Capitol Hill Update: December 4, 2017


The House and Senate are in session this week.


The House will reconvene Monday evening for two votes. The first vote will be on a motion to enter into a conference committee with the Senate on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, H.R. 1. The second vote will be on a motion from Democrats to give conferees instructions. Votes are expected at 6:30 pm.

The House wasn’t supposed to come back until Tuesday, but the passage of H.R. 1 in the Senate by a 51 to 49 vote very early Saturday morning led to the schedule adjustment. Another factor is that this will be a busy week with a short-term continuing resolution likely to keep the federal government open. The current continuing resolution expires on Friday, December 8.

On Tuesday, the House will consider six bills on the suspension calendar, two of which relate to Venezuela and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the South American country. Another suspension bill would condemn the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in Burma. Among the other suspensions are the Stop Abusive Female Exploitation (SAFE) Act, H.R. 3317, and the Secret Service Recruitment and Retention Act, H.R. 3731, which would address the overtime pay issue the agency faces.

During the remainder of the week, the House will consider the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, H.R. 38; the Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act, H.R. 3971; and the Small Business Mergers, Acquisitions, Sales, and Brokerage Simplification Act, H.R. 477.

Apart from the vote to go to conference on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, legislation to fund the federal government will be the biggest issue of the week. It’s likely that the House will pass a short-term continuing resolution through Friday, December 22, which means that Congress will have to come back right before Christmas to pass another funding bill.

There are other items that could be attached to a government funding bill, including the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and/or reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). CHIP expired at the end of FY 2017, September 30, although all but three states and the District of Columbia had enough funding to get through the first quarter of FY 2018. The House passed CHIP reauthorization, H.R. 3922, on November 3. The current authorization for FISA expires on December 31.

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


The Senate will kick off the week with the consideration of Kirstjen Nielsen to serve as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Gen. John Kelly held the role until late July when he was named White House chief of staff. Nielsen served as chief of staff under Gen. Kelly at the Department of Homeland Security and deputy chief of staff at the White House. She also served in President George W. Bush’s administration as a special assistant to the president and the senior director for prevention, preparedness, and response on the White House Homeland Security Council.

Like the House, the Senate will consider a government funding bill. It’s possible that a reauthorization of FISA will be attached in the Senate. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is the sponsor of the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act, S. 2010, which expands the government’s surveillance powers. Sen. Burr is working to get the bill attached to a spending measure.

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