Congressional lawmakers have announced a deal that would bring highly anticipated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to the floor for consideration. Democratic leadership has been pushing for changes to the renegotiated trade agreement — particularly around the drug patent, labor, environment, and enforcement provisions — and is expected to call up implementing legislation for a vote on the floor as soon as next week. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland reportedly will be in Mexico today to finalize details.
Congress returns to a jam-packed week as lawmakers look to clinch key legislative priorities. In addition to a vote on the House Democrats’ drug pricing package, the lower chamber is set to consider the conference report for the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) after defense negotiators struck an agreement over the weekend. Additionally, House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) indicated that the House could begin taking up government funding bills as soon as this week if an agreement is reached.
The Week in Review
Government funding negotiations for fiscal year (FY) 2020 continued into this past weekend with fewer than two weeks left to iron out a compromise. While appropriations “Cardinals” expressed cautious optimism about the current state of government funding talks, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stated last week that lawmakers will need to pass another stopgap funding measure that will fund the government “just after Christmas” if an agreement isn’t reached within the next few days. Key issues that remain unresolved include Title X family planning grants, homelessness assistance grants, gun violence research, and border wall funding.
House lawmakers have convened for legislative business to close out the week. On the floor, the House is considering a resolution out of the Foreign Affairs Committee that would express support for a negotiated two-state solution in Israel and Palestine. The lower chamber will also take up a bill that would amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to create a new way to measure if states require oversight for violating minority voting rights. In the upper chamber, Senators have adjourned for the week and will return Monday to consider the nomination of Patrick Bumatay to be a Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit Court.
House lawmakers are eyeing passage of a Financial Services measure that seeks to fortify a ban on insider trading. Offered by Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), the Insider Trading Prohibition Act would amend the Securities Exchange Act to codify a prohibition of certain securities trading and related communications by those who are aware of material, nonpublic information. In a compromise with GOP lawmakers, Democrats agreed to tweak the language of the bill to echo the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) existing rules on insider trading — a move that Republicans contend will boost bipartisan support for H.R. 2354.
The House will convene today as lawmakers eye passage of a compromise bill aimed at combating illicit robocalls. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation — offered by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) — proposes several reforms aimed at cracking down on the issue, including: (1) mandating that phone companies verify real numbers and block robocalls without charging consumers extra money; (2) encouraging the Department of Justice to pursue more criminal prosecutions against illegal robocallers; and (3) providing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with additional time and authority to investigate bad actors. In addition to the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, the House will also consider the rule that govern debate for a Financial Services measure that seeks to prevent insider trading.
Lawmakers will return to Washington this week to begin an end-of-the-year legislative blitz. Funding the government for fiscal year (FY) 2020 will be the top priority for the December work session after House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) reportedly struck an agreement on funding allocations for each of the 12 spending bills earlier last week. In addition to appropriations, big-ticket legislative priorities such as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, prescription drug pricing, and tax extenders could also see movement before the end of this year.
The Week Ahead
Lawmakers will return to Washington this week to begin an end-of-the-year legislative blitz. Funding the government for fiscal year (FY) 2020 will be the top priority for the December work session after House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) reportedly struck an agreement on funding allocations earlier last week. In addition to appropriations, legislative movement could happen on big-ticket priorities such as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, prescription drug pricing, and tax extenders before the end of this year.
The Week in Review
Congress adjourned for the Thanksgiving district work period following enactment of a one-month continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the government through Dec. 20. Lawmakers in the House and Senate cleared the stopgap funding measure ahead of last Thursday’s funding deadline, providing appropriations negotiators with additional time to strike a broader funding deal for fiscal year (FY) 2020. House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) have reportedly struck a deal on subcommittee allocations for each of the FY 2020 funding measures, allowing lawmakers to push for passage of each bill before the end of the calendar year.
Lawmakers have left Washington for the Thanksgiving district work period following enactment of a one-month continuing resolution that will fund the government through Dec. 20. Fiscal year (FY) 2020 negotiations are expected to continue over the Thanksgiving break, as both House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) have offered guarded optimism about striking a deal on subcommittee allocations for each of the 12 spending measures. However, lingering disagreements pertaining to President Donald Trump’s border wall priority — namely over funding allocations and his authority to transfer funds to the project — remain a key wildcard in the process.