Week Back Week Ahead In Congress: Monday, Dec. 1, 2014

Erin Carson, Lead Analyst Monday December 1st 2014

The Week Behind in Congress

Congress was out from Nov. 24 to Nov. 28 for the Thanksgiving Recess. 

Week Ahead in Congress

Congress returns from the Thanksgiving break for a 10-day sprint before the end of the 113th session. In addition to addressing non-controversial suspension bills, both chambers will focus on getting a government spending bill passed by Dec. 11. Key considerations on when the bill will make it to the floor in the House or the Senate could include provisions addressing President Obama's executive order on immigration. If lawmakers can craft legislation, the bill would basically become what some analysts are calling a "cromnibus approach" – a combination of the continuing resolution (CR) and an omnibus spending bill. It would include both the omnibus spending bill that funds the government through the remainder of the fiscal year, as well as a carve-out for the Department of Homeland Security to try to avoid funding for immigration programs. If Congress does not agree on a funding package by Dec. 11, the federal government will shut down. 

Congress also will try to pass a one-year extension of several expiring tax credits. Congressional leaders had been hard at work negotiating a long-term deal on a number of expiring tax credits. It appeared that the negotiators had reached an agreement, but the deal quickly fell apart due to pressures from the president and angry Senate Democrats who felt that their leadership had given away too much during negotiations with House Republicans, including the exclusion of the child care tax credit and earned income tax credit (EITC). The child care credit and the EITC were taken off the table from the negotiated deal over Republican concerns that the president's recent executive action on immigration would open the door for illegal immigrants to take advantage of these credits. It appears likely that Congress will quickly scrape together a one-year extension on these expiring credits, which it has done for a number of years.

The Senate also is focusing this week on pushing through a number of executive branch nominations prior to the end of the calendar year, and the end of the Democratic majority in the Senate. 

Bills on the House Floor

The House is scheduled to consider the following bills next week under suspension of the rules:

H.R. 5739 - No Social Security for Nazis Act

H.R. 5714 - Pest Management Records Modernization Act

H.R. 4569 - Disclosure Modernization and Simplification Act of 2014, as amended

H.R. 4200 - SBIC Advisers Relief Act of 2014

H.R. 5471 - To amend the Commodity Exchange Act and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to specify how clearing requirements apply to certain affiliate transactions, and for other purposes

H.R. 3240 - Regulation D Study Act

H.R. 4329 - Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2014, as amended

H.R. 2790 - Housing Assistance Efficiency Act

H.R. 2366 - World War I American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin Act, as amended

H.R. 3438 -National Laboratories Mean National Security Act

H.R. 3410, Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA)

H.R. 5629, Strengthening Domestic Nuclear Security Act of 2014

S. 2673, the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 to reaffirm and enhance the US strategic partnership with Israel

H. Res. 758, a resolution strongly condemning Russia’s continuing political, military, and economic aggression against Ukraine, as well as Georgia and Moldova.

H. Res 714, a resolution reaffirming the need for peaceful and collaborative resolution of maritime and jurisdictional disputes in the South China Sea and the East China Sea

H.R.5683 - Ensuring Access to Justice for Claims Against the United States Act, as amended

H.R.5421 - Financial Institution Bankruptcy Act of 2014

Bills on the Senate Floor

The Senate is expected to focus much of next week on executive branch nominations.

House Committee Action

Armed Services Committee – The committee has two hearings scheduled for Dec. 2. The full committee will hold a hearing titled: National Defense Panel Assessment of the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review. Witnesses scheduled to testify include Eric Edelman and Michèle Flournoy, both panelists on the National Defense Panel and former undersecretaries of defense for policy.

The Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces will hold a hearing titled The Role of Maritime and Air Power in the Department of Defense’s Third Offset Strategy. The “third offset strategy” is a Defense Innovation Initiative to offset, or neutralize, the advancements of other foes or nations and ensure America’s long-term military competitive advantage. According to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the initiative is “an ambitious departmentwide effort to identify and invest in innovative ways to sustain and advance America’s military dominance for the 21st century.”

Energy and Commerce Committee – Energy and Commerce will hold two hearings next week. On Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade will hold a hearing to review the Takata air bag ruptures and recalls. Members will examine the management and response by industry and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman, Takata’s Senior Vice President of Global Quality Assurance Hiroshi Shimizu, as well as representatives from Toyota, BMW, and Honda have been invited to testify.  Also on Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing entitled “The Future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.” Witnesses from the Congressional Research Service, the Government Accountability Office, and the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission will testify regarding the current status of the CHIP program and how the president’s health care law has affected it. The hearing comes as subcommittee members prepare for a conversation about the program’s funding next year. CHIP funding is set to end after fiscal year 2015.

Foreign Affairs Committee - The committee plans to hold a hearing on Dec. 2 entitled: The Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) and the Threat from Foreign Fighters. Witnesses scheduled to testify include Robert Bradtke, the State Department's senior advisor for Partner Engagement on Syria Foreign Fighters, and Mr. Tom Warrick, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism Policy from Homeland Security. 

The panel will hold two hearings related to China’s influence next week. On Dec. 2, in a hearing, Hong Kong: A Broken Promise?, lawmakers will discuss the recent “umbrella movement” where Hong Kong’s residents have been protesting in the streets for electoral reforms that would allow them to choose the candidates for the 2017 elections for chief executive of Hong Kong. Witnesses scheduled to testify include: (1) Mr. Dean Cheng, senior research fellow at the Asian Studies Center in the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation, (2) Dr. Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, and (3) Ms. Kelley Currie, senior fellow at the Project 2049 Institute.

On Dec. 4, a hearing titled Is Academic Freedom Threatened by China's Influence on U.S. Universities? will review the growing presence of American universities in China, and of Chinese entities on American campuses, including recommendations on how these types of partnerships can protect academic freedom and the human rights of faculty and students.

Homeland Security Committee – The committee plans to hold a hearing on Dec. 2 titled: Open Borders: The Impact of Presidential Amnesty on Border Security. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is scheduled to testify.

Intelligence Committee – The committee has two hearings that will be closed to the public on Dec. 2 and Dec. 4.

Judiciary Committee - The committee will hold two meetings this week. The full panel will meet on Dec. 2 to discuss President Obama’s recent executive order to defer action on a several million illegal immigrants for two years. The hearing, entitled: President Obama's Executive Overreach on Immigration does not yet have a listing of witnesses, but is likely to feature representatives of the administration and legal experts. The Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet will hold a hearing on Dec. 3 to discuss H.R. 917, the 2013 Sunshine in the Courtroom Act of 2013, a bill to guarantee media coverage of federal court proceedings.

Oversight and Government Reform Committee – The committee will hold a hearing titled: Transforming Federal Spending: Implementing the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act on Dec. 3.

Science, Space, and Technology Committee – The Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a Dec. 3 hearing: Review of the Results of Two Audits of the National Ecological Observatory Network. The hearing will feature testimony from Allison Lerner, inspector general at the National Science Foundation andAnita Bales, director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

Veterans’ Affairs Committee – The Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold one hearing next week. The Subcommittee on Health will hold a Dec. 3 hearing, VA’s Caregiver Program: Assessing Current Prospects and Future Possibilities.

Ways and Means Committee – While the Ways and Means Committee has not had any formal hearings during this lame duck session, Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) has been hard at work negotiating with his Senate counterpart, Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), to reach a long-term deal on a number of expiring tax credits. It appeared negotiators had reached an agreement, but the deal quickly fell apart due to pressures from the president and angry Senate Democrats who believed that the leadership had given away too much during negotiations with House Republicans, including excluding an extension to the child car tax credit and earned income tax credit.  It appears likely that Congress will quickly scrape together a one-year extension on these expiring credits, which it has done for a number of years.

Senate Committee Action

Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee – On Wednesday, Dec. 3, the committee will hold a hearing entitled “Farmers and Fresh Water: Voluntary Conservation to Protect our Land and Waters.” The hearing will examine different ways farmers and ranchers can help improve water quality in lakes and rivers through voluntary conservation practices. Witnesses will include Mayor of Toledo, Ohio, Michael Collins; Executive Director of the Office for Sustainability Dr. Matlock; Executive Director of the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance Sean McMahon; and Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service at the Department of Agriculture Jason Weller.

Armed Services Committee – The Committee will hold a hearing on Dec. 2 to consider the following nominations:

·         Mr. Robert M. Scher to be Assistant Secretary of Defense For Strategy, Plans, And Capabilities


·         Ms. Elissa Slotkin to be Assistant Secretary of Defense For International Security Affairs


·         Mr. David J. Berteau to be Assistant Secretary of Defense For Logistics And Materiel Readiness


·         Ms. Alissa M. Starzak to be General Counsel of the Army Department


·         Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., USN For Reappointment to the Grade of Admiral, and to be Commander of the United States Pacific Command

Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee – The Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will hold a Dec. 2 hearing Addressing Domestic Violence in Professional Sports. A list of witnesses for this hearing have not been released.

Environment and Public Works Committee – The full committee will hold a business meeting on Dec. 2 to consider nominations to the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as to consider S. 2963, a bill to remove a limitation on a prohibition relating to permits for discharges incidental to normal operation of vessels. The same day the full committee will hold a hearing on the Super Pollutants Act of 2014, with witnesses including the president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, the executive director of the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy,  the director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, and a professor of climate sciences at Duke University. Finally, the Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife will hold a hearing entitled “Innovation and the Utilities of the Future: How Local Water Treatment Facilities are Leading the Way to Better Manage Wastewater and Water Supplies.”

On Dec. 3, the full committee will hold a hearing entitled “NRC’s Implementation of the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force Recommendations and other Actions to Enhance and Maintain Nuclear Safety,” with witnesses from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the California Seismic Safety Commission, the University of California, and the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Finance Committee – On Dec. 3, the Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure will hold a hearing on Natural Gas Vehicles entitled Natural Gas Vehicles: Fueling American Jobs, Enhancing Energy Security, and Achieving Emissions Benefits, with witnesses from the Regional Transit Authority, the UPS, Clean Energy Renewable Fuels, and Daimler Trucks North America.  

Foreign Relations Committee – The committee plans to hold a hearing on Dec. 3 titled: Evaluating the Impact of the “Umbrella Movement” where residents in Hong Kong have been protesting in the streets for electoral reforms that would allow them to choose the candidates for the 2017 elections for Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Mr. Daniel Russel, assistant secretary for East Asian And Pacific Affairs at State is scheduled to testify. Other witnesses include: Dr. Sophie Richardson, China Director
at Human Rights Watch, and Dr. Richard C. Bush III Director from the Center For Northeast Asia Policy Studies and a senior fellow at the 
Brookings Institution.

In addition, the committee plans to hold a hearing on Dec. 2 to consider the nominations of the Honorable Richard Rahul Verma Of Maryland, to be the U.S. ambassador to The Republic Of India, and the Honorable Peter Michael McKinley Of Virginia, to be the U.S. Ambassador to The Islamic Republic Of Afghanistan.

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee – On Dec. 2, the full committee will consider the nomination of Lauren McGarity McFerran to to the National Labor Relations Board.

Intelligence Committee – The committee has two hearings that will be closed to the public scheduled for Dec. 1 and Dec.  4.

Judiciary Committee -- The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a Dec. 4 hearing to examine the S.1721 FANS Act, and specifically sports broadcast blackouts and the antitrust aspects of these blackouts. The committee will hold a Dec. 2 Executive Business Meeting to consider several federal judicial appointments.

Veterans’ Affairs Committee- The Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold two hearings this week including a Dec. 4 meeting to examine the recent presidential nomination of Leigh A. Bradley to be the Department of Veterans’ Affairs general counsel. The committee will also hold a Dec. 3 hearing to examine Hepatitis C in veterans.