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Capitol Hill Update: October 2, 2017

09/30/2017

Schedule:

The House and Senate are in session this week.

House:

The House will consider ten bills on the suspension calendar Monday and Tuesday of this week, although additional bills could be added to the suspension calendar. Bills that on the suspension calendar need 291 votes for passage. The House will also consider the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, H.R. 36, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.). The bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest, and when health or the life of the mother is in jeopardy.

Much of the focus of this week will be on the FY 2018 budget resolution, H.Con.Res. 71. The budget resolution includes budget reconciliation instructions for the House Ways and Means Committee to begin work on tax reform. Budget reconciliation allows the Senate to pass tax reform legislation with only 51 votes. FreedomWorks' statement on the Unified Tax Reform Framework called for action on the budget resolution.

The FY 2018 budget resolution should pass by a decent margin, but that doesn't mean there aren't complaints about it. First, the budget numbers in the resolution are relatively meaningless because it relied on the House-passed version of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act, becoming law. As passed by the House, H.R. 1628 would have gotten rid of all of ObamaCare's taxes and much of the spending, reducing the budget deficit by $119 billion over ten years. Second, although this budget allows the work on tax reform to begin, many members see the budget as relatively pointless. The budget will not be president to the president for his signature, and the numbers aren't binding.

Passage of the FY 2018 budget resolution isn't the end of the process. The Senate will pass its own budget, which is different from the House's version. There will be a conference committee, where representatives from both chambers will hammer out a final agreement. This conference report will have to be passed by both chambers, finally allowing for tax reform legislation under budget reconciliation.

The full committee schedule for the week can be found here.

Senate:

The Senate will convene Monday to consider the renomination of Ajit Pai for another term on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Pai has served as the chairman of the FCC since January 23. Cloture was invoked on Pai's nomination in a 55 to 51 vote. Although Democratic leadership and the far-left members of the conference oppose Pai's renomination, six Democrats voted for cloture.

On Friday, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) unveiled his FY 2018 budget resolution. Although the budget resolution reduces spending by $5.1 trillion over ten years and projects an on-budget surplus of nearly $200 billion by FY 2027, the numbers aren't binding. The budget resolution, in Section 2001 and Section 2002, directs the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee to produce legislation under reconciliation, not to increase the deficit by more than $1.5 trillion, for tax reform.

The Senate Budget Committee will mark up the FY 2018 budget resolution on Wednesday and Thursday. The budget will likely hit the Senate floor the week of October 16. Republicans have a narrow advantage on the committee, and that margin could be complicated by Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), who lost the last week's special Republican primary race and missed every floor vote in the chamber. Whether or not he will return is unclear. Democrats, led by Ranking Member Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), will spend their time during the markup blasting Republicans using the same tired talking points about taxes.

The full committee schedule for the week can be found here.