Washington Weekly – February 6, 2015

February 6, 2015

The House passed HR 596, a bill repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010; HR 50, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2015; HR 527, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015; HR 623, the Social Media Working Group Act; HR 615, the Department of Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Act; and HR 361, the Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act. The Senate passed HR 203, the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which now goes to the President for his signature. The Senate tried and failed three times to invoke cloture on HR 240, the FY15 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act.

President’s FY16 Budget Request

President Obama submitted his $3.999 trillion FY16 budget to Congress on Monday. This budget will be his last budget request where he will be in office for the full budget cycle. The budget reflects Democratic priorities on spending and taxes, and does away with the sequester replacing both defense and non-defense cuts by trimming mandatory and discretionary programs by $600 billion over 10 years, raising $638 billion in new tax revenues, and calling for an immigration reform plan to save $158 billion over 10 years. The post-sequester caps for FY16 are $493.491B for non-defense discretionary and $523.091B for defense. The President’s budget request would raise non-defense accounts by $37B to $530B and defense accounts by $38B to $561B. As expected, Congressional Republicans pushed back on the President’s proposal to increase taxes and said that they are eager to write their own 10-year balanced budget proposals over the next two months.

The White House Office of Management and Budget FY16 budget documentation can be found at:


The federal agencies’ detailed budget documents can be found at:











Environmental Protection Agency


Health and Human Services


Homeland Security


Housing and Urban Development










National Science Foundation


Small Business Administration








US Army Corps of Engineers


Veteran Affairs


FY15 DHS Appropriations

The Senate tried three times this week to invoke cloture on the $37.9 billion FY15 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, but was not successful in garnering the 60 aye votes needed to proceed to consideration of the bill. The Senate is expected to hold a fourth cloture vote next week. The votes this week were 51 to 48, 53 to 47, and 52 to 47 with Democrats and Independents united in opposition. Each time, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) was the only Republican to vote against cloture joining Democrats who opposed the measure because it contains provisions that would roll back President Obama’s immigration executive actions. Congress has only 10 workdays to complete action on the measure before the current continuing resolution (CR) funding the department runs out on Feb. 27. The House and Senate will not be in session the week of 2/16. It is unclear if Senate Republicans will look to the House to send over a new bill or put together its own proposal. In the meantime, a short-term funding bill (CR) may be needed to keep the agency running past Feb. 27.

2015 National Security Strategy

President Obama submitted to Congress today his 2015 National Security Strategy and National Security Advisor Susan Rice discussed the new strategy at a launch event at the Brookings Institution this afternoon.

While the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Department Reorganization Act of 1986 requires the president to submit a national security strategy to Congress each year, this is only the second national security strategy from President Obama. His last strategy was issued in 2010. The report is frequently submitted late or not at all. President George W. Bush only submitted two (2002 and 2006) during his two terms in office, President George H.W. Bush missed submitting it two years, and President Clinton had the best track record in recent years only missing submitting it in 1999.

National security strategies outline the president’s foreign policy vision and priorities and include not just defense goals, but also diplomacy, economics, and expressions of value. In this case, President Obama’s 2015 strategy includes combating climate change, reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction, maintaining an active US presence in the international community, advancing an international trade agenda, and preventing, detecting, and rapidly responding to biological threats among other priorities and principles.

A copy of the 2015 National Security Strategy can be found at:


House Armed Services Committee Vice Chairs and Retreat

House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) announced vice chairs for the committee’s six subcommittees. In announcing the vice chairs, Thornberry said that he wants to get more committee members, especially junior members, more deeply involved in national security issues. The vice chairs are as follows:

Seapower and Projection Forces – Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

Readiness – Elise Stefanik (R-NY)

Strategic Forces – Doug Lamborn (R-CO)

Emerging Threats and Capabilities – Trent Franks (R-AZ)

Military Personnel – Tom MacArthur (R-NJ)

Tactical Air and Land Forces – Paul Cook (R-CA)

Chairman Thornberry is also hosting a one-day retreat at the US Naval Academy on Tuesday, Feb. 10 for all (Democrat and Republican) HASC members. During the retreat, committee members will meet with top military officials and discuss trends in threats to US national security.

Political Updates

Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-MS) died today from complications from brain cancer. Nunnelee was first elected to Congress in 2010, defeating one-term Democrat Rep. Travis Childers. Nunnelee had a seat on the House Appropriations Committee and was a member of the Republican Study Committee. He was 56.

There are three finalists for the position of Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The current Director, Doug Elmendorf, will step down when his replacement is named by House and Senate Republican leaders. The position does not require Senate confirmation. The three finalists are economists Katherine Baicker, Keith Hall, and Harold Furchtgott-Roth. Baicker is an economist and health care policy expert serving on CBO’s panel of health advisors. Hall is the Chief Economist at the US International Trade Commission. And Furchtgott-Roth has his own consulting firm, Furchtgott-Roth Economic Enterprises.

President Obama announced his intent to appoint Tony Scott as US Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Administrator of the Office of Electronic Government at the Office of Management and Budget. Scott currently leads the global information technology group at VMware Inc., a position he has held since 2013. Prior to joining VMware Inc., he served as CIO at Microsoft and The Walt Disney Company.

Dan Pfeiffer, who has been with President Obama since his first presidential campaign, said that he is leaving the White House in early March. Pfeiffer, Senior Advisor to the President, is exploring options in the private sector. Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri is also leaving the White House to join the Hillary Clinton campaign. Palmieri’s departure date is still being finalized.

Next Week

The House will take up S 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act; HR 644, a bill to permanently extend and expand the charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory; and HR 636, a bill to permanently extend increased expensing limitations (“America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act”). The Senate will consider the nomination of Michael Botticelli to be Director of the National Drug Control Policy. The Senate may also consider the nomination of Ash Carter for Secretary of Defense if the Senate Armed Services Committee reports his confirmation to the full body early in the week. The Senate could also take up S 405, the Bipartisan Sportsman’s Act or HR 596, a bill to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.

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