Congress is gearing up for another government funding sprint as the March 23 deadline to avoid a government shutdown approaches. Negotiations are ongoing, as language for the omnibus spending package is not expected to be unveiled until the weekend or early next week. In a sign that talks could be progressing, reports suggest that Congressional Republicans are open to a three-year fix for recipients of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrival (DACA) in exchange for funding of President Trump's proposed border wall. However, GOP leadership does not have clear direction from the White House and is still engaged in talks over a slew of contentious provisions regarding Planned Parenthood, Affordable Care Act (ACA) stabilization funds, and technical fixes to the new GOP tax law.
In other floor action, House Republicans plan to take another shot at passing the Right to Try Act (H.R. 5247) next week after the House failed to advance under suspension of the rules. The House Rules Committee said it would clear the way for the bill to move again to the House floor, setting up a vote that will likely result in its passage. The bill failed to earn enough support from Democrats in the expedited voting process after Minority Leadership raised concerns over patient safety and the potential to create “false hope” for patients who might already have access to such drugs under FDA’s existing expanded access or compassionate use programs.
The House is not expected to consider the Senate-passed baking regulatory relief bill (S. 2155), as House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) said that the bill will stay on Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) desk until senators agree to negotiate with the House. Instead, the lower chamber will consider a pair of their own financial services measures, including a bill (H.R. 4566) that seeks to provide relief to nonbanks from certain stress test requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act. The House will also take up a bill (H.R. 4061) that aims to improve the transparency of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) and improve the designation process for Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFI).
Meanwhile, the Senate is slated resume its consideration of bipartisan bill that seeks to crack down on online sex trafficking. The Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (H.R. 1865) — which cleared the House in a 388-25 vote last month — would amend the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to stipulate that the law does not protect interactive computer services providers or users from liability for private blocking or screening of offensive material. The Senate will vote on final passage the sex trafficking measure, as well as the nomination of Kevin McAleenan to be a Commissioner of U.S. Protection in the Department of Homeland Security.