May 15, 2015
The House passed HR 1732, a bill that would prohibit the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the current final rule defining waters of the United States; HR 1735, the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act; HR 36, a bill that would ban abortions after 26 weeks; HR 2048, a bill that would prohibit the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of data; and HR 2297, the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015. The House also passed HR 1191, the Senate-passed Iran Nuclear Review Act. The bill now goes to the President for his signature. The Senate initially failed to invoke cloture on S995, the fast-track trade bill with a vote of 52 to 45 (60 yeas are needed for cloture). But after a deal was worked out in which HR 1295, the Trade Preferences Extension Act, and HR 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, were voted on and passed by the Senate, S995 then cleared the 60-vote threshold for cloture. The final vote on S995 in the Senate will occur next week, and the House is expected to take it up after the Memorial Day recess. The Senate also confirmed Sally Yates to be Deputy Attorney General by a vote of 84 to 12.
FY16 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) marked up their FY16 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in subcommittee and full committee this week. Three subcommittees held open markups, while the other three subcommittees and the full committee held their markups in closed sessions. The full committee voted 22 to 4 to report the bill. The bill authorizes $612B in funding for the Department of Defense as well as for national security programs at the Department of Energy. SASC Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI) was one of the four Democrats who voted against the bill because of the additional $38B added to the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.
The bill includes language requiring the administration to devise a plan for transferring prisoners from Guantanamo to a maximum security facility in the United States, but prisoners will remain in Guantanamo until Congress approves the plan. It also establishes a 401(k)-style retirement plan with vesting after 3 years and a matching contribution of up to 5%, while also making cuts to the military’s existing pension system. The committee included cuts to DOD headquarters spending with a 7.5% reduction each year for the next four years and provisions barring another round of base closures.
The bill also includes acquisition reform language that is centered on five principle objectives to support the establishment and use of alternative acquisition pathways. The five objectives are: establishing effective accountability results, developing alternative acquisition pathways, improving access to non-traditional and commercial contractors, deregulating and streamlining to reduce costs and gain efficiencies, and reinvigorating the acquisition workforce.
While the SASC won’t release its bill and report until next week, a detailed summary from the committee can be found at:
The House considered their FY16 NDAA on the floor this week and passed it this morning by a vote of 269 to 151. Eight Republicans voted against the measure and 41 Democrats voted for passage. House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) voted against the measure because of the use of OCO funds to circumvent the Budget Control Act sequestration cuts.
The House Rules Committee allowed for consideration of 135 of the 349 amendments that were filed. Some of the biggest issues addressed through the amendment process were immigration, OCO funding, A-10 retirement, Guantanamo, and the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq and Syria.
The White House released a Statement of Administration Policy on the House FY16 NDAA threatening a veto on the bill as it stands:
The House Appropriations Committee marked up their FY16 Transportation HUD spending bill in full committee this week and their FY16 Commerce Justice Science (CJS) spending bill in subcommittee. The committee also revised its 302(b) subcommittee allocations for FY16. Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said the revisions were minor and technical in nature, and necessary to bring the panel’s allocations in line with the budget conference report. The revisions added $2M to the Labor HHS Education subcommittee as well as $287M in OCO funding for the State Foreign Operations subcommittee.
Next Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee will mark up the CJS bill in full committee and the FY16 Defense spending bill in subcommittee. And the FY16 Legislative Branch spending bill will be on the House floor next week.
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
The House Appropriations Committee approved their FY16 Transportation HUD spending bill and reported it out of full committee by a vote of 30 to 21. The $55.3B spending bill provides funding for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies, an increase of $1.5B over FY15 and $9.7B below the President’s budget request. Five amendments were approved during the full committee markup:
- Diaz-Balart– The manager’s amendment makes technical and non-controversial changes to the bill and report. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
- Culberson – The amendment prohibits funds for two light rail projects in Harris County, TX, unless the voters within the jurisdiction approve the projects. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
- Lowey – The amendment increases the set aside for Highway Rail Grade Crossings within the Federal Highway Administration Highway Formula by $130 million. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
- Kaptur – The amendment increases funds for the St. Lawrence Seaway account by $3 million, offset by a cut to the Maritime Operations and Training account. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
- Rigell – The amendment increases funds for the Washington Metro Transit Authority (WMATA) by $25 million, offset by a $22 million cut from the Federal Aviation Administration and a $3 million cut to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) administrative account. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
House FY16 Transportation HUD Appropriations Bill Text:
House FY16 Transportation HUD Appropriations Report Language:
Commerce Justice Science
The Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations subcommittee marked up its FY16 spending bill this week. The bill funds the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other related agencies.
The legislation contains $51.4B in total discretionary funding, an increase of $1.3B over FY15 and $661M below the President’s request for these programs.
The FBI was the big winner this year getting a $111M increase over last year. The Justice Department would receive $27.5B, an $852M increase from current funding. The Commerce Department would receive $8.2B, a $251M reduction. No amendments were offered during the subcommittee markup.
House FY16 CJS Appropriations Bill Text:
The Senate Appropriations Committee could begin marking up their bills as early as next week. Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) has reportedly given top-line spending allocations to the subcommittee chairmen. The Military Construction-Veterans Affairs and Energy and Water subcommittees are likely to be the first bills considered.
Former Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN) announced this week that he would run for the open Senate seat in Indiana in 2016. Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN), who announced his retirement earlier this year, is vacating the seat. Hill is the first Democrat to enter the race. Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) also announced his candidacy this week. Feingold will challenge Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) who beat him in 2010.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the nominations of General Mark Milley as the next Chief of Staff of the Army (succeeding General Ray Odierno) and Admiral John Richardson as the next Chief of Naval Operations (succeeding Admiral Jon Greenert). The Department of Defense also announced the appointment of James Baker as the Director of the Office of Net Assessment. Baker replaces Andrew Marshall who retired in January after running the office from more than four decades. Baker is currently the principal deputy director, Strategic Plans and Policy, J5 and the strategist to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Marty Dempsey. Baker will report directly to Secretary of Defense Carter.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Philip Moeller said that he would leave the agency this year after a successor has been confirmed. Moeller’s term expires June 30, but he can remain in office until his successor has been confirmed or until Congress adjourns at the end of the year. Moeller is a Republican who first joined the agency in 2006 (nominated by then-President Bush) and was appointed to a second term in 2010 (by President Obama). Pat McCormick, Chief Counsel for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee may be the Republican choice for replacing Moeller.
Ed Felten, a Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs at the Princeton University, is joining the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as the Deputy Chief Technology Officer. Felten has previously taken a leave of absence from Princeton to serve as the Chief Technologist at the Federal Trade Commission.
Chuck Rosenberg was named Acting Director for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Rosenberg is a former U.S. Attorney and currently serves as Chief of Staff to the Director of the FBI. He replaces Michele Leonhart, who announced her retirement earlier this year.
The President nominated Dr. Karl Brooks to be Assistant Administrator for Administration and Resources Management at the Environmental Protection Agency, Thomas Melia to be Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Ann Calvaresi Barr to be Inspector General at USAID, Julius Lloyd Horwich to be Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Congressional Affairs at the Department of Education, and Greg Nadeau to be Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The House will take up HR 2353, a short-term reauthorization of the Highway and Transportation Funding Act; HR 880, the American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2015; HR 1806, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015; HR 2262, the SPACE Act of 2015; HR 1335, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act; and HR 2250, the FY16 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill. The Senate will resume consideration of S995, the Trade Promotion Authority bill, and could start on S1350, a short-term highway extension, S1357, a two-month Patriot Act extension, and HR 2048, the USA Freedom Act, which passed the House this week.