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Week of January 15, 2018

Posted @ Monday, January 15, 2018    By Zach Israel
Posted in [ Clients Only, Congressional Outlook ] | 0 Comments

The House and Senate are both in session this week. The House will consider 11 bills under suspension of the rules. For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the Home Mortgage Disclosure Adjustment Act (H.R. 2954), which would expand an exemption from mortgage loan reporting requirements to cover more lenders; the World Bank Accountability Act of 2017 (H.R. 3326), which would authorize the U.S. government to contribute $3.29 billion over three years to the World Bank's International Development Association, fulfilling the Trump Administration's request to reduce the authorization level by 15 percent; and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 4712), which would allow medical professionals to be criminally charged and subjected to civil liability if they do not provide medical care to a child that survives an abortion procedure.

The Senate this week will vote on the House-passed FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S. 139), which would extend the National Security Agency's controversial electronic surveillance authority under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act through Dec. 31, 2023; the authority is set to expire on Jan. 19, 2018. Section 702 allows the NSA to conduct electronic surveillance on foreign nationals outside the U.S. The measure would require the FBI to demonstrate probable cause before accessing Americans' communications collected under the NSA's surveillance program, with exceptions. It would codify the NSA's decision to stop collection of messages between third parties that merely reference a surveillance target and establish procedures to allow such collections with congressional oversight.

Congress must pass another Continuing Resolution (CR) this week to temporarily fund the federal government, likely through February 16, in order to avoid a government shutdown beginning at 12:01am on January 20 and to provide more time for Congressional leaders to reach an agreement on (1) a long-term funding bill for the remainder of FY 2018; (2) raising the spending caps for defense and non-defense spending for FYs 2018 and 2019; and (3) an immigration deal centered around protecting the 800,000 so-called Dreamers from being deported from the U.S. beginning March 5.

President Trump last week rejected a bipartisan proposal to permanently extend the Dreamers' protections from deportation under the Deferred Action from Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama Administration initiative. Trump wants Congress to appropriate more money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, end family-based immigration preferences, and shut down the diversity lottery that grants about 50,000 visas annually to people in countries from which few people immigrate to the U.S. If House Republicans remain united, it would be up to Senate Democrats to decide whether to block a vote in their chamber on the 4-week CR to force action on the Dreamers and other demands. The 51-member Senate Republican Conference will need at least nine Senate Democrats to vote with them in order to pass the CR. In addition, Democrats want a six-year reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which funds state-run medical-care programs for low-income families that do not qualify for Medicaid, to be included in the CR.

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