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Capitol Hill Update: November 18, 2019

11/18/2019

Schedule:

The House and Senate are in session this week.

House:

The House returns today. Legislative business begins at 2:00 pm. Votes are postponed until 6:30 pm. There are 15 bills coming to the floor under suspension of the rules likely between today and tomorrow. The suspensions are listed below. Additional legislation could be added to the calendar.

  • H.R. 3702, Reforming Disaster Recovery Act
  • H.R. 4300, Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act
  • H.R. 4029, Tribal Access to Homeless Assistance Act
  • H.R. 5084, Improving Corporate Governance through Diversity Act
  • H.R. 4344, Investor Protection and Capital Markets Fairness Act
  • H.R. 4634, Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act
  • H.R. 182, To extend the authorization for the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission
  • H.R. 255, Big Bear Land Exchange Act
  • H.R. 263, To rename the Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge as the Congressman Lester Wolff Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge
  • H.R. 737, Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act
  • H.R. 925, North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act
  • H.R. 1088, FIRST Act
  • H.R. 1446, Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Reauthorization Act
  • H.R. 1472, To rename the Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, Nebraska, as the Homestead National Historical Park
  • H.R. 1487, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Boundary Adjustment Study Act

The House Rules Committee will meet at 3:00 pm on Tuesday to consider the rule and amendments for the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, H.R. 1309. Currently, this is the only rule bill on the calendar, but a continuing resolution (CR) may be added and possibly other legislation. We’re not sure which bill will go first, H.R. 1309 or the CR, or in what order they will be considered. There is some concern over the CR being added as a suspension.

This week, the House will consider another short-term CR to fund the federal government. At this point, none of the 12 regular appropriations bills have passed both chambers and been signed into law. Based on everything we’ve heard, the next CR will through Friday, December 20, which means that an extra week before the Christmas recess will be added to the schedule. Other legislative items being included in the CR are the reauthorization of health extenders, the Export-Import Bank, and the National Flood Insurance Program. It's unclear if those are short-term reauthorizations. As noted, the CR is a possible suspension.

There are credible rumors that the House Judiciary Committee will markup legislation on Wednesday to reauthorize and reform Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and the USA FREEDOM Act. We haven’t seen any text, but we’ve heard some relatively good things about what’s in the bill. We’ve also heard that civil libertarians in both chambers will introduce bipartisan legislation to define a benchmark for reform.

Hearings in HPSCI will resume on Tuesday at 9:00 am with Jennifer Williams from the Office of the Vice President and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council. On Wednesday at 9:00 am, Gordon Sondland, Ambassador to the European Union, will testify. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs Laura Cooper and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Dale will go before the committee on Wednesday at 2:30 pm. Dr. Fiona Hill of the National Security Council will testify on Thursday at 9:00 am. Each of these individuals will present various pieces of the Democrats’ case against Trump, but the most important will undoubtedly be Ambassador Sondland. He has previously altered his original testimony to reflect that he told a top aid to Ukrainian President Zelenskiy that aid would be withheld until Zelenskiy made a public announcement of an inquiry into the 2016 election meddling.

Senate:

The Senate will return today at 3:00 pm and resume consideration of Robert J. Luck to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. A vote on the cloture motion of the Luck nomination is expected around 5:30 pm. Action is expected on two other nominees before the Senate begins to process the short-term CR. Those nominees are Barbara Lagoa to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and Adrian Zuckerman to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Romania. We’re not sure on the timing of the CR, but a vote is likely on Thursday.