After an extended seven week summer recess, members of the House and Senate return to Washington this week to resume the disputes over Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriations that have dominated the business on Capitol Hill throughout the 114th Congress.  With the September 30 end of FY 2016 on the horizon, the only must-pass item on the legislative agenda for both chambers in September will be an appropriations measure to keep the federal government funded and running into the new fiscal year, starting October 1.  The length of that temporary appropriations measure and its scope will be the focus of both chambers in September.  With all members of the House up for election on November 8 and one-third of the Senate, members of both chambers are also eager to resolve the funding issue and return to the campaign trail in what is turning out to be a highly unusual election season, driven by the unlikely and unorthodox Republican presidential nominee.

As members return, the House is scheduled to adjourn at the end of September after four weeks of work, and the Senate is scheduled to work into the first week of October before joining their House counterparts; rumors already abound that neither chamber will remain in session to its currently scheduled recess, and both are likely to seek to adjourn early, with an eye on returning after the election for a lame-duck session.

The Senate is scheduled to return to legislative business on Tuesday, September 6, when members will resume consideration of the House-passed conference report to the FY 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill, which also provides $1.1 billion in emergency funding for Zika response (HR 2577).  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has set up a third vote to invoke cloture on the legislation this week, after two previous attempts in June and July failed to achieve the necessary three-fifths majority vote for passage. Democrats have withheld support over what they view as “poison pill” riders to the Zika response measure.  These provisions include a restriction on funding to medical facilities that provide abortion services and funding offsets.  The pressure for Congress to take action on the Zika response bill has only increased over the recess, as most of the country is well into the summer mosquito season and the first cases of virus transmission and virus-carrying mosquitoes in the United States have been confirmed in Florida.  Although the political pressure is building in Florida, much of the rest of the country appears indifferent, and as a result the third Senate vote is unlikely to succeed.  Press reports indicate that House and Senate leaders may be open to negotiating a new Zika response package that could be attached to the must-pass continuing resolution for FY 2017, but they will also not want to exacerbate divisions over the must-pass stopgap funding measure, so the future for the Zika funding is unclear.

The Senate may also reconsider the FY 2017 Defense Appropriations bill, another funding measure that has been blocked due to funding levels and policy riders.   Democratic leaders have announced they will block the entire appropriations process unless Republicans pledge to stick to the bipartisan budget agreement established last fall under the leadership of former Speaker of the House John Boehner and eliminate all “poison pill” policy riders.  Majority Leader McConnell attempted to bring the defense appropriations bill to the Senate floor in July, but the procedural vote did not achieve the necessary majority without Democratic support.  Leader McConell has indicated he intends to set up another procedural vote this week.

Press reports indicate that the Senate may take up the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (S. 2848) as early as this week.  The $10.6 billion water infrastructure measure provides authorization for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects on locks, dams, levees, and other waterway systems throughout the country.  The bill also includes $220 million in assistance for communities like Flint, Michigan, that are dealing with lead and other contaminants in their drinking-water systems.

On the other side of the Capitol, the House is also scheduled to resume legislative business on Tuesday, with votes expected on 13 bills, four of which were reported out of the Judiciary Committee and eight out of the Natural Resources Committee, under suspension of the rules.

On Wednesday, members will consider another five measures under suspension of the rules, all reported out of the Foreign Affairs Committee.  After completing the suspension calendar for the week, the House will take up H.R. 5063, the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2016.  Sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the legislation would prohibit government officials from entering into or enforcing any settlement agreement for civil actions on behalf of the United States if that agreement requires the other party to the settlement to make a donation to a third party. In recent settlements with the United States Department of Justice, large corporations, such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Bank of America, have been required to donate funds to charitable institutions as a part of their restitution, and these donations occur entirely outside of the congressional appropriations and oversight process and are invariable funneled to groups on the political left that maintain close relationships with the Democratic administration and its political appointees.  The Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act would instead require that all settlement money goes either to victims of the illegality the lawsuit challenged or to the Treasury, to be allocated under the Constitution by Congress.  Consideration of H.R. 5063 will be subject to a rule; while the bill will pass, it stands no prospect of being considered in the Senate or becoming law, at least this year.

During the remainder of the week, the House will consider two additional measures that are part of the Republican innovation agenda, intended to accelerate private sector investment in innovative sectors of the economy.  Members will first take up H.R. 2357, the Accelerating Access to Capital Act of 2016, legislation to simplify the registration process for businesses filing statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission in order to sell securities to the public. Specifically, the bill would remove certain limitations on the use of a simplified form for filing a registration statement.  Following the dispensation of H.R. 2357, the House will take up H.R. 5424, the Investment Advisers Modernization Act of 2016.  The bipartisan legislation would update portions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 to provide several exemptions for advertising, transferring, and selling funds and securities by investment advisers, in order to reduce what bill sponsors view as unnecessary burdens on small businesses’ access to capital.   Consideration of each bill will be subject to a rule on the House floor.

The committees hearing schedule is light, given the abbreviated week back in session after the Labor Day holiday, but several notable events are taking place.

Several committees will be reviewing health care and portions of the Affordable Care Act this week.  The House Budget Committee will meet on Wednesday morning to discuss the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation and its impact on the budget.  The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation was created by the ACA, charged with “testing innovative payment and delivery system models that show important promise for maintaining or improving the quality of care in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), while slowing the rate of growth in program costs.”  In that role, it has produced a highly controversial proposal to reduce reimbursement costs for physician-administered pharmaceuticals.

Also on Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health will be reviewing Medicare Part A, the program’s hospital insurance coverage, and methods of incentivizing hospitals to provide cost-effective quality coverage.

On Thursday the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health meets to discuss five bills related to public health issues, including diabetes, sickle cell disease research, congenital heart failure.  The Health Subcommittee is also scheduled to meet on Friday for a hearing to examine federal mental health parity laws and regulations.

Energy issues also dominate the hearing schedule this week.  A House and Senate conference committee on comprehensive energy legislation is scheduled to meet formally for the first time on Thursday.  Members will be working out the differences between their two versions of legislation that could be the first update to federal energy policy since 2007.  The Senate passed its bill with overwhelming bipartisan support in April, while the House narrowly its own version of energy modernization legislation on a party-line vote, meaning there will be significant issues for the conference committee to work through this fall.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power is scheduled to meet in Wednesday to review the Federal Power Act, particularly the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and electricity markets over the past twenty years.

There are two House Foreign Affairs hearings scheduled on Thursday afternoon that are focused on energy markets.  The Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will hold a joint hearing with the Energy Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology to discuss energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.  The Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific is also scheduled to meet to discuss opportunities to advance U.S. energy policy in Asia, particularly the region’s dependence on liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States and the economic and security interests involved.

On Friday morning, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Transportation and Public Assets will hold an oversight hearing on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to the devastating flooding that occurred in Louisiana in August.  The agency has approved more than $100 million in disaster relief grants for flood victims, but Congress may be asked to provide additional emergency funds to assist with the recovery effort.

On Thursday, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will meet to discuss the Obama Administration’s $400 million cash payment of U.S. taxpayer funds to Iran that has been linked to the release of several U.S. hostages.  The payout has come under intense scrutiny, particularly from congressional Republicans.  The hearing will focus on the $400 million cash payment and the implications on U.S. efforts to inhibit terrorism financing.

The Iran payout is also the subject of a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.  The Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice is scheduled to hold an oversight hearing on the lack of transparency on money from the Judgment Fund, a permanent Treasury Department account used to pay judgments and claims against the United States.

The details for these events and other congressional hearings scheduled this week are included below:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

House Committees

Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation: Scoring Assumptions Real-World Implications
House Budget
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m.

Federal Power Act Review
House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Energy and Power
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m.

Federal Reserve Districts: Governance, Monetary Policy, and Economic Performance
House Financial Services – Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m.

Oversight of the Judgment Fund: Iran Big Settlements and the Lack of Transparency
House Judiciary – Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m.

Federal Maritime Navigation Programs: Interagency Cooperation and Technological Change
House Transportation and Infrastructure – Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation; House Transportation and Infrastructure – Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment
Subcommittees Joint Hearing
10 a.m.

VA Information Subpoenas
House Veterans’ Affairs
Full Committee Business Meeting
10:15 a.m.

From Tumult to Transformation: The Commission on Care and the Future of the VA Healthcare System
House Veterans’ Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
10:30 a.m.

Unemployment Insurance Challenges
House Ways and Means – Subcommittee on Human Resources
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m.

HUBZone Program Oversight
House Small Business
Full Committee Hearing
11 a.m.

The Growing Crisis in South Sudan
House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m.

Oversight of the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General’s Military Whistleblower Reprisal Investigations
House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on National Security
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m.

Commercial Remote Sensing: Facilitating Innovation and Leadership
House Science, Space and Technology – Subcommittee on Space
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m.

Incentivizing Quality Outcomes in Medicare Part A
House Ways and Means – Subcommittee on Health
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m.

Nuclear Weapons Deferred Maintenance
House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
Subcommittee Hearing
3:30 p.m.

Pending Legislation
House Natural Resources
Full Committee Markup
5 p.m.

Senate Committees

Pending District Judge Nominations
Senate Judiciary
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m.

UN Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Resolution
Senate Foreign Relations
Full Committee Hearing
2:30 p.m.

Pending Business
Senate Indian Affairs
Full Committee Markup
2:15 p.m.

VA Health Care Best Practices
Senate Veterans’ Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
2:30 p.m.

America’s Retirement Future
Senate Special Aging
Full Committee Hearing
2:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

House Committees

Public Health Legislation
House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Health
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m.

Fueling Terror: The Dangers of Ransom Payments to Iran
House Financial Services – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m.

National Security Council Reform
House Foreign Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m.

State and Local Perspectives on Federal Security Information Sharing
House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m.

Examining FOIA Compliance at the Department of State
House Oversight and Government Reform
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m.

Rural Small Business Growth
House Small Business – Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m.

Pending Legislation
House Natural Resources
Full Committee Markup
11 a.m.

Rural Call Quality and Reliability
House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m.

Eastern Mediterranean Energy: Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Regional Priorities
House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa; House Science, Space and Technology – Subcommittee on Energy
Committees Joint Hearing
2 p.m.

Asia’s Growing Hunger for Energy: U.S. Policy and Supply Opportunities
House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific
Subcommittee Hearing
3 p.m.

Views on Views on H.R. 4298, the ‘Vietnam Helicopter Crew Memorial Act’; and H.R.5458, the ‘Veteran’s TRICARE Choice Act
House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Military Personnel
Subcommittee Hearing
3:30 p.m.

Senate Committees

U.S. Interests in Pakistan
Senate Foreign Relations
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m.

Reviewing Independent Agency Rulemaking
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m.

Joint Committees

Consequences of Growing Federal Debt
Joint Economic
Full Committee Hearing
9:30 a.m.

Friday, September 9, 2016

House Committees

Oversight of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Response to the Baton Rouge Flood Disaster
House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on Transportation and Public Assets
Subcommittee Hearing
9 a.m.

An Examination of Federal Mental Health Parity Laws and Regulations
House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Health
Subcommittee Hearing
9 a.m.

Corporate Governance: Fostering a System that Promotes Capital Formation and Maximizes Shareholder Value
House Financial Services – Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises
Subcommittee Hearing
9:15 a.m.

Photo of Kaitlyn McClure Kaitlyn McClure

Kaitlyn McClure is a policy advisor in Covington’s Public Policy Practice, leveraging her experience in government and politics to provide strategic advisory services and support to clients with legislative matters before government agencies and Congress.

Before joining the firm, Ms. McClure was the…

Kaitlyn McClure is a policy advisor in Covington’s Public Policy Practice, leveraging her experience in government and politics to provide strategic advisory services and support to clients with legislative matters before government agencies and Congress.

Before joining the firm, Ms. McClure was the Associate Vice President of Client Relations at DDC Advocacy. Prior to working for DDC, Ms. McClure served as the strategy assistant for former presidential candidate Governor Mitt Romney. Her experience also includes working in the U.S. Senate as a legislative assistant for Republican Senators John Hoeven of North Dakota and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.