Capitol Hill Update: January 9, 2017
The House and Senate are in session this week.
The House has several bills that it will take up during the week, most of which will be considered under suspension of the rules, meaning two-thirds of the chamber are required for passage. Typically, though not always, legislation considered under suspension isn’t controversial. Some legislation will be brought to the floor under a rule, which could limit amendments brought from the floor.
Bills expected to reach the floor this week include the SEC Regulatory Accountability Act, H.R. 78, introduced by Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), and the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act, H.R. 79, introduced by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio). The SEC Regulatory Accountability Act, which was carried in the previous Congress by then-Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), requires the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of any rules and review existing rules. The HALOS Act would make it easier for startups to pitch their business to investors, allowing entrepreneurs to publicly pitch their business. Both bills passed the House in the previous Congress.
Continuing its regulatory reform efforts, the House will consider the Regulatory Accountability Act, H.R. 5, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). The Regulatory Accountability Act incorporates the language of six bills that passed in the House in the previous Congress. The bill requires regulatory agencies to adopt the least costly rule to meet statutory requirements, ends the Chevron deference requires regulatory agencies to consider the economic impact of rules on small businesses, and provides greater transparency of the regulatory process to Americans.
FreedomWorks will key vote "YES" on the Regulatory Accountability Act when it comes to the floor for a vote. The key vote notice will be distributed to House offices later in the week.
The House could also consider the FY 2017 budget resolution, which directs the Ways and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee to begin the process of repealing ObamaCare through budget reconciliation. The Senate will act first. The House won’t consider the budget resolution until at least Thursday or Friday.
Some fiscal conservatives in the House are, rightly, concerned about the spending levels in the budget resolution and the $7.919 trillion of budget deficits and $9.098 trillion in new publicly-held debt that it authorizes, even if the resolution is nonbinding. This could lead to defections on the House floor when the resolution comes up for a vote. Republicans hold 241 seats in the House. Leadership can lose only 23 Members to pass the budget resolution with 218 votes if the House votes along party lines. If they lose more, the budget resolution fails. If history is a guide, Rep. Colin Petersen (D-Minn.), who voted to repeal ObamaCare in the previous Congress, will likely do so again, giving leadership an extra vote.
The first vote in the Senate in the 115th Congress on the motion to proceed with S.Con.Res 3, which directs Senate and House committees to begin the process of repealing ObamaCare. The motion to proceed carried by a 51 to 48 vote. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the only Republican to vote against. As he explained before Christmas in a Facebook Live with FreedomWorks, Sen. Paul opposed the budget resolution because of the spending levels set under it.
After the successful motion to proceed, the Senate begins debate on the budget resolution. Debate is limited to 50 hours, during which senators can offer amendments to the budget resolution. After the debate, senators proceed to vote on amendments offered and final passage of the underlying budget resolution, known as a "votarama." It’s likely the Senate won’t finish this proceed until late Wednesday evening or the early hours of Thursday morning. As of this morning, 21 amendments have been filed. Sen. Paul is the only Republican to introduce an amendment.
Hearings have been scheduled for six of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees:
The Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to serve as attorney general on Tuesday, January 10 and Wednesday, January 11. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is the chairman of the committee. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is the ranking member. The committee’s full membership is available here.
The Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Elaine Chao to serve as secretary of the transportation on Wednesday, January 11. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is the chairman of the committee. Sen. Bill Nelson (R-Fla.) is the ranking member. The committee’s full membership is available here.
The Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Rex Tillerson to serve as secretary of state on Wednesday, January 11. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is the chairman of the committee. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) is the ranking member. The committee’s full membership is available here.
The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of John Kelly to serve as secretary of homeland security on Wednesday, January 11. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is the chairman of the committee. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is the ranking member. The committee’s full membership is available here.
The Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of James Mattis to serve as secretary of defense on Thursday, January 12. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is the chairman of the committee. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) is the ranking member. The committee’s full membership is available here.
The Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Dr. Ben Carson to serve as secretary of housing and urban development (HUD) on Thursday, January 12. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Wyo.) is the chairman of the committee. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is the ranking member. The committee’s full membership is available here.
It’s likely that confirmation hearings for the remaining nominees to President-elect Trump’s cabinet, including Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has been tapped to serve as administrator of the EPA, will be announced this week. FreedomWorks has driven nearly 27,000 contacts to the Senate in support of Attorney General Pruitt and will key vote the committee and floor votes on his confirmation on its 2017 Congressional Scorecard.