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The House and Senate are in session this week.
The House gavels back in session on Monday. Legislative business begins at 2:00 pm, as usual. The first and only vote series is at 6:30 pm. There are seven bills on the suspension calendar for Monday and nine for Tuesday. Five of the suspensions on Monday are post office namings and are not included in the list below.
On Tuesday, the House is expected to vote on S.J.Res.57, a disapproval resolution that would nullify a March 2013 guidance document issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) related to the indirect auto lending. The Senate passed S.J.Res.57 by a vote of 51 to 47. FreedomWorks issued a key vote in the Senate and will do so in the House as well.
The House will consider three more bills. On Wednesday, Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act, H.R. 5645, and the Citizens’ Right to Know Act, H.R. 2152, will be on the floor. The Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act, H.R. 3053, will be considered on Thursday. Each bill is subject to a rule to limit or prevent amendments from the floor.
We're not sure when to expect the Farm Bill on the floor. Originally, we were told to expect the Agriculture and Nutrition Act, H.R. 2, on the floor this week. It’s not on the calendar and the House Rules Committee, as far as we know, hasn’t sent out communication to House members about amendment submissions. Our guess is that leadership doesn’t have the votes. What are the problems? Well, the Congressional Budget Office’s score raised eyebrows. The agriculture subsidies are arguably worse than current law. The food stamp reforms in Title IV are decent, but those reforms are undermined by other provisions in the same title. There’s also no chance that aspect of the bill survives in the Senate. Still, House Republican leadership plans on pushing forward.
The White House is expected to unveil its rescissions package this week, likely today or tomorrow. Media reports indicate that the request will propose $11 billion in rescissions, representing the first of such requests. We’re hearing the request will actually be higher, but far less than what many wanted. If you’re interested in learning about how the rescissions process, check out this blog post from a couple of weeks ago.
Although the House Judiciary Committee still met on April 25 and considered other bills, the Prison Reform and Redemption Act, H.R. 3356, was pulled because Democrats didn’t like certain provisions that rested on a good faith effort by the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons. Negotiations have been going on behind the scenes. We have some idea of what to expect. The hope is a prison reform bill that has bipartisan support will be marked up this week by the committee.
On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee is expected to markup the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill for FY 2019. The subcommittees for Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies (Monday); Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (Wednesday); and the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies (Wednesday) subcommittees will markup their appropriations bills for FY 2019.
For those wondering, 2 U.S. Code § 631 states that the House may consider appropriations bills on May 15. The last appropriations bill is to be reported out of committee no later than June 10. Floor action is supposed to be completed by June 30. We’re hearing that the Senate will begin its process soon. Another fun fact, according to the Congressional Research Service, Congress completed the appropriations process only four times since the passage of the Budget Act of 1974. Those four times were for FY 1977, FY 1989, FY 1995, and FY 1997.
Many folks on the Capitol Hill believe the ramping up of the appropriations process is a charade and that it’s overwhelmingly likely that there will be either a three- or six-month continuing resolution passed at some point in September
The full committee schedule can be found here.
The Senate calendar this week is packed with appellate court nominees. The week will kickoff with a cloture vote on the nomination of Kurt D. Engelhardt to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The other five nominees on the agenda are:
The Senate is mostly useless and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) isn’t using the rules to his advantage, but the number of judges that have been confirmed since inauguration day is pretty impressive. As of the end of April, 15 appellate court judges have been confirmed. If all the nominees before the Senate are confirmed this week, the total would be 21. Seventeen district court judges have been confirmed. There are, however, dozens of district court nominees pending.
The petition 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 is likely to be filed on Wednesday. There could be a vote this week, but it’s more likely to happen next week. The petition, tweeted by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), has 49 signatures, more than the 30 required in 5 U.S.C. § 802(c).
After the petition is filed, any senator can move to proceed to S.J.Res. 52. The motion to proceed requires a simple majority because the CRA take the filibuster out of play. This the first step and the most critical vote. If the vote is unsuccessful, the CRA can't move forward. If the motion to proceed is successful, there would be ten hours of debate, split between the sides. There could be a motion to reduce debate time, but that would be up to Republican and Democratic leadership to work out.
Noticeably absent from the petition was Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who had indicated support for the effort. She also hasn’t co-sponsored S.J.Res. 52, making her vote an open question, which is important because Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is still at home being treated for cancer. Republicans effectively hold a one-seat majority. If she flips, the CRA passes the Senate. Once again, it’s Sen. Collins’ world. We’re all just living in it.
The full committee schedule can be found here.