This Week on the Hill: Washington to Focus on Tax Reform Conference and Alabama Special Election

December 11, 2017

While government funding and tax reform remain at the forefront of lawmakers’ concerns, this week’s work is likely to focus on behind-the-scenes negotiations. On tax reform, the first public conference meeting is set for Wednesday and reports suggest that Republicans are making progress in working out the differences between the House and Senate tax bills. President Trump will continue his lobbying campaign for the tax bill with a speech at the Treasury Department on Wednesday. On the current timeline, Republican leaders are aiming to bring the tax bill to the floors both the House and Senate during the week of Dec. 18 and will try to send the bill to the president’s desk before Christmas.

Given the brief pause on major legislative developments, this week’s biggest development could be coming from the state of Alabama where voters will head to the polls tomorrow in the special election to replace Jeff Sessions, who left the Senate earlier this year to become Attorney General. The contest pits Republican nominee Roy Moore, a controversial former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who has faced allegations of inappropriate sexual relationships with minors, against Democratic nominee Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney. In light of Moore’s scandals, the race is anticipated to be much closer than what would normally be expected for deep-red Alabama.

Floor action this week starts with judicial confirmation votes in the Senate. A cloture vote on the nomination of Leonard Grasz to join the Eighth Circuit is expected on Monday, with the nominations of Don Willett and James Ho to join the Fifth Circuit next in the Senate queue.

In the House this week, lawmakers will consider measures (H.R. 1638; H.R. 4324) to target Iran’s interactions with the international financial system and a bill (H.R. 2396) that would make technical clarifications on privacy notices for financial services firms. Today, the House has five bills teed up to be considered under suspension of the rules, namely:

  • H.R. 3359 – The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2017 would authorize the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The bill effectively consolidates and elevates DHS’ cybersecurity efforts into a single agency.
  • H.R. 3669 – The Securing General Aviation and Commercial Charter Air Carrier Service Act of 2017 would aim to improve and streamline security procedures related to general aviation and commercial charter air carrier utilizing risk-based security standards.
  • H.R. 2706 – The Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2017 would aim to restrict federal agencies from targeting certain controversial industries. The bill is intended to respond to the Justice Department’s Operation Choke Point, which targeted banks servicing firearm dealers, payday lenders, and other companies deemed to be at higher risk for fraud and money laundering.
  • H.R. 3093 – The Investor Clarity and Bank Parity Act would amend the Dodd-Frank financial reform law’s Volcker Rule to permit certain investment advisers to share a similar name with a private equity fund, subject to certain restrictions.
  • H.R. 1730 – The Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017 would add legal protections for community centers that are religiously-affiliated.