Capitol Hill Update: December 2, 2019


The House and Senate are in session this week.


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

  • H.Res. 517, Supporting the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), malaria, and its Sixth Replenishment
  • H.R. 3460, End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act
  • S. 178, UIGHUR Act
  • H.Res. 546, Disapproving the Russian Federation’s inclusion in future Group of Seven summits until it respects the territorial integrity of its neighbors and adheres to the standards of democratic societies
  • H.Res. 585, Reaffirming support for the Good Friday Agreement and other agreements to ensure lasting peace in Northern Ireland
  • H.R. 4803, Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act
  • H.R. 565, AMIGOS Act
  • H.R. 4018, To provide that the amount of time an elderly offender must serve before being eligible for placement in home detention is to be reduced by the amount of good time credits earned by the prisoner, and for other purposes
  • S. 151, TRACED Act

The House Rules Committee will meet on Tuesday at 5:00 pm to consider the rule and amendments to the Insider Trading Prohibition Act, H.R. 2534, and a sense of the House resolution affirming support for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, H.Res. 326. Additional legislation could be added to the calendar.

The Insider Trading Prohibition Act, H.R. 2534, would expand and clarify existing insider trading laws, making it easier for the Securities and Exchange Commission to seek prosecution of such cases. The bill would prohibit the trading of securities while in possession of material, nonpublic information. It also prohibits the wrongful communication of such information. The relevant intent requirement for the prohibitions is defined as “reckless,” which is lower than the willful standard in current law. Information obtained wrongfully would include theft, bribery, hacking, deceptive taking, or breach of fiduciary duty. According to the committee report out of House Financial Services, the Insider Trading Prohibition Act was passed by voice vote. The report does note, however, that Republicans on the committee are concerned about how broadly the bill could be read by federal courts.

H.Res. 326 is simply a resolution that expresses the sense of the House in support of a two-state solution to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The resolution is nonbinding and doesn’t have the force of law. It mentions the parameters put forward by the three previous presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama — but it makes no specific recommendations on how to achieve the goal of a two-state solution. The resolution just states that a two-state solution should be the goal and that the United States and other international partners should play a role.

We’d been told that the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, H.R. 3, would be on the floor this week. That bill isn’t on the calendar, though. 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. The bill defines the “maximum fair price” by 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, an excise tax of between 65 percent and 95 percent. Another provision directs the Department of Labor, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Health and Human Services to study the feasibility of requiring pharmaceutical companies to provide rebates to employer-sponsored health insurance plans if prescription drug costs increase faster than inflation. We wouldn’t be surprised if H.R. 3 still came to the floor for a vote this week.

On Tuesday at 6:00 pm, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) will meet to consider the report of Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) that will be, assuming the committee approves it, will be transmitted to the House Judiciary Committee (HJC). The resolution authorizing the impeachment inquiry, H.Res. 660, requires HPSCI to issue the report with its findings and recommendations. The report, which HPSCI members can view today, will include the views of the minority on the committee.

HJC will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10:00 am on the “constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment.” In a letter, Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) urged Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to have “an expanded panel and a balanced composition of academic witnesses to opine on the subject matter at issue.” Collins cited the hearing during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton as an example of how Wednesday’s hearing should be conducted. Nadler, however, has called only four witnesses. “This is less than a quarter of those called to testify during the Clinton impeachment. In light of this, I request that you expand the number of witnesses called upon to testify on December 4 to give the American people a wider array of perspectives regarding impeachment,” Collins wrote. “I further request that you equally allocate those witnesses to the majority and minority’s choosing.”

The committee schedule for the week is here.


The Senate returns today at 3:00 pm and will resume consideration of Dan R. Brouillette to serve as Secretary of Energy. Cloture was invoked on Brouillette’s nomination before the Senate adjourned for Thanksgiving. A vote on Brouillette’s confirmation is expected around 5:30 pm. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) filed cloture on nine other nominations before the recess. A vote on cloture motion for Eric Ross Komitee to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York will follow the vote on Brouillette. The other nominees on the floor this week are below.

  • John L. Sinatra, Jr. to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York
  • Sarah E. Pitlyk to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
  • Douglas Russell Cole to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
  • R. Austin Huffaker, Jr. to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama
  • David B. Barlow to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah
  • Richard Ernest Myers, II to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina
  • Sherri A. Lydon to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina
  • Robert M. Duncan to serve as a Governor of the United States Postal Service for a term expiring December 8, 2025

Before the recess, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) came to an agreement on the 302(b) subcommittee allocations for FY 2020. For the uninitiated, the topline spending figure for each subcommittee is known as a 302(b) allocation, in reference to the specific section of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Act of 1974. In statute, 302(b) is 2 USC 633(b). Although much work remains to be done, the agreement on 302(b) allocations set the stage for an omnibus spending bill during the week of December 16. None of the 12 appropriations bills for FY 2020 have passed both chambers and been signed into law. The current continuing resolution runs through Thursday, December 20.

The committee schedule for the week is here.