Capitol Hill Update: December 10, 2018


The House and Senate are in session this week.


The House and Senate passed a two-week continuing resolution (CR), H.J.Res. 143, which was cleared through both chambers without a recorded vote. The CR also included a temporary extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The new government funding deadline is Friday, December 21. It’s still likely that Congress may pass an omnibus spending bill through the end of the fiscal year, but we’ve also heard a short-term CR through some time early next year may also be a possibility.

The House didn’t take any recorded votes last week. The House is back in session on Monday. Legislative business begins at 2:00 pm. Votes are postponed until 6:30 pm. There are 23 bills on the suspension calendar this week. Additional bills could be added to the suspension calendar.

  • H.R. 5513, Big Bear Land Exchange Act
  • H.R. 6108, Preserving America’s Battlefields Act
  • H.R. 3008, George W. Bush Childhood Home Study Act
  • H.R. 6118, To direct the Secretary of the Interior to annually designate at least one city in the United States as an American World War II Heritage City, and for other purposes
  • H.R. 6665, Offshore Wind for Territories Act
  • H.Res. 792, Urging the Secretary of the Interior to recognize the historical significance of Roberto Clemente’s place of death near Piñones in Loíza, Puerto Rico, by adding it to the National Register of Historic Places
  • S. 245, Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments
  • S. 825, Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Land Transfer Act
  • S. 2511, CENOTE Act
  • H.R. 6893, Secret Service Overtime Pay Extension Act
  • House Amendment to S. 2248, Veterans Benefit and Transition Act
  • S. 943, Johnson-O’Malley Supplemental Indian Education Program Modernization Act
  • H.R. 6140, Advanced Nuclear Fuel Availability Act
  • H.R. 7217, IMPROVE Act
  • S. 2465, Sickle Cell Disease and Other Heritable Blood Disorders Research, Surveillance, Prevention, and Treatment Act
  • S. 3029, PREEMIE Reauthorization Act
  • H.R. 1318, Preventing Maternal Deaths Act
  • H.Res. 1165, Condemning the Assad regime and its backers for their continued support of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria
  • H.Res. 1091, Calling on the Government of Burma to release Burmese journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo sentenced to seven years imprisonment after investigating attacks against civilians by Burma’s military and security forces, and for other purposes
  • H.Res. 1162, Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to Ukraine, and for other purposes
  • H.Res. 1157, Reaffirming the strong commitment of the United States to the countries and territories of the Pacific Islands region
  • H.Res. 1149, Recognizing that the United States-Republic of Korea alliance serves as a linchpin of regional stability and bilateral security, and exemplifies the broad and deep military, diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties shared between the United States and the Republic of Korea
  • H.Res. 1035, Expressing opposition to the completion of Nord Stream II, and for other purposes

Currently, there aren’t any rule bills on the calendar, but that could change. Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) office does mention that the conference report for the Farm Bill, H.R. 2, could come to the floor this week. Other items may be added during the course of the week. While we’re on the topic of the Farm Bill, negotiators have run into some scoring problems, and conferees don’t want to release the text too soon because once members find out what’s in the bill, they may lose votes. “There’s concern on some of the members’ part that when people find out what’s in the bill it will start unraveling,” said House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Peterson, who will chair the committee in the 116th Congress. There are other serious problematic provisions of the conference report. The Farm Bill will expand the pool of potential subsidy recipients to "first cousins, nieces, and nephews" of farmers and the AGI means test will stay at $900,000. These are only examples. There’s more bad stuff in this bill.

The committee schedule for the week is available here.


The Senate will come back into session on Monday at 4:00 pm. The first item on the agenda for the week is the nomination of Justin Muzinich to serve as a deputy secretary of the Department of the Treasury. Cloture on Muzinich’s nomination was filed on Thursday. A vote on the cloture motion will happen around 5:30 pm.

The Senate is expected to vote on two privileged resolutions, S.J.Res. 54 and S.J.Res. 64. S.J.Res. 54 would end the United States’ involvement in Yemen. We expect the resolution to pass with a bipartisan majority. FreedomWorks has an active key vote for the resolution. S.J.Res. 64 is a disapproval resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to nullify the Department of the Treasury’s policy to end the collection of donor information to certain 501(c) nonprofit organizations. FreedomWorks will score against S.J.Res. 64.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) announced his support for the First Step Act, S. 3649, after an amendment he drafted was incorporated into the base text of the bill. We have seen the text of the amendment. What it does is add some excluded offenses to Section 101. Offenders prosecuted under these more than 60 crimes aren’t eligible to use earned time credits for placement in pre-release custody. The amendment also eliminates subsection (g) of Section 402, which is the expansion of the safety valve exception to mandatory minimums. Subsection (g) allowed a judge to waive the criminal history point limitations of the safety valve in certain circumstance. The safety valve, though, has other criteria that would disqualify violent offenders and managers of any drug crime, rendering much of the criticisms of this subsection moot.

President Trump has nominated William Barr to serve as the next attorney general. Barr served in the same post for a little over a year under President George H.W. Bush. Most critiques of Barr that we’ve seen have been critical, with many noting that he’s as bad as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions on everything from criminal justice to civil asset forfeiture to surveillance. With a slightly large majority in the 116th Congress, the odds are that Barr will be confirmed, but that’s not a certainty.

The committee schedule for the week is available here.