Today on the Hill: House to Vote on Nuclear Waste Bill; House Lawmakers Plot Discharge Petition on Immigration

The House aims to wrap up its legislative work for the week today with consideration of a bill (H.R. 3053) that would set policy for used nuclear fuel, including by reviving licensing activities for the controversial Yucca Mountain waste storage site in Nevada. The nuclear waste measure has broad support after being approved by the Energy and Commerce on a 49-4 vote last June, but has faced fierce opposition from Nevada lawmakers who argue that the Silver State is bearing too heavy of a burden for the nation’s nuclear energy production. A final vote is expected around noon, closing out the House’s docket for the week.

The Senate has three more votes set today for the group of six federal judicial nominees that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed cloture on last week. Today’s votes will be for a final confirmation of Michael Brennan to the 7th Circuit and to invoke cloture on the nominations of Joel Carson to the 10th Circuit and John Balbandian to the 6th Circuit.

Looking ahead to possible future action in the House, centrist Republicans and Democrats are considering a move to defy GOP leadership and force a vote on a series of immigration proposals. Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Jeff Denham (R-CA), and Will Hurd (R-TX) are circulating a discharge petition that would allow them to invoke the so-called “Queen of the Hill” rule – a House resolution that supersedes the standing rules of the House by regulating floor consideration of a specific legislative measure named in the resolution. This specific “Queen of the Hill” rule would allow votes on four bills: (1) Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) conservative immigration bill; (2) the DREAM Act; (3) the Bipartisan USA Act sponsored by Reps. Hurd and Pete Aguilar (D-CA); and (4) a bill of Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) choosing. As of now, 17 Republican lawmakers have signed onto the petition, leaving the centrist group eight short of the 25 GOP votes that would be needed should all House Democrats sign on.