Washington Weekly – December 19, 2014

December 19, 2014

The House wrapped up their work and adjourned last week while the Senate had a few pieces of unfinished business to complete keeping them in session this week. In a typical end-of-session flurry of activity, the Senate passed the FY15 CR/Omnibus (cromnibus) and HR 5771, the tax extenders legislation, in addition to confirming numerous nominations. The Senate did not complete action on S 2244, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2014, which had passed the house the previous week by a vote of 417 to 7.

FY15 Appropriations

On Friday, December 12, 2014, the President signed into law H.J. Res. 130, which provided FY15 appropriations for the Federal Government through Saturday, December 13, 2014. Then on On Saturday, December 13, 2014, he signed into law H.J. Res. 131, which provided FY15 appropriations through Wednesday, December 17, 2014. On Saturday, the Senate passed HR 83, the $1.014T FY15 CR/omnibus spending bill by a vote of 56 to 40. The President signed this final FY15 spending bill into law on December 16. The bill provides FY15 appropriations through September 30, 2015 for all agencies except the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded through February 27, 2015. The bill was finally cleared with broad mainstream support from the more moderate members of both parties. It passed in the House with yea votes from 162 Republicans and 57 Democrats. And in the Senate it passed with the support of 31 Democrats, 24 Republicans, and 1 Independent.

Links to the report language for each section of the “cromnibus” conference report:

Introduction:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-Intro.pdf

Agriculture:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-A.pdf

Commerce Justice Science:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-B.pdf

Defense:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-C.pdf

Energy and Water:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-D.pdf

Financial Services:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-E.pdf

Interior:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-F.pdf

Labor HHS:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-G.pdf

Legislative branch:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-H.pdf

MilCon/Veterans Affairs:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-I.pdf

State/Foreign Operations:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-J.pdf

Transportation/HUD:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-K.pdf

Committee Rosters

Senate committee rosters began to take shape this week, but Senate committee chairmen have yet to be named. In the 114th Congress, the tax panels were more popular than the appropriations committees. No freshman members were appointed to the Senate Finance or House Ways and Means committees, while some freshman members were able to get seats on the appropriations committees. And, Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) gave up his seat on Appropriations for a seat on the Senate Finance Committee.

Senate Committee rosters can be found at:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=320

Tax Extenders

The Senate passed HR 5771, the tax extenders bill by a vote of 76 to 16. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had held off the vote on the bill in order to keep Senators in DC for consideration of nominations. The House passed two tax measures before they adjourned – HR 647, the ABLE Act of 2014 and HR 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014. HR 5771 is a short-term tax extenders package retroactively reviving more than 50 expired tax breaks for 2014 only. HR 647 is a tax measure designed to provide families who care for people with disabilities with tax-preferred savings accounts. Before transmitting the bill to the Senate, the House added the text of HR 647 as Division B to HR 5771. The bill now goes to the President for his signature.

FY15 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Agreement

The Senate passed the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last Friday by a vote of 89 to 11. The House passed the bill on Dec. 4 by a vote of 300 to 119. The $584.2 billion measure was named after the retiring chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee – “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.”The bill authorizes $521.3 billion in base discretionary spending ($495.5B for the Department of Defense and $17.9 billion for the defense activities of the Department of Energy and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board) and $63.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

The bill text can be found here:

http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=926D63B6-5E50-49FC-99EF-A59B98825265

The joint explanatory statement can be found here:

http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=78ED7A79-9066-43FD-AA75-1D8F14B4B4A2

State of the Union Address

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued a formal invitation to President Barack Obama to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 20.

Political Updates

Republican Martha McSally prevailed in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District over Democratic Rep. Ron Barber following a recount. McSally, the first the first female fighter pilot to fly a combat mission and command a fighter squadron, edged out Barber by only 167 votes. The result of this recount adds to the majority for the Republican Party in the House of Representatives, with the party holding 247 seats when the new Congress convenes in January.

The Senate confirmed Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, Sarah Saldana to be an Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, Antony Blinken to be Deputy Secretary of State, Colette Dodson Honorable to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Chris Smith to be assistant Energy secretary for fossil fuels, Robert Scher to be assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities, and David Berteau to be assistant secretary of defense for logistics and materiel readiness.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah announced this week that he would be stepping down next month after serving in this position for five years.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has selected Chris Brose to be the new staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee when McCain assumes the chairmanship in the 114th Congress in January.

President Obama selected Avril Haines as his Deputy National Security Advisor. Haines has served as the National Security Council’s Legal Advisor and Vice President Biden’s counsel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She most recently was the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Next Week

The House and Senate have adjourned for the year. The new 114th Congress will convene on January 6. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that his first course of business bill be to pass legislation that will approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The Senate Republican conference will also have to quickly decide if they will change back filibuster rules with the so-called nuclear option.

Washington Weekly – December 12, 2014

December 12, 2014

The House and Senate completed action on a number of bills this week and are poised to adjourn for the year pending action on some final key measures. In addition to passing a short-term (two day) FY15 continuing resolution, the end of year flurry of activity included passage of HR 4681, the FY15 Intelligence Authorization bill; S 1691, the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act of 2013; HR 4007 the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014; S 2444, the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014; HR 5057, the EPS Service Parts Act of 2014; and HR 2640, the Central Oregon Jobs and Water Security Act. Both chambers also passed four cybersecurity bills – S 2519, the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014; S 2521, the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014; HR 2952, the Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act; and S 1353, the Cybersecurity Act of 2013. All of these bills will be sent to the President for his signature. The Senate is expected to pass the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act this afternoon and then take up the FY15 “cromnibus.” The Senate is also expected to vote on S 2244, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act before adjourning. If the Senate passes these measures, they will also be sent to the President for his signature. The Senate also passed S 2828, the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 and S 2785, the Safe and Secure Drinking Water Protection Act of 2014, both of which have not been considered by the House. 

FY15 Appropriations

House and Senate Appropriations staff worked through last weekend to iron out final details of a year-end FY15 spending package, which was released late Tuesday evening. The final $1.013T omnibus/continuing resolution (CR), or cromnibus, included full-year funding for 11 appropriations bills and a short-term CR for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in protest of the president’s recent executive orders on immigration. The CR maintains DHS funding at the current FY14 level, and expires on February 27, 2015. The bill meets the $521 billion defense and $492 billion non-defense budget caps. The bill also includes $64 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding to combat ISIL, to train and equip Iraqi allies, and to reinforce European countries facing Russian aggression; and a total of $5.4 billion in emergency funding to address the domestic and international Ebola crisis.

With the current CR expiring on Thursday, December 11, Congress had to act quickly to get a new spending agreement in place to avoid a government shutdown. The House faced some opposition from conservative Republicans over funding levels and Democrats over policy riders, and had to delay final passage of the measure until later Thursday evening. The measure finally passed by a vote of 219 to 206 with 162 Republicans and 57 Democrats voting in favor of the bill. If the bill had not passed, House Republicans were prepared to offer a three month CR setting themselves up to re-write the bills to their liking next year when they control both chambers. Less than three hours away from a government shutdown the House also passed a two-day CR that was also approved by the Senate and signed into law by the President last night. The short-term CR gives the Senate a few extra days to consider and pass the cromnibus package. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) cannot call up the bill until after finishing the FY15 defense authorization bill. Absent a consent agreement, a cloture vote would take place under the rules on Sunday with a final vote on Monday. However, the two-day CR expires Saturday at midnight. The President has indicated that he will sign the cromnibus.

Links to the report language for each section of the “cromnibus” conference report:

Introduction:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-Intro.pdf

Agriculture:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-A.pdf

Commerce Justice Science:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-B.pdf

Defense:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-C.pdf

Energy and Water:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-D.pdf

Financial Services:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-E.pdf

Interior:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-F.pdf

Labor HHS:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-G.pdf

Legislative branch:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-H.pdf

MilCon/Veterans Affairs:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-I.pdf

State/Foreign Operations:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-J.pdf

Transportation/HUD:

http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-1/PDF/113-HR83sa-ES-K.pdf

Tax Extenders

The House passed two tax measures last week – HR 647, the ABLE Act of 2014 and HR 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014. HR 5771 is a short-term tax extenders package retroactively reviving more than 50 expired tax breaks for 2014 only. HR 647 is a tax measure designed to provide families who care for people with disabilities with tax-preferred savings accounts. Before transmitting the bill to the Senate, the House added the text of HR 647 as Division B to HR 5771. It’s still not clear if the Senate will take up this one-year extension or take no action before they adjourn for the year. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is not a fan of the legislation and has not decided yet if he will object to a unanimous consent agreement.

FY15 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Agreement

The Senate is expected to pass the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this afternoon around 3 pm. The House passed the bill last week by a vote of 300 to 119. The $584.2 billion measure was named after the retiring chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee – “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.”The bill authorizes $521.3 billion in base discretionary spending ($495.5B for the Department of Defense and $17.9 billion for the defense activities of the Department of Energy and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board) and $63.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

The bill text can be found here:

http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=926D63B6-5E50-49FC-99EF-A59B98825265

The joint explanatory statement can be found here:

http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=78ED7A79-9066-43FD-AA75-1D8F14B4B4A2

A summary from HASC Republicans can be found here:

http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=F477F464-90AE-4B7A-AD7A-438065807D04

A summary from HASC Democrats can be found here:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/govdoc-4581940.pdf

Political Updates

The Senate confirmed Franklin Orr, Jr. to be Under Secretary for Science at the Department of Energy and Ellen Dudley Williams to be Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

Next Week

The House is expected to adjourn for the year. The Senate may be in session completing action on appropriations, tax extenders, and TRIA. The new 114th Congress will convene on January 6.

Washington Weekly – December 5, 2014

December 5, 2014

The House passed two tax measures this week – HR 647, the ABLE Act of 2014 and HR 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014. The House also passed HR 5759, the Executive Amnesty Prevention Act of 2014; HR 3979, the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act of 2014; and HR 5769 a bill reauthorizing the Coast Guard. HR 5759 is a largely symbolic bill disapproving of President Obama’s executive action in immigration, as it will not be considered in the Senate. The Senate approved a number of nominations and passed HR 2203, a bill awarding the congressional gold medal to Jack Nicklaus and HR 5739, the No Social Security for Nazis Act. The oath of office was administered to Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Tim Scott (R-SC) as both won special elections Nov. 4 after earlier being appointed to their seats.

Tax Extenders

The House passed two tax measures this week – HR 647, the ABLE Act of 2014 and HR 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014. HR 5771 is a short-term tax extenders package retroactively reviving more than 50 expired tax breaks for 2014 only. A list of the tax breaks can be found at: http://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/113-2/PDF/113-HR5771-SxS.pdf.

HR 647 is a tax measure designed to provide families who care for people with disabilities with tax-preferred savings accounts. It’s still not clear if the Senate will accept this one-year extension, try to pass a two-year framework forcing the House in its last few days in session to accept a longer bill, or take no action. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Thursday night that the Senate might not be able to pass the House tax extenders bill before the end of the year. Reid had tried to negotiate an agreement with the House making a number of the tax extenders permanent; including ones allowing companies to write off investments and costs associated with research and development programs. The president threatened to veto the agreement because “it would help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families.” The Administration indicated that it would not veto a clean, short-term extension of the tax extenders in the absence of a broader agreement.

FY15 Appropriations

House and Senate Appropriations staff will be working through the weekend ironing out final details of a year-end FY15 spending package, which could be released on Monday morning. The final omnibus/continuing resolution (CR) is expected to include full-year funding for 11 appropriations bills and a short-term CR for the Department of Homeland Security in protest of the president’s recent executive orders on immigration. However, any policy fights that cannot be resolved by House and Senate Appropriations Chairmen Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) could result in a CR for the agency in which the issue resides. The bill will also include emergency funding for combating the Islamic State as well as fighting the Ebola virus. The current CR expires on Thursday, December 11.

FY15 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Agreement

The House on Thursday passed the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a largely bipartisan vote of 300 to 119. The bill now heads to the Senate where it is expected to be approved before they adjourn for the year. The $584.2 billion measure was named after the retiring chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee – “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.”The bill authorizes $521.3 billion in base discretionary spending ($495.5B for the Department of Defense and $17.9 billion for the defense activities of the Department of Energy and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board) and $63.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

The bill text can be found here:

http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=926D63B6-5E50-49FC-99EF-A59B98825265

The joint explanatory statement can be found here:

http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=78ED7A79-9066-43FD-AA75-1D8F14B4B4A2

A summary from HASC Republicans can be found here:

http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=F477F464-90AE-4B7A-AD7A-438065807D04

A summary from HASC Democrats can be found here:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/govdoc-4581940.pdf

National Counterintelligence Security Center

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) announced the establishment of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) within ODNI. Effective Dec. 1, Bill Evanina, the current National Counterintelligence Executive will be dual hatted as he takes on an additional role as NCSC director. The NCSC will become the parent organization of the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX), which was created by the Counterintelligence Enhancement Act of 2002 to carry out counterintelligence and security responsibilities for the Director of National Intelligence. The NCSC will integrate and align counterintelligence and security mission areas, and carry out counterintelligence and security responsibilities under a single organizational model. The creation of the NCSC was predicated by the destructive growth and complexity of cyber threats, economic espionage, insider threats, and supply chain threats.

Political Updates

Following Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s announcement last week that he was resigning, President Obama today nominated Ash Carter for the position. Carter is a physicist who has served as deputy secretary of defense, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, and assistant secretary of defense for international security policy. Carter has also been a senior partner at Global Technology Partners, an advisor to Goldman Sachs on global affairs, and a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He has served on the boards of the MITRE Corporation, Mitretek Systems, and MIT’s Lincoln Laboratories. He has been a member of the Draper Laboratory Corporation, the Defense Policy Board, the Defense Science Board, and the Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board. While Carter is a highly regarded technocrat who was unanimously confirmed for his last position, his nomination could face some hurdles in the new GOP Senate.

The Justice Department announced this week that it will create a special unit to combat cyber attacks, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell announced that the unit will be part of the Criminal Division and will serve as a central hub for law enforcement officials to provide legal guidance regarding the criminal electronic surveillance statutes that cover cyber investigations. The unit will also share information with the private sector about how to protect their networks and advise Congress on cybersecurity legislation.

The Senate voted on the following confirmations this week: Joseph Hezir to be Chief Financial Officer at the Department of Energy, Nani Coloretti to be Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Robert Adler to be Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Next Week

The House will take up HR 5781, the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014; an FY15 appropriations omnibus/continuing resolution; and a Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) reauthorization bill. The Senate will also consider the FY15 appropriations bill as well as the tax bills and the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act conference agreement that were passed by the House this week. The Senate could also take up the TRIA reauthorization, HR 1163, the Federal Information Security Amendments Act of 2013 and HR 3696, the National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, both of which have already passed the House. Both the House and Senate are expected to complete their work and adjourn for the year on Thursday, December 11.