This Week on the Hill: Tax Reform Goes to Conference; Gov’t Funding Expires Friday

Even after the Senate’s approval of tax reform legislation last week, the issue will remain in the headlines. The House returns ahead of schedule today to consider a motion to go to conference on the tax reform bill, allowing for lawmakers to reconcile the differences between the two versions of the legislation. Republicans hope that the conference process will last about a week, giving lawmakers time to get a bill to the president’s desk before the Christmas holiday.

The major legislative work this week will focus on avoiding a government shutdown as the continuing resolution (CR) currently funding the government is due to expire on Friday. The most likely outcome is that both chambers will approve a new short-term CR this week that will last until Dec. 22, providing a short window for lawmakers to work out a longer-term agreement. However, Democratic votes will be needed to approve the funding bill, and the increasing hostility between the minority party and the White House has increased the odds of a government shutdown. Assuming that the two-week CR is passed, however, an even bigger showdown could be coming before Congress takes their holiday break.

Other floor action includes a trio of bills to be considered by the House pursuant to a rule. Two bills reported from the House Financial Services Committee would broaden the registration exemption for merger and acquisition brokers (H.R. 477) and aim to provide regulatory relief on escrow requirements for community financial institutions (H.R. 3971). The House will also consider a controversial bill (H.R. 38) that would loosen rules on the ability for individuals to carry concealed firearms.

The Senate returns from their short weekend today with a cloture vote due on the nomination of Kirstjen Nielsen to be Secretary of Homeland Security. Nielsen, who is expected to be comfortably confirmed, would take over as the permanent head of the Department of Homeland Security following John Kelly’s move to become White House Chief of Staff in July. The upper chamber is also expected to approve their own motion to go to conference on the tax reform bill early this week.