While most lawmakers are out of town for a Memorial Day district work period, House Democrats will convene an informal “pro forma” session of Congress later this afternoon where they are expected to make another attempt to pass a multi-billion dollar disaster aid package (text; summary) by unanimous consent (UC). Their first attempt last Friday was blocked by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), who objected to UC on the disaster relief bill over concerns about the deficit and the bill’s lack of border security funding. It remains to be seen whether conservatives will keep objecting, as Rep. Roy has been noncommittal on his next steps for today’s pro forma session following backlash from members on both sides of the aisle. If the disaster relief bill cannot be cleared by UC, it will likely be taken up for a roll call vote as soon as lawmakers return on June 3.
The Week in Review
Senators broke a months-long impasse on disaster relief aid by passing (85-8) a $19.1 billion measure prior to leaving Washington. Congressional negotiators clinched a deal on a final package that would provide: (1) $3 billion for farm disaster assistance; (2) $2.4 billion for Community Block Development Grants; and (3) $3.25 billion for Army Corps of Engineers flood control and storm damage mitigation projects. Meanwhile, the bill does not include a deal on President Donald Trump’s border security request and also omits other rumored policy riders such as Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund reform and Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.
Late yesterday, Senators broke a monthslong impasse on disaster relief aid by passing (85-8) a $19.1 billion measure prior to leaving Washington. Congressional negotiators clinched a deal on a final package that would provide: (1) $3 billion for farm disaster assistance; (2) $2.4 billion for Community Block Development Grants; and (3) $3.25 billion for Army Corps of Engineers flood control and storm damage mitigation projects. Meanwhile, the bill does not include a deal on President Donald Trump’s border security request and also omits other rumored policy riders such as Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund reform and Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.
The prospects for a bipartisan disaster aid agreement dwindled late yesterday after negotiators were unable to reach an agreement that would allocate funding to help states recover from recent natural disasters. Despite making progress on disagreements over aid for Puerto Rico and boosting the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, negotiators have yet to strike a deal that would address funding for humanitarian needs at the southern border. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reiterated this morning that the Senate will not leave for the Memorial Day district work period until the chamber votes on a disaster relief bill. However, a final deal between Senate Republicans and House Democrats will likely come after lawmakers return to Washington.
House Democrats are set to make an attempt at rolling back “anti-consumer actions” at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Introduced by Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the measure (H.R. 1500) would seek to reverse policies implemented by former CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney by: (1) requiring that the Bureau’s consumer complaint data be made publicly available; (2) reinstituting a memorandum of understanding between the CFPB and Department of Education that promotes data sharing between the two agencies; (3) re-establishing the Office of Students and Young Consumers; and (4) restoring the enforcement powers of the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity. Following consideration of 17 amendments to the underlying bill, the Consumers First Act bill is expected to pass on party lines and is considered dead on arrival in the Senate.
House lawmakers will resume legislative business this afternoon, and are set to consider nine suspension bills out of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. This includes: (1) a measure (H.R. 1200) that seeks to boost compensation rates for veterans with service-connected disabilities; (2) a bill (H.R. 2374) that would assess the quality of suicide prevention efforts and mental health services offered by the VA; and (3) an act (H.R. 2045) establishing a new Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration. Additionally, lawmakers will look to pass the rule (H.Res. 389) that will govern floor debate for both the bipartisan retirement savings package (H.R. 1994) and legislation (H.R. 1500) that would roll back some policy changes at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) implemented under former Acting Director Mick Mulvaney. A vote on final passage of these bills is expected later this week.
Congressional lawmakers will reconvene for a legislative business week later this afternoon prior to leaving Washington for a Memorial Day district work period. In the upper chamber, lawmakers will look to break the impasse over disaster relief funding. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated last week that the Senate will vote on disaster relief legislation after lawmakers and the White House reportedly struck a deal on aid for Puerto Rico as well as funding for “humanitarian needs” at the U.S.-Mexico border. Despite reports of progress on the disaster relief funds, it ultimately remains to be seen whether President Donald Trump will sign off on a final measure that is not in line with his requests on border funding and aid for Puerto Rico.
The Week in Review
House Democrats forced Republicans to vote against some of their own drug pricing bills last week by packaging them with measures intended to shore up the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As part of the package, Democrats voted on three bills that would help remove barriers to generic drugs entering the market and would crack down on tactics that lawmakers say pharmaceutical companies use to tamp down competition and keep prices high. The bills were bipartisan and passed unanimously out of the Energy and Commerce Committee, but Democratic leaders combined them with legislation rolling back some of what they call the administration’s “sabotage” of the ACA, challenging Republicans to vote against them. Additional details on the vote are included further below.