This Week on the Hill: Senate to Finish FAA, Energy Bills Before Moving to Approps; House Works on IRS, Puerto Rico

April 18, 2016

With today marking the annual income-tax filing deadline, the House starts the week with a series of bills intended to reform the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The four pieces of legislation would freeze IRS hiring until it certifies no IRS employee has a “seriously delinquent” tax debt (H.R. 1206), bar the rehiring of employees who were fired for misconduct (H.R. 3724), require IRS user fees to be deposited into the Treasury’s general fund (H.R. 4885), and finally, end all IRS bonuses until the agency develops a comprehensive customer service strategy (H.R. 4890). All four bills were advanced in a contentious House Ways and Means Committee hearing last week, and none are expected to be taken up in the Senate.

Action in the upper chamber this week begins with continued deliberation on a legislative vehicle (H.R. 636) to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through September 30, 2017. A few amendments remain to be considered in the must-pass legislation, including one submitted by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) related to mandatory rest periods for cargo-plane pilots. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has scheduled a cloture vote on the bill for this evening, and a vote on advancing the bill could come shortly thereafter.
Following a vote on the FAA bill, the Senate will attempt to fast-track a vote on broad, bipartisan energy legislation (S. 2012) that had been stalled for weeks over disagreements on how to help Flint, Michigan recover from its lead-tainted water crisis. The deal struck last week provides for the consideration of eight amendments, each with a 60-vote threshold for adoption, and lacks contentious measures on Flint and offshore drilling that doomed the chamber’s previous effort at advancing the bill. Senators are hoping to complete consideration of the bill in a single day, and move on to the first fiscal 2017 appropriations bill – the Energy and Water Development measure (H.R. 2028) – to reach the floor of either chamber. Leader McConnell has set up a cloture vote for the legislation, which was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee last week.
With lawmakers failing to reach an agreement on a budget resolution by an April 15 deadline, the House will be unable to bring any appropriations measures to the chamber floor until mid-May. However, this week the House will continue to deliberate on a deal to help Puerto Rico handle its debt crisis after last week’s markup was postponed. Lawmakers are hoping to reach an agreement and advance a bill before the appropriations process kicks into gear next month. Finally, the House also will consider a series of eight bills under suspension of the rules today related to naming federal buildings and providing oversight of the construction of agency headquarters. A full list of those bills can be found here.
‘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, Politico, Roll Call, The New York Times, and Morning Consult.