This Week on the Hill: Trump to Announce SCOTUS Pick Tonight; Intel, Federal Mandates Bills on House Floor

As Congress trickles back to Washington following the July 4th recess, President Trump is expected to announce his chosen candidate to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court in a primetime television appearance tonight. President Trump is expected to choose from a four-person shortlist that has emerged over the past few days, namely, D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, 6th Circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge, 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and 3rd Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman. Kavanaugh — a former Bush Administration official — is considered the frontrunner, although Hardiman was the runner-up when Neil Gorsuch was selected last year and Barrett has strong appeal among conservatives. Tonight’s announcement will trigger a contentious confirmation process as Republicans hope to push through the nominee before this November’s midterm elections.

The Senate will return today to begin consideration of three nominations, namely Mark Bennett to join the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Brian Benczkowski to be Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Paul Ney to be General Counsel for the Department of Defense. All three are expected to be confirmed.

The House is due back tomorrow, with this week’s docket featuring a reauthorization bill (H.R. 6237) for the intelligence community and a bill that would alter federal processes on implementing mandates on state governments (H.R. 50). The intelligence authorization would cover both the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, and was approved out of the House Intelligence Committee by unanimous voice vote. Meanwhile, the latter bill — which was advanced out of the House Education and the Workforce Committee on a 20-10 vote in March — would attempt to rein in federal mandates by compelling the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to conduct studies on the conditions of grant aid to states and putting a set of regulatory principles for mandates into statute.