This Week on the Hill: Trump’s First SOTU; House Votes on Defense Spending and Senate Considers Abortion Bill

January 29, 2018

It’s State of the Union week in Washington as lawmakers await President Trump’s first installment of the annual address tomorrow night. The speech gives the White House a valuable opportunity to reset the legislative playbook after the past few weeks of government shutdown drama, although the underlying issues of a broad budget deal and a plan for the Dreamers continue to loom large. As a reminder, the current continuing resolution (CR) funding the government is due to expire on Feb. 8.

While the President will be sure to trumpet economic gains and the recently-enacted tax reform package tomorrow night, observers will also be looking for new details on the White House’s infrastructure plan, which was partially leaked last week. Infrastructure is believed to be an area where partisan priorities overlap, but with Congress still struggling to fund the government for the 2018 fiscal year and the political clock ticking towards this November’s midterm elections, passing a significant infrastructure package this year may be challenging.    

Both chambers will reconvene today ahead of the pomp and circumstance of the State of the Union. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) looks to keep his promise to House conservatives by reintroducing the defense appropriations bill on the House floor after the group of right-wing lawmakers demanded a defense vote in exchange for approving another continuing resolution (CR) earlier this month. Floor action starts today with consideration of seven suspension bills, including measures to provided processes for the use of identification cards for opening financial services accounts (H.R. 1457) and another that would reform “living will” requirements for major financial institutions (H.R. 4292).

The Senate’s floor action will start today with consideration of a bill (S. 2311) that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of a pregnancy except to save the life of the pregnant woman and in cases of rape or incest. A cloture vote on that bill is expected this evening, followed by another cloture vote on the nomination of David Stras to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit.