September 26, 2016
This week, Congress is racing against the clock; both chambers have until Friday to pass a spending resolution and obtain President Obama’s signature before a partial government shutdown commences. Whereas all eyes would typically be directed at Capitol Hill, many have diverted their gaze to the town of Hempstead, NY and Hofstra University where the first presidential debate of 2016 will take place tonight.
Meanwhile, this week the House will take up a water projects bill (HR 5303) under a rule and four additional measures under suspension of the rules. The House could also take up an appropriations measure this week, but the likelihood that will occur is directly connected to the Senate’s action on its proposed continuing resolution.
In the Senate, lawmakers will likely not hold a vote this evening on that chamber’s stopgap spending proposal, despite earlier projections. But, if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s motion to limit debate is successful, the 30 hours of debate could start by 6:00 PM this evening. Senators still hope to adjourn early and return to the campaign trail, but the potential for a deal to be expediently reached and the measure to pass in a timely manner has diminished over the past two weeks.
The lack of government assistance for Flint, MI is threatening speed with which the CR is moving through Congress. Senate Republicans’ resolution drew objections when the draft measure included flood relief for Louisiana and other states without providing aid to Flint for its water crisis. As of Friday, President Barack Obama had declared 32 major disasters, including two declarations for severe storms and flooding in Louisiana in March and August. However, the Governor of Louisiana called the $500 million in flood support funds a “down payment.” President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration Jan. 16 making federal emergency aid available to Michigan due to the water contamination. According to Kellie Mejdrich of CQ Roll Call, however, the problem can’t be declared a major disaster because of the strict definitions for such an event as defined by the Stafford Act.
In addition, the continuing resolution would include veterans spending and veterans’ healthcare funding, in addition to funding for military construction projects. This would allow at least one of the 12 appropriations bills to be passed in regular order, albeit under unusual circumstances. Noticeably absent, a ban sought by Democrats on the display of Confederate flag imagery at veterans’ cemeteries is not included in the measure.
On Friday, September 23, President Obama vetoed a bill that would allow families of the victims of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil to sue foreign governments believed to be linked to the assaults. The Obama Administration indicated it was concerned that this legislation could serve as a precedent for foreign nations to sue to the United States in like fashion. Congress is expected to override the presidential veto this week.
Energy Bill Conference
DOT Self-Driving Car Guidance