September 18, 2015
The House passed HR 758, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act; HR 3504, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act; and HR 3134, the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015. The Senate rejected three cloture votes on the Iran Nuclear Agreement (HJ Res 61) including one on an amendment that would have prohibited the President from lifting sanctions against Iran. The Senate adopted by unanimous consent S 1090, the Emergency Information Improvement Act of 2015; S 1580, the Competitive Science Act of 2015; S 2036, a bill suspending the current compensation packages for the CEOs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; and HR 719, the TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2015.
FY16 Appropriations/Continuing Resolution (CR)
There are just five legislative days remaining where both the House and Senate are in session before the end of the fiscal year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said this week that he has begun negotiations with the House on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that would likely fund the government through Friday, December 11. If the House is unable to take the lead on passing legislation funding the government, the Senate may first vote on a spending bill defunding Planned Parenthood. When the Senate is unable to move that bill without the support of Democrats, the Senate would then take up a clean CR, pass it, and send it to the House.
House Democrats have called for a “clean” CR, however Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that he might request attaching a reauthorization of a 9/11 first responders health care bill to the CR. And the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requested several anomalies back in August that includes, among other things, $450M in emergency funding to fight wildfires in the West.
Link to OMB List of Special Funding Requests:
Link to OMB Authorization Issues
Defunding Planned Parenthood
Conservatives in the House are still demanding language defunding Planned Parenthood be included in must-pass spending legislation. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was considering two options for dealing with this issue: 1) the budget reconciliation process or 2) a one-year continuing resolution with Planned Parenthood defunding language. Both options were met with mixed reactions within his party. Members’ concerns about a one-year CR focused on the effects of a sequester on the CR resulting in $40B in cuts to defense. And defunding Planned Parenthood in a CR would be difficult since a Senate rule enforced by a point of order prohibits non-germane amendments to appropriations bills, including changes to mandatory spending.
As for the reconciliation process, reconciliation bills would pass both the House and the Senate but likely would be vetoed by the President. And House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) has expressed some doubts about whether or not the Planned Parenthood language can be included in the budget reconciliation process. Upton’s doubts are important because the Energy and Commerce Committee is one of the three committees tasked with writing the reconciliation legislation. The committee has jurisdiction over the Medicaid program, which is where the $450M in annual federal funding comes from for Planned Parenthood.
Longer-Term Budget Deal
As for a longer-term deal, McConnell predicted that the negotiations would likely result in lifting the caps set in the Budget Control Act of 2011.
House Homeland Security Bipartisan Letter to DHS Secretary Johnson
The House Homeland Security Committee passed a bill (HR 3510) this week that would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a cybersecurity strategy for DHS, but would prohibit the Secretary from reorganizing cyber functions within DHS without prior congressional authorization. However, DHS has already begun some reorganization plans without this prior approval prompting the committee to also send a bipartisan letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson expressing their concerns about the “lack of transparency on the proposed reorganization of the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD).”
A copy of the letter can be found at:
President Obama nominated Dr. Robert Califf to be the next Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Califf is the Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco at the FDA, a position he has held since March 2015. Prior to that position, he has served in various capacities at Duke University School of Medicine and the Duke University Medical Center.
Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI) and Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) both announced this week that they won’t seek re-election in 2016. Benishek set a three-term limit when he first ran for office in 2010. He currently serves on the Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Veterans’ Affairs committees. Neugebauer is on the Agriculture, Financial Services, and Science, Space, and Technology committees.
Vice Adm. Frank Pandolfe has been nominated for reappointment to the rank of vice admiral and for assignment as assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. Pandolfe is currently serving as Director of Strategic Plans and Policy in the United States Delegation to the United Nations Military Staff Committee.
The House and Senate will meet for a joint session of Congress on Thursday at 10 am to receive an address from Pope Francis. The House is not in session Monday-Wednesday, but may take up HR 348, the Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) Act of 2015 when they convene later in the week. The Senate will meet on Monday to being considering a procedural motion on HR 36, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The Senate is in session every day except for Wednesday next week.