Capitol Hill Update: October 28, 2019
The House and Senate are in session this week.
The House returns today. Legislative business begins at 2:00 pm. Votes are postponed until 6:30 pm. There are 21 bills coming to the floor under suspension of the rules between today and tomorrow. The suspensions are listed below. We expect these bills to come up today and tomorrow, although some votes may be postponed to Wednesday.
- H.R. 4334, Dignity in Aging Act
- H.R. 2440, Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act
- H.R. 2548, Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects Act
- H.R. 1306, Federal Disaster Assistance Coordination Act
- H.R. 1775, Notice to Airmen Improvement Act
- H.R. 2502, Transparency in Federal Buildings Projects Act
- H.R. 3942, Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act
- H.R. 886, Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act
- H.R. 2514, COUNTER Act
- H.R.____, Equity Crowdfunding Act
- H.R. 4067, Financial Inclusion in Banking Act
- H.R. 1865, National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act
- H.R. 2423, Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
- H.R. 2781, EMPOWER for Health Act of 2019
- H.R. 728, Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act
- H.R. 647, Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act
- H.R. 2115, Public Disclosure of Drug Discounts Act
- H.R. 1781, Payment Commission Data Act
- H.R. 1623, Help America Run Act
- H.Res. 107, SFC Sean Cooley and SPC Christopher Horton Congressional Gold Star Family Fellowship Program Act
- H.R.____, EXPO Act
As noted before, although it has been a while, suspensions need a two-thirds vote to pass the House. These bills may also be voice voted out of the chamber. Bills that come to the floor under suspension aren’t usually controversial. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re good bills. There are three bills on this week’s list that are problematic — the Full Utilization of the Dignity in Aging Act, H.R. 4334; the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act, H.R. 2440; and the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act, H.R. 3942.
The Dignity in Aging Act would increase federal spending by $12.3 billion over the ten-year budgetary window, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The Habor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) Act would provide up to $10 billion in cap-exempt spending for the HMTF. The Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act would require age-verification for online nicotine sales, as well as age-verification at the delivery of such products. The bill would also prohibit the mailing of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) such as e-cigarettes, refillable vaporizers, and vape pens.
There’s another bad bill that we’re watching. It’s the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act, H.R. 3702. This one is a little odd. The bill permanently reauthorizes the Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) and purportedly makes the program more efficient. One of the concerns we’ve heard is that when Congress appropriates money to this, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has to go through a rulemaking, which slows down the grant process. This will be could be added as a suspension.
A positive bill that we’re watching is H.R. 4018, which makes technical corrections to the First Step Act. This particular bill fixes a problem related to the Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program. This program allows nonviolent prisoners who are 60 years of age or older and have served two-thirds of their sentences to be transferred into home confinement. The Bureau of Prisons hasn’t included good time credit into the equation. H.R. 4018 would simply provide for good time to be factored into the two-thirds for eligibility for the program. FreedomWorks recently signed onto a coalition letter in support of this bill.
The House Rules Committee will meet today at 5:00 pm to consider the rule(s) and amendments for five bills. Those bills are the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey (PACT) Act, H.R. 4695; a resolution affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide, H.Res. 296; Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act, H.R. 1373; Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act, H.R. 2181; and the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, H.R. 823. It’s possible that additional legislation could be added to the calendar. We should note that the PACT Act may be on the floor on suspension. Rules has the bill posted, but it was also listed as a suspension by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) office.
The PACT Act, H.R. 4695, would impose sanctions on Turkish government officials and financial institutions, prohibit the United States from selling arms to Turkey, impose sanctions against any foreign person(s) who provides weapons to Turkey, and mandate a report on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his family members’ net worth. The PACT Act has bipartisan support. H.Res. 296 reaffirms the policy of the United States to recognize and remember the Armenian genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 to 1923, reject efforts to deny the genocide occurred, and encourage public education of the atrocity.
The Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act would protect 1 million acres of land adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona from mineral mining, including uranium mining. As far as we can tell, this would only affect new mining on these lands. The Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act would protect more than 316,000 acres of land from new leasing around the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which may have minerals, oil, natural gas, gold, and silver available for exploration. Both bills target actions by the Trump administration to make the areas surrounding these parks available for leasing. Finally, the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act would establish new wilderness and outdoor recreation areas in Colorado, protecting some 400,000 acres of land. Elements of the CORE Act prohibit the leasing of land protected by the bill for mineral exploration.
The committee schedule for the week is here.
The Senate convenes today at 3:00 pm to resume the consideration of H.R. 3055, which is the vehicle for four appropriations bills — Commerce, Justice, and Science; Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration; Interior and Environment; and Transportation and Urban Development.
The Senate will consider amendments to H.R. 3055 offered by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.). The Cortez Masto amendment, S.Amdt. 961, would provide for a report on food distribution programs in underserved populations. The Jones amendment, S.Amdt. 1067, would provide $5 million in funding to begin a pilot program to help families resolve property ownership issues. The Paul amendment, S.Amdt. 1019, would reduce appropriations in H.R. 3055 by 2 percent. FreedomWorks will score this amendment.
It’s possible that the Senate could take up the resolution, S.Res. 378, introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that urges the House to adhere to practice and precedent in impeachment proceedings. The resolution has 44 cosponsors, all of whom are Republicans. Noticeably absent are Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah). Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) hasn’t cosponsored, but he plans to resign at the end of the year after battling health issues. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), both of whom haven’t cosponsored the resolution, are retiring after their current term expires at the conclusion of the 116th Congress.
The committee schedule for the week is here.