July 25, 2014
This week the House passed HR 3136, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act; HR 4984, the Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act; HR 3393, the Student and Family Tax Simplification Act; HR 4935, the Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014; HR 5111, a bill to improve the response to victims of child sex trafficking; and HR 5081, the Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2014. The White House issued a veto threat for HR 4935. The Senate approved a number of judicial nominations and confirmed Lisa Disbrow to be an Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Victor Mendez to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation, Peter Rogoff to be Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, and Bruce Andrews to be Deputy Secretary of Commerce. The Senate also invoked cloture on S 2569, the Bring Jobs Home Act, a bill that would give businesses tax breaks for bringing jobs back to the US.
With action stalled on the FY15 appropriations process, Congress’ attention this week turned to the President’s emergency supplemental request. Two weeks ago the White House submitted a $3.7 billion emergency supplemental spending request to Congress. The request included $1.1 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, $433 million for Customs and Border Protection, $64 million for the Department of Justice for additional immigration judge teams, $300 million for the State Department and other international programs to support repatriation and reintegration efforts in Central America, and $1.8 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide care for unaccompanied children. The request was in response to the backlog of deportation cases that has built as more than 50,000 unaccompanied minors have entered the country illegally this fiscal year.
This week Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) released S 2649, a bill providing $2.7 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations. Of that amount, $1.2 billion would go to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The remaining $1.5 billion would go to the Departments of Homeland Security ($1.1B), State, and Justice. Within DHS, ICE would receive $702 million, CBP would receive $291 million, and together they would receive $112 million. The bill also includes $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense program and $615 million in emergency firefighting funds for wildfires. The Senate proposal does not include any immigration legislation policy changes, nor does it provide any funding offsets. A copy of the Senate proposal can be found at:
The House was expected to release a $1.5 billion fully offset measure this week, but that has been delayed until next week. In the meantime, Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), Chair of the House Border Crisis Working Group did release her group’s recommendations on border security and immigration:
It is expected that the House will not include any funding for HHS in its emergency supplemental. Therefore, what is lining up to be the most contentious aspect of the legislation is over how to ease the financial strain for the HHS. House Republicans want to change a 2008 anti-trafficking law that will allow Central American children to self-deport, which they believe will help stem the tide of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border. Some Democrats may be willing to consider these changes, while others believe in moving a funding-only supplemental with no policy changes.
FY15 Continuing Resolution and Omnibus
The House has passed seven of its 12 annual appropriations bills, but action in the Senate stalled when they attempted to consider their first three-bill minibus on the floor but could not reach agreement on amendments. This week House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said that the House would vote on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) when they return in September. The CR will likely fund the government through early December when the lame-duck Congress will either pass an omnibus measure or another CR in to 2015. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) wanted to pass a CR prior to the August recess, but Boehner said that the legislation would have to wait. It is unclear whether the House CR would fund the government in FY15 at FY14 levels or the lowest funding level in any FY15 bill that has seen action in committee or on the floor.
The Senate this week released three FY15 spending bills– Labor HHS Education, Financial Services, and Energy and Water. There is likely to be no further action on these three bills in the Senate, so Senate appropriators may have released the bill text and report language as a way to lay down markers for negotiations later this year with the House over an omnibus measure. Or their action could have been to set spending levels for the likely CR. All three bills were approved in subcommittee, but not in full committee. The Senate does not usually release bill text and report language until after full committee markup. The only bill text and language that has not been released in the Senate is the FY15 Interior Appropriations bill.
FY15 Senate Energy and Water Appropriations
FY15 Senate Labor HHS Education Appropriations
FY15 Senate Financial Services Appropriations
FY2015 Appropriations Bill Status
|Appropriations Subcommittee||House Action||Senate Action|
|Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies||Subcommittee: May 20
Full Committee: May 29
|Subcommittee: May 20
Full Committee: May 22
|Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies||Subcommittee: April 30
Full Committee: May 8
House Floor: May 29
|Subcommittee: June 3
Full Committee: June 5
|Defense||Subcommittee: May 30
Full Committee: June 10
Floor: June 20
|Subcommittee: July 15
Full Committee: July 17
|Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies||Subcommittee: June 10
Full Committee: June 18
House Floor: July 10
|Subcommittee: June 17
Full Committee: postponed
|Financial Services and General Government||Subcommittee: June 18
Full Committee: June 25
Floor: July 16
|Subcommittee: June 24|
|Homeland Security||Subcommittee: May 28
Full Committee: June 11
|Subcommittee: June 24
Full Committee: June 26
|Interior||Subcommittee: July 9
Full Committee: July 15
|Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies||Subcommittee: June 10
Full Committee: postponed
|Legislative Branch||Subcommittee: April 3
Full Committee: April 9
Floor: May 1
|Full Committee: June 19|
|Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies||Subcommittee: April 3
Full Committee: April 9
Floor: April 30
|Subcommittee: May 20
Full Committee: May 22
|State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs||Subcommittee: June 17
Full Committee: June 24
|Subcommittee: June 17
Full Committee: June 19
|Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies||Subcommittee: May 7
Full Committee: May 21
Floor: June 10
|Subcommittee: June 3
Full Committee: June 5
Veterans Affairs Reform
Negotiations between the House and Senate on legislation to reform veterans health care got a little heated this week and appeared to be unraveling. It is unclear if Congress will be able to come to agreement and pass legislation before they adjourn at the end of next week for the August recess. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) floated an alternative proposal on Thursday that was perceived by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders (I-VT) as negotiating in bad faith. Miller’s compromise bill did not include language authorizing emergency mandatory funding that was requested by Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson at a July 16 Senate VA Committee hearing. Gibson requested an additional $17.6 billion over three years to hire 10,000 more health care professionals, expand facilities, and modernize information technology. Gibson’s request for additional funding came after the House and Senate had passed their bills and conferees were appointed. Sanders had proposed earlier this week a bill that would cost $25 billion and included $3.3 billion in offsets from other programs within his committee’s jurisdiction. Miller originally held that the bill needed a pay-for, but conceded this week that he may be willing to consider a deal that is not totally offset in cost. Negotiations are continuing over the weekend.
National Defense Authorization Act
The House passed its FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (HR 4435) on May 22. The Senate reported its bill (S 2410) out of committee on June 2, but has not considered the bill on the Senate floor due to procedural disputes. It was reported this week that House and Senate Armed Services Committee staff are starting preliminary discussions (pre conferencing) with each other despite no action in the Senate.
9/11 Commission Report
This week marked the 10-year anniversary of the original 9/11 Commission Report. On the anniversary, former commission members released Reflections on the Tenth Anniversary of The 9/11 Commission Report. Commission members stated that the struggle against terrorism is far from over and that the landscape has changed dramatically over the 10 years. They laid out several recommendations encompassing policy changes and budgetary suggestions to remedy their concerns. Their recommendations include:
- To sustain public support for policies and resource levels, national security leaders must communicate to the public – in specific terms – what the threat is, how it is evolving, what measures are being taken to address it, why those measures are necessary, and what specific protections are in place to protect civil liberties. In this era of heightened skepticism, platitudes will not persuade the public. Leaders should describe the threat and the capabilities they need with as much granularity as they can safely offer.
- Congress and the President should revise the September 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force. The administration should clearly explain (1) whether it needs new legal authority to confront threats like ISIS and (2) how far, in its view, any new authority should extend.
- Reiterating what they said in The 9/11 Commission Report: Congress should oversee and legislate for Department of Homeland Security through one primary authorizing committee. DHS should receive the same streamlined oversight as the Department of Defense. At the very minimum, the next Congress should sharply reduce the number of committees and subcommittees with some jurisdiction over the department. These changes should take effect when the next Congress convenes, and the House and Senate adopt new rules in January. Planning should begin now to make this possible.
- Government officials should explain to the public — in clear, specific terms — the severity of the cyber threat and what the stakes are for the country. Public and private-sector leaders should also explain what private citizens and businesses can do to protect their systems and data.
A copy of the report can be found at:
House Passes Homeland Security Legislation on Transportation Security
The House unanimously passed bipartisan legislation this week that would address security concerns at airports (HR 4802), provide oversight of TSA’s Office of Inspection (HR 4803), and simplify travel for veterans (HR 4812). HR 4802, the Airport Security Enhancement Act of 2014 improves intergovernmental planning for and communication during security incidents at domestic airports. HR 4803, the TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2014 requires TSA to conform to existing Federal law and regulations regarding criminal investigator positions. And, HR 4812, the Honor Flight Act establishes a process for providing expedited and dignified passenger screening services for veterans traveling to visit war memorials built and dedicated to honor their service. The bills were considered and passed on the House floor on the Suspension Calendar.
There was talk this week that House leadership may soon bring up three cybersecurity bills for a vote on the House floor. The bills are Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul’s (R-TX) National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (HR 3696), Rep. Patrick Meehan’s (R-PA) Critical Infrastructure Research and Development Advancement Act (HR 2952), and Rep. Yvette Clarke’s (D-NY) Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act (HR 3107).
HR 3696 codifies and articulates the Department of Homeland Security’s role in cybersecurity, including through the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. HR 2952 establishes a DHS clearinghouse for critical infrastructure security technology, and HR3107 requires DHS to set occupation classifications for cybersecurity and conduct a cybersecurity workforce assessment. These bills could be on next week’s House suspension calendar.
House Leadership first needed to resolve the issue of jurisdiction over federal civilian networks, language that was removed from HR 3696. Leadership may also add language from Rep. Kerry Bentivolio’s (R-MI) Safe and Secure Federal Websites Act (HR 3635), which mandates that federal sites that collect personally identifiable information be certified as functional and secure.
If the House bills are passed, the Senate could feel some pressure to act on S 2521, the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) of 2014 and S 2519, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) Act of 2014, which were passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in late June. These Senate bills could offer a vehicle for conference with the cybersecurity legislation from the House.
The President signed two executive orders (EO) this week prohibiting federal contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The first EO expands upon a memorandum issued by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 that prohibited federal contractors from discriminating “against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin,” to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The order did not carve out an exception for religiously affiliated contractors and instead pointed to an EO issued by President George W. Bush that allows federal contractors to consider an applicant’s religion when hiring. The Professional Services Council noted that most federal contractors have already barred discrimination based on sexual orientation. The second EO expands previous guidance issued by President Bill Clinton that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, updating it to add prohibiting discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity.
The Executive Order can be viewed at:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) released an updated scheduled for the Senate this week. The Senate will return from the August recess on Monday, September 8, 2014. Target adjournment date for the early fall session will be Tuesday, September 23 (the day before Rosh Hashanah). There is a possibility that the Senate would return the week of September 29 if needed to process any unfinished must-pass legislation or nominations. The House is also scheduled to return from the August recess on Monday September 8. However, the House will not be in session the week of September 22 and has a target adjournment date of October 2.
Businessman David Perdue won the Republican Senate primary runoff in Georgia this week defeating Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA). Perdue, the former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General, won 50.9% to 49.1% despite Kingston’s endorsement by the US Chamber of Commerce. Perdue will face Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn in the general election this fall. Perdue’s cousin Sonny was a two-term governor, and Nunn’s father, Sam, was a four-term US senator. Kingston is currently the Chair of the House Labor HHS Education Appropriations subcommittee. His departure at the end of the year puts the third appropriations subcommittee chairmanship up for grabs next year. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Chair of the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations subcommittee and Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA), Chair of the Transportation HUD appropriations subcommittee are both retiring at the end of this year.
Madelyn Creedon was confirmed by the Senate this week to be Principal Deputy Administrator at the National Nuclear Security Administration, the number two position in the semi-autonomous branch of the Energy Department. Creedon will work directly under Energy Undersecretary for Nuclear Security Frank Klotz assisting in the management of the US atomic weapons complex and working on Energy policy initiatives in support of the administration’s nuclear nonproliferation goals.
The Senate also confirmed Lisa Disbrow to be an Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Victor Mendez to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation, Peter Rogoff to be Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, and Bruce Andrews to be Deputy Secretary of Commerce.
Cristin Dorgelo was named Chief of Staff for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) replacing Rick Siger, whose new role will be announced in the coming weeks. Dorgelo was most recently the assistant director for grand challenges at OSTP, and was previously an executive at the nonprofit XPRIZE.
Melanie Kaye, Director of Communications to Dr. Jill Biden departed the White House this week and was replaced by James Gleeson, who most recently worked as Communications Director for Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA). Before that, Gleeson was an Account Manager for a political consulting firm in Denver, CO and a Legislative Aide in the Colorado State House.
President Obama nominated Chip Fulghum to be DHS Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Fulghum currently serves as the Budget Director in the Office of the CFO at DHS, a position he has held since 2012. And he has served as Acting CFO from 2013 to 2014. Fulghum served for 28 years in the US Air Force from 1984 to 2012 retiring with the rank of Colonel. From 2010 to 2012, he was Director of Air Force Budget Programs, and from 2008 to 2010 he was CFO for Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base.
The President also nominated Stephen Burns and Jeff Baran to be Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) commissioners. Burns was a career NRC employee and by the time he left the agency for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency in 2012 he had become the NRC’s general counsel. Baran is an adviser to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and the staff director on energy and environment issues for the Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The nominees are filling seats vacated when Obama declined to re-nominate George Apostolakis for another term at the NRC, and one that Commissioner William Magwood will depart at the end of August. If confirmed, Baran would fill Magwood’s seat, which expires on June 30, 2015, while Burns’ term wouldn’t expire until June 30, 2019.
Willie May was nominated by the President this week for the position of Under Secretary for Standards and Technology at the Department of Commerce. May currently serves as the Associate Director for Laboratory Programs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the Department of Commerce, a position he has held since 2011.
Therese McMillan was nominated by the President to fill the position of Federal Transit Administrator at the Department of Transportation. McMillan is currently Deputy Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), a position she has held since 2009.
Larry Zelvin announced this week that he is stepping down as the director of DHS’ National Cyber and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) in the middle of August. Zelvin is leaving after almost 30 years in government and is heading to the private sector (possibly Citibank). Greg Touhill, the deputy assistant secretary for Cybersecurity Operations and Programs, will be the interim NCCIC director until DHS hires a permanent replacement for Zelvin.
The House will consider four endangered species bills: HR 4315, the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act; HR 4316, the Endangered Species Recovery Transparency Act; HR 4317, the State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act; and HR 4318, the Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act. The House will also consider H Res 676, a resolution providing for authority to initiate litigation for actions by the President or other executive branch officials inconsistent with their duties under the Constitution of the United States. The House may also consider legislation to deal with the ongoing crisis on the border.
The Senate will resume consideration of S 2569, the Bring Jobs Home Act, but passage is unlikely as Republicans filed amendments to the bill that are related to coal regulations and employer contributions for health care. The Senate will also vote on a number of nominations including that of Robert McDonald to be Secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department. The Senate may take up S 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act, which provides nearly $11 billion to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent until next May. Senate leaders reached an agreement that would allow the Senate to vote on the bill after considering four amendments, all of which would be subject to a 60-vote threshold for passage. One of the amendments would shorten the duration of the bill so that it extends only through December of this year, forcing Congress to revisit the issue during a lame duck session. The other three amendments would make slight changes in offsets; shift responsibility for transportation projects to the states while cutting the federal gasoline tax; and ease environmental reviews and permitting rules for some projects.