June 28, 2022

Volume XII, Number 179

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June 28, 2022

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This Week in Congress – June 8, 2015

This week the Senate will continue its consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with Senate Democrats threatening to filibuster the bill. The Fiscal Year 2016 NDAA provides a budget blueprint for defense-related activities at the Pentagon and other federal agencies, and proposes several changes to Department of Defense management and acquisition practices.  While these proposed changes are an issue for Democrats, the main objection to the legislation is the inclusion of funds for Department of Defense activities that exceed the spending limits established by statutory caps in the 2011 budget agreement and sequester.  The NDAA provides an additional $38 billion in funding for the Pentagon through the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, an account for war-related expenses which is exempt from discretionary caps. Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration call the additional funding provided to the Pentagon through OCO a budgeting “gimmick” and have called for Republican leadership to “properly fund the Defense Department.”  The showdown over NDAA and defense appropriations now may spill over into other funding measures because Senate Democratic leadership has threatened to hold up the entire appropriations process and not allow consideration of any appropriations bills until a new spending framework is negotiated to provide an increase in domestic spending equal to that being provided for defense operations under the OCO account.  President Obama has already  threatened to veto the NDAA, as well as the appropriations bills at their current funding levels.

 

 

Also looming in the Senate is the pending expiration of the Export-Import Bank, the federal export credit agency.  Supporters of the Bank continue to struggle to find a must-pass vehicle to which they can attach the reauthorization ahead of the charter’s June 30 expiration.  Prospects for Senate passage before the expiration date are thin, though there may be an opportunity to renew the Bank’s charter after it has lapsed.

The House is expected to continue its consideration of appropriations measures this week, along with other legislation.

Members of the House of Representatives return on Tuesday, June 9, with votes expected on six non-controversial measures. Three bills reported out of the House Agriculture Committee and three bills reported out of the Judiciary Committee will be considered under suspension of the rules.  One of the bills, sponsored by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), would make permanent the current federal ban on Internet taxes.

The House will then consider H.R. 2289, the Commodity End-User Relief Act, a reauthorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), an independent agency charged with regulating futures and options markets related to commodities.  Introduced by Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX), H.R. 2289 reauthorizes CFTC activities for five years and proposes changes that would limit the agency’s ability to impose Dodd-Frank Act derivatives rules, and requires CFTC to analyze the costs and benefits of all new rules.  While Chairman Conaway stated that the bill makes “targeted reforms” and responds to the concerns of businesses who are “struggling to comply with needlessly burdensome rules,” the White House has issued a veto threat over the legislation, stating that it “would undercut efforts taken by the CFTC over the last year to address end-user concerns” and “undermines the efficient functioning” of the agency.

On Wednesday, the House will consider H.R. 2393, an Agriculture Committee-reported bill also introduced by Chairman Conaway, which would amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to repeal country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements for beef, pork, and chicken, while leaving intact the requirements for all other covered commodities.  Country-of-origin labels indicate where the meat comes from, as required by Congress through the 2002 and 2008 farm bills.  H.R. 2393 is a response to a May 18 ruling by the World Trade Organization that ruled against the U.S. and in favor of Canada and Mexico in challenging the U.S. labeling law.  As a result of the WTO ruling, U.S. business would be subject to retaliation, such as increased tariffs, from the neighboring countries without a congressional fix.  Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) has indicated that he will also initiate a response to the WTO ruling but has not yet introduced a bill.

Two appropriations measure are also on the House agenda this week.   The House will first complete its consideration of H.R. 2577, the Fiscal Year 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) Appropriations Act, which it started last week.  The funding measure provides $52 billion in discretionary spending, which is an increase of $1.5 billion above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level, but a decrease of $9.7 billion below the President’s budget request.  The White House has threatened to veto the House T-HUD appropriations measure, not only due to cuts in funding levels, but also because of the inclusion of nonbudgetary policy riders.

The House is then expected to take up H.R. 2685, the Fiscal Year 2016 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, a $578 billion funding measure.  The bill provides $490 billion in funding for the Department of Defense base budget, but also allocates an additional $88 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding, $38 billion over the President’s request.

Also possible during the week is consideration of  H.R. 2596, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016.  Unanimously approved through a voice vote by the House Intelligence Committee, the details of the legislation are largely classified, but the bill sets funding limits and program authorizations for agencies such as the CIA, National Security Agency, and other entities engaged in intelligence and targeting terrorism.  The markup occurred behind closed doors, but press reports indicate that some Democratic committee members expressed  reservations over portions of the bill, such as restrictions on closing the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the use of funds from the Overseas Contingency Operations account, an account for war-related activities that is not subject to discretionary caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Finally, the House schedule allows for consideration of the Trade Promotion Authority legislation passed by the Senate prior to the Memorial Day recess.  The bill, to provide the so-called “fast track” authority for congressional consideration of trade deals, is a candidate for prompt floor consideration if House Leadership determines that they have sufficient votes to pass the legislation.  With very few Democrats prepared to support the bill, efforts to secure sufficient Republican votes have been underway.  In order to ensure passage, it is likely House leaders will turn to the bill once their whip counts show the votes exist for passage.  Thus, the timing on actual consideration is uncertain, but the schedule would permit the bill to be brought to the floor as early as next week.

On the hearing calendar for this week, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold an oversight hearing on Tuesday morning on the Transportation Security Administration, with U.S. Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth appearing as a witness.  The hearing will focus on the initial findings of a report released last week, the result of an internal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security which found security failures at numerous U.S. airports, where undercover investigators were able to smuggle weapons and fake explosives past TSA checkpoints.   Homeland Security agents posing as passengers were able to get the weapons and fake explosives past the checkpoints in 67 out of 70 tests.  TSA Acting Administrator Melvin Carraway has been reassigned immediately following the news of the report.  The nomination of Peter Neffenger to be the new permanent TSA Administrator was approved last week by the Senate Commerce Committee, and the Homeland Security Committee will also have an opportunity to weigh in on the nomination before it is considered by the full Senate.

The Senate Commerce Committee will review passenger rail safety and train control technology on Wednesday morning.  Following the tragic Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia on May 12, 2015, in which eight passengers were killed, the hearing will focus on efforts to prevent passenger rail accidents, particularly through the use of train control technology.  The witness list includes Amtrak Executive Vice President and COO DJ Stadtler and Vice Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board Tho Dinh-Zarr.

House and Senate Appropriations Committees continue their work on moving Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations bills.  The full Senate Appropriations committee is scheduled to mark up the Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, and Legislative Branch appropriations measures on Thursday morning, following subcommittee markups earlier in the week.

Also in the House, the Judiciary Committee is expected to mark up its version of patent-litigation reform legislation next week, although the markup has not been noticed as of this writing.

Finally, the subject of “Fraud, Waste, and Abuse at the Export-Import Bank”  is the focus of a Thursday hearing in the House Oversight Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits, and Administrative Rules, as the House awaits Senate action on the Export-Import Bank.

A full schedule of hearings for the House and Senate is included below:

Monday, June 8, 2015

Senate Committees

Crime Victims Fund
Senate Budget
Full Committee Field Hearing
10 a.m., Room 201, Second Floor, Villanova University School of Law, 299 North Spring Mill Rd., Villanova, Pa.

U.S. Roads and Bridges Improvement
Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Full Committee Field Hearing
11:30 a.m., Lafayette Public Library South Auditorium, 6101 Johnston St., Lafayette, La.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

House Committees

Surface Transportation Infrastructure
House Transportation and Infrastructure
Full Committee Panel Discussion
June 9, 9:30 a.m., Peachtree Room, Georgia Tech Student Center, Georgia Institute of Technology, 350 Ferst Dr. NW, Atlanta, Ga.

Senate Committees

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Defense
Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on Defense
Subcommittee Markup
10:30 a.m., 192 Dirksen Bldg.

Energy Measures
Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Full Committee Hearing
9:30 a.m., 366 Dirksen Bldg.

TSA Oversight
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Full Committee Oversight Hearing
10:30 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

Foreign Relations Measures and Nominations
Senate Foreign Relations
Full Committee Markup
2:30 p.m., 419 Dirksen Bldg.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

House Committees

SNAP Outlook
House Agriculture
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 1300 Longworth Bldg.

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Interior-Environment
House Appropriations – Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
Subcommittee Markup
10:15 a.m., B-308 Rayburn Bldg.

Federal Wage and Hour Standards
House Education and the Workforce – Subcommittee on Workforce Protections
Subcommittee Hearing
10:30 a.m., 2175 Rayburn Bldg.

Iran’s Ballistic Missile Capabilities
House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

Defense Support of Civil Authorities
House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 311 Cannon Bldg.

Tribal Land Use Bills
House Natural Resources – Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs
Subcommittee Hearing
11 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

Federal Minimum Wage and Public Land Contractors
House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on the Interior
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.
Water Resources Law Implementation
House Transportation and Infrastructure – Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 2167 Rayburn Bldg.

Prescription Management and Veteran Mental Health
House Veterans’ Affairs – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Subcommittee Hearing
10:30 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.

Health Law and Fiscal 2016 HHS Budget
House Ways and Means
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg.

U.S.-Cuba Policy and Property Claims
House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m., 2200 Rayburn Bldg.

Federal IT Legislation
House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on Government Operations; House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on Information Technology
Committees Joint Hearing
2 p.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

Natural Resources Measures
House Natural Resources
Full Committee Markup
4 p.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

Senate Committees

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Commerce-Justice-Science
Senate Appropriations – Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, and Related Agencies
Subcommittee Markup
10:30 a.m., 192 Dirksen Bldg.

Passenger Rail Safety
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 253 Russell Bldg.

Water Quality Legislation
Senate Environment and Public Works
Full Committee Markup
9:30 a.m., 406 Dirksen Bldg.

Health Information Exchange
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.

Transportation Security Administration, Postal Service Nominations
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Full Committee Confirmation Hearing
9 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

Federal Regulatory System
Senate Judiciary
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg.

National Parks Measures
Senate Energy and Natural Resources – Subcommittee on National Parks
Subcommittee Hearing
2:30 p.m., 366 Dirksen Bldg.

Federal Government Spending
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management
Subcommittee Hearing
2:30 p.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

Indian Rights under National Labor Relations Act
Senate Indian Affairs
Full Committee Markup
2:15 p.m., 628 Dirksen Bldg.

Victim Services in Indian Country
Senate Indian Affairs
Full Committee Oversight Hearing
2:15 p.m., 628 Dirksen Bldg.

Circuit Judge Nomination
Senate Judiciary
Full Committee Confirmation Hearing
1:30 p.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg.

Unwanted Telephone Calls
Senate Special Aging
Full Committee Hearing
2:30 p.m., 562 Dirksen Bldg.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

House Committees

Conservation Program Implementation
House Agriculture – Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 1300 Longworth Bldg.

9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization
House Education and the Workforce – Subcommittee on Health
Subcommittee Hearing
10:15 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.

FCC Field Office Closure Plan
House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.

Housing Outlook and HUD Oversight
House Financial Services
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 2128 Rayburn Bldg.

Natural Resources Measures
House Natural Resources
Full Committee Markup
10 a.m., 1324 Longworth Bldg.

Citrus Industry Small Business Issues
House Small Business – Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 2360 Rayburn Bldg.

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

Military Health Care Issues
House Armed Services – Subcommittee on Military Personnel
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m., 2212 Rayburn Bldg.

Consumer Choice Legislative Proposals
House Financial Services – Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m., 2128 Rayburn Bldg.

Asia Democracy Update
House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m., 2172 Rayburn Bldg.

Abducted Children and the Goldman Act
House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m., 2200 Rayburn Bldg.

Ex-Im Bank Management
House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules
Subcommittee Hearing
1 p.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.

VBA Fiduciary Program
House Veterans’ Affairs – Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.

Senate Committees

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Commerce-Justice-Science
Senate Appropriations
Full Committee Markup
10:30 a.m., 106 Dirksen Bldg.

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Defense
Senate Appropriations
Full Committee Markup
10:30 a.m., 106 Dirksen Bldg.

Fiscal 2016 Appropriations: Legislative Branch
Senate Appropriations
Full Committee Markup
10:30 a.m., 106 Dirksen Bldg.

EPA Nominations
Senate Environment and Public Works
Full Committee Confirmation Hearing
9:30 a.m., 406 Dirksen Bldg.

Federal Agency Whistleblowers
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
10:30 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.

Executive Business Meeting
Senate Judiciary
Full Committee Business Meeting
10 a.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg.

Friday, June 12, 2015

House Committees

Surface Transportation Technology
House Science, Space and Technology – Subcommittee on Research and Technology
Subcommittee Hearing
9 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg.

EPA’s Proposed Ozone Rule
House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Energy and Power
Subcommittee Hearing
9:30 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.

 

 

© 2022 Covington & Burling LLPNational Law Review, Volume V, Number 159
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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....

202-662-5669
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