This Week on the Hill: White House to Unveil Budget and Infrastructure Proposals; McConnell Keeps Immigration Debate Promise

February 12, 2018

There will be little rest for the weary this week in Washington as lawmakers will follow last week’s hard-fought negotiations on a massive budget caps deal with an immigration debate in the Senate and the release of the White House’s 2019 fiscal year budget and long-awaited infrastructure plan.

Those latter two documents will both reportedly be published today as the White House looks to pitch its next domestic priorities to a Congress that is likely wary of any additional spending increases. The Trump budget will reflect that, with early reports suggesting that the budget will call for deep budget cuts that would contribute to a $3 trillion reduction in the national deficit over the course of a decade. Notably, the Pentagon is spared of any funding reductions and the proposal will include a $23 billion bump for border security programs ahead of this week’s immigration debate in the Senate. As with nearly every presidential budget in recent memory, today’s release will serve more as a messaging point for the White House to call attention to its priorities than a legitimate starting point for 2019 funding negotiations.

Details on the White House’s infrastructure plan have yet to leak out, but most observers are expecting for a proposal that includes relatively few federal dollars contributing to the $1.5 trillion topline figure. Instead, the White House is hoping to rely on state and local funds, toll roads, private contributions, and regulatory cuts to help spur the necessary investment into the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. While both parties have tagged infrastructure as a priority, movement on the proposal is unlikely given its significant price tag, particularly after last week’s $200 billion budget deal.

Congress is poised to begin a contentious immigration debate this week, as the Senate will begin consideration of the legislative vehicle (H.R. 2579) for bipartisan immigration reform. Majority Leader McConnell has signaled he will keep a promise to Democrats and ensure that the bill’s consideration will include an open debate and amendment process. In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has stopped short of making such a guarantee, while also trying to reassure Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Democrats that he is resolved to come up with a solution for so-called “Dreamers.” “If anyone doubts my intention to solve this problem and bring up a DACA and immigration reform bill, do not,” Speaker Ryan said Thursday. “We will bring a solution to the floor, one the president will sign."

Meanwhile, the House is expected to begin the week on a bill (H.R. 620) that would require the Department of Justice to develop a program to educate state and local governments and property owners on strategies for promoting access to public accommodations for persons with a disability. Two bills in the financial services realm are also in the queue for next week, including: (1) a bill (H.R. 3978) that would modify requirements related to mortgage disclosures; and (2) a bill (H.R. 3299) that would amend four existing statutes to require the rate of interest on certain loans remain unchanged after transfer of the loan.