December 19, 2014
The House wrapped up their work and adjourned last week while the Senate had a few pieces of unfinished business to complete keeping them in session this week. In a typical end-of-session flurry of activity, the Senate passed the FY15 CR/Omnibus (cromnibus) and HR 5771, the tax extenders legislation, in addition to confirming numerous nominations. The Senate did not complete action on S 2244, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2014, which had passed the house the previous week by a vote of 417 to 7.
On Friday, December 12, 2014, the President signed into law H.J. Res. 130, which provided FY15 appropriations for the Federal Government through Saturday, December 13, 2014. Then on On Saturday, December 13, 2014, he signed into law H.J. Res. 131, which provided FY15 appropriations through Wednesday, December 17, 2014. On Saturday, the Senate passed HR 83, the $1.014T FY15 CR/omnibus spending bill by a vote of 56 to 40. The President signed this final FY15 spending bill into law on December 16. The bill provides FY15 appropriations through September 30, 2015 for all agencies except the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded through February 27, 2015. The bill was finally cleared with broad mainstream support from the more moderate members of both parties. It passed in the House with yea votes from 162 Republicans and 57 Democrats. And in the Senate it passed with the support of 31 Democrats, 24 Republicans, and 1 Independent.
Links to the report language for each section of the “cromnibus” conference report:
Commerce Justice Science:
Energy and Water:
Senate committee rosters began to take shape this week, but Senate committee chairmen have yet to be named. In the 114th Congress, the tax panels were more popular than the appropriations committees. No freshman members were appointed to the Senate Finance or House Ways and Means committees, while some freshman members were able to get seats on the appropriations committees. And, Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) gave up his seat on Appropriations for a seat on the Senate Finance Committee.
Senate Committee rosters can be found at:
The Senate passed HR 5771, the tax extenders bill by a vote of 76 to 16. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had held off the vote on the bill in order to keep Senators in DC for consideration of nominations. The House passed two tax measures before they adjourned – HR 647, the ABLE Act of 2014 and HR 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014. HR 5771 is a short-term tax extenders package retroactively reviving more than 50 expired tax breaks for 2014 only. HR 647 is a tax measure designed to provide families who care for people with disabilities with tax-preferred savings accounts. Before transmitting the bill to the Senate, the House added the text of HR 647 as Division B to HR 5771. The bill now goes to the President for his signature.
FY15 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Agreement
The Senate passed the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last Friday by a vote of 89 to 11. The House passed the bill on Dec. 4 by a vote of 300 to 119. The $584.2 billion measure was named after the retiring chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee – “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.”The bill authorizes $521.3 billion in base discretionary spending ($495.5B for the Department of Defense and $17.9 billion for the defense activities of the Department of Energy and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board) and $63.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).
The bill text can be found here:
The joint explanatory statement can be found here:
State of the Union Address
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued a formal invitation to President Barack Obama to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 20.
Republican Martha McSally prevailed in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District over Democratic Rep. Ron Barber following a recount. McSally, the first the first female fighter pilot to fly a combat mission and command a fighter squadron, edged out Barber by only 167 votes. The result of this recount adds to the majority for the Republican Party in the House of Representatives, with the party holding 247 seats when the new Congress convenes in January.
The Senate confirmed Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, Sarah Saldana to be an Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, Antony Blinken to be Deputy Secretary of State, Colette Dodson Honorable to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Chris Smith to be assistant Energy secretary for fossil fuels, Robert Scher to be assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities, and David Berteau to be assistant secretary of defense for logistics and materiel readiness.
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah announced this week that he would be stepping down next month after serving in this position for five years.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has selected Chris Brose to be the new staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee when McCain assumes the chairmanship in the 114th Congress in January.
President Obama selected Avril Haines as his Deputy National Security Advisor. Haines has served as the National Security Council’s Legal Advisor and Vice President Biden’s counsel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She most recently was the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The House and Senate have adjourned for the year. The new 114th Congress will convene on January 6. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that his first course of business bill be to pass legislation that will approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The Senate Republican conference will also have to quickly decide if they will change back filibuster rules with the so-called nuclear option.