Both chambers are expected to continue on themes that started yesterday, namely the House’s focus on legislative approaches to the opioids crisis and the Senate’s work on an appropriations minibus. House lawmakers are slated to consider two bills pursuant to a rule today after approving over a dozen suspension measures yesterday. Specifically, today’s bills would (1) aim to align federal privacy standards for substance use disorder patient records with those already promulgated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (H.R. 6082), and (2) allow states to apply to receive Medicaid payments for services provided in institutions for mental diseases (IMDs) related to opioid abuse treatment (H.R. 5797). Consideration of another major opioids package (H.R. 6) is expected before the end of the week.
One of the hot topics percolating around DC is what will happen in November. While we are still months away from the elections, and still really two months until Labor Day when the majority of voters have traditionally started to focus on them, it does not prevent all kind of prognostications. While we aren’t making any predictions right now, it is worth noting that as of this writing, by many metrics the nation’s economy seems to be doing well – and that may temper a Democratic wave in the fall. It is also worth noting that yesterday was the 78th anniversary of the signing of the Smoot-Hawley Tariffs into law. While it would be unfair to make a direct comparison with the disastrous effect of Smoot-Hawley and last week’s tit-for-tat announcements of tariffs between the US and China – given the significant differences in our economy versus 1929 and the level of the trade barriers announced – it is worth noting that sometimes the economy can be a fickle creature, and if these decisions have negative ramifications the effect might impact both the GDP and the GOP.
President Trump will visit Capitol Hill this evening ahead of the expected consideration of two immigration bills in the House on Thursday. The President is expected to urge House Republicans to back both proposals, namely a ‘compromise’ proposal that would provide a permanent solution for individuals covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in exchange for border wall funding and additional curbs to legal immigration, and a more conservative bill (H.R. 4760) pitched by Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) that would provide a narrower path to legalization for Dreamers and even stricter legal immigration policies. With no Democratic support, both bills face an uphill climb to make it out of the lower chamber as many moderates will likely be wary of voting for any proposal that stands little chance of being considered in the Senate. Adding another wrinkle to the debate — and to the President’s visit this afternoon — will be the continued controversy over the separation of illegal immigrant families when they are detained at the border.
The expected floor consideration of two immigration proposals in the House has taken on a new urgency in Washington as controversial reports have emerged on the conditions of detention camps for undocumented migrants on the southern border. Lawmakers, particularly Democrats, have taken issue with the policy of separating children from their families as individuals are processed by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, which the Trump Administration says is part of existing immigration law. The additional attention will likely color the debate on House Republicans’ immigration proposals this week — namely a conservative proposal authored by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and a more moderate draft that is aiming to be a compromise between the conservative and moderate wings of the party — although neither is expected to have bipartisan support or stand any real chance of becoming law.
The Week in Review
Although it feels like a month ago, the first ever meeting between the active heads of state of North Korea and the United States occurred last Tuesday when President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met for a summit in Singapore. The two leaders formalized the signing of a joint statement outlining the broad parameters of a future relationship between the two countries, largely mirroring previous agreements between North Korea and the international community and offering few details for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. However, both leaders seemed pleased with the outcome of the meeting, with President Trump saying that the joint agreement was “tremendous” and that he expects the denuclearization process to start “virtually immediately.”
The Senate has elected to break for the week, leaving their work on the FY19 National Defense Authorization to be wrapped up early next week. Meanwhile, the House will meet today to consider yet another opioids-related bill designed to stem the flow of drugs from abroad. The measure specifically clarifies how controlled substance analogues are regulated, with the goal of stopping certain synthetic analogues from being trafficked across the U.S. border. The bill passed the House Judiciary by voice vote in a markup late last week.
After extensive negotiations with the Republican caucus, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced yesterday that the lower chamber will vote on two immigration proposals next week, appeasing lawmakers who were poised to sign the immigration discharge petition if significant progress were not made. The move effectively curbs an effort from centrist Republicans to buck the standing rules of the House and spark a free-wheeling immigration debate that was due to take place this week. The measures the House will vote on next week include a conservative immigration bill authored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) — favored by the House Freedom Caucus — as well as a more moderate compromise proposal that is expected to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. However, it remains unclear whether Republicans will have the support to coalesce behind either measure and President Trump’s opinion on the measures may heavily influence whether either eventually passes the House.
President Trump’s long-awaited summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has come to a close after the two leaders met late last night and formalized the signing of a joint statement outlining the broad parameters of a future relationship between the two countries. The document largely mirrors previous agreements between North Korea and the international community, with few details and no timeline for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. However, both leaders seemed pleased with the outcome of the meeting, with President Trump saying that the joint agreement was “tremendous” and that he expects the denuclearization process to start “virtually immediately.”
- The House is taking up a series of bills designed combat the continuing opioid epidemic.
- The House Financial Services Committee will hold two hearings, including one Comptroller Otting this week. The Committee is also scheduled to hold another mark-up on Thursday.
- The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark-up the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) bill this week.
- The Senate will continue its debate over the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) including potentially debating amendments increasing the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) power to clamp down on foreign investment in the U.S. by China and others that could pose national security risks, and to restore the Commerce Department’s penalties on the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea.
- The Senate Banking Committee is also slated to hear from Comptroller Otting as well as vote on two nominees to the Federal Reserve Board.
- The Federal Reserve Board is expected to announce the results of its stress tests this week.
- The FSOC is meeting on June 15th and will review the designation of Prudential, as well as hear about an application to get out Dodd-Frank’s “Hotel California” provision.
The biggest headlines this week are likely to come out of the Asian city-state of Singapore, where President Trump is due to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in an historic summit between the two adversaries. President Trump will be hoping to convince Kim to move forward with his nation’s proposed denuclearization, although this meeting is expected to focus more on exploring whether such a deal will be possible rather than on any technical details around a possible agreement. Nevertheless, Tuesday’s scheduled summit represents the most significant diplomatic opening that North Korea has shown in a decade and will be closely-watched both in Washington and around the world.