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This Week in Congress – January 26 re: Human Trafficking, Secure Our Borders First Act, Keystone Pipeline XL

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and, as such, the U.S. House of Representatives will start this week by considering today and Tuesday a dozen bills under suspension of the rules to combat human trafficking and improve services for victims of what is widely regarded as a modern-day form of slavery.   When these suspension bills are concluded, the House will take up legislation, H.R.351, the LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act, to expedite the permitting process for exports of liquefied natural gas (the Senate Energy Committee is holding a hearing on the Senate version of this bill on Thursday).

The House will then turn to its major legislative work of the week when it tackles H.R. 399, the Secure Our Borders First Act of 2015, a controversial border security bill introduced by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul.  The bill would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to gain operational control of the U.S.-Mexico border within five years and would require the creation of additional fencing and roads.  The bill is controversial with Democrats, but it has also generated opposition from immigration hawks in the Republican Conference for not being tough enough.  After last week’s revolt among some Republicans forced the House to pull the late-term abortion bill and replace it with the bill to ban federal funding of abortions, Republicans have to get the border security bill across the finish line successfully, even in the face of grumbling from some of its members.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed a cloture motion on Friday on S. 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act.  That motion will ripen this week and the Senate is expected to invoke cloture  and then complete action on the legislation.  Last week, the Senate worked through 15 amendments to the bill last week, exceeding already the number of votes taken on amendments during the entire 113th Congress.

After completing action on S. 1, we think it is likely the Senate will move to consider H.R. 240, the 2015 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which passed the House on January 14, 2015, by a vote of 236-191.  The bill provides roughly $40 billion in discretionary funding for DHS, but also contains an amendment that blocks any of the funds from being used to carry out President Obama’s new immigration and deportation policy announced in an executive order last November.  The current funding mechanism for DHS expires on February 27, 2015.

In the wake of the State of the Union address last week, congressional committees are moving towards their regular pace of activities, as is evident by the number of hearings and markups scheduled for the week.  The major event in committee this week is the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings on Wednesday and Thursday to consider the nomination of Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as U.S. Attorney General.  On Thursday, the Senate Banking Committee will follow up its Tuesday hearing on Iran sanctions to mark up the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015, legislation strongly opposed by the President but with bipartisan congressional support.

In addition to the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings, a list of other key Congressional hearings this week is included below:

Tuesday January 27th

House Budget – CBO Budget and Economic Forecast
Full Committee Hearing, 10:30 a.m., 210 Cannon Bldg.

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade – Data Breach Legislative Issues
Subcommittee Hearing, 10 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health – Public Health Legislation
Subcommittee Hearing, 10:15 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.

House Financial Services – Sustainable Housing Finance
Full Committee Hearing, 10 a.m., 345 Cannon Bldg.

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

House Judiciary Committee – Markup of H.R. ___, “The Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015”
Full Committee Business Meeting, 11 a.m., 2141 Rayburn Bldg.

House Science, Space and Technology – Organizational Meeting
Full Committee Business Meeting, 11 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Organizational Meeting and Markup of Oversight Plan
Full Committee Business Meeting, 10 a.m., 2167 Rayburn Bldg.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management – Disaster Recovery Issues
Subcommittee Hearing, 10:30 a.m., 2167 Rayburn Bldg.

House Veterans’ Affairs – Veterans’ Affairs Legislation
Full Committee Hearing, 10:30 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.

House Select Committee on Benghazi Attack – Benghazi Events
Full Committee Hearing, 10:30 a.m., HVC-210 Capitol Visitor Center

House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity – Transition Assistance Program
Subcommittee Hearing, 2 p.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.

House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology – Cybersecurity Issues
Subcommittee Hearing, 2 p.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg.

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade – Terrorism and Social Media
Subcommittee Hearing, 2 p.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations – U.S.-Nigeria Policy
Subcommittee Hearing 2 p.m., 2200 Rayburn Bldg.

House Oversight and Government Reform Organizational Meeting
Full Committee Business Meeting, 2 p.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

House Ways and Means – U.S. Trade Policy
Full Committee Hearing, 2 p.m., HVC-210 Capitol Visitor Center

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs – Iran Sanctions
Full Committee Hearing, 10 a.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – No Child Left Behind and Teachers
Full Committee Hearing,  10 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.

Wednesday, January 28th

House Armed Services – DoD Technological Logistics
Full Committee Hearing, 10 a.m., 2118 Rayburn Bldg.

House Natural Resources Organizational Meeting
Full Committee Business Meeting, 9:45 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy – U.S. Technology Leadership
Subcommittee Hearing, 9 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg.

House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health – VA Health Care Assessment
Subcommittee Hearing, 10 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.

Senate Armed Services – Budget Control Act and Sequestration
Full Committee Hearing, 9:30 a.m., 106 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Budget – CBO Budget and Economic Forecast
Full Committee Hearing, 10 a.m., 608 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Foreign Relations – U.S. Leadership and Global Security
Full Committee Hearing, 10 a.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate HELP Organizational Meeting and Markup of S.192, Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015, and S. ______, Strengthening Education Through Research Act
Full Committee Business Meeting, 9:30 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Organizational Meeting
Full Committee Business Meeting, 4 p.m., 328A Russell Bldg.

Senate Special Aging – Financial Exploitation of Seniors
Full Committee Hearing, 2:15 p.m., 562 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – Cyber Attacks and Information Sharing
Full Committee Hearing, 2:30 p.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Indian Affairs Organizational Meeting and Oversight Hearing – Indian Country Priorities
Full Committee Business Meeting, 2:30 p.m., 628 Dirksen Bldg.

Thursday, January 29th

Senate Armed Services – U.S. National Security Strategy
Full Committee Hearing, 9:30 a.m., G-50 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs – Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015
Full Committee Markup, 10 a.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources – LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act
Full Committee Hearing, 10 a.m., 366 Dirksen Bldg.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – Employer Wellness Programs
Full Committee Hearing, 10 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.

Kaitlyn McClure, Covington & Burling LLP Policy Advisor, co-authored this post.

© 2019 Covington & Burling LLP

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Richard Hertling, Covington, public policy lawyer
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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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