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Capitol Hill Update: October 30, 2017

10/30/2017

Schedule:

The House and Senate are in session this week.

House:

The House will reconvene on Tuesday. Much of the legislative business this week will be on the suspension calendar. Among the bills considered on the suspension calendar this week are the Fair Investment Opportunities for Professional Experts Act, H.R. 1585, introduced by Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), and Encouraging Public Offerings Act, H.R. 3903, sponsored by Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.).

The main legislative items on the floor this week are the Resilient Federal Forests Act, H.R. 2936, the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act, H.R. 849, the HEALTHY KIDS Act, H.R. 3921; and the CHAMPION Act, H.R. 3922.

Sponsored by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), the Resilient Federal Forests Act relates to wildfire management in federally protected forests and rangelands and seeks to address frivolous litigation again forestry planning. This bill is scheduled to reach the floor later in the week.

The Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act, introduced by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), would eliminate ObamaCare’s controversial Independent Patient Advisory Board (IPAB). This 15-member board was tasked with finding savings to reduce Medicare costs, taking power away from Congress and putting it in the hands of bureaucrats.

The House may also consider reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) through the Helping Ensure Access for Little Ones, Toddlers, and Hopeful Youth by Keeping Insurance Delivery Stable (HEALTHY KIDS) Act. The authorization for S-CHIP expired on September 30. Congress did not reauthorize the program. Three states and the District of Columbia will run out of funds in the fourth quarter. Twenty-seven states, including Florida and Ohio, will run out of funding in the first quarter of 2018. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the HEALTHY KIDS Act will reduce the federal budget deficit by $1.1 billion over the next ten years.

Separately, the Community Health and Medical Professionals Improve Our Nation (CHAMPION) Act may be considered by the House. The bill would fund community health centers, offsetting the increased funding by reducing outlays for the Prevention and Public Health Fund. It would also roll back an Obama-era rule that mandates individuals who purchase coverage on the ObamaCare exchanges to pay the premiums of those who fail to make their premium payments for 90 days. The CHAMPION Act would reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion over ten years.

Finally, on Wednesday, it’s expected that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) will unveil the text of the tax reform bill. The committee will begin the markup of the legislation on Monday, November 6. The framework of the tax plan can be found here. There are some big pieces of the actual legislation still in the air, particularly the rumored changes to 401(k) contributions and the state and local tax (SALT) deduction.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on Sunday the plan would allow people to invest more of their own money into retirement plans, but the money would be taxed on the front end, not at withdrawal, as is the case with Roth-style plans. Separately, although Republicans were able to pass the FY 2018 budget resolution last week, several Republicans from the Northeast voted against the budget out of concern that the SALT deduction may be eliminated. There is discussion of an income cap on the deduction, preventing people who earn $400,000 or $500,000 in a tax year from claiming it.

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

Senate:

After significant criticism of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for the slow pace of work in 2017, the Senate appears to be moving more quickly on the dozens of federal court nominees awaiting confirmation. Well, at least that's what Leader McConnell wrote in National Review last week, although he warned, "Democratic obstruction will likely mean that we’ll have to take more of the Senate’s time to get the job done. But we will confirm these nominees. You can count on it."

President Donald Trump has nominated 57 judges to federal district and appellate courts. Fewer than ten have been confirmed. On Monday, the Senate will resume consideration of the nomination of Trevor N. McFadden to serve as a judge on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The Senate will consider four appellate court nominees this week: Amy Barrett (Seventh Circuit), Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen (Sixth Circuit) Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid (Tenth Circuit), and Stephanos Bibas (Third Circuit).

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