Capitol Hill Update: November 6, 2017


The House and Senate are in session this week.


The House will reconvene on Monday with a slate of six bills on the suspension calendar, each of which relates to veterans. As we’ve noted before, bills on the suspension calendar require two-thirds of members present for passage. The theme of veterans continues Tuesday, with nine of the 11 bills on the suspension calendar relating to those who’ve served. Other bills on the suspension calendar are the Risk-Based Credit Examination Act, H.R. 3911, and the Clarifying Commercial Real Estate Loans Act, H.R. 2148.

Also on Tuesday, the House will consider the Save Local Business Act, H.R. 3441. The bill is a response to the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) August 2015 joint employer rule. The decision in the case allowed workers hired through another source, such as a staffing firm, to unionize with traditional employees hired by the employer and collectively bargain. The American Action Forum estimated that the joint employer rule would lead to a loss of 1.7 million private sector jobs.

Although the Department of Labor addressing the NLRB’s decision, the Save Local Business Act would ensure directly address the underlying problems in statute by amending the National Labor Relations Act.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will take up the Hydropower Policy Modernization Act, H.R. 3043, and the Micro Offering Safe Harbor Act, H.R. 2201. The Hydropower Policy Modernization Act would make the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the leading authority to license hydropower projects. It also creates timeframes for projects to be completed. The Micro Offering Safe Harbor Act would help small businesses raise necessary capital during a nonpublic offering.

The House Ways and Means Committee will begin its markup of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, H.R. 1, which is the first real attempt to reform the tax code since 1986. FreedomWorks will have an analysis of the bill posted on Monday afternoon. The markup of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is expected to last through Thursday.

Separately, we’ve heard rumors that the House Judiciary Committee may markup the USA Liberty Act, H.R. 3989, which would reauthorize Title VII of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), including the controversial Section 702.

Although the USA Liberty Act offers several reforms to current surveillance practices, including a temporary codification of the end of "about" collection, the bill doesn’t address the backdoor search, through which domestic law enforcement agencies search communications, including those of Americans, not related to terrorism without a warrant. FreedomWorks’ principles for FISA reauthorization are available here.

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


The Senate has picked up the pace on the judicial appointments made by President Trump. Last week, the Senate confirmed four appellate court judges and one district court judge. The Senate also approved nearly 30 nominees or reappointments to various posts, including ambassadorships and undersecretaries, by unanimous consent. We expect more nominees to reach the floor this week.

Separately, on Wednesday, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will markup the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), S. 1693. The bill, which seeks to clarify Section 230 of the Communications Act, is well-intentioned, but the weak "knowledge" standard proposed is problematic. The effect could have a chilling effect on mainstream providers like Google, Facebook, and YouTube.

Finally, it’s possible that the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) will shed some light on his vision for tax reform. The committee has jurisdiction over taxes in the upper chamber. Although Senate Republicans have been less critical of the House’s efforts on tax reform than they were over health insurance reform, there are still clear divisions that will have to be addressed. With only a $1.5 trillion deficit allowed by the FY 2018 budget resolution, there isn’t much room to play with.

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