Washington Weekly – August 21, 2015

August 21, 2015

The House and Senate were in recess this week.

Senate Democrats Request Budget Negotiations

When the House and Senate return September 8, they will only be in session at the same time for 10 days before the fiscal year ends on September 30. With this tight timeline, all 46 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate (Democrats and Independents) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) this week urging him to schedule bipartisan budget negotiations as soon as possible. “With the existence of a clear and urgent deadline for action, we believe it would be unwise to wait until after the Congress returns from the August state work period – just 23 days before the end of the fiscal year – to begin talks on a path forward.”

Text of the letter:


OMB Report on FY16 Appropriations Bills and Sequestration Caps

The Office of Management and Budget said in a report this week that the 12 FY16 spending bills passed or marked up in the House this year exceed the statutory cap on non-defense spending by $1.8B and the defense cap by $3M. In the Senate the FY16 bills exceed the cap on defense spending by $1M, but are in compliance with the current 2016 limit for the non-defense category. The caps are currently set at $493.5B for non-defense and $523B for defense spending. In order to avoid triggering a sequester, which would result in across-the-board cuts in programs, the House and Senate would have to cut funding in those bills before they are enacted into law. Or the House, Senate, and White House could agree to a new budget deal that would raise the caps.

Link to the OMB Report:


Political Updates

Former Rep. Louis Stokes (D-OH), the first African-American congressman from Ohio died this week after being diagnosed with lung and brain cancer in July. He retired in 1999 and was 90 years old at the time of his death. Stokes was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and was the chairman of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which investigated the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) pleaded not guilty to multiple charges in a federal racketeering case this week and was released on $100,000 bail.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) hired veteran Senate campaign fundraiser Ashley Martens this week raising speculation that Cummings may run for the Democratic Senate nomination. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) have already announced their candidacies for replacing retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).

U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Charles Michel formally assumed the role of Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard during a ceremony at the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters. As Vice Commandant, Michel will oversee the Coast Guard’s operations, strategic development, organizational governance, and management of the service’s more than 58,000 employees and 30,000 volunteers.

Cheri Tyner has been appointed to the Senior Executive Service and has been assigned as Director of the Acquisition Directorate at the Department of Defense. Tyner previously served as Deputy Director in the Office of Acquisition Management, Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security. Maureen Higgins has been assigned as the assistant Director of Human Capital and Resource Management in the Defense Contract Audit Agency at the Department of Defense.  Higgins previously served as the Deputy Director of the Center for Leadership Development in the Office of Personnel Management.

FBI Director James Comey has named James Trainor, Jr. as Assistant Director of the Cyber Division at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Trainor most recently served as Deputy Assistant Director of the Cyber Operations Branch.

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess until September 8.

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