This Week on the Hill: Congress Returns to End-of-Month Legislative Scramble

Both chambers return to action this week as lawmakers prepare to tackle a host of legislative and government funding priorities before the September 30th government funding deadline. The Senate will reconvene today and immediately turn its attention to its presidential nominations queue. As of now, Senators are expected to consider the nominations of Jackie Walcott to be a Representative of the United States to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Peter Feldman to be Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Congressional lawmakers are also nearing a compromise on a bill that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (bill text; summary). While discussions are still ongoing, news reports suggest that the House could tentatively vote on both a short-term extension, as well as the long-term reauthorization deal this week in hopes of keeping the FAA funded past the September 30th government funding deadline. The short-term, two-week extension is designed to give the Senate more time to approve the multi-year reauthorization deal after it passes the lower chamber.

Meanwhile, the House will return from its week-long recess on Tuesday as lawmakers aim to keep the government funded beyond the September 30th deadline. The House will vote on the minibus package containing Defense-Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (Labor-HHS) FY 2019 funding bills (H.R. 6157) (bill textconference reportsummary). The Defense-Labor-HHS package will also serve as the vehicle for a continuing resolution (CR) through December 7th — allowing Congress to avert a shutdown and punt decisions on controversial issues until after the mid-term elections.

Additionally, House lawmakers are expected to consider a bill (H.R. 3798) this week that would amend the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer mandate to adjust the definition of “full-time employees” from a 30-hour threshold up to a 40-hour threshold. Previous versions of the bill stalled in the House during the 113th and 114th Congresses. The lower chamber is also scheduled to vote on a trio of "Tax Reform 2.0" bills that passed out of Committee two weeks ago, including: (1) The Family Savings Act (text; summary); The Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act (text; summary); and (3) The American Innovation Act (text; summary). 

The House may also consider the Opioid Crisis Response Act (H.R. 6) this week, as lawmakers look to notch one final legislative accomplishment before the midterm elections. The package — comprised of dozens of bipartisan proposals intended to strengthen enforcement activities as well as prevention efforts and services for those affected by substance use disorders — overwhelmingly passed the Senate last Monday, and bicameral staff-level negotiations on a conference version have continued throughout the weekend. Committee sources have indicated that negotiations over most of the bill’s major provisions have been resolved, and that the bill could be released as soon as this evening.