This Week on the Hill: Obama’s Budget, Flint, Debt-Reduction

February 8, 2016

All eyes in Washington will be on the White House tomorrow when President Obama releases the final budget of his presidency. Committees in both chambers of Congress have scheduled hearings to dissect the budget later in the week, even though most observers expect that the spending plan will fail to gain any serious traction in the Republican-controlled legislature. Nevertheless, look for the President’s budget to call for a $10 per barrel tax on oil to pay for transportation and climate initiatives and changes to the Affordable Care Act’s Cadillac tax.  

Floor action this week will start with the a Senate roll call vote on the nomination of Rebecca Ebinger to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Iowa. The Senate is also set to finish its consideration of comprehensive energy legislation (S. 2012) after Democrats blocked its progress last week to demand additional assistance to help the city of Flint, Michigan deal with its contaminated water crisis. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that he intends to stay on the measure as the two parties try to reconcile their differences on how to pay for the Flint water assistance. Leader McConnell has also teed up a Wednesday floor vote for a bill (H.R. 757) authorizing the President to apply sanctions to individuals, foreign governments and financial institutions involved in prohibited transactions with North Korea. Consideration of the bill comes after the rogue state launched a satellite over the weekend, in what is seen by analysts as a test of missile technology.

Meanwhile in the House, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has laid out three measures to be considered this week. Under one bill (H.R. 3293), the National Science Foundation (NSF) would have to publish written justification that a science grant or cooperative agreement is worthy of federal funding and in the national interest when announcing an award. Another measure (H.R. 2017) due this week would have the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reissue rules requiring restaurants to display nutritional information on menus. Finally, the House will vote on a bill (H.R. 3442) requiring the Treasury secretary to report to Congress a detailed long-term debt-reduction plan whenever the country’s borrowing authority limit is set to be breached.
The House is also set to consider a dozen defense and Veterans’ Affairs bills under suspension of the rules tomorrow, which limits debate to forty minutes and requires a two-thirds majority to pass. Those bills are:

  • H.R. 3016 – The VA Provider Equity Act would broaden the definition of physicians for the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to include podiatrists.
  • H.R. 3106 – The Construction Reform Act of 2015 would alter the standards and procedures for the VA to enter into new construction projects with costs over $100 million.
  • H.R. 2360 – Under the Career-Ready Student Veterans Act of 2015, the VA would add new criteria for educational assistance for veterans to include licensure, certification, and work-development programs.
  • H.R. 3262 – This bill would convey land to the Danville Area Community College of Danville, Illinois to make improvements to the VA Illiana Health Care System.
  • H.R. 4056 – A bill that would authorize the VA to convey The Community Living Center in Orlando, Florida to the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs
  • H.R. 677 – The American Heroes of COLA Act of 2015 would link any increase in benefit amounts payable under Social Security, there is an equal increase in the amounts payable as veterans’ disability compensation.
  • H.R. 4437 – This bill would extend the deadline for the VA’s Commission on Care to issue its final report to June 30, 2016.
  • H.R. 3234 – The Failing VA Medical Center Recovery Act would establish an Office of Failing Medical Center Recovery under the VA that would carry out the managerial and day-to-day operational control of failing medical facilities in the Department.
  • H.R. 2915 – The Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act would establish new standards and procedures that would promote access and satisfaction in mental health programs for women veterans.
  • H.R. 3036 – The National 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center Act would designate the memorial in New York City as a national memorial and allow the Department of Interior to provide the memorial funds for operation and maintenance. 3
  • H.R. 890 – A bill to revise the boundaries of the John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System in Florida.
  • H.R. 3894 – This bill would require civilians and members of the Armed Forces on military installations to report known or suspect instances of child abuse to a state agency as well as the military’s chain of command.
‘This Week on the Hill’ includes updates provided by the House and Senate majority leaders, as well information derived from publications including Bloomberg Government, The Hill, Politico, Roll Call, and National Journal.