This Week on the Hill: McConnell Plans August Action on Noms, FDA Reauthorization, Debt Ceiling

Despite last week’s failed vote on the “skinny” repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Senate will go forward with its plans to stay in session for two weeks into its traditional August recess. Although the exact schedule remains unclear, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is reportedly hoping to use the time to consider a few of the items that will require action before the end of the current fiscal year on Sep. 30, including a House-passed reauthorization of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a debt ceiling hike. Consideration of the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was initially expected, but objections from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) return to Arizona for cancer treatment have put those plans on hold.

Until Republican leadership can decide on which legislative items merit consideration in August, expect for Leader McConnell to use the bonus floor time in August to continue clearing presidential nominations. A cloture vote is expected today on the nomination of Kevin Newsom to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit, with a final vote to come as soon as Wednesday morning. One key nomination that the Senate reportedly wants to confirm before leaving for their shortened recess is Christopher Wray for Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director. Wray was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee after former director James Comey was fired by President Trump in May.  

The House is out to start their August recess with lawmakers expected to return after Labor Day on Sep. 5.