The Republican Budget: Robin Hood for the Wealthy

By Amelia Collins, Policy Analyst, UnidosUS

The House and Senate are set to return to the nation’s capital next week after a month-long recess and an ambitious agenda awaits them. Funding for the federal government runs out on September 30, and neither chamber has voted on a complete funding package for fiscal year 2018. Even though the House passed four of 12 spending bills before breaking for recess, they included $1.6 billion for the construction of a border wall, which has little chance of passing in the Senate.

What’s at stake in the upcoming budget debate? Overall spending levels for FY18. Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, sequestration returns this upcoming fiscal year. That matters because the House-passed “security bus” blew through the cap for defense spending to the tune of $72 billion.

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Weekly Washington Outlook — March 21, 2016

US Supreme Court

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Monday, the House will consider the following legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 1670– National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015(Sponsored by Rep. Stephen Lynch / House Administration Committee)
  • House Amendment to 192 – Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2016, as amended (Sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander / Education and Workforce Committee)
  • R. 4314– Counterterrorism Screening and Assistance Act of 2016, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Lee Zeldin / Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • 2393– Foreclosure Relief and Extension for Servicemembers Act of 2015(Sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • Concur in the Senate Amendment to R. 4721 – Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • 1180– Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

On Tuesday the House will consider the following legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 4742– Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act(Sponsored by Rep. Elizabeth Esty / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • R. 4755– Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act (Sponsored by Rep. Barbara Comstock / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • R. 482– Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Boundary Revision Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Sanford Bishop / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 2857– To facilitate the addition of park administration at the Coltsville National Historical Park, and for other purposes(Sponsored by Rep. John Larson / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 4119– Gulf Islands National Seashore Land Exchange Act of 2016(Sponsored by Rep. Steven Palazzo / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 4472– Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act (Sponsored by Rep. Todd Young / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 4336– Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Martha McSally / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

On Wednesday and the balance of the week, the House will consider the following:

  • R. 2745– SMARTER Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Blake Farenthold / Judiciary Committee)

 Senate:

The Senate is in recess this week and next, returning Monday, April 4.

White House:

The president will spend this week in Cuba. On Monday, he will participate in an official state visit, including a bilateral meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro and a state dinner. President Obama plans to address the Cuban people directly in a speech on Tuesday, and is also expected to meet with dissidents and watch an exhibition baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National team. More details on the president’s trip can be found here.

Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in two cases related to the Puerto Rican debt crisis: Puerto Rico v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust and Acosta-Febo v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust. The cases concern a measure passed by the Puerto Rican legislature in 2014, known as the Recovery Act, which allows the island’s utilities to restructure debt under local law. Tuesday’s arguments will affect more than $20 billion owed by the Commonwealth’s utilities, including $9 billion owed by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). A decision upholding Puerto Rico’s restructuring measure could give the island negotiating power to address a larger portion of its $70 billion debt. The case could be heard by as few as seven justices; in addition to the vacancy of the late Antonin Scalia, Justice Samuel Alito may have to recuse himself due to a financial conflict of interest. For more information, see a Bloomberg analysis of the cases.

Also this Week:

Budget/Appropriations – Members of the Cabinet will continue to appear on Capitol Hill this week to make their budget requests to start the annual appropriations process. Among these, Education Secretary John King is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee.  This week’s appropriations hearings come as the House continues to find a path forward on passage of a budget resolution.  Budget Committee Tom Price (R-Ga.) advanced a budget last week out of Committee, but its prospects on the floor remain uncertain due to opposition over spending levels from conservative lawmakers.  House Leadership is expected to meet this week with members of the Freedom Caucus to determine how or if to move forward.  Several Committees have been tasked with identifying spending cuts to entitlement and other mandatory programs to help garner additional support for the budget, but the prospect for this legislation is similarly linked to the budget resolution.  House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) announced, however, that he would move forward with drafting appropriations bills regardless of the outcome of the budget resolution.

Immigration: The House Homeland Security Committee plans a mark-up Wednesday of H.R. 4482, the Southwest Border Security Threat Assessment Act of 2016. The bill calls for the Homeland Security Department to conduct a Southwest border threat assessment, and for legislation with a focus on deterring terrorist recruitment.

Education: This week, the Department of Education will convene negotiators as part of its “negotiated rulemaking” process to begin implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Negotiators were nominated by a wide cross-section of stakeholders and represent the interests of teachers, administrators, and the civil rights community, among others.  They will address issues relating to assessment and a “supplement not supplant” requirement for federal funds.  The Education Department released materials earlier this month to kick off discussions.

Tax – The House Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee will hear proposals from Committee members on Tuesday about tax reform.  The hearing will likely focus on sales and excise taxes.

Housing – The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance will convene a hearing Tuesday on “The Future of Housing in America: Government Regulations and the High Cost of Housing.”

Weekly Washington Outlook — March 14, 2016

White House at Night

What to Watch This Week: 

Congress:

House:

On Monday, the House will vote on legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 2984– Fair RATES Act (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Kennedy / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 1268– Energy Efficient Government Technology Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 4427– To amend section 203 of the Federal Power Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 2080– To reinstate and extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving Clark Canyon Dam (Sponsored by Rep. Ryan Zinke / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 2081– To extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the Gibson Dam(Sponsored by Rep. Ryan Zinke / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 3447– To extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 4416– To extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project (Sponsored by Rep. David McKinley / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 4434– To extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Gibson / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 4411– To extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project (Sponsored by Rep. Morgan Griffith / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 4412– To extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project (Sponsored by Rep. Morgan Griffith / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • Con. Res. 121– Expressing the sense of the Congress condemning the gross violations of international law amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Government of Syria, its allies, and other parties to the conflict in Syria, and asking the President to direct his Ambassador at the United Nations to promote the establishment of a war crimes tribunal where these crimes could be addressed, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith / Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • Con. Res. 75– Expressing the sense of Congress that the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria include war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry / Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • 2426– To direct the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to obtain observer status for Taiwan in the International Criminal Police Organization, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Sen. Cory Gardner / Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • R. 4721– To amend title 49, United States Code, to extend authorizations for the airport improvement program, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the funding and expenditure authority of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

On Tuesday the House will vote on legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 3797– SENSE Act (Sponsored by Rep. Keith Rothfus / Energy and Committee Committee)

On Wednesday and the balance of the week, the House will consider the following:

  • R. 4596– Small Business Broadband Deployment Act (Sponsored by Rep. Greg Walden / Energy and Committee Committee)
  • H. R ____– Authorizing the Speaker to appear as amicus curiae on behalf of the House of Representatives in the matter of United States, et al. v. Texas, et al. (Sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan / Rules Committee)

Senate:

On Monday, the Senate will consider the nomination of Dr. John B. King, of New York, to be Secretary of Education. The Senate may also vote on final passage of energy legislation S. 2012. The measure has been stalled as Senators seek a path forward on an amendment that would assist municipalities such as Flint, Michigan, clean up tainted drinking water supplies.

White House:

On Monday, the president will visit the State Department to deliver remarks at the Chief of Missions Conference. Afterwards, he will deliver brief opening remarks to the performance of musical selections from HAMILTON. This will be a culmination of a daylong event hosted by the first lady for students with the Broadway cast of HAMILTON.

On Tuesday, the president will hold a bilateral meeting with Taoiseach Kenny of Ireland.  Afterwards, President Obama and Vice President Biden will travel to the U.S. Capitol for the Friends of Ireland Luncheon. Later on, the president will deliver remarks at a reception for St. Patrick’s Day at the White House.

On Wednesday, the president will deliver remarks a reception for Women’s History Month at the White House.

On Thursday and Friday, President Obama will attend meetings at the White House.

Also this Week:

Budget/Appropriations – Members of the Cabinet will continue to appear on Capitol Hill this week to make their budget requests to start the annual appropriations process. Among these, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House Education and Workforce Committee; Labor Secretary Thomas Perez is scheduled to appear before the House Education and Workforce Committee on Wednesday and the HHS-Education Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday; and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is scheduled to appear before the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Tuesday. These hearings come as the House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) seeks a path forward on a budget resolution.  It is possible that the Committee could approve a draft as soon as this week, despite objections from some conservative members over spending levels. These objections are being addressed through “sidecar” legislation that would make deep cuts to mandatory spending programs. This legislation would be taken up separately from the budget resolution. The House Ways and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee are advancing separate pieces this week.

Tax – The House Ways and Means Committee will mark-up legislation this week as part of its portion of the “sidecar” to the budget resolution. Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) announced last week that this will include a provision requiring a Social Security Number to claim the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit. Democrats on the Committee are widely expected to strongly oppose: the legislation would deny roughly 4 million U.S. citizen children the credit and roughly 85 percent of the children impacted are Latino.

Immigration – This week, the House will vote on a resolution to file an amicus brief in support of Texas and other states in litigation opposing DAPA. Oral arguments in the case have been scheduled for mid-April. Related, the House Judiciary Committee’s Task Force on Executive Overreach, led by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), will hold its first immigration-related hearing on Tuesday. Elsewhere, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on the security of U.S. visa programs. David Donahue, principal deputy assistant secretary for consular affairs at the State Department, Leon Rodriguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Sarah Saldana, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth are expected to testify.

Finance – The House Financial Services Committee will hold an oversight hearing Wednesday featuring the Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The hearing comes as the CFPB finalizes a rule surrounding payday lending, which is expected to require lenders verify a potential borrower’s ability to repay a loan prior to underwriting.

Health – The House Energy and Commerce Committee will consider legislation as part of the “sidecar” to a budget resolution that would seek to allow more lottery winnings to be counted as income for the purposes of determining Medicaid eligibility, would reduce Medicaid reimbursement rates for prisoners, and would eliminate an increase in the federal matching rate for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. The so-called “CHIP bump” has enabled states to expand the program to increase the number of insured children. Elsewhere, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday about Flint, MI’s tainted water. Related in the Senate, efforts are still underway to encourage Sen. Lee (R-Utah) to drop his objection to an amendment that would establish a loan to communities like Flint in need of infrastructure repairs.

Education – The Senate will vote Monday evening to confirm Dr. John King as the Secretary of Education. NCLR and the National Urban League posted an op-ed in support of his confirmation.

Puerto Rico – Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) plans to introduce legislation on Monday to provide a comprehensive solution to Puerto Rico’s financial and humanitarian crisis.  The legislation is similar in many respects to the Administration’s plan to address Puerto Rico, including debt restructuring, a financial control board, and tax and health provisions.  Additional details available here.

Supreme Court – The President may nominate a successor to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat as soon as this week. Republican Leadership in the Senate has stated repeatedly that the President’s nominee will not receive a hearing or a vote on the floor.

Weekly Washington Outlook — September 14, 2015

USCapitol

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

The House will not meet until Wednesday in observance of Rosh Hashanah.  At this time, it will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  1. H.R. 2961 – To establish a research, development, and technology demonstration program to improve the efficiency of gas turbines used in combined cycle and simple cycle power generation systems (Sponsored by Rep. Paul Tonko / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  2. Concur in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 23 – National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Randy Neugebauer / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  3. Concur in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 720 – Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. John Katko / Homeland Security Committee)
  4. H.R. 487 – To allow the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma to lease or transfer certain lands (Sponsored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin / Natural Resources Committee)
  5.  H.R. 959 – Medgar Evers House Study Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Bennie Thompson / Natural Resources Committee)
  6.  H.R. 1214 – National Forest Small Tracts Amendments Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Mark Amodei / Natural Resources Committee)
  7. H.R. 1289 – John Muir National Historic Site Expansion Act (Sponsored by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier / Natural Resources Committee)
  8. H.R. 1554 –  –  – Elkhorn Ranch and White River National Forest Conveyance Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Scott Tipton / Natural Resources Committee)
  9. H.R. 1949 – National Liberty Memorial Clarification Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. G.K. Butterfield / Natural Resources Committee)
  10. H.R. 2223 – Crags, Colorado Land exchange Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn / Natural Resources Committee)
  11. H.R. 2791 – Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act (Sponsored by Rep. Peter DeFazio / Natural Resources Committee)
  12. S. 230 – To provide for the conveyance of certain property to the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation located in Bethel, Alaska (Sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski / Natural Resources Committee)
  13. S. 501 – New Mexico Navajo Water Settlement Technical Corrections Act (Sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall / Natural Resources Committee)

On Thursday and Friday, the House plans to vote on the following:

  1. H.R. 758 – Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Judiciary Committee)
  2. H.R. 3134 – Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Diane Black / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  3. H.R. __ – Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks / Judiciary Committee)

Senate:

The Senate will meet on Tuesday evening.  A procedural vote has been scheduled on the legislative vehicle for a resolution of disapproval of the Iran nuclear agreement.  Congress has until September 17th to object to the agreement.

White House:

On Monday, the president will travel to Des Moines, Iowa to join Secretary Duncan’s sixth annual Back-to-School bus tour. President  Obama and Secretary Duncan will host a town hall with high school juniors, seniors and their parents to discuss college access and affordability.

On Tuesday, the president will welcome the 2015 NCAA Women’s Basketball Champion University of Connecticut Huskies to the White House to honor the team on winning their Championship title. In the afternoon, President Obama will host Their Majesties King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain at the White House. Their visit reinforces the strong and enduring ties between the American and Spanish people. The first lady will also host Queen Letizia for tea and a tour of the White House Kitchen Garden.

On Wednesday, President Obama will travel to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and visit with wounded service members who are being treated at the hospital.

On Thursday, the president will attend a DSCC event in the Washington, DC area.

On Friday, President Obama will attend meetings at the White House.

On Saturday, the president will deliver remarks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 45th Annual Legislative Conference Phoenix Awards Dinner in Washington, DC; the First Lady will also attend.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a mark-up of S. 1814, the “Stop Sanctuary Cities Act,” sponsored by Senators Vitter (R-LA) and Flake (R-AZ) on Thursday.  The legislation would block certain federal funding streams to so-called “sanctuary cities.”  This mark-up has been postponed several times due to concerns with limiting funding for law enforcement, and a substitute amendment that would impose a mandatory five year sentence for illegal re-entry.  Elsewhere, September 17th is Citizenship Day!  To celebrate, members of Congress are expected to make floor statements encouraging eligible lawful permanent residents to naturalize.  The Administration is also expected to launch a national campaign aimed at promoting citizenship.

Appropriations – Congress has until September 30th to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government, and just eight legislative days.  It is expected this funding vehicle will be short-term, likely through December – potentially tying the next appropriations fight to the debt ceiling.  The House originally planned to vote as soon as this week on a spending bill, but Leadership is still seeking a path forward to defund Planned Parenthood without jeopardizing passage of a clean CR.  For this reason, there is a tentative plan to vote on abortion-related legislation this week, and potentially include this in ACA-related reconciliation legislation later this fall.  In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear that a CR with language defunding Planned Parenthood cannot pass.  Further complicating the spending dynamics, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi remains strongly opposed to any funding bill that maintains sequestration-level spending.

Nutrition – The Senate Agriculture Committee has scheduled a mark-up Thursday on legislation to reauthorize child nutrition programs.  The previous authorization, which led to robust school nutrition guidelines, expires September 30th.

Financial Services – The House Financial Services Committee’s Small Business Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access Subcommittee will convene a hearing on Thursday on the Dodd-Frank Act’s impact on small lenders.

Tax – The Senate Finance Committee will mark-up legislation on Wednesday that would give the IRS the authority to regulate paid tax preparers.  The bill would also strengthen identify theft provisions and other anti-fraud measures.  Additional information is available here.

Education – While conferees have not yet been formally appointed to the ESEA conference committee, staff-level work continues to reconcile the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act with the House’s Student Success Act.  There are significant differences between the two bills; notably, neither has strong accountability language ensuring intervention if students are not meeting academic goals.

Weekly Washington Outlook — September 8, 2015

USCapitol

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Tuesday, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 1344 – Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Brett Guthrie / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 1462 – Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Katherine Clark / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 1725 – National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Authorization Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 2820 – Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Authorization Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • 1359 – E-Warranty Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Deb Fischer / Energy and Commerce Committee)

On Wednesday and the balance of the week the House will vote on H. J. Res. 64 – Disapproving of the agreement transmitted to Congress by the President on July 19, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Ed Royce / Foreign Affairs Committee)

It is possible additional legislative items could be added to the calendar.

Senate:

The Senate returns from its summer recess on Tuesday evening to consider a judicial nomination. Later in the week,  the Senate will take up H.J. Res. 61, the legislative vehicle for a resolution disapproving of the Iran nuclear agreement.

White House:

On Tuesday, the president will welcome the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion Duke University Blue Devils to the White House to honor the team on winning their Championship title.

On Wednesday, President Obama will travel with Dr. Jill Biden to Macomb Community College in Warren, Mich. to deliver remarks on the importance of investing in skills and growing the economy.

On Thursday, the president will award the 2014 National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal to distinguished recipients in the East Room; the first lady will also attend. The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities were established by the Congress in 1965 as independent agencies of the Federal Government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities.

On Friday, President Obama, the first lady and White House staff will gather on the South Lawn of the White House to observe a moment of silence to mark the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed again a mark-up of S. 1814, the “Stop Sanctuary Cities Act,” sponsored by Senators Vitter (R-La.) and Flake (R-Ariz.). The legislation would block certain federal funding streams to so-called “sanctuary cities.” It is rumored that there was concern from the majority that the legislation as drafted could not pass out of committee. Some members raised issues with funding law enforcement and others were displeased the substitute amendment would have imposed a five year mandatory minimum sentence for illegal re-entry. It is unclear whether the mark-up will be rescheduled. Elsewhere, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will examine the safety of personnel and government assets along the Southwestern border.

Appropriations – Congress has just twelve legislative days to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government beyond September 30. It is expected this funding vehicle will be short-term, likely through December – potentially tying the next appropriations fight to the debt ceiling. Despite calls in the lead-up to the recess to use the continuing resolution to defund Planned Parenthood after certain videos were made public, there is increasing speculation that Congress may be able to pass a spending bill with no problematic policy riders as soon as next week. However, extensions of child nutrition programs, E-Verify, and the EB-5 Investor Visa program may all be included, along with a host of other expiring authorizations.

Health – While Congress has missed its deadline to advance budget reconciliation legislation, there is speculation that Committees with jurisdiction over the Affordable Care Act may still attempt to move something this fall. Related, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on H.R. 1624, the “Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act.” The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law will convene a hearing on Thursday on the competitiveness of health exchanges under the ACA. Elsewhere, the President has signed an executive order allowing federal contractors to receive up to seven days of paid sick leave.

Financial Services – The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday on the Administration’s proposed fiduciary rule. The hearing will focus on H.R. 1090, the “Retail Investor Protection Act.” This legislation would undermine the rule and has previously garnered bipartisan support.

Budget – the House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on young workers, focusing on the future of health and economic security programs.

Education – While conferees have not yet been formally appointed to the ESEA conference committee, staff-level work continues to reconcile the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act with the House’s Student Success Act. There are significant differences between the two bills; notably, neither has strong accountability language ensuring intervention if students are not meeting academic goals. At the same time, both the HELP and Education and Workforce Committee are moving forward with a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. To this end, the Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on campus sexual assault.

Weekly Washington Outlook — May 4, 2015

Congress-Instagram_new_560x292

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

The House is in recess, returning the week of May 11th.

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will vote to override the President’s veto of S.J. Res. 8, a bill that would block a proposed National Labor Relations Board rule on expediting workplace elections in certain circumstances. On Tuesday, the Senate will resume consideration of legislation that would give Congress the authority to review any nuclear agreement with Iran. The Senate also plans to vote this week on a conference report of a joint budget resolution.

White House:

On Monday, the President will travel to New York City to deliver remarks at an event at Lehman College launching the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a new non-profit organization. He will also tape an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, and attend DNC events.

On Tuesday, the President will host a Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House.

On Wednesday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.

On Thursday, the President will welcome the United States Air Force Academy football team to the White House to present them with the 2014 Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. In the afternoon, the President will travel to the Portland, Oregon area to attend a DNC event.

On Friday, the President will attend an event held at Nike headquarters to discuss how workers will benefit from progressive, high-standards trade agreements that would open up new markets and support high-quality jobs both for Oregon small businesses and large companies like Nike. The President will also make the case that strong bipartisan trade promotion legislation – introduced this month by Senators Ron Wyden and Orrin Hatch – is an important step to ensure our trade policy works for the middle class through strong enforcement provisions, transparency, and the requirement that our trade agreements include high-standards to bring greater opportunity to American businesses, level the playing field for American workers, protect the environment, and raise human rights and labor standards around the world. Afterward, the President will travel to Watertown, South Dakota to deliver the commencement address for the graduating class at Lake Area Technical Institute. Lake Area Technical Institute is one of the top community colleges in the nation, and is recognized for rigorously preparing its students with the skills they need to compete in the 21st Century economy. With a two-year graduation rate more than twice the national average, Lake Area Technical Institute focuses on providing its graduates smooth pathways to high skilled careers with private-sector businesses.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will mark-up several bills on Wednesday, including S. 750, “Arizona Borderlands Protection and Preservation Act.” This bill would allow Customs and Border Protection access to federal lands in Arizona for their patrols. It has been criticized by environmental groups, immigration advocates, and others.

Appropriations – The Senate Appropriations Committee continues to hold hearings this week. The Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White and the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Tim Massad will both appear on Tuesday before the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. Attorney General Loretta Lynch will make her first appearance in her new role on Thursday before the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee. When the House returns from recess, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has indicated he plans to bring the Legislative Branch funding bill to the floor before the end of the work period.

Budget – The Senate is scheduled to vote this week on a conference report on a joint budget resolution for FY2016. The measure maintains discretionary domestic spending at sequester levels, but increases defense spending by $96 billion. It also includes reconciliation instructions, setting the stage for a fight over repealing the Affordable Care Act later this summer. The House passed the conference report last week.

Education – Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wrote in his May memo that he still plans to bring H.R. 5, the “Student Success Act” to the floor in the coming weeks. Without any Democratic support, however, the legislation is rumored to still be short of votes needed for passage. Acknowledging this, Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) has recently signaled openness to a different legislative vehicle for passing legislation to rewrite ESEA. The Senate is likely to take up a bipartisan reauthorization bill in early June. The “Every Child Achieves Act,” which passed unanimously out of the HELP Committee earlier in April, still faces challenges from civil rights groups and others about what has been perceived as a weak accountability system.

Weekly Washington Outlook — April 27, 2015

Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACapitol-Senate.JPG

Image Source: Wikimedia

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Tuesday, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 1075 – To designate the United States Customs and Border Protection Port of Entry located at First Street and Pan American Avenue in Douglas, Arizona, as the “Raul Hector Castro Port of Entry” (Sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 651 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 820 Elmwood Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island, as the “Sister Ann Keefe Post Office” (Sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 1690 – To designate the United States courthouse located at 700 Grant Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the “Joseph F. Weis Jr. United States Courthouse” (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Doyle / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • R. 172 – To designate the United States courthouse located at 501 East Court Street in Jackson, Mississippi, as the “R. Jess Brown United States Courthouse” (Sponsored by Rep. Bennie Thompson / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • R. 373 – Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 984 – To amend the National Trails System Act to direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study on the feasibility of designating the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 1324 – Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis / Natural Resources Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will meet for a Joint Meeting of Congress to receive his Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan.

The balance of the week, the House will consider two appropriations bills:

  • R. 2029 – Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Charlie Dent / Appropriations Committee)
  • R. 2028 – Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson / Appropriations Committee)

The House may also consider this week the Conference Report to S. Con. Res. 11, the House-Senate negotiated budget resolution, and H.R. 1732 – Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee).

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will vote to confirm a nominee to be the Deputy NASA Administrator. Later in the week, the Senate will consider H.R. 1191, legislation that would require Congressional review of any nuclear agreement with Iran. On Wednesday, the Senate will join House colleagues to hear from his Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan. It is also possible by Thursday of this week that the Senate will vote to override the President’s veto of S.J. Res. 8, which would block the National Labor Relations Board rule to speed up union elections in certain circumstances.

White House:

On Monday, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

On Tuesday, President Obama will host Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan for an official visit. The two leaders will celebrate the strong global partnership that the United States and Japan have developed during the 70 years since the end of World War II, and underscore the common values and principles that have made the bilateral relationship so enduring.The president and first lady will officially welcome Prime Minister Abe with an arrival ceremony, followed by a bilateral meeting and press conference. The two leaders will discuss a range of economic, security, and global issues, including progress on the Trans Pacific Partnership, Japan’s expanding role in the Alliance, and climate change. That evening, the President Obama and the first lady will host a State Dinner for Prime Minister Abe.

On Wednesday, the president will honor the 2015 National Teacher of the Year and finalists at the White House, thanking them for their hard work and dedication each and every day in the classroom.

On Thursday and Friday, President Obama will attend meetings at the White House.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The House Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing Wednesday, “Birthright Citizenship: Is it the Right Policy for America?” The hearing comes after Senator Vitter (R-La.) offered an amendment several times in the last month that would require parents of children born in the United States to prove their immigration status in order for their children to receive citizenship. This amendment has been widely criticized from both sides of the political aisle as being unconstitutional and contrary to American values. Elsewhere, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee will hear from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Tuesday and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on DHS’ FY2016 appropriations request.

Appropriations – The House will vote this week on two appropriations bills: Energy and Water and Military Construction-VA. The amendment process for both bills will be open. Elsewhere, the House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee will mark-up its spending bill on Wednesday. In the Senate, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will testify before the Appropriations Committee Homeland Subcommittee on Wednesday and the NIH Director Francis Collins will testify before the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee on Thursday.

Budget – The House may vote this week on a conference report on a joint budget resolution. If passed by both chambers, the budget resolution would allow the Republican-controlled Congress to use reconciliation to possibly enact sweeping entitlement, health, and other reforms that could not pass otherwise with the Senate’s filibuster rules. The Senate may also consider the conference report, which is unamendable, this week or next.

Education – The Senate HELP Committee passed its bipartisan ESEA reauthorization legislation, the Every Child Achieves Act, unanimously out of Committee earlier in April. While the bill would require states to set rigorous college and career goals, maintain annual assessments, and include English Learners in their accountability systems, civil rights and business groups remain concerned that the accountability system is not strong enough. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) offered an amendment during the mark-up that would require states to intervene when schools were chronically under-performing or not serving particular subgroups. This amendment was withdrawn but is likely to serve as the framework for trying to improve the bill as it moves to the floor at some point at the end of May or early June.

Health – The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on the King v. Burwell case before the Supreme Court. The hearing comes shortly after Senator Johnson (R-Wis.) introduced a “contingency plan” backed by Senate Republican leadership if the Supreme Court finds against the federal government.

Border Facilities – The House will vote under suspension of the rules on Tuesday to name the Douglas Border Crossing in Arizona after former Governor Raul Castro. Governor Castro was Arizona’s only Latino Governor and also served as Ambassador to Bolivia and Argentina. He passed away earlier this month.

Weekly Washington Outlook — April 6, 2015

WhiteHouseFBsize

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

The House is in recess, returning the week of April 13.

Senate:

The Senate is in recess, returning the week of April 13.

White House:

On Monday, the president and the his family will participate in the White House Easter Egg Roll. The event will feature live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling, and Easter egg rolling.

On Tuesday, President Obama will host an Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House; the vice president will also attend.

On Wednesday, the president will depart the White House en route to Kingston, Jamaica.

On Thursday, President Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica and participate in a meeting with Caribbean Community leaders. The president will also participate in a town hall with young leaders. In the evening, President Obama will depart Kingston en route to Panama City, Panama.

On Friday, the president will hold a bilateral meeting with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and participate in the Summit of the Americas CEO Forum. In the evening President Obama will attend the Summit of the Americas Opening Ceremonies.

On Saturday, the president will attend official Summit of the Americas events. The President will participate in a press conference before departing Panama en route to Washington.

Coming Up Next Week:

Budget – When Congress returns on the April 13, the budget process will continue, with House Budget Committee Chairman Price (R-Ga.) and Senate Budget Chairman Enzi (R-Wyo.) wanting to resolve differences in the budget by April 15, the statutory deadline for adopting a concurrent resolution. There is no penalty for failing to meet the deadline, whether by adopting a budget late or not adopting one at all. If no agreement is reached, each chamber can deem its resolution as binding on the spending and revenue bills that come later.

Nominations – When the Senate returns, the chamber may resume consideration of a stalled anti-trafficking bill that has become mired in abortion politics. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said repeatedly that the Senate must complete work on this legislation before he will move to confirm Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General. Last week Senator Kirk (R-Ill.) became the fifth Republican to say he will vote to confirm Lynch, hypothetically assuring her confirmation.

Health – The Senate is expected to vote in mid-April on legislation that would permanently alter Medicare’s sustainable growth rate. This legislation also extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years. It passed overwhelmingly in the House on March 26.

Education – There is considerable speculation House Leadership will try again to pass H.R. 5, an ESEA reauthorization bill, after the recess. The legislation had to be pulled from the floor in February and it is still unclear whether the measure has enough Republican support. In the Senate, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Murray (D-Wash.) are continuing to negotiate a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization bill.  A mark-up has been scheduled for the week of April 13, and it is possible details may soon be announced.

Weekly Washington Outlook — March 23, 2015

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Monday, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

1) H.R. 360 – Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Pearce / Financial Services Committee)

2) H.R. 233 – Tenant Income Verification Relief Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Ed Perlmutter / Financial Services Committee

3) H.R. 216 – Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Planning Reform Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Corrine Brown / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

4) H. Res. 53 – Condemning the cowardly attack on innocent men, women, and children in the northeastern Nigerian town of Baga, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Robin Kelly / Foreign Affairs Committee)

5) H. Res. ___ – Calling on the President to provide Ukraine with military assistance to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity (Sponsored by Rep. Eliot Engel / Foreign Affairs Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will meet for a Joint Meeting of Congress to receive His Excellency Mohammad Shraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The balance of the week, the House will consider under suspension of the rules, H.R. 1092 – To designate the Federal building located at 2030 Southwest 145th Avenue in Miramar, Fla., as the “Benjamin P. Grogan and Jerry L. Dove Federal Bureau of Investigation Miami Field Office”, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Frederica Wilson / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee).

The House will also vote on its budget resolution and legislation related to the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate.

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will begin considering amendments to its budget resolution. The Senate will stay on the budget through Thursday when the chamber will have a “vote-a-rama,” a procedural quirk that allows Senators to bring up amendments in quick succession.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host the 2015 White House Science Fair and celebrate the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. This year’s Science Fair has a specific focus on diversity and includes many students from under-represented backgrounds who are excelling in STEM and inspiring the next generation with their work. In the afternoon, the President will host and deliver remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. SelectUSA, created in 2011, is the first-ever federal effort to bring job-creating investment to the United States, promoting the United States as the world’s premier business location, and providing easy access to federal-level programs and services related to business investment. The 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit aims to connect investors from around the world with representatives from nearly every U.S. state and territory.

On Tuesday, President Obama will host Afghan President Ghani, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah, and key members of their unity government for meetings and a working lunch at the White House. The two presidents will discuss a range of issues including security, economic development, and U.S. support for the Afghan-led reconciliation process. This marks the first meeting between the two presidents at the White House following the 2014 presidential election, which produced the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history.

On Wednesday, the president will deliver remarks at a kick-off meeting of the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network, which aims to bring public and private sector actors together to build on the Affordable Care Act’s efforts to move health care toward a system that provides the best care for patients and pays providers based on the quality, rather than the quantity of care they give patients.

On Thursday, President Obama will travel to Birmingham, Ala. to deliver remarks on the economy.

On Friday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.

Also this Week:

Immigration – The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will hold three hearings this week related to immigration. These are likely leading up to consideration of companion legislation to Congressman McCaul’s border security legislation marked-up earlier this year.

  1. On Tuesday, “Security the Border: Assessing the Impact of Transnational Crime.”
  2. On Wednesday, “Security the Border: Understanding and Addressing the Root Causes of Central American Migration to the United States.”
  3. On Thursday, “Securing the Border: Defining the Current Population Living in the Shadows and Addressing Future Flows.”

Elsewhere, there is an expectation that the Senate may consider several immigration-related amendments to its budget resolution throughout the week and during Thursday’s vote-a-rama. Senator Sessions included language in the base resolution already that would bar DAPA recipients from claiming Earned Income Tax Credit, but others related to the Child Tax Credit and the executive actions as a whole could come up as well. In response to these, Senate Democrats plan to offer the Gang of 8 immigration bill, S. 744, as a side-by-side to send a strong message that comprehensive immigration reform is the solution.

Budget – Both the House and Senate this week will consider their respective budget resolutions. Both include draconian cuts to domestic programs and programs for low-income individuals. The House, unlike the Senate, also partially privatizes Medicare as previous House budgets have done. There is an expectation that defense spending will be contentious in both bodies throughout the debate, given that both maintain overall spending limits set by the Budget Control Act. As the Senate debates amendments all week in the lead-up to its marathon vote-a-rama, Democrats are likely to offer broad messaging amendments on their priorities including pay equity, lifting sequestration, enacting comprehensive immigration reform, and more.

Appropriations – A number of Administration officials will appear before House Appropriations Committee subcommittees this week, including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro. He will appear Tuesday before the House Transportation-HUD Subcommittee. Labor Secretary Tom Perez will testify before the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee on Thursday.

Nominations – Consideration of Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General has been delayed until mid-April. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had signaled the chamber would vote on her nomination after they completed work on the trafficking bill, which has been stalled because of language related to abortion.

Labor – The President could veto, as soon as this week, a joint resolution disapproving of the National Labor Relations Board’s election rule allowing for expedited elections before collective bargaining. The resolution passed the House last week and the Senate earlier this month.

Health – The House is likely to vote this week on H.R. 1470, legislation to permanently replace Medicare’s physician payment formula, the Sustainable Growth Rate (also known as the “doc fix). This legislation also includes a two- year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. While the current Sustainable Growth Rate patch expires at the end of the month, it is unlikely the Senate will vote this week on the legislation.  A number of Senate Democrats have expressed concern that this legislation is mostly not offset, includes a permanent solution to doctors, but only extends CHIP two rather than four years. Elsewhere, the Affordable Care Act turns five years old this week.

Housing – This week, the House will vote on H.R. 233, legislation that will require a review of family-income every three-years (rather than annually), to qualify for low-income housing programs.  Families would also have to certify annually that 90 percent of their income was fixed, and the source of income remained unchanged.

Banking – The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday on regulations affecting regional banks.  On Wednesday, the Committee will hear from Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin on the financial stability of non-bank institutions.

Weekly Washington Outlook — March 16, 2015

White House at Night

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Monday evening, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

1)   H.R. 639 – Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts / Energy and Commerce Committee)

2)   H.R. 647 – Access to Life-Saving Trauma Care for All Americans Act (Sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess / Energy and Commerce Committee)

3)   H.R. 648 – Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act (Sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess / Energy and Commerce Committee

4)   H.R. 284 – Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Improvement Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick Tiberi / Ways and Means Committee)

5)   H.R. 876 – Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Lloyd Doggett / Ways and Means Committee)

6)   H.R. 1191 – Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Lou Barletta / Ways and Means Committee)

The balance of the week, the House will consider the following:

  • R. 1029 – EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • R. 1030 – Secret Science Reform Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • J. Res. 8 – Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the National Labor Relations Board relating to representation case procedures (Sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander / Education and the Workforce Committee)
  • Res. 132 – Providing for the expenses of certain committees of the House of Representatives in the One Hundred Fourteenth Congress (Sponsored by Rep. Candice Miller / House Administration Committee)

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will vote on two executive nominees. On Tuesday, Majority Leader McConnell has scheduled a procedural vote to end debate on S. 178, a bill to prevent human trafficking. He has also indicated that the Senate will stay on this bill until it is passed, which could possibly postpone planned floor consideration of Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host a meeting with the Council of the Great City Schools Leadership to discuss efforts to strengthen educational opportunities for students in city schools.

On Tuesday, President Obama will welcome Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny of Ireland to the White House. In the morning, the president and the vice president will meet with the Taoiseach in the Oval Office to discuss issues of mutual concern. In the evening, the President will host a reception to celebrate his seventh St. Patrick’s Day at the White House.

On Wednesday, the president will travel to Cleveland, Ohio to deliver remarks on the importance of middle class economics to the City Club of Cleveland.

On Thursday, President Obama will host Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall for a meeting in the Oval Office; Vice President Biden will also attend. The Prince and The Duchess will visit the United States March 17-20 to engage in activities to promote the United Kingdom’s partnership with the United States in such key areas as combatting climate change, creating opportunities for youth, encouraging corporate social responsibility, and preserving historical and cultural links.

On Friday, the president will host the second-annual White House Student Film Festival. Highlighting President Obama’s call to mentorship, in particular mentorship in the arts and film industries, this year’s competition was an opportunity for K-12 students to produce short films on the idea of service and helping your community. As part of the event the president will deliver remarks on the goal of his My Brother’s Keeper initiative to ensure all young Americans can reach their full potential.

Also this Week:

Immigration – House and Senate Committees have scheduled at least six hearings this week on immigration issues, including:

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet Tuesday for a hearing on labor issues in immigration reform, “Immigration Reforms Needed to Protect Skilled American Workers.”
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will also meet Tuesday for a hearing “Security the Southwest Border: Perspectives from Beyond the Beltway.” This hearing may address companion legislation to Congressman McCaul’s border legislation marked-up earlier this year.
  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittees on National Security, and Healthcare Benefits and Administrative Rules will address immigrant benefit issues on Tuesday at “The Fiscal Costs of the President’s Executive Actions on Immigration.”
  • The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will continue its mark-up from before the recess of legislation related to interior enforcement, including a reintroduced version of the SAFE Act.
  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a second part of its hearing “A Review of the Department of Homeland Security’s Policies and Procedures for the Apprehension, Detention, and Release of Non-Citizens Unlawfully Present in the United States” on Thursday.
  • Finally, also on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Courts Subcommittee will hold a hearing “Reining in Amnesty: Texas v. United States and Its Implications.” This hearing will be chaired by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Kansas’ Secretary of State Kris Kobach has been invited to testify.

Budget – It is budget week! The House Budget Committee will release its budget on Tuesday and has scheduled a mark-up on Wednesday. In the Senate, the Budget Committee will release their budget on Wednesday during the first day of a two-day mark-up that will continue into Thursday. The House version is expected to balance the budget within ten years by cutting spending by $5 trillion with no increases in revenue. Similar to previous House budgets, cuts to SNAP, Medicaid, and a Medicare voucher system are all likely to be included. In contrast, the Senate budget reportedly does not explicitly change Medicare in the long-term. Both documents will adhere to spending caps set by sequestration.

Appropriations – A number of Administration officials will appear before House Appropriations Committee subcommittees this week. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will testify to the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee on Wednesday; OMB Director Shaun Donovan will testify to the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Monday; Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen will also testify to the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Monday; and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez will testify to the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee on Tuesday (note: he will also testify on Wednesday to the House Education and Workforce Committee).

Nominations – It is possible that Loretta Lynch may be confirmed this week as Attorney General. However, her consideration is contingent on completing work on a stalled human trafficking bill. This bipartisan legislation has been held up over an abortion-related provision and its path forward remains highly uncertain.

Education – As the Senate HELP Committee continues bipartisan negotiations to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (last reauthorized as No Child Left Behind), the President will meet with leaders from the Council of Great City Schools to discuss further. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the group’s conference on Sunday that Senator Alexander’s discussion draft does not adequately address early childhood education or equity. House action on its ESEA reauthorization, H.R. 5, is not expected again until mid-April as Republican Leadership still does not have enough votes for passage. While much of the education focus in D.C. is on K-12, the House Education and Workforce Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday to examine reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Labor – The House this week will vote on S.J.Res. 8, which would block the National Labor Relations Board from expediting workplace elections in certain circumstances. The Senate passed the measure earlier in March.

Health – It is possible Congressional leadership will introduce legislation at the end of this week for a vote as soon as next week to extend CHIP for two-years. Details are still being negotiated as the extension comes as part of a larger legislative vehicle to also address Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians.