Week Back Week Ahead In Congress: Monday January 26, 2015

Erin Carson, Lead Analyst Monday January 26th 2015

The Week Behind in Congress

The House voted last week on a watered-down abortion bill that would prohibit taxpayer-funded abortions. The vote coincided with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade as well as the anti-abortion March for Life. The House had originally planned to pass an abortion bill banning late-term abortions that was pulled at the last minute over political concerns for the 2016 elections and was seen as a blow to House leadership from a handful of moderate female Representatives.

The full report on the week’s activity is provided below.

Week Behind - House Floor Action

The following bills were approved in the House after full debate:

H.R. 161 - Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act

H.R.7 - No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015

The House passed the following bill under suspension of the rules:

H.Res.__ - Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives condemning the recent terrorist attacks in Paris that resulted in the deaths of seventeen innocent persons and offering condolences to those personally affected by this cowardly act

Week Behind - Senate Floor Action

The Senate held floor debate and considered 24 amendments to S.1 - the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, rejecting 11, passing four, and tabling nine from floor vote. The amendments included a number of Democrat-sponsored “messaging” provisions on climate change, which were all either rejected or tabled by Senate leadership except for one, an amendment sponsored by Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) that declared that “climate change is real and not a hoax.”

Week Behind - House Committee Action

Education and the Workforce – On January 22, Reps. Joe Heck (R-NV) and Karen Bass (D-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to strengthen support for victims of youth sex trafficking.

Energy and Commerce – On January 21, the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing entitled Protecting the Internet and Consumers through Congressional Action to discuss draft legislation that would “enact clear rules of the road for the Internet to protect consumers and innovation.” Witnesses included officials from Etsy, Amazon, the Wireless Association, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the Minority Media and Telecom Council, and the National Hispanic Media Coalition. From Jan. 21 to Jan. 22,  the Subcommittee on Health held a two-day hearing entitled, a Permanent Solution to the SGR: the Time is Now, to “find a permanent solution to the flawed SGR formula.” The subcommittee aims to “bring SGR reform to the president’s desk before the current patch expires at the end of March 2015.” On January 22, the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy held a hearing on EPA’s 2014 Final Rule: Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities that examined EPA’s recently issued rule regulating the disposal of coal ash and discuss the need for legislation to provide the clarity that job-creators need.

Financial Services –On January 21, the full committee held a markup hearing to adopt the committee’s organizational plan for the 114th Congress.  

Foreign Affairs - The Committee held an organizational meeting on January 21.  

Homeland Security – On January 21, the Committee marked up H.R. 399, the Secure Our Borders First Act, a widely publicized bill that was introduced by Chairman McCaul (R-TX) and 14 other Republican co-sponsors during the prior week. The bill was approved in the Committee and will move on to the House floor for a vote, but is expected to run into partisan politics. (A companion bill, S. 208, was introduced in the Senate on January 21).

Intelligence – No activity to note.

Judiciary– The Judiciary Committee held its first meeting on January 21. During the hearing the committee voted to formally organizational and sett rules and an oversight plan for the 114th Congress. During the hearing the committee also formalized subcommittee assignments, and reported the following anti-human trafficking legislation:

H.R.350 - To direct the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking to identify strategies to prevent children from becoming victims of trafficking and review trafficking prevention efforts, to protect and assist in the recovery of victims of trafficking, and for other purposes, a bill protect children from human trafficking.

H.R.159 - Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act of 2015,  a bill to help prevent trafficking.

H.R.181 - Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, a bill to help protect trafficking victims through the judicial process.

H.R.285 - To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide a penalty for knowingly selling advertising that offers certain commercial sex acts

Rules - The Committee on Rules considered H.R. 36—Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act; and H.R. 161–Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act.

Science, Space, and Technology Committee –Science, Space, and Technology Committee –The full committee held its substantive hearing on January 21 at a hearing titled: Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research and Development . Witnesses for the hearing included: Dr. Ed Waggoner, Director, Integrated Systems Research Program, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, NASA; James Williams, Manager, UAS Integration Office, Aviation Safety Organization, FAA; Dr. John Lauber, Co-Chair, Committee on Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation, National Research Council; Mr. Brian Wynne, CEO and President, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI); Colin Guinn, CRO, 3D Robotics, Small UAV Coalition Member; and Dr. John R. Hansman, T. Wilson Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Transportation and Infrastructure – The committee held its first hearing on January 21 to discuss FAA Reauthorization: Reforming and Streamlining the FAA’s Regulatory Certification Processes.  The hearing featured testimony from the following: Ray Conner, President and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, The Boeing Company;  Aaron Hilkemann, President and CEO, Duncan Aviation; Chris Hart, Acting Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board; Dorenda Baker, Director, Aircraft Certification Service, Federal Aviation Administration; and Dr. Gerald Dillingham, Director of Civil Aviation Issues, Government Accountability Office.

Veterans’ Affairs – On January 21 the committee will held an organizational meeting of the full committee, committee rules and leadership will be ratified during the meeting.  The full committee also held  its first substantive meeting on January 21 “Building a Better VA: Assessing Ongoing Major Construction Management Problems within the Department”. The hearing featured testimony from: Sloan D. Gibson, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Mr. Dennis Milsten, Associate Executive Director, Office of Programs and Plans, Office of Construction and Facilities Management U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Lloyd C. Caldwell, P.E. Director of Military Programs, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers;  David Wise, Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office; Roscoe Butler, Deputy Director for Healthcare, Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division,The American Legion; and Ray Kelley, Director, National Legislative Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars. A number of official submissions for the record are also expected for the hearing. 

The Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) also held a hearing titled: Veterans’ Dilemma: Navigating the Appeals System for Veterans Claims.

Ways and Means – The Committee held its organizational meeting on January 21, during this meeting the full committee approved the Committee’s Rules and the committee’s Oversight Plan for the 114th Congress.  

Week Behind - Senate Committee Action

Armed Services – On January 21, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on Global Challenges and U.S. National Security Policy. The panel heard from two former U.S. National Security Advisors - Brent Scowcroft, currently the President of the Scowcroft Group; and Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, currently Counselor and Trustee for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – On January 20, the full committee held a hearing on Perspectives on the Strategic Necessity of Iran Sanctions, with the witnesses including Mark Dubowitz, Director, Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; and Dr. Patrick Clawson, Director of Research, Washington Institute for Near East Policy. On January 22, the full committee held a markup of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015.

Commerce, Science, and Transportation – On January 20 the committee meet to formally organize and on January 21 the full committee held a hearing titled:Protecting the Internet and Consumers through Congressional Action.

Finance – Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) announced the committee’s 2015 agenda on January 20, 2015 at the U.S. Chamber Headquarters.  The chairman also discussed the committee’s plan to address the nation’s entitlement programs – the biggest driver of our long-term debt – and the committee’s pension and oversight agenda.

Foreign Relations – The Committee held a hearing on January 21 titled Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Status of Talks and the Roles of Congress with testimony from Antony J. Blinken, the Deputy Secretary Of State at the U.S. Department of State and David S. Cohen, the Under Secretary For Terrorism And Financial Intelligence at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – On January 21, the full committee held a hearing entitled Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability. On January 22, the full committee held a hearing entitled Examining Job-Based Health Insurance and Defining Full-Time Work.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – On January 21, Senators Johnson (R-WI), Cornyn (R-TX), Flake ((R-AZ) and McCain (R-AZ) introduced S. 208, a companion bill, to H.R. 399 Secure Our Borders First Act. The full Committee held a business meeting on January 22. 

Intelligence – No activity to note.

Judiciary Committee- On January 21 and 22 the committee considered several pending federal nominations.

Week Ahead in Congress

The House will focus this week on human trafficking with legislation on deck to combat both foreign and national trafficking problems.  

Week Ahead - Bills on the House Floor

The following bills will be considered in the House next week under full rules of debate:

H.R. 399 - Secure Our Borders First Act of 2015

H.R. 351 - LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act

The House will also consider the following bills next week under suspension of the rules:

H.R. 469 - Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2015            

H.R. 246 - To improve the response to victims of child sex trafficking         

H.R. 514 - Human Trafficking Prioritization Act      

H.R. 515 - International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking

H.R. 357 - Human Trafficking Prevention Act

H.R. 398 - Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act of 2015        

H.R. 460 - Human Trafficking Detection Act of 2015            

H.R. 350 - Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2015  

H.R. 159 – Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act of 2015, as amended

H.R. 181 – Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, as amended

H.R. 285 – Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act of 2015

Week Ahead - Bills on the Senate Floor

The Senate is scheduled to resume consideration of S.1 - the Keystone XL Pipeline Act.  

 S. 208 - A bill to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to gain and maintain operational control of the international borders of the United States, and for other purposes. (Companion bill to H.R. 399, Secure Our Borders First Act of 2015)

Week Ahead - House Committee Action

Appropriations – On Wed., January 28, the full committee will hold their organizational meeting for 2015.

Energy and Commerce – On Tuesday, the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade will hold a hearing on data security legislation entitled, What are the Elements of Sound Data Breach Legislation?  Members will hear from witnesses to help determine what components should be included in a legislative solution. Also on Tuesday, the Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing entitled Examining Public Health Legislation to Help Patients and Local Communitiesthat will review a number of bipartisan bills to strengthen public health that were introduced – and for many, passed – during the 113th Congress:  The Ensuring Patient Access to Effective Drug Enforcement Act, The Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act, The Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act, The Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act, A bill to reauthorize language from the Public Health Service Act to fund trauma care centers, and The National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) Reauthorization Act.

Financial Services – On January 27, the full committee will hold a hearing entitled “Sustainable Housing Finance: An Update from the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.”

Foreign Affairs - The Committee will hold three hearings on January 27 including a hearing titled Iran Nuclear Negotiations After the Second Extension: Where Are They Going? with testimony from Fellows at the Council on Foreign Relations, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and Brookings. The administration and many in Congress disagree on tactics around US engagement with Iran, as was evidenced in President Obama's State of the Union speech. The Administration is weary that their ongoing talks with Iran about the country's nuclear capabilities will be undermined by Congressional actions around sanctions against Iran. 

The Committee will also hold a hearing on January 27 titled: The Evolution of Terrorist Propaganda: The Paris Attack and Social Media. According to Congressman Poe (R-TX), purpose of the hearing is to "better understand how to counter terrorists' use of social media" to help recruit people and fund their activities, including the residents of France that launched the attacks in Paris which included the Charlie Hebdo headquarters.

Finally, also on January 27, another hearing titled Nigeria on the Brink? will discuss the difficult issues faced by Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, including continued violence from Boko Haram (a muslim extremist terrorist group known for bombings and kidnappings of young girls), inter-ethnic tensions particularly in light of upcoming elections, and the effects of price volatility oil prices (their major industry). 

Homeland Security – H.R. 399, the Secure Our Borders First Act, which as approved in the Committee last week, will move on to the House floor for a vote. The highly publicized bill is expected to bring out partisan tensions and challenges to the President’s authority to pass executive actions on immigration issues. Senators McCaul and Goodlatte said in a joint press release: “As chairmen of the House Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees, we join our colleagues to secure our borders and ensure our immigration laws are not unilaterally ignored by President Obama and future presidents.”

Intelligence – No activity to note.

Judiciary–On January 27 the full committee will hold a markup to consider a yet unnumbered bill: Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015

Natural Resources – On January 28, the full committee will hold an organizational meeting to consider Committee Rules and the Committee Oversight Plan for the 114th Congress, and to appoint Committee Staff.

Oversight and Government Reform – On January 27 the full committee will meet to hold an organizational meeting to consider committee rules and an oversight plan, the committee may also consider legislation during the hearing.

Rules -The Rules Committee will meet on Monday, January 26, 2015 to consider H.R. 399—Secure Our Borders First Act of 2015; and H.R. 351—LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act.

Science, Space, and Technology Committee – On January 27 the committee will hold an organizational meeting to formally adopt rules and an oversight plan for the coming year.

Transportation and Infrastructure – On January 27 the committee will hold an organizational meeting to formally adopt rules and an oversight plan for the coming year.  On January 27 the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management will hold a hearing: Rebuilding After the Storm: Lessening Impacts and Speeding Recovery to discuss dealing with natural disasters.

Veterans’ Affairs Committee –On January 27 the full committee will meet to consider several pieces of legislation that focus on Department of Veterans Affairs:

H.R. 189 - Servicemember Foreclosure Protections Extension Act Of 2015   

H.R. 216 - Department Of Veterans Affairs Budget Planning Reform Act Of 2015   

H.R. 245 - To Amend Title 38, United States Code, To Codify Certain Existing Provisions Of Law Relating To Effective Dates For Claims Under The Laws Administered By The Secretary Of Veterans Affairs, And For Other Purposes.

H.R. 280 - To Authorize The Secretary Of Veterans Affairs To Recoup Bonuses And Awards Paid To Employees Of The Department Of Veterans Affairs.

H.R. 294 - To Amend Title 38, United States Code, To Authorize The Secretary Of Veterans Affairs To Enter Into Contracts And Agreements For The Transfer Of Veterans To Non-department Medical Foster Homes For Certain Veterans Who Are Unable To Live Independently.

On January 27 the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity will hold a hearing titled: A Review of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), and on January 28 the Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing titled: Examining the Quality and Cost of VA Health Care.

Ways and Means – On January 27 the full committee will hold a hearing, U.S. Trade Policy Agenda, the hearing will feature U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

Week Ahead - Senate Committee Action

Armed Services – On January 27 the Committee will hold a hearing on Global Challenges and U.S. National Security Strategy. On January 28 the Committee will hold a hearing on the Impact of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and Sequestration on National Security. On January 29, the Committee will hold a hearing on Global Challenges and the U.S. National Security Strategy.

Commerce, Science, and Transportation – On January 28 the full committee will hold a hearing titled: Freight Rail Transportation: Enhancing Safety, Efficiency, and Commerce, the hearing will focus on challenges facing our nation’s freight rail network created by higher demand, rules and regulations, and infrastructure needs.

Energy and Natural Resources – On January 29, the full committee will hold a hearing on LNG Export Legislation with witnesses from the Department of Energy and industry.

Foreign Relations – On January 28, the Committee will hold a hearing titledThe National Interest: Articulating The Case For American Leadership In The Worldwith Former U.S. Secretary of State, the Honorable Henry A. Kissinger, scheduled to testify. The hearing was originally scheduled for January 13 but had been rescheduled.

The Committee will also hold two additional hearings that will be closed to the public because of the level of classified information involved. On January 27, senior officials from the U.S. Department of the State and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will provide the Committee with an Update on Iran Nuclear Negotiations. In addition, on January 29, the Committee will hold another closed/top secret hearing to discuss The Campaign Against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – The  full committee will hold three hearings next week. On January 27, the committee will hold a hearing entitledFixing No Child Left Behind: Supporting Teachers and School Leaders; On January 28, the committee will hold a hearing on S.192, Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015, and S. ______, Strengthening Education Through Research Act; and on  January 29 a hearing entitled Employer Wellness Programs: Better Health Outcomes and Lower Costs.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – On January 28, the Committee will hold a hearing titled Protecting America from Cyber Attacks: The Importance of Information Sharing to discuss cybersecurity threats to U.S. businesses and other organizations and potential approaches to mitigate those threats. Witnesses will include representatives from American Express, Microsoft Corporation, March & McLennan Companies, Fire Eye and the Center for Democracy and Technology. 

Intelligence – No activity to note.

Judiciary Committee- On January 28 and 29 the committee will hold hearings on to consider the nomination of Loretta Lynch to the role of Attorney General .

Small Business and Entrepreneurship –On January 28 the full committee will hold its organizational  meeting to consider an original resolution authorizing expenditures by the committee during the 114th Congress, as well as new committee rules.

Veterans’ Affairs - On January 28 the committee will hold its organization meeting to consider an original resolution authorizing expenditures by the committee during the 114th Congress, as well as new committee rules.

Indian Affairs Committee - On January 28 the committee will hold its organizational meeting to consider an original resolution authorizing expenditures by the committee during the 114th Congress, as well as new committee rules.  The committee will hold a second hearing on January 28 titled:  Oversight Hearing on "Indian Country Priorities for the 114th Congress."