Today on the Hill: Energy Approps, D.C. Spending, NDAA, Catfish Inspections

May 25, 2016

Appropriations, defense policy, Washington D.C.’s budget, and catfish inspections are the focus of floor action in Congress today.  In the House, lawmakers will be working through amendments to the fiscal 2017 Energy and Water development spending bill. The $37.4 billion appropriations bill (H.R. 5055) would fund the Energy Department, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation. A proposal to bar the U.S. purchase of heavy water from Iran is among the possible amendments. A similar amendment was scuttled in the Senate amid White House opposition. White House officials already have said they would recommend that President Barack Obama veto the bill, citing “the inclusion of problematic ideological provisions that are beyond the scope of funding legislation.” 

The House is also expected to take up the Senate-passed energy bill (S. 2012), and offer a broad package that touches on subjects such as energy, government science programs, and public lands. A proposed House amendment includes elements of the House-passed version of the measure (H.R. 8), as well as provisions based on more than 30 other bills, including measures to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act, to open recreational activities on public lands, and to increase water supplies in California’s Central Valley.

House members will also vote today to cancel budget autonomy for the District of Columbia government. The measure (H.R. 5233) would overturn a ballot measure approved by D.C. voters in 2013 that gives the District the authority to come up with its own budget without getting approval from Congress. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved the bill by a 22-14 party-line vote on May 17. The measure, which the House plans to consider under a closed rule, drew a White House veto threat yesterday.

In the Senate, a cloture vote is planned on a motion to proceed to the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill. Unlike the House-passed defense spending measure (H.R. 4909), the Senate version (S. 2943) doesn’t include money from an emergency war fund to pay for high-profile weapons systems. It also departs from the House bill in that it would require women to register with the Selective Service System.  Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) said in a speech last week that he would seek to raise the defense spending cap by about $17 billion. Unless an agreement to expedite the timing, consideration of the measure is expected to spill into early June when the Senate returns from next week’s Memorial Day break.

The Senate also plans to vote today on a resolution (S.J.Res.28) that seeks to nullify a 2015 Agriculture Department rule establishing a mandatory catfish inspection program. The rule, which moves catfish inspection from the Food and Drug Administration to the Agriculture Department, is opposed by foreign exporters of catfish – including Vietnam, which President Obama is visiting this week. The Obama administration has opposed the rule, which it was forced to implement as part of a 2008 farm bill. Domestic catfish producers, however, support the new inspection program.


‘Today on the Hill’ includes updates provided by the House and Senate majority leaders, as well information derived from publications including Bloomberg Government, The Hill, Morning Consult, Kaiser Health News, Modern Healthcare, Inside Health Policy, and others.