Saturday, February 18, 2017

Congress Headlines: February 13-17, 2017


U.S. House tax committee will not seek Trump tax returns

U.S. Representatives vote against D.C. assisted suicide law

House Freedom Caucus wants swift Obamacare repeal

Israeli PM Netanyahu Becomes D.C. Darling as Dems Clamor for Meetings

Netanyahu, Ryan determined to 'hold Iran accountable for its actions'

House to unveil Obamacare bill after next week

U.S. Republicans set timeframe for introducing Obamacare replacement


Senate confirms Mnuchin as Treasury secretary

David Shulkin confirmed as Veterans Affairs secretary

Senate approves McMahon to lead Small Business Administration

Key U.S. Senate committee chairman wants briefing on Flynn

Trump Supreme Court nominee's confirmation hearing to start March 20

Senate confirms Mulvaney as Trump's budget director

Trump's nominee for ambassador to Israel: Ending terror a condition of peace

Ashton Kutcher Testifies before Congress about Horrors of Sex-Trafficking

Senate confirms Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA

Dismantling Obama Regulations Will Require Resolve in the Senate

Senators Silent After Meeting With FBI Director Comey

Top Senate Republican: Will move on healthcare when support coalesces

Senate leader McConnell sees hope for infrastructure bill

Also see this week's Weekly Digest of the Congressional Record.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

2017 Outlook

Ryan maps out GOP timeline for ObamaCare, tax reform
PHILADELPHIA — Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday mapped out the GOP’s 200-day legislative strategy, saying Republicans will repeal and replace portions of ObamaCare by spring and tackle tax reform before the August recess.

Ryan: GOP will replace Obamacare, cut taxes and fund wall by August
PHILADELPHIA — House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday outlined a packed legislative agenda for this year in which Republicans would repeal and replace Obamacare by April, fund Donald Trump’s border wall shortly after that and approve a sweeping tax reform package by August.

Republicans set aggressive agenda on health care, regulations and tax reform
PHILADELPHIA — Republican leaders laid out an aggressive legislative agenda Wednesday that would have Congress repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act, pass replacement measures and embark on a major tax code overhaul, all within the first 200 days of blanket GOP control in Washington.

Trump takes control of GOP agenda
President Donald Trump told House Speaker Paul Ryan he "liked" the Republicans' 200 day agenda that includes repealing and replacing Obamacare and overhauling the tax code. But he told Ryan something was missing. Trump asked lawmakers to include the massive infrastructure spending project that he promised voters during the campaign. Now it's been added to the GOP's already packed to-do list, outlined at the Republican retreat at a hotel in downtown Philadelphia. It's not clear whether it will match Trump's $1 trillion proposal for repairing the nation's crumbling roads and bridges, but infrastructure is now "front and center," according to those who heard details of the GOP plan.

Congress Next Week

Senate Chamber

Floor Schedule

Program for Monday: After the transaction of any morning business (not to extend beyond 5 p.m.), Senate will resume consideration of the nomination of Rex W. Tillerson, of Texas, to be Secretary of State, with a vote on the motion to invoke cloture thereon at 5:30 p.m.

McConnell to force vote on Trump's State Department pick
"I'll be filing cloture on Secretary of State nominee [Rex] Tillerson, which will ripen next week," McConnell told reporters during a weekly press conference. The move would set up a procedural vote early next week and get Tillerson through the Senate by the end of the week.

House Chamber

Weekly Schedule

Monday & Tuesday: Suspension Votes

Wednesday - Friday: Activity Under the Congressional Review Act

Text of Bills for the Week of Jan. 30, 2017

House to launch attack on Obama energy regs next week
The House will launch an attack Monday on former President Barack Obama's midnight regulations targeting the coal and natural gas industries, using powers extended to it under former President Bill Clinton for Congress to unravel specious federal rules.

Republicans to kill U.S. rules on corruption, environment, labor and guns next week
Congressional Republicans are set to overturn a slew of Obama-era regulations next week, including a controversial anti-bribery rule aimed at U.S. resource companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Chevron Corp (CVX.N), according to a top lawmaker. Other rules eyed for quick overturning by Congress include newly minted environmental, gun control and labor relations measures, sources said. Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can use simple majority votes to stop recent regulations in their tracks. The timing in the law means that any rules that became final after May 31 could go on the chopping block.

Congress Last Week

Chamber Activity

Congressional Record — January 23-27, 2017

House voted 238-183 to pass H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion & Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017.

House votes to cut abortion funding permanently
The law would codify the Hyde Amendment and close loopholes in Obamacare

House passes major abortion bill | Washington Examiner
The legislation, which passed 238-183, would make the Hyde amendment permanent. The amendment, which has been added to spending bills for decades, bans any federal funding from being used to provide abortions. In addition, it would target Obamacare plans that cover elective abortions. It would not provide Obamacare customers with subsidies used to pay down the cost of insurance if the insurance plan covers abortions.

House votes to permanently ban taxpayer funds for abortion
“That’s what we should be all about. Life affirming and the saving of human life,” said Smith. It does allow exceptions for cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life in danger. The three Democrats who voted for the legislation were Reps. Henry Cuellar (Texas), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.).

The bill would also permanently prohibit the District of Columbia from using its local funds approved by Congress for abortion services.

Senate confirmed the nomination of Mike Pompeo, of Kansas, to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

U.S. Senate confirms Pompeo to be Trump's CIA director
Sixty-six senators backed Pompeo and 32 voted against. All the opposition was from Democrats, except for Senator Rand Paul, a leading Republican advocate for strict control of surveillance. Shortly afterward, Pompeo was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence.

Senate confirmed the nomination of Nikki R. Haley, of South Carolina, to be the Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations.

U.S. Senate confirms Haley as Trump's U.N. ambassador
The U.S. Senate voted almost unanimously on Tuesday to confirm South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations, sending a rising Republican star to represent President Donald Trump at an institution he has criticized. Haley was backed by 96 senators, with only four opposed.

Senate confirms Trump's UN ambassador
Haley appeared to share her commander in chief's skepticism about America's heavy burden of United Nations dues, using the committee hearing to question if American values are reflected by a group that recently voted to condemn Israel for building of settlements in the West Bank. The Israel vote has drawn backlash from lawmakers in both parties.

Legislation Introduced

States Could Keep Obamacare Under Cassidy-Collins Replacement
State legislatures would be able to choose, in 2018, whether to continue to support the insurance market and institutions put in place by former President Barack Obama’s law, or to opt into a new system with many of the same consumer protections but fewer regulations. Under the new system, insurance coverage would be much less comprehensive but likely would be cheaper.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Congress Next Week

House Committees

Week of January 22 - 28, 2017

Monday, January 23, 2017

Rules: Meeting: H.R. 7—No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017

Pro-lifers to strengthen Hyde Amendment provisions under Donald Trump
A congressional committee is taking up on its first full day in session under the Trump administration a stricter version of the Hyde Amendment that would be written into law instead of being attached to appropriations bills.  The Hyde Amendment bars federal funds from being used to pay for abortions and has been approved as a rider in every Congress since 1976. Codifying the measure is a top priority for the pro-life movement because the Democratic Party last year officially voiced support for using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions.  The House Rules Committee will discuss HR7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017, on Monday. It is identical to legislation introduced by Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican, that passed the House in 2015.  “There’s a growing recognition that abortion is violent,” Mr. Smith told The Washington Times. “Whether it’s by poison pill or dismemberment and other chemicals, the fact is there’s a trend, virtually every poll you look at, that says people don’t want public funding for abortion.”

The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7) introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), seeks to do three things. The bill: (1) Makes the Hyde Amendment and other current abortion funding prohibitions  permanent and government-wide; (2) Ensures that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) faithfully conforms to the Hyde Amendment while Congress works to repeal and replace the ACA; (3) Until a new plan year begins, the bill ensures full disclosure, transparency and the prominent display of the extent to which any health insurance plan on the exchange funds abortion.

Affordable Care Act-related:

House Chamber

Weekly Schedule

Monday, January 23, 2017 — 11 bills under suspension of the rules

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

H.R. 7 – No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017
(Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Christopher Smith / Energy and Commerce Committee)

3 bills under suspension of the rules

Text of Bills for the Week of Jan. 23, 2017

Senate Committees

Committee Meetings Schedule

Monday, January 23, 2017

Foreign Relations — Business meeting to consider the nomination of Rex W. Tillerson, of Texas, to be Secretary of State.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Armed Services — Hearings to examine the defense budget for fiscal year 2018 and onwards.

Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs — Organizational business meeting to consider committee rules, subcommittee assignments, an original resolution authorizing expenditures by the committee during the 115th Congress, and the nomination of Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., of Florida, to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Finance — Hearings to examine the nomination of Thomas Price, of Georgia, to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Judiciary — Organizational business meeting to consider committee rules, subcommittee assignments, an original resolution authorizing expenditures by the committee during the 115th Congress, and the nomination of Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, to be Attorney General, Department of Justice. A vote on the Sessions nomination is expected.

Budget — Hearings to examine the nomination of Mick Mulvaney, of South Carolina, to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

GOP senator: Trump budget chief could face confirmation 'problems'
Mulvaney, Trump's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, acknowledged in a committee questionnaire that he initially failed to pay roughly $15,000 in taxes on the employee. He said he has since paid the taxes, as well as related penalties.

Small Business and Entrepreneurship — Hearings to examine the nomination of Linda E. McMahon, of Connecticut, to be Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs — Hearings to examine the nomination of Mick Mulvaney, of South Carolina, to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Senate Chamber

Floor Schedule

Monday, January 23, 2017

3:00 p.m.: Proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Affordable Care Act-related:

GOP senators introducing ObamaCare replacement Monday
GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Bill Cassidy (La.) are planning to offer an ObamaCare replacement proposal next week as lawmakers gear up to repeal the law. Collins said they will introduce their legislation on Monday, noting it would be based on a 2015 proposal and give states more flexibility.

GOP waiting to hear from Trump on ObamaCare
Don’t expect President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans to roll out their ObamaCare replacement plan next week at their joint House and Senate GOP retreat in Philadelphia. Healthcare is expected to dominate the three-day gathering that kicks off Wednesday. But GOP lawmakers attending Trump’s presidential inauguration Friday said they likely won’t settle on a complete replacement strategy by the time the retreat wraps up.