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This Week in Congress – April 20, 2015 re: Energy Efficiency Improvement Act, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Advisory Boards Act, Ambush Elections and more

The House of Representatives is scheduled to return on Tuesday to begin the second week of this three-week work period.  The House will start its week with two bills from the Energy and Commerce Committee under suspension of the rules, including the Senate-passed Energy Efficiency Improvement Act, which will be cleared for the President’s signature upon House passage.  The House will then take up H.R. 1195, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Advisory Boards Act. The bill would create a small business advisory board to advise the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on matters of concern to small business.  The focus of the week will be consideration of two cybersecurity bills:  H.R. 1560, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act, and H.R. 1731, the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015.  The legislation would increase information sharing on cyber threats between government and the private sector and seek to protect privacy and civil liberty interests.

The Senate is due to return on Monday.  Press reports indicate that Senate leadership has been engaged in negotiations to find a path forward on S. 178, the human trafficking bill that has been stalled on the Senate floor for  weeks due to a Democratic filibuster over the inclusion of an anti-abortion-funding provision.  The filibuster has also held up a confirmation vote on the President’s nominee for Attorney General, Loretta Lynch.  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not been willing to allow a vote on the Lynch nomination until the trafficking bill is completed.

The Senate is also likely to turn to S. 615, the Iran Nuclear Review Act, which was reported out of the Foreign Relations Committee unanimously on April 14.  This legislation would require the president to submit any Iran nuclear agreement to Congress within five days of its conclusion.  Further, the bill would prohibit the Administration from lifting any sanctions on Iran for a set amount of time after submitting the nuclear agreement to Congress.  During this period, Congress could approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement.  Passage of a joint resolution of disapproval (which would be subject to a presidential veto) within the review period would block the President from implementing relief from U.S. sanctions.  Language in the initial draft of the bill had allowed Congress to reject the Iran deal entirely, not just to reject the lifting of sanctions.  When taken up by the full Senate for consideration, there may be an effort by some Republicans to restore the original language, which the President had promised to veto.  If Republicans succeed at restoring the original bill text, they would likely put the bipartisan, veto-proof margin of support at risk.  On the other side of the Capitol this week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the ability to verify any ultimate nuclear agreement with Iran.

Also available for the Senate’s consideration is the proposal to override the President’s veto of S.J. Res. 8, a resolution to undo the National Labor Relations Board’s so-called “ambush elections” rule that is meant to make it easier for unions to win representation elections.  While the Senate passed the resolution by a vote of 53-46, and the House 232-186, these margins are short of the two-thirds majority needed for a veto override. The override vote is largely a symbolic gesture of disapproval for the Administration’s support of the election rule.  The President’s veto of S.J. Res. 8 is the second veto issued this year, and only the fourth of his presidency.  We may see a sharp increase in veto activity under this Republican-led Congress, as the President has issued veto threats for 17 other legislative proposals working their way through the House and Senate.

Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a successful mark-up of a bipartisan overhaul of the nation’s education laws. The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 was unanimously approved by the committee, 22-0, setting it up for consideration by the full Senate sometime over the next five weeks.  Among other things, the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 would ensure that decisions related to academic standards, teacher evaluations, and performance would be left largely to states and local school districts.  While Majority Leader McConnell has not yet indicated when the bill will be taken up, the movement of a bipartisan bill out of committee is a huge step forward for Congress, which has been trying to rewrite No Child Left Behind since 2007 without success.  House passage of an authorization bill is still unclear.  In March, the House considered more than 40 amendments to H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, before House leadership postponed a vote on final passage.  It was reported that there were not enough votes in support of the bill, due to opposition from conservatives who believe the provisions do not go far enough in curbing the federal role in education.

On Thursday the Senate Finance Committee will mark up legislation related to trade, including the much-anticipated Trade Promotion Authority legislation.  Last week, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced they had reached a bipartisan agreement on the procedural legislation, which allows for trade deals negotiated by the Administration to be submitted to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote within a limited period of time.  Senate Finance Committee consideration of the TPA bill on Thursday is likely to be paired with other trade-related measures, such as renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences, the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, and the more controversial Trade Adjustment Assistance program (TAA), which provides assistance to U.S. workers whose jobs are affected by international trade.  The House Ways & Means Committee, meanwhile, will hold a hearing on international trade issues on Wednesday afternoon.  Both chambers are expected to move quickly on the TPA bill.

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees will kick off the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) process with eight subcommittee hearings scheduled throughout the week.

Looking towards the following week, there is potential for legislative action on reauthorizing provisions of the USA PATRIOT and FISA Amendments Acts, whose authorities end on June 1.  Reports have surfaced of bicameral, bipartisan negotiations over the last few weeks, and indications are that both chambers are getting ready to roll out compromise legislation that is expected to be considered and adopted prior to the Memorial Day break for both chambers.  A May 31 deadline is also looming for the current surface transportation reauthorization.  The Senate Banking Committee has scheduled two hearings this week on the subject.  The hard-to-solve question remains how to pay for the programs.  Some members favor increasing the gas tax; others support a repatriation proposal, but the chairmen of the tax-writing committees do not support that approach, which also creates problems because the Congressional Budget Office is likely to score it as a revenue-loser.  Tough decisions will have to be made in the next few weeks.

Keeping an eye on the Third Branch of the federal government, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard oral argument on Friday last week on the Administration’s appeal of a federal district judge’s injunction against implementation of the President’s deferred action plan for immigrants in the country illegally and attendant benefits.  Immigration-related issues in Congress have been quiet since the stare-down over funding of the Department of Homeland Security.  If the Court of Appeals vacates the injunction, a resumption of immigration policy debates in Congress is highly likely, especially as appropriations season is soon to be upon us.

A schedule of Congressional hearings this week is detailed below:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Senate Committees

Census Survey Overhaul
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
3 p.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg. 

Conference Committees 

Fiscal 2016 Budget
Conference Committee
Full Committee Business Meeting
3 p.m., 106 Dirksen Bldg. 

Tuesday April 21, 2015 

House Committees 

D.C. Reproductive Health Bill Disapproval Resolution
House Oversight and Government Reform
Full Committee Markup
April 21, 5 p.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

Veterans’ Affairs Oversight Legislation
House Veterans’ Affairs – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Subcommittee Markup
4 p.m., 334 Cannon Bldg. 

Senate Committees

Defense Department Nomination – Mr. Peter K. Levine, To Be Deputy Chief Management Officer, Department Of Defense
Senate Armed Services
Full Committee Hearing
9:30 a.m., 216 Hart Bldg. 

Agriculture Trade with Cuba
Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 328A Russell Bldg. 

Surface Transportation Reauthorization
Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
April 21, 10 a.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.

Telehealth Expansion
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation – Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 253 Russell Bldg. 

State Department Efficiency
Senate Foreign Relations – Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg. 

Juvenile Justice Grants Oversight
Senate Judiciary
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg. 

Fiscal Year 2016 and Fiscal Year 2017 Funding Request and Budget Justification for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
Subcommittee Hearing
2:30 p.m., 124 Dirksen Bldg. 

DoD Counter-Terrorism Policy
Senate Armed Services – Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
Subcommittee Hearing
2:30 p.m., 222 Russell Bldg.

FAA Regulatory Certification Process
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation – Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security
Subcommittee Hearing
2:30 p.m., 253 Russell Bldg. 

Women Veteran Issues
Senate Veterans’ Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
2:30 p.m., 418 Russell Bldg.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 

House Committees

U.S. Grain Standards Act Reauthorization
House Agriculture – Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 1300 Longworth Bldg.

Native American Schools
House Education and the Workforce – Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 2175 Rayburn Bldg.

Global Terrorism and Terrorist Financing
House Financial Services
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., HVC-210 Capitol Visitor Center 

Iran Nuclear Agreement Issues
House Foreign Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

Bioterrorism Threat Issues
House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 311 Cannon Bldg. 

Oil Spill Safety Improvements
House Natural Resources
Full Committee Oversight Hearing
9:30 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

Examining the Dept. of Energy’s Excess Uranium Management Plan
House Oversight – Subcommittee on the Interior
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., Rayburn Bldg.

America COMPETES Reauthorization Act
House Science, Space and Technology
Full Committee Markup
10:15 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg. 

Cybersecurity and Small Business
House Small Business
Full Committee Hearing
11 a.m., 2360 Rayburn Bldg. 

Army Corps of Engineers, TVA Fiscal 2016 Budget
House Transportation and Infrastructure – Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 2167 Rayburn Bldg. 

IRS and Tax Filing Issues
House Ways and Means – Subcommittee on Oversight
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg. 

Philadelphia and Oakland Regional Office Management Issues
House Veterans’ Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
10:30 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg. 

Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act Reauthorization
House Agriculture – Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture
Subcommittee Hearing
1:30 p.m., 1300 Longworth Bldg.

Fiscal 2016 Defense Authorization: Emerging Threats and Capabilities
House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
Subcommittee Markup
2:30 p.m., 2118 Rayburn Bldg. 

Fiscal 2016 Defense Authorization: Readiness
House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Readiness
Subcommittee Markup
4 p.m., 2212 Rayburn Bldg. 

Human Trafficking Issues
House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations
Subcommittee Hearing
1:30 p.m., 2200 Rayburn Bldg. 

Poaching National Security Issues
House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade
Subcommittee Hearing
3 p.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg. 

DHS Acquisition Oversight
House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m., 311 Cannon Bldg.

Interior Tribal Recognition Process Issues
House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs
Subcommittee Hearing
4 p.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg. 

Enhancing Cybersecurity of Third-Party Contractors and Vendors
House Oversight
Full Committee Hearing
2 p.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

USDI Fiscal 2016 Budget
House Select Intelligence – Department of Defense Intelligence and Overhead Architecture Subcommittee
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m., HVC-304 Capitol Visitor Center 

Expanding American Trade with Accountability and Transparency
House Ways and Means
Full Committee Hearing
3 p.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg. 

Senate Committees 

Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Request and Funding Justification for Defense Innovation and Research
Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on Defense
Subcommittee Hearing
10:30 a.m., 192 Dirksen Bldg. 

Fiscal Year 2016 Funding Request and Budget Justification for the U.S. Department of Transportation
Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 138 Dirksen Bldg. 

Weather Impact on Commerce and Safety
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 253 Russell Bldg. 

Land and Water Conservation Fund
Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 366 Dirksen Bldg. 

Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board Nomination
Senate Environment and Public Works
Full Committee Hearing
9:30 a.m., 406 Dirksen Bldg. 

State Department Reauthorization
Senate Foreign Relations
Full Committee Hearing
9:30 a.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg. 

Northern Border Threats and Strategies
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg. 

Fiscal Year 2016 Funding Request and Budget Justification for the Federal Emergency Management Agency
Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on Homeland Security
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m., 138 Dirksen Bldg. 

“The United States without Nuclear Power”
Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on Energy & Water Development
Subcommittee Hearing
3 p.m., 192 Dirksen Bldg. 

Fiscal 2016 Defense Authorization: Air Force, Navy Nuclear Programs
Senate Armed Services – Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
Subcommittee Hearing
2:30 p.m., 222 Russell Bldg.

Fiscal 2016 Defense Authorization: Defense Acquisition System
Senate Armed Services – Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support
Subcommittee Hearing
2:30 p.m., 232-A Russell Bldg. 

Transportation and Indian Issues
Senate Indian Affairs
Full Committee Oversight Hearing
2:30 p.m., 628 Dirksen Bldg. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015 

House Committees

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: U.S. Customs and Border Protection
House Appropriations – Subcommittee on Homeland Security
Subcommittee Hearing
8 a.m., B-308 Rayburn Bldg. 

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: FEMA
House Appropriations – Subcommittee on Homeland Security
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., B-308 Rayburn Bldg.

Budget Hearing – Panel on Programs Supporting Native Americans
House Appropriations – Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 2358-C Rayburn Bldg. 

Fiscal 2016 Defense Authorization: Tactical Air and Land Forces
House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces
Subcommittee Markup
9 a.m., 2118 Rayburn Bldg. 

Fiscal 2016 Defense Authorization: Military Personnel
House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Military Personnel
Subcommittee Markup
April 23, 9:30 a.m., 2212 Rayburn Bldg.

Fiscal 2016 Defense Authorization: Seapower and Projection Forces
House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces
Subcommittee Markup
10:30 a.m., 2118 Rayburn Bldg. 

Fiscal 2016 Defense Authorization: Strategic Forces
House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
Subcommittee Markup
Noon, 2212 Rayburn Bldg. 

21st Century Workforce
House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Energy and Power
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg. 

Drug Abuse Issues
House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Subcommittee Hearing
10:15 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg. 

Financial Regulatory Issues
House Financial Services – Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit
Subcommittee Hearing
9:15 a.m., HVC-210 Capitol Visitor Center 

Foreign Affairs Legislation
House Foreign Affairs
Full Committee Markup
10 a.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg. 

Victims’ Rights Amendment
House Judiciary – Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice
Subcommittee Hearing
9:30 a.m., 2237 Rayburn Bldg. 

Forest Fire Management Issues
House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Federal Lands
Subcommittee Hearing
9 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg. 

Hydraulic Fracturing Issues
House Science, Space and Technology
Full Committee Hearing
9 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg. 

ODNI, NCTC, NCPC Fiscal 2016 Budget
House Select Intelligence – Emerging Threats Subcommittee
Subcommittee Hearing
9 a.m., HVC-304 Capitol Visitor Center 

Veterans Health and Safety Legislation
House Veterans’ Affairs – Subcommittee on Health
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg. 

East Asia Fiscal 2016 Budget Priorities
House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific
Subcommittee Hearing
1 p.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg. 

Senate Committees 

Fiscal Year 2016 Funding Request and Budget Justification for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 124 Dirksen Bldg. 

Fiscal Year 2016 Department of Defense Budget Request for Military Construction and Military Family Housing Programs
Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
Subcommittee Hearing
10:30 a.m., 138 Dirksen Bldg. 

Surface Transportation Reauthorization
Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
April 23, 10 a.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg. 

Airport Issues
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation – Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 253 Russell Bldg. 

Medical Device Tax Impact
Senate Finance – Subcommittee on Health Care
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 215 Dirksen Bldg.

Africa Growth and Opportunity Act
Senate Foreign Relations – Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg.

Small Business Legislation
Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Full Committee Markup
10 a.m., 428A Russell Bldg.

Finance Nominations: Sally Quillian Yates, to be Deputy Attorney General; Kara Stoll, to be a United States Circuit Judge for the Federal Circuit; Roseann A. Ketchmark, to be a United States District Judge for the Western District of Missouri

Senate Finance

Full Committee Confirmation Hearing
2 p.m., 215 Dirksen Bldg.
Central American Immigration Issues
Senate Judiciary – Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest
Subcommittee Hearing
2:30 p.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Senate Committees

Colorado VA Hospital
Senate Veterans’ Affairs
Full Committee Field Hearing
1:30 p.m., City Council Chambers, Aurora Municipal Center, 15151 E Alameda Pkwy, Aurora, Colo.

© 2022 Covington & Burling LLPNational Law Review, Volume V, Number 110
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About this Author

Richard Hertling, Covington, public policy lawyer
Of Counsel

Richard Hertling provides regulatory and legislative advice and guidance and lobbying to a diverse set of clients in a range of industries. He joined the firm after more than 27 years of federal government service that included senior positions in both Houses of Congress and the Justice Department, during which he was respected for developing strategic and tactical approaches to advance legislation. He brings those same skills to bear for clients with complex policy challenges.

While holding senior positions on Capitol Hill and at the Department of Justice, Mr....

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