Today on the Hill: House to Consider Whistleblowers, Disaster Bills; Senate on Weeklong Recess

With the Senate out of town, it is looking like a relatively tame legislative week on Capitol Hill. House lawmakers will meet today to consider seven suspension bills, dealing mostly with the naming of federal buildings, before moving to the week’s more substantial work in the form of a federal whistleblower protection bill (S. 585) and a still-emerging disaster relief package. The former was passed by the Senate under unanimous consent in May, but will be considered pursuant to a rule in the House on Thursday. The bill aims to boost protections for federal employees reporting waste, fraud or abuse by increasing awareness of legal protections and requiring discipline for supervisors who retaliate against whistleblowers.

Legislation to honor the $29 billion disaster aid request submitted by the White House last week has yet to be formally introduced, but may be approved by the lower chamber as soon as the end of the week. The package will represent the second installment of aid to help those effected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, with additional funds for victims of wildfires that have persisted in areas of California and the Pacific Northwest for weeks. While some conservatives have objected to the aid without complementary spending cuts elsewhere, the need for the aid will likely outweigh other political considerations. However, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) suggested to reporters over the weekend that this week’s package will likely be followed by additional disaster-related supplemental appropriations before the end of the year, which could build  conservative opposition to the package.