Capitol Hill Update: September 11, 2017


The House and Senate are in session this week.


Last week was disappointing, to put it mildly. The Senate and House passed a supplemental disaster relief bill that included a short-term debt limit increase and continuing resolution. The debt limit increase and government funding will last through December 8. President Donald Trump has floated the misguided idea that Congress should get rid of the debt limit. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has thrown cold water on that notion.

Originally, the House was supposed to begin the week on Monday. With Hurricane Irma hitting Florida yesterday and today and causing several absences, as members of the Florida delegation began to leaving Washington late last week to help with preparations for the storm, the House will begin legislative business on Tuesday.

When the House convenes Tuesday evening, members will consider a dozen bills on the suspension calendar, most of which relate to homeland security and related departments and agencies. Bills on the suspension calendar require three-fifths for passage. The debate will resume on amendments to the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, H.R. 3354.

The House spent much of last week considering dozens of the more than 320 amendments to the bill. Amendments to Divisions C, Commerce, Justice, and Science; Division D, Financial Services and General
Government; and Division F, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, will be considered before a vote on final passage. FreedomWorks released key votes for amendments, which can be viewed here and here.

The FY 2018 budget resolution, H.Con.Res. 71, which has the reconciliation instructions for tax reform, is not on the calendar for the week. There have been mixed messages on this in the past few weeks. Initially, we had been told that the budget resolution would come up in the first or second week of September. Later, it was suggested that the budget may have to wait until October.

The Whip team did do a vote check on the budget resolution during a vote series on September 5. Some House Republicans are frustrated by the lack of detail on the tax reform proposal, which has largely been written behind closed doors. Everything we’ve heard, however, indicates that the June 2016 tax reform blueprint is still the basis for the proposal, sans the border adjustment tax.

Also absent from this week’s floor calendar is the 21st Century AIRR Act, H.R. 2997. This bill would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration and modernize air traffic control. As noted in previous updates, FreedomWorks supports this bill and has an active key vote alert out to House offices.

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


The Senate is expected to begin debate on the National Defense Authorization Act, S. 1519. It’s expected that the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), S. 1693, will be attached to NDAA. Conservative, libertarian, and civil liberties groups have been concerned about the impact SESTA will have on providers like Google and Facebook because, as written, the bill weakens liability protections established under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. FreedomWorks’ Dr. Wayne Brough detailed these concerns in an op-ed at The American Spectator.

There are several nominations still pending confirmation votes on the floor. At some point soon, the Senate is also expected to take up H.J.Res. 111, a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, to overturn the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s arbitration rule. H.J.Res. 111 passed the House in July by a vote of 231 to 190.

The Senate parliamentarian has given a deadline of September 30 for the chamber to pass health insurance reform legislation under reconciliation. September 30 is the end of FY 2017. There doesn’t appear to be any momentum on a compromise, although the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold two more hearings this week, Tuesday and Thursday, on insurance market stabilization. These hearings, spearheaded by Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), are little more than the committee laying the ground work for a bailout of health insurance companies.

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