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Congressional Outlook

Congressional Outlook

Congressional Outlook

Congressional Outlook--Week of January 14, 2019

The House and Senate are in session this week. The House will vote on 15 bills under suspension of the rules, including: the TANF Extension Act of 2019 (H.R. 430), which would extend the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program through June 30, 2019; the Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act (H.R. 359), which directs the Energy Department to facilitate and encourage public-private partnerships in order to improve the cybersecurity of electric utilities; and the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency Act of 2019 (H.R. 150), which would standardize and publish federal grants data on a single online portal and require the development of standards for the information that grant and other award recipients must report to the government. The House will also vote on the Disaster Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019 (H.R. 268), which would appropriate $12.1 billion to communities and federal agencies affected by natural disasters in 2018. The House will also vote on two continuing resolutions which would fund (at enacted FY 2018 levels) all federal departments and agencies currently shut down, one through Friday, February 1, 2019 (H.J. Res. 27) and the other through Thursday, February 28, 2019 (H.J. Res. 28).

 

 The Senate will vote for the third time on whether to invoke cloture, or limit debate, on the motion to proceed to the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 (S. 1) that would authorize the appropriation of funds to Israel and reauthorize the U.S.—Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he will force a vote this week on a measure to block the Treasury Department’s plans to lift sanctions on three Russian companies linked to oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is reported to be under scrutiny by Special Counsel Bob Mueller. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may also file for cloture on the motion to proceed to a public lands package, the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47) that would reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund; however, the measure may run into opposition from Senate Democrats, who do not want to consider other legislation until the partial government shutdown ends. Two major Trump Administration nominees will face confirmation hearings by the Senate Judiciary and Environment and Public Works Committees, respectively, this week: William Barr to serve as U.S. Attorney General and Andrew Wheeler to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

On January 14, the partial federal government shutdown entered its 24th day, setting a new record for the longest shutdown in U.S. history. The impasse shows no signs of abating: Congressional leaders and the White House have scheduled no meetings this week as roughly 800,000 federal workers either continue to work without pay or are furloughed. After spending much of last week openly pondering a declaration of national emergency in order to fund his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall as a way to circumvent Congress and potentially provide an exit ramp from the shutdown, President Trump said it was not in his imminent plans. The Trump Administration also took steps last week to mitigate the fallout from the shutdown, with the Department of Housing and Urban Development sending landlords letters as part of a last-minute effort to prevent the eviction of thousands of tenants and the National Park Service authorizing the use of entrance fees to pay for trash pickup and other operations.

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