Congress has adjourned for the week as negotiations on a sweeping budget deal continue behind the scenes. Despite reaching a general agreement on the framework for the deal, talks are still ongoing over specific numbers, offsets, and structural issues. Late yesterday, the White House gave House Democrats an extended list of $574 billion in offset options — including drug pricing provisions and proposed cuts found in the administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget — that was rebuffed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) this morning. Talks are expected to resume today and throughout the weekend as negotiators look for a vote on a deal ahead of August recess.
House lawmakers will reconvene this morning to begin a busy day of legislative business. In addition to legislation authorizing appropriations for U.S. intelligence operations and a resolution holding key administration officials in contempt of Congress, Democratic leadership has queued up a bipartisan bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) so-called "Cadillac” tax. Designed to curb incentives for employers to provide particularly generous health benefits, the 40 percent excise tax has been a target for repeal by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
The White House and Congressional leaders are continuing negotiations on a sweeping budget deal that would address budgetary spending caps, the debt ceiling, and fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations. Despite indications of progress from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the dwindling summer floor time — coupled with the slow pace of negotiations — has increased the likelihood that some form of stopgap measure will be needed to address the pressing fiscal deadlines. While the House has cleared all but two of its FY 2020 spending bills, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) conceded yesterday that the upper chamber is not likely to begin marking up appropriations bills this summer, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has remained adamant on waiting for a budget deal first.
Both chambers of Congress will return to action this afternoon. When the House gavels in first, lawmakers will begin consideration of 14 suspension bills out of the Foreign Affairs and Small Business Committees. This includes: (1) a measure amending the Small Business Act to require cyber certification for small business development center counselors; (2) legislation that would mandate an annual report on the cybersecurity of the Small Business Administration (SBA); and (3) a bill requiring the Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman create a centralized website for compliance guides. Meanwhile, Senators are expected to resume consideration of pending presidential nominations, starting with the nomination of Peter Phipps to be a Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit Court.
The Week in Review
House lawmakers completed work on the lower chamber’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), passing the $733 billion measure to end last week’s work session. Prior to final passage, the House tacked on several provisions— including: (1) repealing the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF); (2) preventing the Trump administration from deploying troops to the U.S.-Mexico border; and (3) requiring Congressional authorization for use of military force against Iran — aimed at sweetening the measure to appeal to skeptical progressive lawmakers who had the potential to tank the bill. Negotiations between the House and Senate are expected to begin soon as both chambers will need to reconcile their respective versions.
House lawmakers are set to dive into a second day of work on the lower chamber’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). As of yesterday, over 100 amendments have been adopted to the $733 billion bill as progressives seek to tack on their big-ticket measures that would: (1) restrict the use of military force on Iran without Congressional authorization; (2) reduce the bill’s price tag by $17 billion; (3) block the sale of arms to Saudia Arabia; and (4) prevent the Trump administration from deploying troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Final passage of the House NDAA is expected tomorrow on a largely party-line vote.
Lawmakers will begin work on the House version of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), starting with the rule to govern debate on the measure. The rule would make in order 439 amendments for floor consideration, suggesting that work on the $733 billion measure could extend late into the week. With House Republicans expected to reject the bill over concerns about its lower price tag, Democratic leadership has a slim margin of error to work with as progressives could split with the party if their priorities — such as reining in the Trump Administration’s war powers, cutting the bill to $700 billion, and blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia — aren’t tacked on to the lower chamber’s bill.
The House will return to action later this afternoon as lawmakers will look to clear seven Financial Services bills under suspension of the rules. This includes a resolution that encourages the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to collaborate with state securities regulators in efforts to protect investors, as well as a legislation requiring the Department of Housing and Urban Development to discount Federal Housing Administration (FHA) single-family mortgage insurance premium payments for first-time homebuyers who complete a financial literacy counseling program. Other notable bills set to hit the House floor include: (1) a bill amending the Securities Exchange Act to expand access to capital for rural-area small businesses; (2) a measure requiring the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to study ways to improve investment research for small and emerging issuers; and (3) an act mandating an SEC study into the ten percent threshold limitation applicable to the definition of a diversified company under the Investment Company Act.
Congress returns to action this week to begin a three-week legislative session prior to leaving for the August recess. The limited floor time in July is stirring up angst among lawmakers as both chambers remain far apart on addressing key fiscal deadlines pertaining to budgetary spending caps, appropriations, and the debt ceiling. Negotiations between top Congressional leaders and the White House are expected to continue in the coming weeks in hopes of striking a deal ahead of the upcoming fall deadlines.