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Capitol Hill Update: October 14, 2019

10/14/2019

Schedule:

The House and Senate are in session this week.

House:

With the resignation of Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), the party divisions in the House are now 235 Democrats, 197 Republicans, and one independent. Collins resigned ahead of pleading guilty of insider trading. There are two vacancies, MI-07 and NY-27. The special election for MI-07 will coincide with the 2020 election. The special election for NY-27 will likely take place in April.

The House returns tomorrow. Legislative business begins at 2:00 pm. Votes are postponed until 6:30 pm. There are 22 bills coming to the floor under suspension of the rules, 13 of which are building namings. We’ve removed those from the list. More bills could be added.

  • H.R. 3289, Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019
  • H.R. 4270, PROTECT Hong Kong Act
  • H.Res. 543, Recognizing Hong Kong’s bilateral relationship with the United States, condemning the interference of the People’s Republic of China in Hong Kong’s affairs, and supporting the people of Hong Kong’s right to protest
  • H.Res. 521, Commending the Government of Canada for upholding the rule of law and expressing concern over actions by the Government of the People’s Republic of China in response to a request from the United States Government of Canada for the extradition of a Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., executive
  • H.R. 95, Homeless Veteran Families Act
  • H.R. 2385, To permit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a grant program to conduct cemetery research and produce educational materials for the Veterans Legacy Program
  • H.R. 1199, VA Website Accessibility Act of 2019
  • H.R. 3889, ONDCP Technical Corrections Act of 2019
  • H.R. 1496, Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2019

The House Rules Committee will meet on Tuesday at 5:00 pm to consider submitted amendments and the rule for the SEC Disclosure Effectiveness Testing Act, H.R. 1815, and the Outsourcing Accountability Act, H.R. 3624. The calendar for the week did note that additional legislative items are possible. The rule bills are likely to hit the floor on Thursday and Friday.

The SEC Disclosure Effectiveness Testing Act, H.R. 1815, would require the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to test whether disclosures mandated by a rule can be made available to retail investors. H.R. 1815 would also apply to previous rules. Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee alleged that the bill “is a deliberate effort to delay the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposed rulemaking package that includes Regulation Best Interest (‘Reg BI’) and a new short-form client relationship summary disclosure (‘Form CRS’), despite the SEC having already conducted investor testing on the proposed Form CRS.” As the minority views note, former SEC officials have cautioned against H.R. 1815 because it “would truly be a monumental undertaking that would distract the SEC from its core mission.”

The Outsourcing Accountability Act, H.R. 3624, would require companies registered with the SEC to disclose the number of employees they have inside the United States, segmented by state, and foreign countries, segmented by country. The only exception is for “an emerging growth company,” which isn’t defined by the bill but would presumably be defined by the rule required for implementation. It’s easy to see the motives behind H.R. 3624; it’s all about shaming.

Before the recess, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) filed a motion, H.Res. 604, to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence for lying about the phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. For those who aren’t familiar with this, a censure is a formal and severe reprimand in which the member subject to the censure standing in the well of the House while the Speaker or Speaker-designate reads the resolution. House Democratic Caucus rules may dictate, as the House Republican Conference rules do, that Schiff would have to step from his committee chairmanship if the censure resolution passes. House Democrats haven’t posted their rules. The last member who was censured was Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.). H.Res. 604 is a privileged motion, meaning a vote is imminent.

The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on drug prices on Thursday at 10:00 am. Essentially, this is a hearing on the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, H.R. 3. For those who aren’t familiar with H.R. 3, this is a drug pricing bill spearheaded by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), although it was introduced by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). H.R. 3 would allow the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers for expensive single-source drugs. The prices would be available to Medicare and health plans on the group and individual health insurance markets.

H.R. 3 defines the “maximum fair price” on the average price of six countries -- Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Each of these countries has a single-payer healthcare system, so this is very similar in approach to the administration’s International Price Index. If an agreement in price isn’t reached with a drug manufacturer, a tax of between 65 percent and 95 percent. The bill has other aspects, such as redesigning Medicare Part D. Overall, though, H.R. 3 is basically a downpayment on single-payer in the United States. The bill would also seriously harm American innovation in drug research and could threaten access to certain pharmaceuticals.

The committee schedule for the week is here.

Senate:

The Senate will return at 3:00 pm tomorrow and will resume consideration of the nomination of Barbara McConnell Barrett to serve as the Secretary of the Air Force. A roll call vote on the cloture motion is expected around 5:30 pm. There are four other nominees, all of whom are listed below, expected to be on the floor this week.

  • Frank William Volk to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia
  • Charles R. Eskridge III to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • David John Novakto serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • Rachel P. Kovner to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

The Senate Judiciary Committee will markup two circuit court nominees, eight district nominees, and one federal claims nominee on Thursday at 10:00 am. Currently, there are four circuit court and 92 district court vacancies. The committee will also markup the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, S. 2132.

The committee schedule for the week is here.