After a two-week district work period, members of Congress return to Washington, D.C. this week with a major fiscal deadline looming on Friday.  The current continuing resolution is scheduled to expire at midnight on April 28, leaving the House and Senate very little time to strike a deal to keep the government funded and avert a government shutdown.  While congressional negotiators had been optimistic at the start of the two-week recess about the prospects for a compromise finalizing Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 funding, there still appears to be some work to do in resolving major issues surrounding the spending package.  Press reports now indicate leadership is hoping to at least avert a shutdown by quickly passing a one or two-week extension allowing for more time to reach an agreement on a larger spending bill for the remainder of FY 2017, which ends on September 30.  One of the major hang-ups in the negotiations is a new demand from the White House that the spending bill include funds for border security, including President Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico, which congressional Democrats adamantly oppose.  GOP leadership in the House and Senate are likely to need Democratic support in order to pass a final funding package, particularly in the Senate.  Other issues involved in the discussions include funding for health care subsidies related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the ongoing debate over increasing military spending versus non-defense domestic programs.  Even though White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated publicly last week “no one wants a shutdown,” it is unclear how far the White House is willing to go in securing funds for its border security priorities during the remainder of this fiscal year.

Complicating the fiscal negotiations are reports that the White House may also be pressuring House leadership to schedule a vote this week on a new version of the healthcare “repeal and replace” bill related to the provisions ACA.  With President Trump nearing the 100-day mark of his Administration, there is widespread speculation that the White House is eager to achieve a legislative victory and deliver on a major Republican campaign promise of the 2016 election to repeal and replace Obamacare.  Over the recess, several House leaders, including members of the House Freedom Caucus, and the Administration worked on amendments to the American Health Care Act, the ACA repeal-and-replace bill that was pulled from House floor consideration last month after it became clear the GOP majority did not have sufficient votes for passage.  A draft summary of the new legislation that has been circulating among media outlets shows that the new legislation would create an option for states to obtain “Limited Waivers” from certain federal standards created under the ACA.  The waivers would allow states to opt out of Obamacare mandates for Essential Health Benefits and community rating rules.  While these changes may be enough to placate the conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus, they may be problematic for more moderate Republicans.  As of this writing, legislative text has not been made available and a vote is not currently on the House floor schedule, which does not bode well for swift action this week.  President Trump may be impatient to get any repeal and replace bill out of the House during his first 100 days in office, a milestone he will reach on April 29, but congressional Republicans will likely need more time to work out the details.  There is also general concern that scheduling a vote on the ACA-repeal bill during the same week as a must-pass spending bill could harm any spirit of compromise with congressional Democrats on the appropriations measure.

While leadership works through these larger issues, the House and Senate will undertake other legislative business on the agenda.

The Senate returns on Monday, with two roll call votes scheduled in the chamber.  First members will vote on the confirmation of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to be Secretary of Agriculture.  Members will then vote on cloture on the nomination of Rod Rosenstein to serve as Deputy Attorney General, setting up a final confirmation vote on the nominee later in the week.  The floor schedule beyond these two votes is unclear, although action can be expected on a continuing resolution or larger government funding bill if an agreement is reached.  In the meantime the Majority Leader may move to consider other nominations awaiting consideration on the Executive Calendar.  Among the pending nominations is that of Alexander Acosta to be Secretary of Labor, the final Cabinet Secretary awaiting Senate confirmation.

The House is scheduled to return to legislative business on Tuesday, when members will consider eight bills under suspension of the rules.

On Wednesday, members will consider H.R. 1695, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation that would make changes to the selection process for the head of the U.S. Copyright Office, known as the Register of Copyrights.  Under the current law, the Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress, and the Register of Copyrights is appointed by and serves at the sole discretion of the Librarian of Congress.  The proposed legislation would retain the Copyright Office within the Library of Congress but would give the President the authority to nominate a candidate for the Register of Copyrights position, subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.  H.R. 1695 would also limit the Register to a renewable 10-year term.  Additionally, the President would have the authority to terminate the Register’s services at any time.  Introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), H.R. 1695 was reported by the full Judiciary Committee in March on a bipartisan 27-1 vote. Consideration of H.R. 1695 will be subject to a rule.

The House will take up H.R. 1694, the Fannie and Freddie Open Records Act of 2017, on Thursday.  The legislation would apply the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”) during periods when these entities are in conservatorship or receivership, as they are now.  Consideration of H.R. 1694 will be subject to a rule.

The House Majority Leader’s schedule indicates other legislative items are possible during the week, leaving room for consideration of any resulting legislation making further appropriations for FY 2017.

One other matter that will hold great interest for members of Congress this week will be the expected release by the President of the outline for his tax reform proposal.  Tax reform has been a high priority for congressional Republicans and the President.  House Republicans have been working on legislation since last year.  The President announced last week that the Administration would be releasing its proposal this week, though aides subsequently clarified that the Administration will be releasing its tax reform principles.  That act should jump-start the debate on Capitol Hill.

Congressional committees have a lighter-than-normal schedule following the two-week recess, but there are several high profile events scheduled throughout the week.

The U.S. response to North Korea’s aggressive posturing and its recent warning of a “preemptive strike” on South Korea and the U.S. mainland is the subject of four events this week.  The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a Tuesday hearing on “Policy and Strategy in the Asia-Pacific.”  The House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday morning regarding the “Security Challenges in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region” with Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, appearing as the sole hearing witness.  Admiral Harris is also scheduled to provide testimony on the U.S. Pacific Command before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense later on Wednesday afternoon.  On Thursday, he will appear yet again to discuss the status of U.S. forces in South Korea with the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The U.S. border wall with Mexico, a point of contention in the current FY 2017 funding negotiations discussed previously, is also the subject of a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security on Thursday.

Three Trump Administration nominees will see activity in Senate committees on Wednesday.  On Wednesday morning the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will vote on the nomination of Scott Gottlieb to be Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.  The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from Makan Delrahim on his qualifications to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division.  And the Senate Select Intelligence Committee will hear from Courtney Simmons Elwood on her nomination to serve as general counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The full schedule of congressional committee events during the week ahead is detailed below:

 
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Senate Committees

Policy and Strategy in the Asia-Pacific
Senate Armed Services
Full Committee Hearing
9:30 a.m.

The Crisis in Libya: Next Steps and U.S. Policy Options
Senate Foreign Relations
Full Committee Hearing
9:45 a.m., SD-419

Intellectual Property – Driver of Innovation: Making Our Lives Healthier, Safer, and More Productive
Senate Judiciary
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., SD-226

U.S. Assistance for Egypt
Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs
Subcommittee Hearing
2:15 p.m., SD-124

Intelligence Matters
Senate Select Intelligence
Full Committee Briefing
2:30 p.m., SH-219

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

House Committees

Military Assessment of the Security Challenges in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region
House Armed Services
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 2118 RHOB

A Legislative Proposal to Create Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers, and Entrepreneurs (CHOICE)
House Financial Services
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 2128 RHOB

Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Orisons and the U.S. Marshals Service
House Judiciary – Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m.

Unfunded Mandates: Examining Federally Imposed Burdens on State and Local Government
House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on Information Technology
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 2154 RHOB

Advances in the Search for Life
House Science, Space and Technology
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 2318 RHOB

Storm Watch: Making Sure SBA’s Disaster Loan Program is Prepared
House Small Business
Full Committee Hearing
11 a.m., 2360 RHOB

Stopping Disability Fraud: Risk, Prevention and Detection
House Ways and Means
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 2020 RHOB

U.S. Pacific Command
House Appropriations – Subcommittee on Defense
Subcommittee Hearing
1:30 p.m., H-140

Creating a Flexible and Effective Information Technology Management and Acquisition System: Elements for Success in a Rapidly Changing Landscape
House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m., 2118 RHOB

Questionable Case for Easing Sudan Sanctions
House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations
Subcommittee Hearing
2:30 p.m.

China’s Technological Rise : Challenges to U.S. Innovation and Security
House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific
Subcommittee Hearing
2:30 p.m., 2172 RHOB

Reviewing the Unintended Consequences of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act
House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on Government Operations
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m., 2154 RHOB

Examining the 2017 Tax Filing Season
House Ways and Means – Subcommittee on Oversight
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m., 1100 LHOB

Senate Committees

National Guard and Reserve Programs and Readiness
Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on Defense
Subcommittee Hearing
10:30 a.m., SD-192

Reopening the American Frontier: Reducing Regulatory Barriers and Expanding American Free Enterprise in Space
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation – Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., SR-253

A Review of the Technical, Scientific, and Legal Basis of the WOTUS Rule
Senate Environment and Public Works
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., SD-406

Pending Legislation/FDA Commissioner Nomination
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Full Committee Markup
9:30 a.m., SD-430

Duplication, Waste, and Fraud in Federal Programs
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., SD-342

Nominations
Senate Judiciary
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., SD-226

CIA General Counsel Nomination
Senate Select Intelligence
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., SD-106

Ambassador Nominations
Senate Foreign Relations
Full Committee Hearing
2 p.m., SD-419

The Challenges and Opportunities of Running a Small Business in Rural America
Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Full Committee Hearing
3 p.m., SR-428-A

Thursday, April 27, 2017

House Committees

Members Day
House Armed Services
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m.

Strengthening School Accreditation
House Education and the Workforce
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m.

Pending Legislation
House Veterans’ Affairs – Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs
Subcommittee Markup
10:30 a.m.

PTSD/Traumatic Brain Injury
House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Military Personnel
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m.

Senate Committees

U.S. Forces in Korea
Senate Armed Services
Full Committee Hearing
9:30 a.m.

Intelligence Matters
Senate Select Intelligence
Full Committee Briefing
2 p.m.

Friday, April 28, 2017

House Committees

Amphibious Warfare in a Contested Environment
House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces
Subcommittee Hearing
8 a.m., 2118 RHOB

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.