Capitol Hill Update: March 6, 2017


The House and Senate are in session this week.


The biggest thing on the radar this week is the House Republican alternative to ObamaCare. It’s possible that the legislative text will be made public this week. The rumors are that some significant changes have been made compared to the leaked discussion draft obtained by Politico, particularly to the age-rated refundable tax credit, which may be capped based on income.

The House Republican version of the Cadillac tax remains in place. Funds for Medicaid expansion will continue through 2019, without any freeze on new enrollments. Separately, it has been reported that the Republican version of the individual mandate will stay in place.

If the leaked discussion draft has been the final bill, FreedomWorks wouldn’t have supported the measure and would have considered key voting against it. While Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has said that the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare is entitlement reform, the refundable tax credit proposal in the discussion draft would have had the effect of repealing one entitlement only to replace it with a new one. When the legislative text is released, we will review it with an open mind.

Speaker Ryan told House Republican Thursday that the House will consider the repeal and replace reconciliation bill in three weeks, before the end of March. There are, however, threats that House Republican leaders will "steamroll" conservative members who oppose the replacement by daring them to vote against repeal, which, again, will be in the same legislation.

On Tuesday, the House will vote on several bills on the suspension calendar. A couple of the measures deal with the renaming of government buildings. The House will also consider H.R. 1214, the Disaster SAVE Act, introduced by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.); H.R.1174, the Fairness For Breastfeeding Mothers Act, introduced by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.); and H.R.654, the Pacific Northwest Earthquake Preparedness Act, introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).

On Wednesday, the House will consider H.R. 1301, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, sponsored by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.). The bill, which is subject to a rule, covers appropriations for the Department of Defense for the remainder of FY 2017, which ends on September 30. While the House did pass the Defense appropriations bill last year, the Senate rejected two attempts to advance it. We’ll be keeping an eye out for amendments that the House Rules Committee approves them for consideration on the floor.

The House will also consider a few bills on the suspension calendar, each of which has only local impacts.

On Thursday, the House will take up H.R. 725, the Innocent Party Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and H.R. 985, Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

Finally, on Friday, the House will consider H.R. 720, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). The bill, which passed the House in the previous Congress, is subject to a rule to limit amendments.


With the confirmations of Secretary Ryan Zinke to the Department of the Interior, Secretary Rick Perry to the Department of Energy, and Secretary Ben Carson to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, only the confirmations of former Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-Ga.) to the Department of Agriculture, Alexander Acosta to the Department of Labor, and Robert Lighthizer as the U.S. Trade Representative remain to fill out President Donald Trump’s cabinet. Some Senate committees will consider undersecretaries nominees this week, though it’s unclear whether any of them will go to the floor.

The Senate will consider at least two resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, H.J.Res. 37 and H.J.Res. 44. FreedomWorks has released a key vote notice for H.J.Res. 37, which would cancel the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Federal Acquisition Regulation.

This multi-agency regulation requires federal contractors to disclose decisions on the reporting of violations of federal labor laws and creates paycheck transparency protections for employees of federal contractors. The rule is expected to cost employers $458.3 million in the first year, $413.7 million in the second year, and between $398.5 million and $400 million annually thereafter. H.J.Res. 37 passed the House by a vote of 236 to 187.

H.J.Res. 44 would cancel the Bureau of Land Management’s Resource Management Planning rule. The rule amends the "procedures used to prepare, revise, or amend land use plans pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act." While this isn’t considered an economically significant rule, it does have a significant impact on western states because of the amount of land under federal control. H.J.Res. 44 passed the House by a vote of 234 to 186.

Congress has passed three CRAs, two of which, H.J.Res. 38 and H.J.Res. 41, have become law. One, H.J.Res. 40, is awaiting President Trump’s signature. The White House has indicated that President Trump will sign H.J.Res. 40 into law. A full list of House-passed CRAs is available here.