Today, Next Week on the Hill: House Returns Next Week to Criminal Justice Measures; Trump Defends Comey Firing

The Senate completed its legislative business for the week yesterday by approving Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer by a wide bipartisan margin. Next week, the upper chamber has two sub-Cabinet level nominations to consider, Jeffrey Rosen to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation and Rachel Bland to be Associate Attorney General. Roll call votes on those nominations could come as early as Monday evening.

The House will return from its brief in-district work period on Tuesday, with two criminal justice measures scheduled to be considered pursuant to a rule. One measure (H.R. 1039) would allow probation officers to arrest individuals without a warrant if there is probable cause to believe that the individual forcibly assaulted or obstructed a probation officer in the performance of their duties. Another bill (H.R. 115) to hit the House floor would expand federal statute on death penalty determinations to include the killing or attempted killing of law enforcement and public safety officers. Both measures passed with some bipartisan support out of the House Judiciary Committee last month.   

Next week’s action is also likely to be influenced by the continued coverage of President Trump’s decision to fire Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey earlier this week. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who authored one of the memos that the White House cited as reasoning for Comey’s dismissal, is scheduled to hold an all-senators briefing next week on the former FBI Director and the future of the Bureau’s probe into ties between Russia and the Trump Administration. President Trump has also made headlines today with an interview focused on economic issues appearing in The Economist and a separate session with NBC News where the President suggested that his decision to fire Comey was unrelated to the documents provided by Justice Department officials and may have been related to the conduct of the Russia investigation. Some Democrats have threatened to delay legislative proceedings over demands for a special prosecutor, but it is unclear whether party leadership will seek to undermine any floor action next week.