within 48 hours after expanding military operations.
The full committee schedule can be found here.