Washington Weekly – November 20, 2015

November 20, 2015

The House and Senate passed a short-term bill reauthorizing surface transportation programs through December 4, and the President signed the measure before the current authorization expired today. The House passed HR 511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2015; HR 1201, the Portfolio Lending and Mortgage Access Act; HR 1737, the Reforming CFPB Indirect Auto Financing Guidance Act; and HR 3189, the Fed Oversight Reform and Modernization (FORM) Act of 2015. The House also passed HR 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act with a veto-proof majority (the White House has issued a veto threat for the bill). The measure would enhance the vetting procedures for Iraqi and Syrian refugees. The Senate passed two joint resolutions providing for congressional disapproval of two rules submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units” and “Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified, and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units.” The White House said the President would veto the latter resolution. The Senate also passed by unanimous consent HR 2297, the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015, and confirmed Peter William Bodde, of Maryland, to be Ambassador to Libya. The Senate began consideration of the FY16 Transportation HUD appropriations bill but abandoned the effort before leaving for the Thanksgiving holiday. Finally, the Senate agreed to go to conference on the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (S 1177), and the conference committee agreed 38 to 1 to advance a final package that would give state and local leaders more control over education decisions. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voted no by proxy.

FY16 Appropriations

The current continuing resolution funding the government expires on December 11. House and Senate Appropriations committees have been working on an FY16 omnibus spending bill and negotiations are ongoing. An omnibus bill is likely to be released during the week of Dec. 7. Currently the biggest holdups are possible inclusion of language regarding funding for Syrian refugees, dividing up the $30B spending increase both sides have agreed to in principle, environmental policy riders, crop insurance subsidies, and policy riders pushing back Dodd-Frank financial regulations. Senate Appropriations Ranking Democrat Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said that they are also waiting to hear from the President about any supplemental funding needs post-Paris attacks. And new House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said this week that he would like to move permanent business and individual tax breaks extensions in the final omnibus.

This week, House Republican leaders held a series of listening sessions getting GOP members’ input on the spending bills. While it is unclear how much of an impact these sessions will have on the final omnibus, they did buy the new leadership team some goodwill by making members part of the process.

Republicans have discussed including policy riders in the omnibus, while Democrats have promised to stand firm against them. This week a group of 165 House Democrats sent a letter to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) and other House leaders calling for an FY16 omnibus spending bill without riders. Republicans are aware that they will need the support and votes of some Democrats to carry the final package, and therefore, may resist the urge to overload the legislation with contentious provisions.

House Democrat Letter re: FY16 Omnibus and Policy Riders:


FY16 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report

The House adopted a Senate resolution making technical corrections to the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act, including changing the formal title of the bill, fixing spelling errors (mostly dealing with Ukraine), and replacing one of the bill’s funding tables. The bill was then enrolled and sent to the President for his signature.

New Ways and Means Committee Chairs and Members

The House Ways and Means Committee did a bit of reshuffling this week after Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) moved to take the gavel of the Health Subcommittee. Tiberi lost to Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) in his bid to succeed House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) as chairman of the full committee. Brady had been the chair of the Health subcommittee, the panel that presides over issues including Medicare, Medicaid, drug prices, and efforts to rollback provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) was selected to fill the vacancy on the committee. And the Committee adopted new rules that 1) increased the size of the Health subcommittee by one Republican member and one Democrat member, 2) renamed the Subcommittee on Select Measures as the Subcommittee on Tax Policy, and 3) increased the size of the Subcommittee on Tax Policy by two Republican members and one Democrat member.

The new Republican subcommittee chairs and members are as follows:


Chairman Tiberi – OH

Mr. Johnson – TX

Mr. Nunes – CA

Mr. Roskam – IL

Mr. Price – GA

Mr. Buchanan – FL

Mr. A. Smith – NE

Ms. Jenkins – KS

Mr. Marchant – TX

Ms. Black – TN

Mr. Paulsen – MN


Chairman Reichert – WA

Mr. Nunes – CA

Mr. A. Smith – NE

Ms. Jenkins – KS

Mr. Boustany – LA

Mr. Paulsen – MN

Mr. Marchant – TX

Mr. Young – IN

Mr. Kelly – PA

Mr. Meehan – PA

Tax Policy

Chairman Boustany – LA

Mr. Reichert – WA

Mr. Tiberi – OH

Mr. Reed – NY

Mr. Young – IN

Mr. Kelly – PA

Mr. Renacci – OH

Ms. Noem – SD

Mr. Holding – NC


Chairman Roskam – IL

Mr. Meehan – PA

Mr. Holding – NC

Mr. J. Smith – MO

Mr. Reed – NY

Mr. Rice – SC

Mr. Marchant – TX

Human Resources

Chairman Buchanan – FL

Ms. Noem – SD

Mr. J. Smith – MO

Mr. Dold – IL

Mr. Rice – SC

Mr. Reed – NY

Mr. Reichert – WA

Social Security

Chairman Johnson – TX

Mr. Dold – IL

Mr. Buchanan – FL

Mr. A. Smith – NE

Mr. Kelly – PA

Mr. Renacci – OH

Mr. Rice – SC

House Republican Steering Committee Changes

House Republicans passed changes to overhaul the membership and operation of its Steering Committee by voice vote on Thursday. The Steering Committee assigns Republican members to the House committees. The biggest change Republicans adopted was the elimination of the six committee (Rules, Financial Services, Ways and Means, Budget, Appropriations, and Energy and Commerce) chairmen who currently have seats on the Steering Committee. Until the end of 2016, these chairmen will be replaced by six “at-large” members elected by the GOP conference by secret ballot. The candidates who receive the most votes will be on the Steering Committee. The vote has not been scheduled yet but will take place in 2015. After 2016, the six “at-large” members will be replaced by six regional representatives. Other changes adopted include adding one “rotating committee chairman” slot to be occupied by any chairman whose committee membership is under consideration by the Steering committee, and adding one slot to be filled at the discretion of the Speaker to address gaps in representation (women, Freedom Caucus representatives, etc.). Finally, for the first time, House Republican leadership would be required to make the Steering Committee roster public.

Political Updates

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal dropped out of the Republican Presidential primary race this week after struggling to gain traction in the crowded field of candidates.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Deputy Administrator Mark Hatfield announced his retirement this week as well as his new role as the Chief Security Officer for Miami International Airport. Hatfield worked at the TSA for 13 years taking over as Deputy Administrator in January 2015.

President Obama announced the following nominations this week: Hester Maria Peirce for reappointment as a Member of the Securities and Exchange Commission; Philip Cullom to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment at the Department of Defense; Swati Dandekar to be United States Executive Director at the Asian Development Bank; Harry Hoglander to be a Member of the National Mediation Board; Daniel Maffei to be a Commissioner on the Federal Maritime Commission; Georgette Mosbacher to be a Member of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy; and Patrick Pizzella to be a Member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority.

William LaPlante and Heidi Shyu, the top acquisition officials from the Air Force and Army, both announced this week that they will be stepping down from their positions. LaPlante announced his departure in an email writing that he would leave at the end of November and return to the MITRE Corp where he worked before going to the Pentagon. Shyu said that she would retire at the end of January. Frank Kendall, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, has said that he plans to stay in his post until the end of the Obama Administration.

Jimmy Panetta, son of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, announced his campaign for Congress this week. Panetta is running for the 20th Congressional District seat, which is being vacated by retiring Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) at the end of 2016.

Jeffrey Chen joined the Commerce Department as Chief Data Scientist this week to lead the projects for the Commerce Data Service, a newly launched internal startup that harnesses the power of data science. Chen is a former Presidential Innovation Fellow who worked for NASA’s Climate Data Initiative. He has also worked in the Office of Science and Technology Policy as well as the New York Fire Department. He was most recently the data scientist in residence at Georgetown University.

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess next week and will return the week of November 30.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all of your family and friends!

Washington Weekly – November 13, 2015

November 13, 2015

The House was in recess this week. The Senate passed the FY16 Military Construction/Veterans Affairs appropriations bill and the revised FY16 National Defense Authorization Act, which now goes to the President for his signature. The Senate passed by unanimous consent S 1203, the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act; HR 2262, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act; and S 2280, the POWER Act. The Senate also agreed to go to conference with the House on a six-year highway and transit authorization bill. And the Senate confirmed Scott Allen to be U.S. Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

FY16 Appropriations

While the Senate was not able to get the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture on the FY16 Defense spending bill last week, they were able to consider and pass the FY16 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs this week. The $79.74B bill (HR 2029) passed by a vote of 93 to 0. The bill will likely serve as the legislative vehicle for the anticipated FY16 omnibus spending bill. The Senate may next turn to its $55.65B FY16 Transportation HUD spending bill for consideration on the floor.

FY16 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report

The Senate passed the adjusted FY16 National Defense Authorization Act (S 1356) by a vote of 91 to 3. The three “no” votes in the Senate on the legislation came from Sens. Merkley (D-OR), Sanders (I-VT), and Wyden (D-OR). And the four GOP Presidential candidates (Cruz, Graham, Paul, and Rubio) missed the vote in addition to Sens. Heller (R-NV) and Vitter (R-LA).

The House passed the measure last week. While the bill is now poised to go to the President for his signature, the House needs to adopt a resolution making technical corrections to the bill. The Senate adopted a resolution instructing clerks handling the bill’s enrollment to make technical corrections, which include changing the formal title of the bill, fixing spelling errors (mostly dealing with Ukraine), and replacing one of the bill’s funding tables. The House is expected to make the corrections next week allowing the President to sign the bill sometime before the end of the month.

Political Updates

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) is reported to be eyeing the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee chair that Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) vacated when he was chosen for chair of the full Ways and Means Committee. This may set off a bit of reshuffling as Tiberi is currently the chair of the Trade Subcommittee. Brady is interested in filling the vacant subcommittee chairmanships next week.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) announced last Friday that he will not seek re-election in 2016. Pitts was first elected in 1996, and has chaired the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee since 2011. State Senator Lloyd Smucker announced that he is running to replace Pitts. And Reps. Sam Farr (D-CA) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) announced this week that they would retire when their terms end in 2017. Farr is a member of the House Appropriations Committee holding the ranking member position on the Agriculture subcommittee. Lummis is on the Natural Resources and Oversight and Government Reform committees and is the only female member of the House Freedom Caucus. Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s eldest daughter, Liz Cheney, said she is seriously considering running for Lummis’ seat. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) is expected to announce his retirement today. Hinojosa is on the Education and the Workforce and Financial Services committees.

And speaking of the House Freedom Caucus, they are scheduled to elect their new chairman Monday night. This will be the caucus’ second election since its founding. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is expected to win re-election.

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) drew a primary challenge Monday from businessman Curtis Coleman of Little Rock, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nominations for Senate in 2010 and governor in 2014.

President Obama nominated Beth Cobert to be Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Cobert has been “Acting” Director since Katherine Archuleta resigned in July.

The White House is bringing on Jason Schultz, a New York University law professor and former Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney, to serve as a senior adviser to Megan Smith, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer. Schultz will advise Smith on intellectual property and innovation focusing on patent and digital copyright issues.

Brian Burns is taking over as Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Burns takes over for Dan Galick, who was serving as Acting CISO since Stan Lowe retired in August. Burns most recently served as Deputy Director of the Joint VA-Defense Department Interagency Program Office (IPO) charged with improving interoperability between the two agencies’ electronic health record system. Burns will retain his IPO responsibilities as he takes on the added role of implementing the VA’s cybersecurity strategy.

President Obama withdrew the nomination of Kenneth Kopocis to be an Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. His nomination was originally sent to the Senate on June 24, 2015. Kopocis retired this month as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water at the EPA concluding 32 years of public service. His departure comes as the EPA is involved in the battle over its Waters of the U.S. regulation, and it will set off a leadership reorganization at EPA. Joel Beauvais will take on Kopocis’ job as EPA’s Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, Laura Vaught will fill Beauvais’ old job as Acting Associate Administrator for EPA’s Office of Policy, and Nicole Distefano will take over Vaught’s job as Acting Associate Administrator for EPA’s Office of Congressional Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter removed Army Lt. Gen. Ron Lewis from his post Thursday morning amid allegations of misconduct. Lewis has been serving as the senior military assistant to Secretary Carter and routinely accompanied him on his trips abroad. The matter has been referred to the Defense Department’s Inspector General for an official investigation.

Next Week

The House will consider HR 1737, the Reforming CFPB Indirect Auto Financing Guidance Act; HR 3189, the FORM Act of 2015; and HR 1210, the Portfolio Lending and Mortgage Access Act, which eases some mortgage lending standards set by the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul. The Senate may take up the FY16 Transportation HUD appropriations bill.

Washington Weekly – November 6, 2015

November 6, 2015

The House passed a more than $325B six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill by a vote of 363 to 64, and agreed to a bicameral conference on the legislation. The bill includes a provision to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. The current authorization expires on Nov. 20. The House also passed under suspension of the rules a revised FY16 National Defense Authorization Act (S 1356) by a vote of 370 to 58. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration early next week. The Senate rejected two cloture motions on S 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act (vote 58 to 41) and HR 2685, the FY16 Department of Defense Appropriations Act (vote 51 to 54). The Senate did invoke cloture on HR 2029, the FY16 Military Construction/Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. And the Senate passed a joint resolution (SJ Res 22) providing for congressional disapproval of the rule submitted by the Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency relating to the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. Finally, ending a seven year review process, President Obama announced this morning that he was rejecting the request from a Canadian company to build the 1,179 mile Keystone XL oil pipeline. The President said his decision was based on his belief that the pipeline would not make a long-term, meaningful contribution to our economy and would not lower gas prices for American consumers.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Election

Ways and Means Committee Chair

The House Republican Steering Committee tapped Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) as the next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee filling the vacancy left by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI). The House 33-member GOP steering committee chose Brady over Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) as the next chair of the powerful tax-writing committee. Tiberi may be offered the top GOP position on the Joint Economic Committee (replacing Brady) as a “consolation prize.” And with Brady now at the helm of the committee, this opens up the chair of the Health subcommittee. The GOP has a seniority-based bidding system for the vacancy. If a current subcommittee chair opts to switch to the Health subcommittee, this could set off a ripple effect of reshuffling.

FY16 Appropriations

The President signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 on Monday. With the discretionary spending caps now set for FY16 and FY17, Congress began work on their FY16 bills. The Senate took up the FY16 Defense Appropriations bill but could not get the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture. Senate Democrats blocked the bill to use it as future leverage to ensure that Republicans pass all of the FY16 spending bills.

During the debate on the Senate floor over the defense spending bill, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) said that there was an “understanding” of how they would move forward on the FY16 appropriations bills. The “understanding” led to Democrats allowing consideration in the Senate of the FY16 Military Construction/Veterans Affairs appropriations bill. Cloture was invoked on that bill by a vote of 93 to 0. The agreement to let this bill proceed may be a procedural maneuver to allow a legislative vehicle for a potential omnibus measure to move forward at the same time showing a gesture of goodwill prior to the omnibus negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he hopes to finish consideration of the MilCon/VA bill by Tuesday evening. The chairman of the MilCon/VA Appropriations subcommittee, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) offered a substitute amendment to reflect the new budget agreement funding levels. The substitute amendment recommends a total of $79.7B in discretionary funding, a more than $2.1B increase over the committee-reported bill.

Yesterday the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittee chairs learned of their revised allocations, which were developed by the House and Senate Appropriations chairmen with input from the ranking members. While there is agreement on the budget caps for each subcommittee, one last issue could still force a government shutdown when the current continuing resolution expires on Dec. 11 – policy riders. Speaker Ryan has not ruled out including policy riders in an omnibus appropriations bill. And Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said that a policy rider on the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) could surface in the omnibus spending bill. House and Senate Democrats as well as the White House would oppose the inclusion of these riders. Stay tuned!

FY16 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report

The House and Senate opted to forgo veto override votes for the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Instead, the House took up S 1356 and amended it to include an FY16 NDAA that had been adjusted to account for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The $5B adjustments impacted more than 100 separate programs including the Syrian train and equip program, the Air Force’s next generation strategic bomber, Army readiness, and the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund. The adjusted FY16 NDAA passed the House by a vote of 370 to 58 and now heads to the Senate for consideration. Despite the inclusion of restrictions on closing the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the President is likely to sign the measure.

S 1356 Bill Text:


S 1356 Report Language:


FY16 NDAA Adjustments List:


Homeland Security Science & Technology Advisory Committee

The Department of Homeland Security appointed 28 new members to the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee (HSSTAC). The HSSTAC provides scientific and technical advice to the DHS Secretary and senior department leadership on matters related to the expansion of technological capabilities across the homeland security enterprise.

The HSSTAC members are selected from disciplines within the following fields of expertise: Organizational Strategy and Management; First Responders; Cybersecurity/Risk; Cross-Cutting Technical Expertise; and Chemical and Biological Defense. The 28 new HSSTAC members will join the six current members on the committee. All members serve two-year terms on the committee.

The 28 new members are:

Organization Strategy and Management

James R. Brigham, Jr., corporate director of simMachines, Inc.

Herbert Lee Buchanan, President/CEO of Arete Associates

James F. Decker, Principal and Co-Founder of Decker, Garman, Sullivan and Associates, LLC.

Michael J. Goldblatt, CEO of Aixxia, LLC

Annie McKee, founder of Teleos Leadership Institute

Brock C. Reeve, Executive Director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute

John A. Sims, Executive Director of External Relations for Academic Affairs at Bentley University

David A. Whelan, Vice President of Engineering for Boeing Defense, Space and Security

Roy A. Wiggins, Dean of Business, Professor of Finance, and Director of the Bentley Microfinance Initiative at Bentley University

Christina C. Williams, Associate Provost for Administration and Finance at Brandeis University

First Responder

  1. Keith Bryant isan emergency medical technician and member of the

Oklahoma City Fire Department. He is the current President of the

International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Murray “Jay” Farr is the Deputy Chief of Police in the Arlington County,

Va. Police Department.

Gary W. Schenkel is Executive Director of the Chicago Office of Emergency

Management and Communications and oversees the Public Safety Consortium,

which brings together local, state, and federal partners to plan and

coordinate emergency response.

James Schwartz is the Chief of the Arlington County, Va. Fire Department.


Vinton G. Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google

Vincent W. S. Chan, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT

James A. Hendler, Director of the Institute for Data Exploration and Applications, and the Tetherless World Professor of Computer, Web, and Cognitive Sciences at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Cross Cutting Technical Expertise

Philip E. Coyle, Senior Science Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

William P. Crowell, partner with Alsop Louie Partners

Daniel Dubno, developer of Keyhole

Yacov Y. Haimes, Lawrence R. Quarles Professor of Systems and Information Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Founding Director of the Center for Risk Management of Engineering Systems at the University of Virginia

Eric Haseltine, President of Haseltine Partners LLC

Karim R. Lakhani, Associate Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and Principal Investigator of the Crowd Innovation Lab and NASA Tournament Lab at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science.

Mark T. Maybury, Chief Technology Officer of the MITRE Corp

Brian C. Toohey, Executive Vice President of DEKA Research and Development Corp

Theodore Lawrence Willke II, Senior Principal Engineer for Intel Labs

Chemical and Biological Defense

Kathie L. Olsen, Founder and Managing Director of ScienceWorks

Gerald W. Parker, Vice President for Public Health Preparedness and Response, and principal investigator for the Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing.

Political Updates

Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary contest this week, citing a change to the party’s debate rules.

Next week’s Republican Presidential debate by Fox Business Network/Wall Street Journal will have a few less familiar faces on stage at the 9 pm main event. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), former New York Governor George Pataki, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore all failed to make the cut for the main stage and instead will debate at the 6 pm undercard debate. The eight candidates on the main stage are: Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) received a primary challenger this week when Iraq War veteran Jonathan McConnell announced that he would challenge the five-term Republican senator. McConnell founded Meridian.us, a global maritime security company. Shelby, who is 81, has more than $19M in his campaign account and confirmed earlier this year that he is running for re-election. Given how “red” the state is, whoever wins the March 1 primary will likely win the seat in November.

Rep. Richard Nugent (R-FL) announced this week that he won’t seek re-election in 2016. Nugent cited a desire to spend more time with his family as a chief factor in his decision to retire next year. Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL), whose district became considerably more Democratic in the most recent round of redistricting, is considering a run to succeed Nugent, although Nugent has already endorsed his chief of staff, Justin Grabelle, to replace him

Ohio Governor John Kasich set the special election date for the seat vacated by former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for June 7. The primary election will be held on March 15, the same day as the state’s presidential primary. The winner would serve the remainder of the term, and a full-time replacement would be decided in the next general election. GOP candidates include state Rep. Tim Derickson, Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds, state Sen. Bill Beagle, and Troy teacher J.D. Winteregg.

The House and Senate released their FY16 calendars this week:





The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) appointed Clifton Triplett as the new Senior Cyber and Information Technology Advisor. Triplett’s role will be to help upgrade OPM’s network infrastructure and cybersecurity, and he will report directly to Beth Cobert, OPM’s Acting Director. Triplett, a military veteran, comes to OPM with 30 years of cross-industry and IT organizational transformation experience. Before joining OPM, he was a managing partner at SteelPointe Partners, a global management consulting company.

Mark Day, the General Services Administration’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Integrated Technology Services office in the Federal Acquisition Service, retired from the federal government on Oct. 30. Kathleen Turco, the Chief Financial Officer for the Veterans Health Administration also announced her plans to retire as of Dec. 30. And Health and Human Services Chief Information Officer Frank Baitman told his staff this week that he is leaving as of Nov. 30.

FBI Director James Comey named Gregory D. Cox as the Assistant Director of the Critical Incident Response Group in Quantico, VA and Carlos Cases as the Assistant Director of International Operations Division at FBI Headquarters in Washington DC.

Christine Harada, the General Services Administration’s Associate Administrator in the Office of Governmentwide Policy and Acting Chief of Staff, is moving to the White House. Harada will become the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) at the Council on Economic Quality (CEQ) on Nov. 16.

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s (R-IL) portrait was quietly removed from the Speaker’s lobby this week. Last week, Hastert pleaded guilty in a hush-money scheme. Hastert’s portrait was replaced by a portrait of Frederick H. Gillett, a Massachusetts Republican who served as a speaker from 1919 to 1925.

Next Week

The House is in recess next week. The Senate will resume consideration of the FY16 Military Construction/Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill on Monday and will vote on the revised FY16 National Defense Authorization Act on Tuesday. The Senate will also hold a confirmation vote on the nomination of Scott Allen to be U.S. Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Senate is not in session on Wednesday in observance of Veterans Day.

Washington Weekly – October 30, 2015

October 30, 2015 

The House and Senate passed a budget deal (HR 1314) that lifted the debt ceiling and increased discretionary spending by $80 billion above sequester-level spending caps for FY16 and FY17. The measure passed by a vote of 266 to 167 in the House and a vote of 64 to 35 in the Senate. The House and Senate also passed by voice vote a measure to extend the surface transportation authorization to Nov. 20. The bill gives Congress more time to negotiate a long-term authorization. The Senate passed a six-year authorization in July and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee marked up a long-term bill last week. The House also passed HR 1090, the Retail Investor Protection Act; and HR 597, the Reform Exports and Expand the American Economy Act. And supporters of the Export-Import Bank in the House invoked a rare parliamentary maneuver to force consideration of a bill to reauthorize the bank, which expired this summer. The bill passed by a vote of 313 to 118. The Senate passed S 754, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act by a vote of 74 to 21.The Senate also passed by unanimous consent S 1731, the Homeless Veterans Services Protection Act, HR 313, the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act; and HR 639, the Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act. And the Senate confirmed Sarah Elizabeth Feinberg to be Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.

House Leadership Elections


The House GOP conference met on Wednesday to vote internally to nominate a candidate for Speaker. Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) won the vote in conference with 200 votes. Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) received 43 votes from the GOP conference, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) received one vote, and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) received one vote. When the full House voted on Thursday, Rep. Ryan received 236 votes to 184 for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), nine for Rep. Webster, one for Rep. Jim Cooper (R-TN), one for Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), and one for General Colin Powell. After being sworn in as the 54th Speaker of the House, Ryan announced his new staff lineup: Chief of Staff, Dave Hoppe; Deputy Chief of Staff, Joyce Meyer; Policy Director, Austin Smythe; and Chief Communications Advisor, Brendan Buck.

Ways and Means Committee Chair

House Speaker Ryan officially resigned the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee after he was elected Speaker. The House GOP Steering Committee will now work to fill that vacancy. The Steering Committee is expected to vote in early November on the nomination of a new chairman. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-PA) are both interested in the leadership position. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) was convinced by Speaker Ryan to not seek the position and to remain as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Under Republican rules, of the total 38 votes in the GOP Steering Committee the Speaker controls five and the Majority Leader has two. All other members of the Steering Committee get one vote. With former Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) resignation, there is now a vacancy on the Steering Committee. The 33 members of the committee select the nominees for vacant chairmanships, subject to approval by the full caucus. Traditionally, Republicans have not challenged the Steering panel recommendations. Speaker Ryan has expressed interest in revamping the Steering committee as well as a broad restructuring of the rules by the end of 2015.

Budget and Debt Ceiling Agreement

In what has been described as a parting gift from outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to incoming Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), the House, Senate, and White House agreed to a budget and debt ceiling deal earlier this week. The deal, HR 1314, was then passed in the House by a vote of 266 to 167 (all nay votes were Republicans) and in the Senate by a vote of 64 to 35 (again, all nay votes were Republicans). The only member not voting was Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) who is running for Governor in Louisiana where the runoff is scheduled for Nov. 21. The two-year budget agreement now goes to the President who is expected to sign it.

The agreement raises the discretionary spending caps for FY16 and FY17 by approximately $80 billion and suspends the debt ceiling until March 15, 2017. The measure raises the discretionary spending caps by $50B in FY16 and $30B in FY17 with the spending increases evenly split between defense and nondefense programs. The FY16 defense cap is raised from $523B to $548.1B and the nondefense cap is raised from $493.5B to $518.5B. The agreement also provides $73.5B for Overseas Contingency Operations in FY16 and FY17, which is about $16B/year more than the President requested in his FY16 budget request.

Some of the “pay fors” in the deal include tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (selling 58M barrels of crude oil from the reserve for 8 years starting in FY18), equalizing Medicare rates for physicians (physicians’ practices newly acquired by hospitals would not qualify for higher reimbursements than independent physicians), auctioning off federal spectrum, extending the sequester on Medicare and certain other mandatory spending programs by one year, through FY25, and tax compliance provisions (not tax increases).

Other provisions in the deal include one that would repeal a requirement in the Affordable Care Act for large employers to automatically enroll their employees in health care plans. Another provision would provide relief to Medicare Part B beneficiaries who were expected to see their monthly premiums rise from the current $104.90 to $159.30 in 2016. In the deal, their monthly premiums would only see an estimated $18 increase. The package also includes a series of changes aimed at preventing the exhaustion of the Social Security disability insurance trust fund late next year, including a reallocation of payroll tax revenue between the disability fund and main Social Security fund and various measures aimed at encouraging work and cracking down on fraud and abuse. And finally, the deal included a provision to designate the first floor of the area of the House of Representatives wing of the US Capitol currently known as the small House rotunda as the “Freedom Foyer.”

The passage of the deal now gives the House and Senate Appropriations Committees about six weeks to work out details on an FY16 omnibus measure. The current FY16 Continuing Resolution expires on December 11. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) warned Republicans that Democrats would stick together in opposing any controversial policy riders included the omnibus spending bill.

FY16 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report

The House is scheduled to vote on overriding the President’s veto of the conference agreement on the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act next Thursday, Nov. 5. House Republicans are whipping the votes needed to override the veto. A vetoed bill can become law if 2/3 of the Members voting in each chamber agree, by recorded vote, a quorum being present, to repass the bill. If the House fails to override the veto, the Senate won’t have to consider it. The House typically considers the question of overriding a presidential veto under the hour rule, with the time customarily controlled and allocated by the chair and ranking Member of the committee with jurisdiction over the bill (in this case, the House Armed Services Committee). The Senate usually considers the question of overriding a veto under the terms of a unanimous consent agreement. It has been reported that one of the 10 Republicans who voted against the measure will now vote for overriding the veto, and several others are reconsidering their votes. On the Democratic side, some members who voted for the measure may switch their vote to help the President avoid a potentially embarrassing veto override.


The Senate passed S 754, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) this week by a vote of 74 to 21. The legislation is aimed at bolstering the nation’s defenses against hackers. The House passed two cybersecurity bills (HR 1560, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act and HR 1731, the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act) earlier this year by a vote of 307 to 116 and 355 to 63, respectively. The House and Senate will now convene a conference to work out the differences between the three measures. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman and the sponsor of S 754, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said that January is the earliest that they may have a conference agreement. And the bill’s cosponsor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said that this bill is just the first step. Feinstein would like to see the Senate turn its attention to protecting critical infrastructure from cyberattacks after they have finished conference on this bill.

Political Updates

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) cast his 15,000th vote on Tuesday, joining an exclusive club in Senate history. Leahy has cast the largest number of votes of any of the Senators now serving, and the sixth most of any Senator in history. The record holder in this category is Sen. Robert C. Byrd who cast 18,689 votes during his tenure from 1959-2010.

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony charge of evading federal bank reporting laws in connection with a scheme to pay hush money to a former associate to cover up and compensate for inappropriate contact with a student while he was a high school teacher and wrestling coach. Hastert entered the plea in front of a federal judge in Chicago. The judge could sentence Hastert to up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. But federal sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of zero to six months in prison. And under a plea bargain with prosecutors, a charge Hastert faced of lying to the FBI will be dropped. Hastert’s sentencing date is set for late February.

Next Week

The House will vote on overriding the President’s veto of the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act and may consider legislation related to the Highway Trust Fund. The Senate will resume consideration of the Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S 1140).