Capitol Hill Update: September 5, 2017


The House and Senate are in session this week.


Buckle up, folks. It’s going to be a very busy, very contentious month in Congress.

Five bills are currently on the suspension calendar this week, including the Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act, H.R. H.R. 1843, sponsored by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.). The RESPECT Act codifies the Obama-era restrictions the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury put in place to restrict the seizure and forfeiture of bank accounts in which the structuring of deposits to avoid transaction reports is the only crime suspected. The House unanimously passed an iteration of this bill in September 2016.

On Wednesday, the House will consider an emergency disaster relief bill for areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The White House has requested $7.85 billion in initial emergency spending. There will be another disaster relief bill, probably later in the month, and it could include the debt limit increase.

The vast majority of the votes this week will relate to the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, H.R. 3354, which contains the eight remaining appropriations bills. Nearly 1,000 amendments to the bill have been submitted to the House Rules Committee for consideration on the floor. The committee will meet at 4:00 pm on Tuesday to begin determining which amendments will be made in order. FreedomWorks is looking at several amendments for potential key votes.

The FY 2018 budget resolution, H.Con.Res. 71, which includes reconciliation instructions for fundamental tax reform, isn’t on the calendar for the week. The absence of the budget from the calendar isn’t necessarily a concern because floor action was assumed in the first two weeks. Leadership hosted two briefings on the FY 2018 budget last week, so we had hoped these briefings were a sign of immediate floor time. We’re now hearing that the budget may not come up until October because of the workload in September and only 12 legislative days to accomplish everything.

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


The Senate will convene on Tuesday and consider the nomination of Timothy Kelly to serve as a judge on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Like the House, the Senate will take up the emergency disaster relief funding bill for the areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The rest of the floor calendar in the Senate for the remainder of the week isn’t clear.

The National Defense Authorization Act, S. 1519, and the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, S. 1405, are both items that will come up this week or next. The House has already passed its version of the NDAA, and it’s expected to take up its version of FAA reauthorization next week.

There are a couple of hearings of note in Senate committees this week. The Senate Committee on Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions (HELP) will hold hearings on health insurance reform on Wednesday, with five state insurance commissioners slated to testify, and Thursday, when five governors, including John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), who has rolled out a reform proposal with Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio).

The hearings are branded as relating to market stabilization, which is a euphemism for a taxpayer-funded bailout of health insurance companies. Two more hearings on this topic are already scheduled for next week, one on state flexibility and another with stakeholders.

Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who has a 59 percent lifetime score with FreedomWorks, complained that the health insurance reform bills that failed in the Senate did not go through regular order, including the ObamaCare repeal bill that he supported in 2015 but voted against in July. He wants a bipartisan approach to health insurance reform should the Senate move forward. The FY 2017 budget resolution under which the reconciliation instructions to repeal ObamaCare apply expire on September 30.

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